Mr. Joe Randell reports
CHORUS AVIATION ANNOUNCES FIRST QUARTER 2019 FINANCIAL RESULTS
Chorus Aviation Inc. has released its first quarter 2019 financial results.
Q1 financial highlights and year-to-date accomplishments:
Net income of $33.4-million, inclusive of an unrealized foreign exchange gain of $16.8-million;
Adjusted net income of $19-million, or 13 cents per basic share;
Adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $74.7-million, a decrease of $2.9-million, inclusive of the changes under the amended capacity purchase agreement (CPA) and a $7.7-million quarter-over-quarter increase in stock-based compensation due to the strengthening of the share price;
Amended and extended the CPA with Air Canada to 2035;
Achieved an unprecedented 17-year collective agreement with Jazz pilots;
Completed a $97.26-million equity investment by Air Canada to enable fleet modernization and leasing growth;
Entered into a firm purchase agreement with Bombardier for nine CRJ900s;
Secured $300-million (U.S.) credit facility to support the growth of the regional aircraft leasing segment;
Diversified and grew the regional aircraft leasing fleet to 45 regional aircraft acquired at approximately $960-million (U.S.) inclusive of 10 transactions pending completion*;
Realigned executive team to support further growth and diversification.
"Our financial performance in the first quarter of 2019 met our expectations, with operating income being relatively consistent with the same period in 2018," stated Joe Randell, president and chief executive officer of Chorus. "In the quarter, we generated $74.7-million in adjusted EBITDA and net income of $33.4-million, inclusive of an unrealized foreign exchange gain of $16.8-million.
"I'm very pleased with the execution of our growth and diversification strategy, which continues to build on the momentum achieved in 2018. Our strengthened partnership with Air Canada was a pivotal development in our transformation, securing Jazz's place in the Air Canada Express network for an unprecedented 17 years to the end of 2035. The implementation of the amended CPA is progressing well, and we expect Jazz's fleet modernization to commence with the delivery of five CRJ900s, leased from Air Canada, beginning in June.
"In less than five months, we've grown our third party leasing portfolio by 11 aircraft and welcomed SpiceJet as a new customer. India is one of the fastest-growing air travel markets in the world, and we're pleased to add this award-winning and growing airline to our portfolio of lessees. Once all pending deliveries have been completed, we'll have grown our portfolio to 45 aircraft, acquired at approximately $960-million (U.S.), with nearly $745-million (U.S.) in future contract lease revenue. When combined with the 47 aircraft leased under the CPA, our fleet of leased aircraft has reached 92* aircraft with a net book value of approximately $1.6-billion (U.S.).
"We're maturing and building scale as a worldwide lessor. Our core business with Air Canada is established for the long term; we're now focusing more deeply on leveraging our vast expertise in regional operations to secure further growth. The recent realignment of our chief executives places further emphasis on strategic and corporate planning to bolster our lines of business.
"We are well positioned for the future. I extend my sincere thanks and gratitude to the Chorus team for these significant accomplishments," concluded Mr. Randell.
* Of the 10 pending transactions as at March 31, 2019, three aircraft were received prior to May 8, 2019.
First quarter 2019 summary
Financial performance -- first quarter 2019 compared with first quarter 2018
In the first quarter of 2019, Chorus reported adjusted EBITDA of $74.7-million, a decrease of $2.9-million, or 3.7 per cent relative to the first quarter of 2018.
The regional aviation services segment decreased by $9.3-million quarter over quarter. The results of the first quarter of 2019 reflect the 2019 CPA amendments, which reduced the fixed margin and incentive revenue as Chorus moves to market-based compensation rates. These reductions were offset by the implementation of the controllable cost guardrails that mitigated the expected first quarter CPA margin shortfall related to reduced fees. Beyond the changes related to the amended CPA, the first quarter results were impacted by:
- Increased stock-based compensation of $7.7-million due to the strengthening of the share price;
Decreased capitalization of major maintenance overhauls on owned CPA aircraft over the previous period;
- Offset by
increased aircraft leasing under the CPA.
The decrease in the regional aviation services segment was partially offset by an increase of $6.5-million in the regional aircraft leasing segment related to the growth in aircraft acquired and under lease.
Adjusted net income was $19-million for the period, a decrease from 2018 of $7.7-million, or 28.6 per cent, due to:
The $2.9-million decrease in adjusted EBITDA previously described;
- An increase in depreciation of $3.1-million related to additional aircraft in the regional aircraft leasing segment;
- An increase in interest costs of $1.9-million related to additional aircraft debt;
- Offset by other of $200,000.
