Cliffs Natural Resources Inc CLF
Q1 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 04/29/2010

Operator: Good morning. My name is Lutanya and I am your conference facilitator today. I would like to welcome everyone to Cliffs Natural Resources 2010 First Quarter Conference Call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers’ remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session.

At this time, I would like to introduce Mr. Steve Baisden, Director of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications. Mr. Baisden, you may begin.

Steven R. Baisden - Director, IR and Corporate Communications: Thank you, Lutanya. Before we get started, let me remind you that certain comments made on today’s call will include predictive statements that are intended to be made as forward-looking within the safe harbor protections of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Although the Company believes that its forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially.

Important factors that could cause results to differ materially are set forth in reports on Form 10-K and 10-Q and news releases filed with the SEC, which are available on our website. Today’s conference call is also available and being broadcast at At the conclusion of the call, it will be archived on the website and available for replay for approximately 30 days.

Joining me today are Cliffs’ Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Carrabba; Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Laurie Brlas; also with us today is Cliffs’ President of North American Business Unit, Don Gallagher. Don will be available to assist us during the Q&A portion of today’s call.

At this time, I’ll turn the call over to Joe for his initial remarks.

Joseph A. Carrabba - Chairman, President and CEO: Thanks Steve and thanks everyone for joining us today. In terms of performance and outlook, the first quarter of 2010 stands in stark contrast to the first quarter of 2009. The signs of stabilization and improvements that emerged in the second half of last year have evolved in what appears to be a sustainable early-stage recovery. Our business outlook continues to improve across the board and is supported by very strong supply/demand fundamentals that are manifesting themselves in improved pricing for our products.

Highlights for the first quarter include; consolidated revenues of 57% to $728 million and sales margin that more than tripled that of last year; a sharp rebound in net income to $94 million from last year’s $7 million loss and a sales volume increase of over 50% in iron ore and over 10% in coal.

I know many of you have been following with great interest the emergence of new pricing mechanisms replacing the historic benchmark systems for iron ore and metallurgical coal. While I expect these will results in pricing more reflective of current supply and demand dynamics, the transition is resulting in uncertain pricing models for those of us who are price takers in the industry.

As you would guess, we are in discussions with customers regarding how our current supply agreements will take into account these new mechanisms. We will work to understand our customers’ preferences around quarterly or annual pricing and attempt to adjust supply agreements to meet our respective needs. While too early to provide specifics, we do feel this shift will change the entire industry including Cliffs.

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