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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019

Commission file number 1-32737

KOPPERS HOLDINGS INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Pennsylvania

 

20-1878963

(State of incorporation)

 

(IRS Employer Identification No.)

 

 

 

436 Seventh Avenue

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219

 

(412) 227-2001

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share

 

New York Stock Exchange

Title of Each Class

 

Name of Exchange on which registered

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Title of each class

Trading Symbol(s)

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock

KOP

The New York Stock Exchange

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act:    Yes     No  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports) and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company”, and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.:

Large accelerated filer   Accelerated filer   Non-accelerated filer   Smaller reporting company

Emerging Growth Company

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes      No  

The aggregate market value of shares of Common Stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based on the closing sales price of the Common Stock on the New York Stock Exchange on June 28, 2019 was $588.7 million (affiliates, for this purpose, have been deemed to be Directors and executive officers of Koppers Holdings Inc.).

As of January 31, 2020, 20,805,162 shares of Common Stock of the registrant were issued and outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement for the 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

3


TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Item

 

 

 

Page

 

Part I

 

 

 

 

 

1.

 

Business

 

6

 

1A.

 

Risk Factors

 

11

 

1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

23

 

2.

 

Properties

 

23

 

3.

 

Legal Proceedings

 

24

 

4.

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

24

 

Executive Officers of the Registrant

 

24

 

Part II

 

 

 

 

 

5.

 

Market for the Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

25

 

6.

 

Selected Financial Data

 

26

 

7.

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

27

 

7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

41

 

8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

42

 

9.

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

81

 

9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

 

81

 

9B.

 

Other Information

 

81

 

Part III

 

 

 

 

 

10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

82

 

11.

 

Executive Compensation

 

82

 

12.

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

82

 

13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

82

 

14.

 

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

 

82

 

Part IV

 

 

 

 

 

15.

 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

 

83

 

16.

 

Form 10-K Summary

 

88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signatures

 

90

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This report and the documents incorporated herein by reference contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and may include, but are not limited to, statements about sales levels, restructuring, profitability and anticipated synergies, expenses and cash outflows. All forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. All statements contained herein that are not clearly historical in nature are forward-looking, and words such as “believe”, “anticipate”, “expect”, “estimate”, “may”, “will”, “should”, “continue”, “plan”, “intend”, “likely” or other similar words or phrases are generally intended to identify forward-looking statements. Any forward-looking statement contained herein, regarding expectations with respect to sales, earnings, cash flows, operating efficiencies, product introduction or expansion, the benefits of acquisitions and divestitures or other matters, are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and contingencies.

Many of these risks, uncertainties and contingencies are beyond our control, and may cause actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from anticipated results, performance or achievements. Factors that might affect such forward-looking statements include, among other things:

 

availability of and fluctuations in the prices of key raw materials, including coal tar, lumber and scrap copper;

 

the impact of changes in commodity prices, such as oil, copper and chemicals, on product margins;

 

the ratings on our debt and our ability to repay or refinance our outstanding indebtedness as it matures;

 

our ability to operate within the limitations of our debt covenants;

 

capital market conditions, including interest rates, borrowing costs and foreign currency rate fluctuations;

 

general economic and business conditions, including demand for our goods and services;

 

potential difficulties in protecting intellectual property;

 

potential impairment of our goodwill and/or long-lived assets;

 

the effects of competition in the industries in which we operate, including locations of competitors and operating and market competition;

 

economic, political and environmental conditions in international markets, including governmental changes, tariffs, restrictions on trade and restrictions on the ability to transfer capital across countries;

 

changes in laws, including tax regulations or accounting standards, third-party relations and approvals, and decisions of courts, regulators and governmental bodies;

 

parties who are obligated to indemnify us for liabilities, including legal and environmental liabilities, fail to perform under their legal obligations;

 

unfavorable resolution of litigation against us;

 

the other factors set forth under “Risk Factors”; as well as those discussed more fully elsewhere in this Form 10-K.

We caution you that the foregoing list of important factors may not contain all of the material factors that are important to you. In addition, in light of these risks and uncertainties, the matters referred to in the forward-looking statements contained in this report and the documents incorporated by reference herein may not in fact occur. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as otherwise required by law.

 

 

5


PART I

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

General

In this report, unless otherwise noted or the context otherwise requires, (i) the term “Koppers”, “Koppers Holdings”, the “Company”, “we” or “us” refers to Koppers Holdings Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries, (ii) the term “KH” refers to Koppers Holdings Inc. and not any of its subsidiaries and (iii) the term “KI” refers to Koppers Inc. and not any of its subsidiaries. Koppers Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koppers Holdings Inc. Koppers Holdings Inc. has substantially no operations independent of Koppers Inc. and its subsidiaries. The use of these terms is not intended to imply that Koppers Holdings and Koppers Inc. are not separate and distinct legal entities from each other and from their respective subsidiaries. Koppers Holdings Inc. was incorporated in November 2004 as a holding company for Koppers Inc.

We are a leading integrated global provider of treated wood products, wood treatment chemicals, and carbon compounds. Our products and services are used in a variety of niche applications in a diverse range of end-markets, including the railroad, specialty chemical, utility, residential lumber, agriculture, aluminum, steel, rubber, and construction industries. We serve our customers through a comprehensive global manufacturing and distribution network, with manufacturing facilities located in North America, South America, Australasia, China and Europe.

Business Segments and Products

We operate three principal business segments: Railroad and Utility Products and Services (“RUPS”), Performance Chemicals (“PC”), and Carbon Materials and Chemicals (“CMC”).

We believe our three business segments command leading market positions. Through our RUPS business, we believe that we are the largest supplier of railroad crossties to the Class I railroads in North America. Through our CMC business, we believe we are the largest global supplier of creosote to the North American railroad industry. Through our PC business, we believe that we are the largest global manufacturer and supplier of water-based wood preservatives and wood specialty additives to treaters who supply the residential, agricultural and industrial pressure-treated wood markets.

Our RUPS and CMC operations are, to a substantial extent, vertically integrated. Through our CMC business, we process coal tar into a variety of products, including creosote, which is an intermediate material necessary in the pressure treatment of wood crossties and other related railroad products. The majority of the creosote we produce in North America and Europe is sold internally to our RUPS business for treating railroad crossties.

Our RUPS and PC operations are also vertically integrated. Through our PC business, we produce a variety of products, including chromated copper arsenate, which is used in the pressure treatment of utility poles and pilings. A portion of the chromated copper arsenate we produce in North America and Australia is sold internally to our RUPS business for treating poles and pilings.

