Air Transport Services Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATSG), the leading provider of medium wide-body aircraft leasing, contracted air transportation and related services, today reported consolidated financial results for the quarter and six months ended June 30, 2020.
ATSG's second quarter 2020 results, as compared with the second quarter of 2019, include:
- Customer revenues up 13 percent, or $43.2 million, to $377.8 million.
ATSG's principal business segments, aircraft leasing and air transport, increased revenues by eight percent and 13 percent, respectively, before eliminations. Revenues from other businesses increased eight percent on the same basis.
- GAAP Earnings from Continuing Operations were a loss of $105.2 million, or $1.78 per share basic, versus a loss of $26.6 million, or $0.45 per share.
Quarterly re-measurements of financial instrument values reduced after-tax earnings by $107.6 million and $33.6 million, respectively, in the second quarters of 2020 and 2019. Warrant losses in each quarter stemmed primarily from increases in the traded value of ATSG shares in the second quarter of each year. A second-quarter 2020 impairment charge reduced earnings by $30.2 million, principally as a result of management's decision to retire CAM's four Boeing 757 freighters.
- Adjusted Earnings from Continuing Operations (non-GAAP) rose 74 percent to $32.5 million. Adjusted Earnings Per Share (non-GAAP) were $0.47 diluted, up from $0.27 in 2019.
Adjusted Earnings from Continuing Operations and Adjusted EPS exclude elements from GAAP results that differ distinctly in predictability among periods or are not closely related to operations. Adjustments from GAAP for 2020 include financial instrument revaluations, an aircraft asset impairment charge, federal CARES Act grants to two ATSG airlines, amortization of aircraft customer incentives, retiree benefit costs, and losses of non-consolidated ATSG affiliates.
- Adjusted EBITDA from Continuing Operations (non-GAAP) increased 20 percent to $125.6 million.
Increased contributions from ATSG’s airlines, and from the increase in externally leased 767 freighters, drove the majority of the increase in Adjusted EBITDA.
Adjusted Earnings per Share, Adjusted Earnings from Continuing Operations and Adjusted EBITDA from Continuing Operations are non-GAAP financial measures and are defined in the non-GAAP reconciliation tables at the end of this release.
- First-half capital spending was $265.9 million, up 23 percent.
Capital expenditures included $188.2 million for the purchase of seven Boeing 767 aircraft in the first half of 2020, and for freighter modification costs.
Rich Corrado, president and chief executive officer of ATSG, said, "ATSG’s airlines leveraged short-term charter and ACMI opportunities to mitigate substantial pandemic-related reductions in regular operations for the U.S. Department of Defense and commercial passenger customers to achieve strong revenue and earnings growth on an adjusted basis for the second quarter. Air cargo operations expanded with the deployment of one Boeing 767-300 freighter leased to Amazon and operated by Air Transport International, the first under a new order for twelve with the remaining eleven scheduled for lease to Amazon during 2021. We now expect to lease twelve 767-300 freighters in 2020 to external customers, up from the previous guidance of eight to ten. Near-term pandemic effects aside, ATSG remains a growing, thriving air transport business with substantial growth potential in the coming years."
Second Quarter Events
Agreement for Twelve More 767 Leases To Amazon – In June, ATSG subsidiary Cargo Aircraft Management (CAM) agreed to lease twelve more Boeing 767-300 freighters to Amazon for ten-year terms. CAM delivered and ATI began operating one of the twelve in the second quarter; the remainder will be delivered throughout 2021. These are in addition to prior agreements for thirty 767 leases between CAM and Amazon, plus related airline operating agreements; the last four of the thirty will be delivered in the second half of 2020. Amazon was issued seven million warrants to purchase ATSG shares at an exercise price of $20.40 per share in connection with Amazon's June leasing commitment. Based upon existing leases and future lease commitments, ATSG projects to have leased thirty-one 767s to Amazon by the end of 2020, and forty-two by the end of 2021.
CARES Act Funding Granted to Omni & ATI – During the second quarter, Omni Air International (Omni) and Air Transport International (ATI) each received Treasury Department approval for grants of funds pursuant to the payroll support program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Omni was granted $67.1 million for anticipated employee-related costs due to the reduction in business from its U.S. military and commercial customers that have curtailed passenger transport services due to the coronavirus pandemic. On the same basis, ATI was granted $8.3 million under the program primarily due to pandemic-related curtailment of its combi service to remote military installations. The funds are being received in installments through September 2020. ATSG will realize both grants in its GAAP earnings; ATI through September 2020, and Omni through June 2021. ATSG’s second-quarter GAAP pretax earnings included $9.8 million of such grant proceeds. Omni and ATI, on behalf of themselves and certain affiliates, have agreed to refrain from involuntary employee furloughs or compensation reductions through September 30, 2020, and to meet other requirements, including restrictions on executive compensation, dividends and share repurchases.
Aircraft Asset Impairment Charge – During the second quarter, after the expiration of ATI's Boeing 757 freighter operating agreements with DHL, ATSG decided to retire those four aircraft. Three of the 757 airframes have been removed from service and are available for sale. One will remain in service through 2020. Some of the 757 engines are being leased to external customers. A pretax impairment charge totaling $39.1 million was recorded in ATSG’s financial statements as of June 30, 2020, primarily reflecting the market value of these assets as well as other surplus engines and parts. The market value of these assets has been negatively impacted by the pandemic. The impairment does not affect CAM’s four Boeing 757 combi aircraft, which remain under contract with the Department of Defense.