Net income was $33.4-million for the period, an increase of $28.2-million over 2018. The increase was primarily due to the quarter-over-quarter change in unrealized foreign exchange gains on long-term debt of $34.7-million and decreased employee separation program costs of $3.1-million, offset by the previously noted $7.7-million decrease in adjusted net income and one-time signing bonuses of $2-million related to changes to the Jazz pilot collective agreement.
On Feb. 4, 2019, the 2019 CPA amendments became effective on a retroactive basis to Jan. 1, 2019. Further information concerning the 2019 CPA amendments and Air Canada's investment is contained in the corporation's material change reports dated Jan. 24, 2019, and Feb. 13, 2019, which are available on SEDAR. The 2019 CPA amendments resulted in a near-term reduction in fixed fees starting in 2019 as Chorus accelerates its transition to market-based rates. The reduction was implemented by eliminating the infrastructure fee per covered aircraft and the fixed margin per covered aircraft, which were replaced with a single fixed margin. As a result, fixed-fee revenue in each of 2019 and 2020 is anticipated to be $75.5-million per year, as compared with $111.3-million in 2018. In addition, the maximum future available performance incentives reduce from $23.4-million in 2019 and 2020 to an annual average maximum available amount of $3.4-million for the full term of the CPA. The near-term reductions are more than offset over the term of the CPA by incremental contracted revenue secured with the extension of the agreement, including fixed fees and aircraft leasing.
Since the start of 2017, Chorus has raised net proceeds of $401-million in capital from both the issuance of convertible units and shares**, which, if levered at 3:1, provides approximately $1.6-billion of investment capital. As at March 31, 2019, Chorus has invested approximately 75 per cent of this capital. As of May 8, 2019, Chorus's total committed available capital was approximately 90 per cent. Chorus anticipates committing the remaining balance by early 2020 in new to midlife aircraft with long-term leases to a diverse group of high-quality customers located around the world.
Capital expenditures for 2019, excluding those for the acquisition of aircraft and the extended service program (ESP) and including capitalized major maintenance overhauls, are expected to be between $34-million and $40-million. Aircraft-related acquisitions and the extended service program capital expenditures in 2019 are expected to be between $428-million and $433-million. This excludes any potential additional investments in third party aircraft beyond what has been announced to date. As a result of the fleet changes associated with the 2019 CPA amendments, the eight ESPs planned for 2019 has reduced to four. The remaining seven ESPs will be completed by 2022.
** Shares refers to Chorus's Class A variable voting shares and Class B voting shares.
Investor conference call/audio webcast
Chorus will hold an analyst call at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, May 8, 2019, to discuss the first quarter 2019 financial results. The call may be accessed by dialling 1-888-231-8191. The call will be simultaneously audio webcast on the Internet.
This is a listen-in-only audio webcast. Media Player or Real Player is required to listen to the broadcast; please download well in advance of the call.
The conference call webcast will be archived on Chorus's website under reports, executive management presentations. A playback of the call can also be accessed until 12 a.m. ET, May 16, 2019, by dialling toll-free 1-855-859-2056 and using passcode 6896463 followed by the number sign.
About Chorus Aviation Inc.
Headquartered in Halifax, N.S., Chorus was incorporated on Sept. 27, 2010. Chorus has been leasing its owned regional aircraft into Jazz's Air Canada Express operation since 2011 and established Chorus Aviation Capital to become a leading, global provider of regional aircraft leases. Chorus also owns Jazz Aviation LP and Voyageur Aviation Corp. -- companies that have long histories of safe and solid operations that deliver excellent customer service in the areas of contract flying operations, engineering, fleet management, and maintenance, repair and overhaul. Together, the Chorus group of companies can provide a full suite of regional aviation support services.
CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL ANALYSIS
(expressed in thousands of dollars)
Three months ended March 31,
Operating revenue $ 343,867 $ 323,663
Operating expenses 303,748 278,675
Operating income 40,119 44,988
Net interest expense (15,741) (13,839)
Foreign exchange gain (loss) 14,250 (19,793)
Other 36 8
Earnings before income tax 38,664 11,364
Income tax expense (5,217) (6,134)
Net income 33,447 5,230
Adjusted EBITDA 74,724 77,553
Adjusted EBT 24,266 32,797
Adjusted net income 19,049 26,663
We seek Safe Harbor.
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