Railroad and Utility Products and Services

Our RUPS business sells treated and untreated wood products, rail joint bars and services primarily to the railroad markets in the United States and Canada and the utility markets in the United States and Australia. We also operate a railroad services business that conducts engineering, design, repair and inspection services for railroad bridges and a business related to the recovery of used crossties, serving the same customer base as our North American railroad business.

Railroad products and services include procuring and treating items such as crossties, switch ties and various types of lumber used for railroad bridges and crossings. Railroad products also include manufacturing and selling rail joint bars, which are steel bars used to join rails together for railroads. Utility products, located in the United States and Australia, include the pressure treatment of transmission and distribution poles for electric and telephone utilities. The RUPS business operates 21 wood treating plants and one rail joint bar manufacturing facility located throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. Our network of plants is strategically located near timber supplies to enable us to access raw materials and service customers effectively. In addition, our crosstie treating plants are typically adjacent to our largest railroad customers’ rail lines.

Our RUPS business manufactures its primary products and sells them directly to our customers through long-term contracts and purchase orders negotiated by our regional sales personnel and coordinated through our marketing group at corporate headquarters.

Hardwoods, such as oak and other species, are the major raw materials in wood crossties. Hardwood prices, which account for more than 50 percent of a finished crosstie’s cost, fluctuate with the demand from other hardwood lumber markets, such as oak flooring, pallets and other specialty lumber products. Weather conditions can be a factor in the supply of raw material, as unusually wet or inclement conditions may make it difficult to harvest timber.

6


Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

In the United States, hardwood lumber for crossties is procured by us from hundreds of small sawmills throughout the northeastern, midwestern and southern areas of the country. The crossties are shipped via rail car or trucked directly to one of our crosstie treating plants, all of which are on line with a major railroad. The crossties are either air-stacked for a period of six to nine months or artificially dried by a process called boultonizing. Once dried, the crossties are pressure treated with creosote, a product of our CMC business. A substantial portion of our crossties are treated with borate, which is purchased from PC, in combination with creosote.

We believe we are the largest supplier of railroad crossties to the Class I railroads in North America. We have one principal competitor, Stella-Jones Inc., and several smaller regional competitors in the North American market. Competitive factors in the railroad crosstie market include price, quality, location, service and security of supply. We believe we have a competitive advantage due to our ability to obtain internally-sourced creosote and our national network of treating plants which have direct access to our major customers’ rail lines. These advantages provide for security of supply and logistics advantages for our customers.

Our RUPS business’ largest customer base is the North American Class I railroad market, which buys approximately 72 percent of all crossties produced in the United States and Canada. Approximately 72 percent of our North American RUPS sales are under long-term contracts and we currently supply all North American Class I railroads. We also have relationships with many of the approximately 560 short-line and regional rail lines. This also forms the customer base for our rail joint bar products. The railroad crosstie market trended lower in 2019, with approximately 18.5 million replacement crossties purchased during the year, down from 21.2 million and 23.4 million purchased during 2018 and 2017, respectively.

Demand for railroad crossties may decline during winter months due to inclement weather conditions which make it difficult to harvest lumber and to install railroad crossties. As a result, operating results may vary from quarter to quarter depending on the severity of weather conditions and other variables affecting our products.

We believe our North American utility pole business is the second largest producer of utility poles in the United States, and we believe our Australian utility pole business is the largest producer of utility poles for the electrical communications utilities in Australia. Utility poles are produced mainly from pine species in the United States and the eucalyptus species in Australia. Most of these poles are purchased from large timber owners and individual landowners and shipped to one of our pole-peeling facilities. In North America and Australia, in addition to utility poles, we market smaller poles to the agricultural landscape and vineyard markets. We treat poles with a variety of preservatives, including chromated copper arsenate and creosote, which we produce internally and purchase from PC and CMC, respectively, and pentachlorophenol, which we purchase from an outside supplier.

Performance Chemicals

Our PC business maintains sales and manufacturing operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand. The primary products supplied by PC are copper-based wood preservatives, including micronized copper quaternary and micronized copper azole (“MicroPro®”), micronized pigments (MicroShades®), alkaline copper quaternary, amine copper azole and chromated copper arsenate. The primary applications for these products include decking, fencing, utility poles, construction lumber and timbers, and vineyard stakes. Additionally, we are now a leading supplier of fire-retardant chemicals for pressure treatment of wood, primarily in commercial construction, where applicable. Because we are a global supplier of wood preservatives, we face various competitors in all the geographic regions in which we participate.   

PC supplies seven of the ten largest lumber treating companies in the United States, the largest treated wood market in the world, in addition to the four largest lumber treating companies in Canada. In North America, our PC business is vertically integrated through the manufacturing of copper compounds for our copper-based wood preservatives. We purchase over 40 million pounds of scrap copper or other compounds containing copper, our key raw material, which we process to meet the annual demand of this major market. When we purchase scrap copper, it is shipped to our manufacturing plants in Hubbell, Michigan and Millington, Tennessee for further processing into other copper compounds. We utilize swap contracts to hedge our exposure to copper price risk.

We believe that being vertically integrated in copper manufacturing provides PC with an important competitive advantage and also provides our customers with the security of a continuous supply of wood preservatives. Likewise, we believe that our marketing, engineering, and technical support services provide added value to our customer base, who supply pressure-treated wood products to large retailers and independent lumber dealers. We believe another competitive advantage is provided by our strategic sourcing group, which procures scrap copper and other raw materials, such as chromic acid, tebuconazole, arsenic trioxide, dispersants and various biocides and co-biocides through the global market. 


7


Carbon Materials and Chemicals

Our CMC business manufactures its primary products and sells them directly to our global customer base under long-term contracts or through purchase orders negotiated by our regional sales personnel and coordinated through our global marketing group in the United States. Our four coal tar distillation facilities and five carbon materials terminals give us the ability to offer customers multiple sourcing options and a consistent supply of high-quality products.

For much of the past decade, the coal tar distillation industry has operated in an excess capacity mode, which further increased the competition for a limited amount of coal tar in North America and Europe. In 2014, we embarked on a plan to restructure our CMC operating footprint that reduced our global number of coal tar distillation facilities from the 11 that existed as of January 1, 2014 to four in total as of December 31, 2019. Our CMC business has experienced challenges over the past several years due to the closure of aluminum smelters that has occurred in North America, Western Europe and Australia. The smelting of aluminum requires significant amounts of energy, which is a major cost component for the aluminum industry. As a result, new production facilities are being built in regions with low energy costs such as the Middle East, while regions with higher energy costs such as North America, Western Europe and Australia have seen significant amounts of smelting capacity idled or closed over the last several years.