Cargo Aircraft Management (CAM)
- CAM's second quarter revenues, net of warrant-related lease incentives, increased eight percent versus the prior year. Revenues benefited primarily from seven 767 freighters deployed since June 30, 2019. CAM's revenues include the contributions from aircraft leased to ATSG’s airlines. CAM’s revenues from external customers increased 25 percent for the second quarter versus the same prior-year period.
- ATSG’s total fleet consisted of ninety-four aircraft in service at the end of the second quarter, five more than at the same point in 2019. CAM owned eighty-nine of those aircraft; three were leased to ATSG airlines by third parties and two were customer-provided for ATSG to operate. Sixty-three of those in-service, CAM-owned cargo aircraft were dry-leased to external customers on June 30, 2020, seven more than a year ago.
- CAM owned fourteen 767-300 aircraft in or awaiting cargo conversion as of June 30, versus eleven a year ago and eight at the end of 2019. As of June 30, CAM expects to lease at least twenty 767-300 newly modified freighters through 2021, including seventeen already under firm customer commitment, and three for which we are finalizing lease arrangements.
- During the first half of 2020, CAM purchased seven 767 feedstock aircraft for freighter modification and lease deployment. It expects to purchase four more in the second half. CAM has committed to purchase only three 767-300 aircraft in 2021.
- CAM’s pretax earnings for the quarter were $19.6 million, $3.0 million more than the prior-year's second quarter. Earnings reflected a $0.3 million increase in allocated interest and a $3.3 million increase in depreciation expense. Results for the second quarter also reflect reduced earnings from four Boeing 757 freighters compared to a year ago. Three of those aircraft have been removed from service during 2020 and one is expected to operate for the remainder of the year.
- Second-quarter revenues for ACMI Services increased 13 percent from the prior-year period, stemming mainly from incremental charter assignments for Omni Air from the federal government, and expanded air express network flying. These included flights to return people to the United States who were stranded abroad at the onset of the pandemic. Also contributing were two ACMI routes which began during the second quarter to support DHL's cargo network and deliver pandemic relief supplies over routes between Hong Kong and Sydney and between the U.S. and Europe. Both routes are anticipated to run for several months. These revenues partially offset revenue reductions from ATI’s 757 combi and freighter operations, and from Omni's military and commercial passenger flights, due to pandemic-related restrictions.
- ATSG's airlines operated sixty-seven aircraft at June 30, fifteen passenger and fifty-two cargo aircraft. One of four 757 freighters that ATI operated a year ago remained in service at the end of the second quarter.
- Total block hours increased 17 percent for the second quarter versus a year ago, principally due to more aircraft in service and expanded route commitments from Amazon.
- Segment earnings for the quarter were $19.7 million versus $1.0 million a year ago, excluding the effect of CARES Act grant funds for pandemic relief, and impairment charges. Principal factors were a shift toward full-service, higher margin passenger charter operations in 2020, lower ramp-up expenses associated with last year's expansion of a customer's air network and lower travel costs for positioning flight crews. In addition, interest expense allocated to ACMI Services for the second quarter decreased $0.8 million to $5.6 million.
- Total second-quarter external revenues from other activities increased by one percent due to growth in aviation fuel sales and ground handling services.
- Total pretax loss for the second quarter of $2.2 million principally reflects reduced earnings from aircraft maintenance services and sales of aircraft parts due to the pandemic.
Due in part to robust demand for its cargo aircraft and related airline services, as well as stronger than expected demand from governmental agencies for passenger charter flights in the second quarter, ATSG now expects Adjusted EBITDA for 2020 to be at least $470 million. This updated projection reflects ATSG’s assumption about the level and duration of pandemic impacts on its commercial and military passenger flying, and a reduced likelihood of continued passenger charter opportunities to mitigate those effects in the second half.
The pandemic’s effects on the global economy and on military operations have proven to be difficult to predict. In the event those effects impact ATSG’s business later this year in ways not currently foreseen, ATSG may revise its Adjusted EBITDA guidance prior to year-end.
Corrado said that "Overall, ATSG’s long-term outlook is very bright, with especially strong demand for our cargo aircraft from lease and ACMI customers around the globe. Our order book calls for us to modify and dry-lease at least twenty additional 767 freighters through 2021, while redeploying others to new customers. Our business model's emphasis on long-term cash flow streams from dry-leasing midsize cargo aircraft and focused passenger operations provides a solid financial foundation. When the pandemic fades, we expect to deliver even stronger results from our leasing, airline, aircraft maintenance and logistics operations.”
ATSG’s capital expenditures for 2020 are projected to be approximately $465 million. That includes purchases of eleven Boeing 767-300s this year for lease deployments.
Currently, ATSG expects to purchase three to five Boeing 767-300 aircraft in 2021. As a result, ATSG anticipates that capital spending in 2021 will decline by at least $115 million to approximately $350 million. At the same time, ATSG projects continued growth in Adjusted EBITDA over the next two years, stemming from its fleet investments and expanding airline, MRO and logistics operations.
“Our continuing focus on providing capacity and value-added services for express air-networks of global e-commerce companies, and on the passenger transport requirements of U.S. government customers, leaves us well positioned for growth and has helped protect us from economic volatility,” Corrado said. “With the growing cash generating power of our businesses, we look forward to expanded opportunities to allocate capital among a wide range of value-enhancing alternatives to increase shareholder value.”