Quebecor Announces Earnings, Comments On Acquisition Plans
Press release from the issuing company
MONTREAL--Feb. 4, 2002--Quebecor World Inc. today announced full-year 2001 diluted earnings per share before special restructuring and other special charges of $1.58 compared to $1.90 a year ago. This is in line with the Company's post September 11th guidance. For the fourth quarter, EPS was $0.45 compared to $0.69 last year. Revenues for the year were $6.3 billion compared to $6.5 billion in 2000 and operations generated $287 million of free cash flow in 2001.
Quebecor World achieved these results despite a significant drop in advertising spending, the economic shock of 9-11 and its aftermath. Even though ad spending was off almost every month from a record 2000 the Company aggressively managed costs and through August was on track to match its record performance. But this was not sustainable as a result of the economic drop-off in the fourth quarter.
"A precipitous drop like the one we saw in the last four months of this year had an extremely negative effect during a time when we traditionally earn 40 percent of our operating income,'' said Charles G. Cavell, President and CEO of Quebecor World. "In 2001 magazine ad pages in the United States took their worst drop in 10 years. We reduce costs on an ongoing basis but we can't restructure our business overnight when hit with a catastrophic event.''
Quebecor World's view is that the reduced volumes experienced in the fourth quarter of 2001 will continue in early 2002. As a result the Company announced a restructuring plan in October to take advantage of this period to reduce costs and improve operational efficiencies. The restructuring plan is based on putting the best equipment into larger and more specialized facilities. As a direct result Quebecor World expects to realize a pre-tax annualized earnings improvement of $45 million. Total cost of the restructuring is $270 million pre-tax, with a cash component of approximately $130 million.
"This is the first substantial non-acquisition related restructuring charge we have taken in our history,'' said Mr. Cavell. "At the same time we have reduced receivables in a challenging environment and lowered inventory levels. Once the plan is completed our lower cost base will allow us to better leverage our global manufacturing platform for our customers and shareholders.''
For 2001, even though the drop in volume came at the busiest time of the year, Quebecor World was still able to maintain its industry leading operating margin of 9.8 per cent. Following the implementation of the 2001 restructuring plan, Quebecor World will be well-positioned to benefit from a recovery in advertising spending in its core North American market.
In 2001 Quebecor World produced significant free cash flow, $385 million in the fourth quarter and $287 million for the year. During the last three years the Company generated $1.6 billion of free cash. At the end of 2001 Quebecor World's debt-to-capitalization was 46:54.
Our European operations have been affected by the global slowdown particularly in France where there has also been a drop-off in advertising and volumes. However our Latin American business continues to grow. For the full year operating income increased 60%.
"We believe 2002, especially the first half, will be a challenge. In the short-term we will focus on reducing costs in all aspects of the Company and successfully implementing the relocation of assets that will pay big dividends in the future. We will use free cash flow to continue to pay down debt,'' said Mr. Cavell. "Quebecor World made several niche acquisitions in 2001 that enhanced existing platforms or were transactions with publishers/printers that came with enabling contracts. In this unstable economic environment it is difficult to assess value. We will continue to survey the landscape in all our geographies but will likely only make smaller niche acquisitions or those with publishers/printers that include guaranteed long-term contracts. However we are certain this economic downturn will eventually create acquisition opportunities because other companies do not benefit from the same geographic and product diversity that is allowing us to significantly weather the storm.''
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