Our CMC business manufactures the following principal products:

 

creosote, used in the treatment of wood or as a feedstock in the production of carbon black;

 

carbon pitch, a critical raw material used in the production of aluminum and steel;

 

naphthalene, used as a feedstock in the production of phthalic anhydride and as a surfactant in the production of concrete, and

 

phthalic anhydride, used in the production of plasticizers, polyester resins and alkyd paints, respectively.

Creosote, carbon pitch, naphthalene, and carbon black feedstock are produced through the distillation of coal tar, a by-product generated through the processing of coal into coke for use in steel and iron manufacturing. Coal tar distillation involves the conversion of coal tar into a variety of intermediate chemical products in processes beginning with distillation. During the distillation process, heat and vacuum are utilized to separate coal tar into three primary components: chemical oils, distillate, and carbon pitch.

In the United States, our primary coal tar raw material supply contracts generally have terms ranging from three to ten years, and most provide options for renewal. Pricing under these contracts is either formula-based or negotiated on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. Our primary European tar supply contract has a remaining term of approximately six years, extending indefinitely thereafter unless terminated by a one-year advance notice, and contains formula-based tar pricing. Our primary Australian supply contracts have terms ranging from three to ten years and contain formula-based pricing which is adjusted on an annual or semi-annual basis. Finally, in China, we have a raw material contract in place with our joint venture partner. This contract is coterminous with the applicable joint venture arrangement and provides for formula-based pricing adjusted on a monthly or quarterly basis.

On February 18, 2020, we entered into a definitive agreement to sell Koppers (Jiangsu) Carbon Chemical Company Limited (“KJCC”) to Fangda Carbon New Material Co., Ltd and C-Chem Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Nippon Steel Chemical & Material Co., Ltd. KJCC is a 75 percent-owned coal tar distillation company which is part of our CMC segment. The transaction’s closing is expected to occur in four to six months due to required regulatory approvals in China and achievement of other closing conditions.

Technology and Licensing

In 1988, we acquired the “Koppers” trademark from Koppers Company, Inc. The association of the name with the chemical, building, wood preservation and coke industries is beneficial to our company, as it represents long-standing, high quality products. Trademarks relating to our PC business, such as “MicroPro®”, “FlamePro®”, “Protim” and “Solignum” are important in this segment of our business, and as long as we continue to use the name “Koppers” and the trademarks associated with our wood preservation business and comply with applicable registration requirements, our right to use the name “Koppers” and the other trademarks should continue without expiration. The expiration of other trademark rights is not expected to materially affect our business.

Backlog

Generally, Koppers does not manufacture its products against a backlog of orders. Inventory and production levels are typically driven by expectations of future demand based on contractual obligations. Our RUPS business carries significant amounts of untreated crosstie inventory, which typically requires air-seasoning for a period of six- to nine-months.

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Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

Seasonality

Demand for residential, commercial, and agricultural treated lumber may decline during winter months due to weather conditions. In addition, inclement or winter weather may affect access to certain raw materials or impact operations at our facilities. As a result, operating results may vary from quarter to quarter depending on the severity of weather conditions and other variables affecting our products.  Historically, our operating results have been significantly lower in the first and fourth calendar quarters as compared to the second and third calendar quarters.

Segment Information

Please see Note 9, “Segment Information,” under Item 8 of this Form 10-K for financial information relating to business segments and geographic areas. See also “Item 1A. Risk Factors – Risks Related to Our Business – Demand for our products is cyclical and we may experience prolonged depressed market conditions for our products.”

Non-U.S. Operations

Koppers has a significant investment in non-U.S. operations. Therefore, we are subject to certain risks that are inherent to foreign operations, including complying with applicable laws relating to foreign practices, the laws of foreign countries in which we operate, political and economic conditions in international markets, the imposition of tariffs and fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. See also “Item 1A. Risk Factors – Risks Related to Our Business – We are subject to risks inherent in foreign operations, including additional legal regulation, changes in social, political and economic conditions.”

Environmental Matters

Our operations and properties are subject to extensive federal, state, local and foreign environmental laws and regulations relating to protection of the environment and human health and safety, including those concerning the treatment, storage and disposal of wastes, the investigation and remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater, the discharge of effluents into waterways, the emission of substances into the air, as well as various health and safety matters. Environmental laws and regulations are subject to frequent amendment and have historically become more stringent over time. We have incurred and could incur in the future significant costs if we fail to comply with regulations and responsibilities under environmental laws and regulations, including cleanup costs, civil and criminal penalties, injunctive relief and denial or loss of, or imposition of significant restrictions on, environmental permits. In addition, we have been and could in the future be subject to suit by private parties in connection with alleged violations of, or liabilities under, environmental laws and regulations. Additional information on environmental matters is available in Item 1A under “Risks Related to Our Business” and Note 20 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements, “Commitments and Contingent Liabilities.”

Employees and Employee Relations

As of December 31, 2019, we had 990 salaried employees and 1,130 non-salaried employees. Listed below is a breakdown of employees by our businesses, including administration.

 

Business

 

Salaried

 

 

Non-Salaried

 

 

Total

 

Railroad and Utility Products and Services

 

 

363

 

 

 

753

 

 

 

1,116

 

Performance Chemicals

 

 

227

 

 

 

150

 

 

 

377

 

Carbon Materials and Chemicals

 

 

284

 

 

 

216

 

 

 

500

 

Administration

 

 

116

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

127

 

Total Employees

 

 

990

 

 

 

1,130

 

 

 

2,120

 

 

Approximately 523 of our employees are represented by a number of different labor unions and are covered under numerous labor agreements. The labor contracts at three of our facilities covering approximately 144 employees are scheduled to expire during 2020.

Environmental, Social and Governance

Corporate social responsibility, our obligation to people, the environment, and to good corporate governance processes, has been a part of our culture for many years. We believe this culture, supported by a spirit of collaboration and innovation, allows us to decrease our impact on the environment and create value for all of our stakeholders. We published our first Corporate Social Responsibility report (CSR) in 2003 and our historical CSR reports are available on www.koppers.com/sustainability. We do not intend to incorporate the contents of our CSR reports or our website into this report.  

