Willis Lease Finance Reports Third Quarter 2012 Results

| November 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

NOVATO, Calif., Nov. 5, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Willis Lease Finance Corporation (WLFC), a leading lessor of commercial jet engines, reported that following a $15.4 million charge for extinguishment of debt and derivatives termination, it lost $8.0 million, or $0.90 per share, in the third quarter of 2012. In the second quarter of 2012, net income available to common shareholders was $2.4 million, or $0.28 per share, and $1.5 million, or $0.17 per share in the third quarter a year ago. In the first nine months of 2012, the net loss was $3.0 million, or $0.34 per share, compared to earnings of $8.5 million, or $0.96 per share, in the first nine months of 2011.

Third Quarter 2012 Highlights (at or for the periods ended Sept. 30, 2012, compared to Sept. 30, 2011):

  • Willis Lease completed a $390 million ABS offering of senior secured notes on September 17, 2012, resulting in a $10.1 million charge related to the termination of interest rate swaps used to hedge the prior ABS floating rate debt that was refinanced and a $5.3 million non-cash charge to write off unamortized debt issuance costs and unamortized note discount.
  • Lease portfolio increased 1.7% to $976.6 million from $960.5 million a year ago, with one engine purchased and three engines sold in the current quarter.
  • Total revenues fell 5% to $37.5 million from $39.5 million a year ago, reflecting lower average portfolio utilization, and lower gains from sale of equipment.
  • Average utilization for the third quarter was 82% compared to 82% in the second quarter and 86% in the third quarter of 2011.
  • Utilization was 83% at September 30, 2012, compared to 82% at the end of the preceding quarter, and 86% at September 30, 2011.
  • Lease rent revenues decreased 13% to $23.0 million compared to $26.5 million a year ago.
  • Maintenance reserve revenues increased 19% to $10.7 million, compared to $9.0 million a year ago.
  • The revolving credit facility was upsized by $85 million in the third quarter with three new banks joining the lending group, increasing available liquidity to $159 million at quarter end, up from $105 million a year ago.
  • Tangible book value per common share was $22.59 compared to $21.86 a year ago.

“We have already begun to deploy the additional liquidity generated by the $390 million ABS offering which closed in mid-September,” said Charles F. Willis, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We redeemed all of the outstanding Series A preferred shares this month, eliminating $3.1 million after-tax in annual dividend payments going forward. In addition, we repurchased 460,545 shares of common stock in October at an average price of $13.79 per share totaling $6.4 million. There are several benefits of this debt financing including expanding current liquidity, improving access to operational cash flows, locking in today’s low interest rates for 10 years and providing substantial funding to support the growth in our engine portfolio over the coming years.”

“I’m also pleased to report that Mitsui Co., Ltd., our partner in our engine leasing joint venture company in Dublin, Willis Mitsui Engine Support, recently agreed to become a key strategic partner in the development of a new engine (“GE9X”) by GE Aviation (an operating unit of GE) for the next generation of wide-body aircraft. Mitsui will cover part of the development costs for the GE9X and buy or lease engines through our joint venture to expand the engine leasing business.”

“Our new Chinese subsidiary, Willis Lease (China) Limited, funded its first transaction at the end of the third quarter,” said Donald A. Nunemaker, President. “The transaction was a purchase leaseback with a major Chinese airline for a CFM56-5B engine, which powers the Airbus 320 aircraft. The debt for this transaction was funded by a large Chinese bank. While we have been leasing engines in China since 1997 this is the first time we have borrowed from a Chinese bank to finance the purchase of an engine. Overall, we are very pleased with the relationships we are forging in China and believe that China offers tremendous opportunities for us.”

“We have seen a definite increase in the amount of new lease activity during September and October,” Nunemaker continued. “For example, during the last week of September we closed ten new leases–the most we have ever closed in a single week. The increase in new lease activity has also led to improved utilization. We went from 82% at the end of the previous quarter to 83% at September 30, 2012, and October will show even more impressive results.”

Interest costs declined 15% to $7.5 million in the third quarter compared to $8.9 million in the third quarter a year ago. In the first nine months, interest costs fell 16% to $22.6 million compared to $26.9 million in the first nine months of 2011. “In the third quarter, we completed two major financings – the closing of WEST II and the upsizing of our revolving credit facility, which sets the stage for the next phase of our growth,” said Brad Forsyth, Chief Financial Officer. “While the interest rate on the WEST II debt is higher than the previous WEST debt, our overall financing costs are expected to rise only moderately because we are able to deploy the additional liquidity from the transaction to reduce other debt balances. Most importantly, we have the funding to add in-demand engines to our portfolio and grow our franchise in the coming years. The long-term benefits of this transaction cannot be overstated.” As noted in the September announcement of the WEST II deal, those benefits include the following:

  • Locks in fixed interest rate for the life of the notes, providing certainty of future cash flows.
  • Significantly reduces principal payments and extends amortization period, improving cash flow.
  • Releases significant cash from restricted cash and facilitates leverage on previously unlevered assets.
  • Eliminates certain administrative costs for servicing and other third party expenses.
  • Provides greater operating flexibility by eliminating several corporate and portfolio concentration covenants.
  • Provides greater flexibility to sell engines and reinvest the proceeds to update the portfolio.

Balance Sheet

At September 30, 2012, Willis Lease had 187 commercial aircraft engines, 4 aircraft parts packages and 10 aircraft and other engine-related equipment in its lease portfolio, with a net book value of $976.6 million, compared to 183 commercial aircraft engines, 3 aircraft parts packages and 3 aircraft and other engine-related equipment in its lease portfolio, with a net book value of $960.5 million a year ago. The Company’s funded debt-to-equity ratio was 2.84 to 1 at quarter end, compared to 2.95 to 1 a year ago.

About Willis Lease Finance

Willis Lease Finance Corporation leases spare commercial aircraft engines and aircraft to commercial airlines, aircraft engine manufacturers, air cargo carriers and maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities worldwide. These leasing activities are integrated with the purchase and resale of used and refurbished commercial aircraft engines.

Except for historical information, the matters discussed in this press release contain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Do not unduly rely on forward-looking statements, which give only expectations about the future and are not guarantees. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made; and we undertake no obligation to update them. Our actual results may differ materially from the results discussed in forward-looking statements. Factors that might cause such a difference include, but are not limited to, the effects on the airline industry and the global economy of events such as terrorist activity, changes in oil prices and other disruptions to the world markets; trends in the airline industry and our ability to capitalize on those trends, including growth rates of markets and other economic factors; risks associated with owning and leasing jet engines and aircraft; our ability to successfully negotiate equipment purchases, sales and leases, to collect outstanding amounts due and to control costs and expenses; changes in interest rates and availability of capital, both to us and our customers; our ability to continue to meet the changing customer demands; regulatory changes affecting airline operations, aircraft maintenance, accounting standards and taxes; the market value of engines and other assets in our portfolio; and risks detailed in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K and other continuing reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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