Canadian Helicopters Group Inc. (TSX: CHL.A, CHL.B) ("the Company"), an international provider of helicopter transportation and related support services, today announced its financial and operating results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2012. These results include those of Helicopters (N.Z.) Limited, ("HNZ") acquired on July 7, 2011.
|Financial Highlights||Quarters ended March 31,|
|(in thousands of dollars, except per share data)||2012||2011|
|Per share - basic and diluted ($)||0.63||0.37|
|Cash flows related to operating activities (2)||11,973||7,754|
|Weighted-average shares outstanding (all classes)||13,068,700||13,068,700|
|(1)||Net income before net financing charges (income), income taxes, depreciation and amortization and gain or loss on disposal of property, plant and equipment|
|(2)||Before net changes in non-cash working capital balances|
The Company generated revenue of $62.5 million, up $15.6 million, or 33.3%, over revenue of $46.9 million in the first quarter of 2011, including revenue of $18.5 million from HNZ. Revenue flying hours increased 22.4% to 12,544 hours, including 2,687 hours flown at HNZ.
Visual Flight Rules (VFR) revenue increased $8.0 million primarily due to a $9.2 million contribution from HNZ, mostly arising from fire fighting activity in Australia, as well as higher oil and gas support activity. These factors were partially offset by lower revenue in Afghanistan resulting from the scheduled termination of one contract on November 30, 2011. Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) revenue grew $4.3 million reflecting a $6.7 million contribution from HNZ, mostly in the oil and gas and mining services, partially offset by the phase out of some Canadian emergency medical services activities during the quarter. Ancillary revenue grew $3.3 million, including $2.6 million through HNZ activities and the balance in Canada.
EBITDA for the first quarter of 2012 reached $14.6 million, up from $8.9 million a year earlier. This increase mainly reflects the contribution from HNZ as the first quarter is historically HNZ's strongest quarter. As a result, net income amounted to $8.3 million, or $0.63 per share, compared with $4.8 million, or $0.37 per share in 2011. Reflecting higher net income, cash flows related to operating activities before net change in non-cash working capital balances reached$12.0 million in the first quarter of 2012, up from $7.8 million in the corresponding period a year earlier.
"Canadian Helicopters had another strong performance in the first quarter, as operations in the southern hemisphere offset the seasonal slowdown in Canadian domestic activity," said Don Wall, President and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Helicopters. "HNZ had a very strong quarter driven by fire fighting activities and its strong presence in the resources sector. Finally, our contracts in Afghanistan continue to achieve activity levels consistent with our expectations. Importantly, control of expenses combined with a more favourable service mix in the southern hemisphere led to a significant increase in operating profitability."
As at March 31, 2012, Canadian Helicopters' financial position remains strong with debt, net of cash and cash equivalents and bank indebtedness of $41.7 million, drawn under its authorized revolving operating credit facility of$125 million. As a result, the long-term debt-to-equity ratio was 0.23 as at March 31, 2012.
PROPOSED NAME CHANGE REFLECTS INTERNATIONAL CHARACTER OF COMPANY
Subsequent to the end of the first quarter, on April 17, 2011, Canadian Helicopters announced its intention to seek shareholder's approval of a special resolution to change the Company's name from "Canadian Helicopters Group Inc." to "HNZ Group Inc." The purpose of the name change is to increase the Company's global marketability and branding by distinguishing the Company from similarly named Canadian competitors and to leverage the existing HNZ brand recognition. Existing operating brands, including Canadian Helicopters, will be retained where appropriate. The name change is subject to the approval of the Company's shareholders at the annual and special meeting of shareholders on May 11, 2012 and of the Toronto Stock Exchange. If all approvals are obtained, the Company intends to implement the name change during the summer of 2012.
"In 2012, the solid financial position of the Company will allow us to continue growing in overseas markets. As we aggressively pursue new customers within our established footprint in the southern hemisphere, we will also look at acquisitions and organic fleet growth that complements our business model. In addition, we are studying entry opportunities in other geographic areas. The Company's contracts in Afghanistan will continue generating strong revenues, and the momentum in the natural resources sector, both domestically and abroad, should further enhance our financial performance. Accordingly, we expect that 2012 will be another strong year in terms of revenue and profitability," concluded Mr. Wall.
Canadian Helicopters will hold a conference call to discuss these results on May 11, 2012 at 2:00 PM (ET). Interested parties can join the call by dialing 647-427-7450 (Toronto) or 1-888-231-8191 (toll free). If you are unable to call at this time, you may access a tape recording of the meeting by calling 416-849-0833 (Toronto), 514-807-9274 (Montreal), or 1-855-859-2056 (toll free) followed by access code 76575407. This tape recording will be available until May 19, 2012.
ABOUT CANADIAN HELICOPTERS GROUP INC.
Canadian Helicopters Group is an international provider of helicopter transportation and related support services with fixed primary operations in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and regions of Southeast Asia. The group also delivers contracted on demand support in Afghanistan and Antarctica. Charter operations are provided under two brands: Helicopters New Zealand (HNZ) in the Asia Pacific and Antarctica regions and Canadian Helicopters Limited (CHL) inCanada and Afghanistan. In addition to charter services, the Company provides flight training and third party repair and maintenance services. With headquarters near Montreal, Canada, the Company operates approximately 140 helicopters and employs approximately 800 personnel.
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