9


We believe this commitment is reflected in our improving safety culture and our trend of greenhouse gas and energy usage reductions. In 2018, our greenhouse gas emissions decreased 48 percent, and energy usage declined 41 percent, respectively, from our 2012 baseline.

Our investment in the training and safety leadership skills of our employees continues to grow. We have formed a Sustainability Council to review our practices using standard ESG rating metrics and to develop and drive practices designed to improve our performance against those expectations. Toward this goal, in 2019, we began work on a materiality analysis, both internal and external, that will highlight the areas where we can most effectively address the needs of our stakeholders

Environmental

The circular nature of our business starts with our raw materials, the majority volume of which are by-products generated by other industries (including scrap copper and coal tar) and renewable resources (trees). We purchase approximately 40 million pounds of scrap copper or other compounds containing copper, all of which is postconsumer or post-industrial in nature. We believe this places Koppers in the center of what is known as the “circular economy” that emphasizes the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mentality that continues to frame global conservation efforts. Our wood-treatment solutions, while supporting an important role in our global infrastructure across multiple industries, also support an important role in the carbon cycle. Treating wood significantly increases its useful lifespan, allowing the carbon stored within the wood to be immobilized for up to 50 years, keeping it out of the atmosphere and limiting carbon’s impact on the environment.

In 2018, we advanced our circular business model even further through our acquisitions of Koppers Recovery Resources (“KRR”) and Koppers Utility and Industrial Products (“UIP”). Both businesses add product life cycle management capabilities to help solve our customers’ challenge of responsibly disposing of end-of-life crossties and utility poles by repurposing used wood products, including as a fuel source. This reduces the end-of-life impact of our ties and poles, contributing to greater product sustainability.

Social

We are committed to proactively evaluating and addressing community needs in the areas where we operate. Many of our locations have made strong connections with local community members, allowing Koppers representatives to share facility information and address any questions, observations, concerns and ideas. Our community impact is demonstrated through our employees’ volunteer commitments and a corporate philanthropy program. Employees worldwide volunteer their time to mentor students, enhance local education initiatives, take care of the elderly, assist at homeless shelters and provide hands-on help to those affected by natural disasters.  

We believe our ability to positively impact our communities and environment starts with investing in our employees. Our people-focused strategy considers all aspects of the employee experience, from hiring practices and onboarding to health and wellness and talent management.

 

Collaboration – Communication across our global footprint drives our efforts. All Koppers employees take part in safety training programs and provide direct feedback to leadership as part of the company’s annual engagement survey.

 

Diversity and inclusion – We are committed to supporting diversity and inclusion in process and practice. Our Culture and Engagement team ensures that a diverse slate of candidates is considered for open positions. Our first employee resource group launched in 2018, provides an important development forum for employees and serves as a model for future initiatives. Additionally, our Board of Directors has been recognized for gender and racial diversity.

Governance

We believe our corporate governance structure is designed to assure accountability to our stakeholders and to make certain that we conduct business in a responsible, ethical way. We maintain a comprehensive Code of Conduct that details the expectations and requirements we have as an organization for our employees. This Code of Conduct applies to all employees, whether we are engaging in peer-to-peer interactions, working to comply with complex regulations, marketing our products, purchasing materials, creating new products, managing our finances or interacting with our communities.

Our Board of Directors is broadly responsible for contributing to the strategic direction and oversight of the company. There are five board committees, including: Audit; Nominating and Corporate Governance; Management Development and Compensation; Strategy and Risk; and Sustainability. Among their duties and responsibilities, the Board directs the legal, ethical and socially responsible behavior of the company, such as developing effective performance measurement systems, reviewing the company's long-term strategy and overseeing risk management processes.

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Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

As stewards of our corporate governance and overall performance, Board members communicate with our shareholders and other stakeholders through financial reports, proxy statements, periodic filings and similar reports. Our Senior Management Team is responsible for directing the development and implementation of the company's strategic plan, and business operations around the globe. These executive leaders establish and maintain our commitment to ethics, integrity, fiscal responsibility, growth and sustainability.

Internet Access

Our Internet address is www.koppers.com. Our recent filings on Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K and any amendments to those documents can be accessed without charge on our website under Investor Relations – SEC Filings as soon as reasonably practicable after such filings are made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The contents of our internet site are not incorporated by reference into this document.

 

 

ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

You should carefully consider the risks described below before investing in our publicly traded securities. Our business is subject to the risks that affect many other companies, such as competition, technological obsolescence, labor relations, general economic conditions, geopolitical events and international operations.

Risks Related to Our Business

Fluctuations in the price, quality and availability of our primary raw materials could reduce our profitability.

Our operations depend on an adequate supply of quality raw materials being available on a timely basis. The loss of a key source of supply or a delay in shipments could cause a significant increase in our operating expenses. For example, our operations are highly dependent on a relatively small number of freight transportation services. We are also dependent on specialized ocean-going transport vessels that we lease to deliver raw materials to our facilities and finished goods to our customers. Interruptions in such freight services could impair our ability to receive raw materials and ship finished products in a timely manner. We are also exposed to price and quality risks associated with raw material purchases. Such risks include the following:

 

The availability and cost of lumber are critical elements in our production of railroad crossties and pole products for our RUPS business. Historically, the supply and cost of hardwood for railroad crossties have been subject to availability and price pressures. We may not be able to obtain wood raw materials at economical prices in the future.

 

The availability of scrap copper is a critical element in our production of copper-based wood preservation chemicals for our PC business. Our purchase price for scrap copper is based upon spot prices in the copper market, which may be subject to sudden price changes. We may not be able to obtain scrap copper at prices that match underlying pricing commitments to our customers.

 

The primary raw material used by our CMC business is coal tar, a by-product of furnace coke production. Currently, our CMC business supplies our North American RUPS business with 100 percent of its creosote requirements. A shortage in the supply of domestic coal tar or a reduction in the quality of coal tar could require us to increase coal tar or creosote imports to meet future creosote demand. This could cause a significant increase in our operating expenses and we may be unable to pass some or all of these costs on to our customers.

 

In certain circumstances coal tar may also be used as an alternative to fuel. In the past, increases in energy prices have resulted in higher coal tar costs which we have attempted to pass through to our customers. If these increased costs cannot be passed through to our customers, it could result in margin reductions for our coal tar-based products.

