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 endedÂ March 31, 2012. These results include those of Helicopters (N.Z.) Limited, (“HNZ”) acquired onÂ July 7, 2011.
|Financial Highlights||Quarters ended MarchÂ 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 ofÂ $62.5 million, upÂ $15.6 million, or 33.3%, over revenue ofÂ $46.9 millionÂ in the first quarter of 2011, including revenue ofÂ $18.5 millionÂ from HNZ. Revenue flying hours increased 22.4% to 12,544 hours, including 2,687 hours flown at HNZ.
Visual Flight Rules (VFR) revenue increasedÂ $8.0 millionÂ primarily due to aÂ $9.2 millionÂ contribution from HNZ, mostly arising from fire fighting activity inÂ Australia, as well as higher oil and gas support activity. These factors were partially offset by lower revenue inÂ AfghanistanÂ resulting from the scheduled termination of one contract onÂ November 30, 2011. Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) revenue grewÂ $4.3 millionÂ reflecting aÂ $6.7 millionÂ 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 grewÂ $3.3 million, includingÂ $2.6 millionÂ through HNZ activities and the balance inÂ Canada.
EBITDA for the first quarter of 2012 reachedÂ $14.6 million, up fromÂ $8.9 millionÂ 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 toÂ $8.3 million, orÂ $0.63Â per share, compared withÂ $4.8 million, orÂ $0.37Â 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 millionÂ in the first quarter of 2012, up fromÂ $7.8 millionÂ 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,” saidÂ Don Wall, President and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Helicopters.Â “HNZ had a very strong quarter driven by fire fighting activities and its strong presence in the resources sector. Finally, our contracts inÂ AfghanistanÂ 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 atÂ March 31, 2012, Canadian Helicopters’ financial position remains strong with debt, net of cash and cash equivalents and bank indebtedness ofÂ $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 atÂ March 31, 2012.
PROPOSED NAME CHANGE REFLECTS INTERNATIONAL CHARACTER OF COMPANY
Subsequent to the end of the first quarter, onÂ 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 onÂ May 11, 2012Â and of theÂ TorontoÂ 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 inÂ AfghanistanÂ 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,” concludedÂ Mr. Wall.
Canadian Helicopters will hold a conference call to discuss these results onÂ May 11, 2012Â atÂ 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 untilÂ 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 inÂ Canada,Â Australia,Â New ZealandÂ and regions of Southeast Asia. The group also delivers contracted on demand support inÂ AfghanistanÂ and Antarctica. Charter operations are provided under two brands: HelicoptersÂ New ZealandÂ (HNZ) in the Asia Pacific and Antarctica regions and Canadian Helicopters Limited (CHL) inCanadaÂ andÂ Afghanistan. In addition to charter services, the Company provides flight training and third party repair and maintenance services. With headquarters nearÂ Montreal,Â Canada, the Company operates approximately 140 helicopters and employs approximately 800 personnel.
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