Alcoa Earnings Call Insights: Operational Deployment and Comments on Charts

Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Operational Deployment

Brian Yu – Citigroup: Bill, I think you had mentioned in your prepared remarks that with the free cash flow target you’d be looking to deploy more aggressive operational. If you could kind of list those out for us in order that they would be deployed? And then along those same lines looks like on the credit rating side it’s still under review. How important is that to maintain an investment grade rating in conjunction with the free cash flow objective?

Klaus Kleinfeld – Chairman and CEO: Brian, we have said all along that we are very committed to – and Bill had that in his presentation there – we are very committed to be free cash flow positive this year and we are operating against that. You see in this quarter again in spite of all the headwinds on the primary side, we are showing really, really good performance. You can see we’re coming down on the cost curve and then you see a very, very good and strong performance also on the mid and even more so on the downstream side. That’s a strategy. We’re executing against the strategy, but we are very committed to being cash flow positive this year, and we used basically every lever for that. You can go from days working capital and to be able to get another four days out honestly, I mean, we ourselves were surprised there that we were able to do that. That has been very, very good performance from everybody and requires a lot of care for the detail, to the productivity that you saw in there, a lot of work going into that.

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William F. Oplinger – EVP and CFO: And specifically Brian, when we talk about improving on the operational targets, last year we delivered over $1.2 billion in gross productivity. We’re looking at further deployment against the current productivity target. We’ll be aggressively managing capital, both sustaining and growth, and our upstream business clearly understands that at the current metal price, cash is very important. So as Klaus said, it will be productivity, it will be overhead, it will be working capital, and it will be CapEx. As far as the ratings go, I think Klaus alluded to it, it is important for us to maintain investment grade. We, I think, had a very strong cash generation quarter in relation to where we’ve been historically, and we’re working with the ratings agencies to ensure that they understand all the good things that we’re doing within the Company to meet their metrics.

Comments on Charts

Michael Gambardella – JPMorgan: Congratulations on the quarter Klaus, and I just wanted to say couple of charts here are very positive, I think. This aerospace chart on Slide 25, I think, is great in terms of getting people understand.

Klaus Kleinfeld – Chairman and CEO: Mike, we cannot hear you. We cannot hear you Mike, we cannot hear you.

Michael Gambardella – JPMorgan: Can you hear me now.

Klaus Kleinfeld – Chairman and CEO: A little better, but can we bring up the volume here on the…?

Michael Gambardella – JPMorgan: I can hear you fine, I mean…

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Klaus Kleinfeld – Chairman and CEO: Okay, now we can hear you better, okay. I hope that’s true for everybody on the phone too.

Michael Gambardella – JPMorgan: I just wanted to say I thought some of the charts were very good and that you included this go around of the aerospace chart on 25, giving people a sense of where your exposures are, I think is great slide. I mean other slides are very good too. I appreciate the extra guidance on some of the segments. On the debt side, I think, on one of the slides, you said your target to maintain debt-to-capital for the year is 30% to 35% and I think you said you’re at 35% in the first quarter. So, you’re basically saying you’re going down in terms of leverage from this point on for the year. Is that correct?

William F. Oplinger – EVP and CFO: Mike, still our target is 30% to 35%. We’re sitting currently at 34.7% and net debt to cap is 30.5%.

Michael Gambardella – JPMorgan: One last question on the automotive exposure, are you planning more capacity for the auto sheet body, the body (weight)?

Klaus Kleinfeld – Chairman and CEO: Yes, that’s what the expansion that we have underway in Davenport is targeted at, absolutely.

Michael Gambardella – JPMorgan: But above and beyond the Ford pickup?

Klaus Kleinfeld – Chairman and CEO: We have not mentioned what customers we are catering to and we’ll not do that. But I did mention that the capacity that we are bringing on line is pretty much already committed.

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