 

Our price realizations and profit margins for phthalic anhydride have historically fluctuated with the price of orthoxylene and its relationship with phthalic anhydride; however, during periods of excess supplies of phthalic anhydride, margins may be reduced despite high levels for orthoxylene prices.

 

Our price realizations and profit margins for phthalic anhydride, naphthalene and carbon black feedstock have historically fluctuated with the market price of crude oil, market prices for chemicals derived from crude oil, such as orthoxylene, or market indices derived from crude oil.

 

Our profit margins at one of our coal tar distillation facilities have fluctuated with the market price of needle coke.

 

We import certain raw materials that are used in our products that are, or may become, subject to tariffs and trade restrictions.

If the costs of raw materials increase significantly and we are unable to offset the increased costs with higher selling prices, our profitability will decline.

11


We face risks related to our substantial indebtedness.

As of December 31, 2019, we had total outstanding debt of $911.9 million, and approximately $221.6 million of additional unused borrowing capacity under our senior secured revolving credit facility that is part of our senior secured credit facility (the “Credit Facility”). Our substantial leverage could adversely affect our ability to raise additional capital to fund our operations, limit our ability to react to changes in the economy or our industry, expose us to interest rate risk associated with our variable rate debt and prevent us from meeting our obligations under the Senior Notes due 2025 (the “2025 Notes”) and the Credit Facility as described in Note 16 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements. Our high degree of leverage could have important consequences to us, including:

 

making it more difficult for us to make payments on our debt;

 

increasing our vulnerability to general economic and industry conditions;

 

requiring a substantial portion of cash flow from operations to be dedicated to the payment of principal and interest on our debt, thereby reducing our ability to use our cash flow to fund our operations, capital expenditures, and future business opportunities;

 

exposing us to the risk of increased interest rates as certain of our borrowings under our Credit Facility are at variable rates;

 

restricting us from making strategic acquisitions or causing us to make non-strategic divestitures;

 

limiting our ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, product development, debt service requirements, acquisitions, and general corporate or other purposes; and

 

limiting our ability to adjust to changing market conditions and placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors who may be less highly leveraged.

We and our subsidiaries may be able to incur substantial additional indebtedness in the future, subject to the restrictions contained in our Credit Facility and the indenture governing the 2025 Notes. If new indebtedness is added to our current debt levels, the related risks that we now face could intensify.

Our debt agreements contain restrictions that limit our flexibility in operating our business.

Our Credit Facility and the indenture governing the 2025 Notes contain various covenants that limit our ability to engage in specified types of transactions. These covenants limit our ability and the ability of our restricted subsidiaries to, among other things:

 

incur additional debt;

 

pay dividends or distributions on our capital stock or repurchase our capital stock;

 

issue stock of subsidiaries;

 

make certain investments;

 

create liens on our assets to secure debt;

 

enter into transactions with affiliates;

 

merge or consolidate with another company; and

 

sell or otherwise transfer assets.

In addition, under the Credit Facility, we are required to meet specified financial ratios in order to undertake certain actions, and we are required to maintain a specified minimum fixed charge coverage ratio, a maximum total secured leverage ratio and a maximum total leverage ratio. Our ability to meet those tests can be affected by events beyond our control, and we cannot assure you that we will meet them. A breach of any of these covenants could result in a default under our Credit Facility. Upon the occurrence of an event of default under our Credit Facility, the lenders could elect to declare all amounts outstanding under our Credit Facility to be immediately due and payable and terminate all commitments to extend further credit. Such a declaration by the lenders under our Credit Facility would also constitute an event of default under our 2025 Notes. Similarly, a default under our 2025 Notes could also constitute an event of default under our Credit Facility. If we were unable to repay those amounts, the lenders under our Credit Facility could proceed against the collateral granted to them to secure such indebtedness. We have pledged substantially all of our assets as collateral under our Credit Facility. If the lenders under our Credit Facility accelerate the repayment of borrowings, we cannot assure you that we will have sufficient assets to repay our Credit Facility, as well as our unsecured indebtedness, including notes.

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Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

We may not be able to generate sufficient cash to service all of our indebtedness, including the 2025 Notes, and may be forced to take other actions to satisfy our obligations under our indebtedness, which may not be successful.

Our ability to make scheduled payments on or to refinance our debt obligations depends on our financial condition and operating performance, which are subject to prevailing economic and competitive conditions and to certain financial, business and other factors beyond our control. We cannot assure you that we will maintain a level of cash flows from operating activities sufficient to permit us to pay the principal, premium, if any, and interest on our indebtedness, including the 2025 Notes.

If our cash flows and capital resources are insufficient to fund our debt service obligations, we may be forced to reduce or delay investments and capital expenditures, or to sell assets, seek additional capital or restructure or refinance our indebtedness, including the 2025 Notes. These alternative measures may not be successful and may not permit us to meet our scheduled debt service obligations. In the absence of such operating results and resources, we could face substantial liquidity problems and might be required to dispose of material assets or operations to meet our debt service and other obligations. Our Credit Facility restricts our ability to dispose of assets and use the proceeds from the disposition. We may not be able to consummate those dispositions or to obtain the proceeds that we could realize from them and these proceeds may not be adequate to meet any debt service obligations then due.

Conditions in the global economy and global capital markets may adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.

In recent history, the U.S. and global economy and capital markets have experienced significant uncertainties and volatility. Our business and operating results can be significantly affected by global economic issues. Our customers may experience deterioration of their business during the adverse business cycles. They may experience cash flow shortages and may have difficulty obtaining financing. As a result, our customers may delay or cancel plans to purchase our products and may not be able to fulfill their payment obligations to us in a timely fashion. Our suppliers may be experiencing similar conditions which could impact their ability to supply us with raw materials and otherwise fulfill their obligations to us. If global economic conditions deteriorate significantly, there could be a material adverse effect to our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.

In addition, we rely on our Credit Facility with a consortium of banks to provide us with liquidity to meet our working capital needs. Our ability to fund our liquidity needs and working capital requirements could be impacted in the event that disruptions in the credit markets result in the banks being unable to lend to us under our Credit Facility.

Global economic issues could prevent us from accurately forecasting demand for our products, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and our financial condition.

Adverse global economic issues, market instability and volatile commodity price fluctuations make it increasingly difficult for us, our customers and our suppliers to accurately forecast future product demands and sales prices, which could cause us to procure raw materials in excess of end-product demand. This could cause a material increase to our inventory carrying costs and, in the event of falling market prices for our end products, result in significant charges to write-down inventory to market prices.

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The interest rate of our Credit Facility is priced using a spread over LIBOR.

LIBOR, the London interbank offered rate, is the basic rate of interest used in lending between banks on the London interbank market and is widely used as a reference for setting the interest rate on loans globally. We use LIBOR as a reference rate in our Credit Facility such that the interest due to our creditors pursuant to our Credit Facility is calculated using LIBOR and our Credit Facility contains a stated minimum value for LIBOR. On July 27, 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that it intends to phase out LIBOR by the end of 2021. The U.S. Federal Reserve, in conjunction with the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, a steering committee comprised of large U.S. financial institutions, is focused on replacing U.S. dollar LIBOR with a new index calculated by short-term repurchase agreements, backed by Treasury securities – Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”). SOFR is observed and backward looking, which stands in contrast with LIBOR under the current methodology, which is an estimated forward-looking rate and relies, to some degree, on the expert judgment of submitting panel members. Given that SOFR is a secured rate backed by government securities, it will be a rate that does not take into account bank credit risk (as is the case with LIBOR). SOFR is therefore likely to be lower than LIBOR and is less likely to correlate with the funding costs of financial institutions. Whether or not SOFR attains market traction as a LIBOR replacement tool remains in question. As such, the future of LIBOR at this time is uncertain. If LIBOR ceases to exist, we will renegotiate our credit agreements that utilize LIBOR as a factor in determining the interest rate to replace LIBOR with the new standard that is established.

Intellectual property rights are important to our business. If our patents are declared invalid or our trade secrets become known to our competitors, our ability to compete may be adversely affected.

Proprietary protection of our processes, apparatuses and other technology is important to our business, particularly in our PC business. Consequently, we may have to rely on judicial enforcement of our patents and other proprietary rights, which is generally a time consuming and expensive process. While a presumption of validity exists with respect to patents issued to us in the United States, there can be no assurance that any of our patents will not be challenged, invalidated, circumvented or rendered unenforceable. Furthermore, if any pending patent application filed by us does not result in an issued patent, or if patents are issued to us, but such patents do not provide meaningful protection of our intellectual property, or if patents issued to us expire, then our ability to compete may be adversely affected. Additionally, our competitors or other third parties may obtain patents that restrict or preclude our ability to lawfully produce or sell our products in a competitive manner, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flow and financial condition. The growth of our business also depends on our ability to develop new intellectual property rights, including patents, and the successful implementation of innovation initiatives. There can be no assurance that our efforts to do so will be successful and the failure to do so could negatively impact our results of operations.

We also rely upon unpatented proprietary know-how and continuing technological innovation and other trade secrets to develop and maintain our competitive position, particularly in our PC business. While it is our practice to enter into confidentiality agreements with our employees and third parties to protect our intellectual property, these confidentiality agreements may be breached or may not provide meaningful protection for our trade secrets or proprietary know-how, and adequate remedies may not be available in the event of an unauthorized use or disclosure of our trade secrets and know-how. In addition, others could obtain knowledge of our trade secrets through independent development or other access by legal means. The failure of our patents or confidentiality agreements to protect our processes, apparatuses, technology, trade secrets or proprietary know-how could have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flow and financial condition.

We may be required to recognize impairment charges for our long-lived assets.

At December 31, 2019, the net carrying value of long-lived assets (property, plant and equipment, operating lease right-of-use assets, goodwill and other intangible assets) totaled $993.4 million. In accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, we periodically assess these assets to determine if they are impaired. Significant negative industry or economic trends, disruptions to our business, unexpected significant changes or planned changes in use of the assets, divestitures and market capitalization declines may result in impairments to goodwill and other long-lived assets. Future impairment charges could significantly affect our results of operations in the periods recognized. Impairment charges would also reduce our shareholders’ equity and could affect compliance with the covenants in our debt agreements.

We may not be able to compete successfully in any or all of the industry segments in which we operate.

The markets in which we operate are highly competitive, and this competition could harm our business, results of operations, cash flow and financial condition. If we are unable to respond successfully to changing competitive conditions, the demand for our products could be affected. We believe that the most significant competitive factor for our products is selling price.

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Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

Demand for our products is cyclical and we may experience prolonged depressed market conditions for our products.

Our products are sold primarily into markets which historically have been cyclical, such as wood preservation, aluminum and specialty chemicals.

 

The principal use of our wood preservation chemicals is in the manufacture of treated lumber, which is used mainly for residential applications, such as wood decking, and also industrial applications, such as the treating of railroad crossties and utility poles. Therefore, a decline in remodeling and construction could reduce demand for wood preservation chemicals for residential applications and a decline in the capital spending requirements for railroads and utility companies could reduce demand for wood preservation chemicals for industrial applications.

 

The principal consumers of our carbon pitch are primary aluminum smelters. Although the global aluminum industry has experienced growth on a long-term basis, the aluminum industry has experienced a shift in primary aluminum production from the mature geographies where we have historically enjoyed high market shares into emerging economies.

 

The principal use of our phthalic anhydride is in the manufacture of plasticizers and flexible vinyl, which are used mainly in the housing and automobile industries. Therefore, a decline in remodeling and construction or global automobile production could reduce the demand for phthalic anhydride.

We are dependent on major customers for a significant portion of our net sales, and the loss of one or more of our major customers could result in a significant reduction in our profitability as a whole or the profitability of a particular product.

Although no one customer accounted for more than six percent of our net sales for the year ended December 31, 2019, our top ten customers accounted for approximately 37 percent of our net sales. The loss of a significant customer could have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flow and financial condition.

Our products may be rendered obsolete or less attractive by changes in regulatory, legislative or industry requirements.

Changes in regulatory, legislative or industry requirements may render certain of our products obsolete or less attractive. Our ability to anticipate changes in these requirements, especially changes in regulatory standards, will be a significant factor in our ability to remain competitive. We may not be able to comply in the future with new regulatory, legislative and/or industrial standards that may be necessary for us to remain competitive and certain of our products may, as a result, become obsolete or less attractive to our customers.

The development of new technologies or changes in our customers’ products could reduce the demand for our products.

Our products are used for a variety of applications by our customers. Changes in our customers’ products or processes may enable our customers to reduce consumption of the products we produce or make our products unnecessary. Customers may also find alternative materials or processes that no longer require our products.

As a producer of wood preservatives, we may incur additional costs under our warranties or otherwise for claims related to treated-wood products.

We provide limited warranties on certain treated-wood products. These limited warranties cover treated-wood products that are produced by certain of our customers who use wood preservatives supplied by us. The limited warranties generally provide for replacement of properly treated-wood (treated-wood only) or refund of the purchase price for the treated-wood product that prematurely fails due to fungal decay or termite attack. From time to time, we (or our customers) receive claims under these warranties or other claims relating to alleged failures of treated-wood products. Our profitability could be adversely affected if the amount of warranty claims against us or our customers significantly increase.

Hazards associated with chemical manufacturing may cause suspensions or interruptions of our operations.

Due to the nature of our business, we are exposed to the hazards associated with chemical manufacturing and the related use, storage and transportation of raw materials, products and wastes in our manufacturing facilities and our distribution centers, such as fires, explosions and accidents that could lead to a suspension or interruption of operations. Any disruption could reduce the productivity and profitability of a particular manufacturing facility or of our company as a whole. Other hazards include the following:

 

piping and storage tank leaks and ruptures;

 

mechanical failure;

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exposure to hazardous substances; and

 

chemical spills and other discharges or releases of toxic or hazardous wastes, substances or gases.

These hazards, among others, may cause personal injury and loss of life, damage to property and contamination of the environment, which could lead to government fines or work stoppage injunctions, cleanup costs and lawsuits by injured persons. While we are unable to predict the outcome of such matters, if determined adversely to us, we may not have adequate insurance to cover related costs or liabilities and, if not, we may not have sufficient cash flow to pay for such costs or liabilities. Such outcomes could harm our customer goodwill and reduce our profitability and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, cash flow and results from operations.

We are subject to extensive environmental laws and regulations and may incur significant costs as a result of continued compliance with, violations of or liabilities under environmental laws and regulations.

Like other companies involved in environmentally sensitive businesses, our operations and properties are subject to extensive federal, state, local and foreign environmental laws and regulations, including those concerning the following, among other things:

 

the treatment, storage and disposal of wastes;

 

the investigation and remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater;

 

the discharge of effluents into waterways;

 

the emission of substances into the air;

 

the marketing, sale, use and registration of our chemical products, such as creosote and MicroPro ®;

 

the European Union’s regulation under the Registration Evaluation Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals, which requires manufacturers or importers of substances manufactured or imported into the European Union in quantities of one ton per year or more to register with a central European Chemicals Agency;

 

the European Union’s regulation under the Biocidal Products Regulation, which requires a biocidal product to be authorized by the European Chemicals Agency before it can be marketed or used in the European Union; and

 

other matters relating to environmental protection and various health and safety matters.

We have incurred, and expect to continue to incur, significant costs to comply with environmental laws and regulations as a result of remedial obligations. We could incur significant costs, including cleanup costs, fines, civil and criminal sanctions and claims by third parties for property damage and personal injury, as a result of violations of or liabilities under environmental laws and regulations. We accrue for environmental liabilities when a determination can be made that they are probable and reasonably estimable. Total environmental reserves at December 31, 2019 were $9.5 million, which include provisions primarily for environmental remediation. In addition, we incur significant annual operating expenses related to environmental matters and significant capital expenditures related to environmental control facilities. Capital expenditures related to environmental control facilities in 2020 are expected to total approximately $12.1 million and are expected to be funded by operations. Contamination has been identified and is being investigated and remediated at many of our sites by us or other parties. We believe that we will have continuing significant expenditures associated with compliance with environmental laws and regulations and, to the extent not covered by insurance or available recoveries under third-party indemnification arrangements, for present and future remediation efforts at plant sites and third-party waste sites and other liabilities associated with environmental matters. There can be no assurance that these expenditures will not exceed current estimates and will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, cash flow and results of operations.

Actual costs and liabilities to us may exceed forecasted amounts. Moreover, currently unknown environmental issues, such as the discovery of additional contamination or the imposition of additional sampling or cleanup obligations with respect to our sites or third-party sites, may result in significant additional costs, and potentially significant expenditures could be required in order to comply with future changes to environmental laws and regulations or the interpretation or enforcement thereof. We also are involved in various litigation and proceedings relating to environmental matters and toxic tort claims.

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Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

Changes in applicable tax regulations and resolutions of tax disputes could negatively affect our financial results.

We are subject to income tax laws and regulations in the United States and various foreign jurisdictions. Significant judgment is required in evaluating and estimating our provision and accruals for these taxes. Our income tax liabilities are dependent upon the location of earnings among these different jurisdictions. Our income tax provision and income tax liabilities could be adversely affected by the jurisdictional mix of earnings, changes in valuation of deferred tax assets and liabilities and changes in tax laws and regulations. In the ordinary course of our business, we are also subject to continuous examinations of our income tax returns by tax authorities. Although we believe our tax estimates are reasonable, the final results of any tax examination or related litigation could be materially different from our related historical income tax provisions and accruals. Adverse developments in an audit, examination or litigation related to previously filed tax returns, or in the relevant jurisdiction’s tax laws, regulations, administrative practices, principles and interpretations could have a material effect on our results of operations and cash flows in the period or periods for which that development occurs, as well as for prior and subsequent periods.

On December 22, 2017, the U.S. government enacted comprehensive tax legislation commonly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “Tax Act”). Since the passing of the Tax Act, additional guidance in the form of notices, proposed regulations and final regulations which interpret various aspects of the Tax Act have been issued. Changes could be made to the proposed regulations as they become finalized, future legislation could be enacted, more regulations and notices could be issued, all of which may have a material adverse effect on our cash flow and results of operations.

Future climate change regulation could result in increased operating costs and reduced demand for our products.

Although the United States has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, a number of federal laws related to “greenhouse gas,” or “GHG,” emissions have been considered by Congress. Additionally, various federal, state and regional regulations and initiatives have been enacted or are being considered.

Member States of the European Union each have an overall cap on emissions which are approved by the European Commission and implement the European Union Emissions Trading Directive as a commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. Under this Directive, organizations apply to the Member State for an allowance of GHG emissions. These allowances are tradable so as to enable companies that manage to reduce their GHG emissions to sell their excess allowances to companies that are not reaching their emissions objectives. Failure to purchase sufficient allowances will require the purchase of allowances at a current market price.

Any laws or regulations that may be adopted to restrict or reduce emissions of GHGs could cause an increase to our raw material costs, could require us to incur increased operating costs and could have an adverse effect on demand for our products.

Beazer East and Beazer Limited may not continue to meet their obligations to indemnify us.

Under the terms of the asset purchase agreement between us and Koppers Company, Inc. (now known as Beazer East, Inc.) upon the formation of Koppers Inc. in 1988, subject to certain limitations, Beazer East and Beazer Limited assumed the liability for and indemnified us against, among other things, certain clean-up liabilities for contamination occurring prior to the purchase date at sites acquired from Beazer East and certain third-party claims arising from such contamination (the “Indemnity”). Beazer East and Beazer Limited (which are indirect subsidiaries of Heidelberg Cement AG) may not continue to meet their obligations. Beazer East could in the future choose to challenge its obligations under the Indemnity or our satisfaction of the conditions to indemnification imposed on us thereunder. The government and other third parties may have the right under applicable environmental laws to seek relief directly from us for any and all such costs and liabilities.

In July 2004, we entered into an agreement with Beazer East to amend the December 29, 1988 asset purchase agreement to provide, among other things, for the continued tender of pre-closing environmental liabilities to Beazer East under the Indemnity through July 2019. To the extent that such third party claims were not tendered by July 2019, Beazer East is not required to pay the costs arising from such claims under the Indemnity and furthermore, Beazer East may now tender certain of such claims to Koppers Inc. However, with respect to any such claims which were made by July 2019, Beazer East will continue to be responsible for such claims under the Indemnity beyond July 2019. The July 2004 amendment did not change the provisions of the Indemnity with respect to indemnification for non-environmental claims, such as product liability claims, which claims may continue to be asserted after July 2019. Qualified expenditures under the Indemnity are not subject to a monetary limit.

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The Indemnity provides for the resolution of issues between Koppers Inc. and Beazer East by an arbitrator on an expedited basis upon the request of either party. The arbitrator could be asked, among other things, to make a determination regarding the allocation of environmental responsibilities between Koppers Inc. and Beazer East. Arbitration decisions under the Indemnity are final and binding on the parties.

Without reimbursement under the Indemnity, the obligation to pay the costs and assume the liabilities relating to these matters would have a significant impact on our net income. Furthermore, without reimbursement, we could be required to record a contingent liability on our balance sheet with respect to environmental matters covered by the Indemnity, which could result in our having significant negative net worth. Finally, the Indemnity does not afford us indemnification against environmental costs and liabilities attributable to acts or omissions occurring after the closing of the acquisition of assets from Beazer East under the asset purchase agreement, nor is the Indemnity applicable to liabilities arising in connection with other acquisitions by us after that closing.

The insurance that we maintain may not fully cover all potential exposures.

We maintain property, casualty, general liability, workers’ compensation, pollution legal liability and other insurance, but such insurance may not cover all risks associated with the hazards of our business and is subject to limitations, including deductibles and maximum limits. We may incur losses beyond the limits, or outside the coverage, of our insurance policies, including liabilities for environmental compliance and remediation. In addition, from time to time, various types of insurance for companies in our industry have not been available on commercially acceptable terms or, in some cases, have not been available at all. In the future, we may not be able to obtain coverage at current levels, and our premiums may increase significantly on coverage that we maintain.

Adverse weather conditions or natural disasters may reduce our operating results.

Our quarterly operating results fluctuate due to a variety of factors that are outside our control, including inclement weather conditions, which in the past have caused a decline in our operating results. For example, adverse weather conditions have at times negatively impacted our supply chain as wet conditions impacted logging operations, reducing our ability to procure crossties. In addition, adverse weather conditions have had a negative impact on our customers in our pavement sealer and wood preservation businesses, resulting in a negative impact on our sales of these products. Moreover, demand for many of our products declines during periods of inclement weather. Finally, natural disasters, including wildfires, hurricanes and earthquakes could affect our revenue and operating results. It is impossible to predict the timing, magnitude or location of such natural disasters or their impacts on the local economy and on our operations. If a major wildfire, hurricane or other natural disaster were to disrupt the supply of our raw materials or damage or destroy our facilities or manufacturing equipment, we may experience potential impacts ranging from production and shipping delays to lost profits and revenues.

We are subject to risks inherent in foreign operations, including additional legal regulation, changes in social, political and economic conditions.

We have operations in the United States, Australia, Denmark, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, China and Canada, among others, and sell our products in many foreign countries. For the year ended December 31, 2019, net sales from products sold by our foreign subsidiaries accounted for approximately 33 percent of our total net sales.

Doing business on a global basis requires us to comply with the laws and regulations of the U.S. government and various international jurisdictions. These regulations place restrictions on our operations, trade practices and partners and investment decisions. In particular, our international operations are subject to U.S. and foreign anti-corruption laws and regulations, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and economic sanction programs administered by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Violations of these laws and regulations may result in civil or criminal penalties, including fines.

For example, some of our operations are subject to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which became effective in May 2018. The GDPR creates a range of new compliance obligations for companies that process personal data of European Union residents and increases financial penalties for non-compliance. We process personal data of our employees who are European Union residents and will continue dedicating financial resources and management time to GDPR compliance. We bear the cost of compliance with the GDPR and are subject to fines and penalties in the event of a breach of the GDPR, which could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Political and financial instability can lead to economic uncertainty and may adversely impact our business. For example, the announcement of the Referendum of the United Kingdom’s (the "U.K.") Membership of the European Union ("E.U.") (referred to as "Brexit"), advising for the exit of the U.K. from the E.U., resulted in significant volatility in global stock markets and currency exchange rate fluctuations. If customers’ buying patterns, decision-making processes, timing of expected deliveries and timing of new projects unfavorably change due to economic or political conditions, there would be a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.

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Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

In addition, as a global business, we are also exposed to market risks relating to fluctuations in interest rates and foreign currency exchange rates. Our international revenues could be reduced by currency fluctuations or devaluations. Changes in currency exchange rates could lower our reported revenues and could require us to reduce our prices to remain competitive in foreign markets, which could also reduce our profitability. We have not historically hedged our financial statement exposure and, as a result, we could incur unanticipated losses. We are also subject to potentially increasing transportation and shipping costs associated with international operations. Furthermore, we are also exposed to risks associated with changes in the laws and policies governing foreign investments in countries where we have operations as well as changes in U.S. laws and regulations relating to foreign trade and investment.

Our strategy to selectively pursue complementary acquisitions may present unforeseen integration obstacles or costs.

Our business strategy includes the potential acquisition of businesses and entering into joint ventures and other business combinations that we expect would complement and expand our existing products and the markets where we sell our products. We may not be able to successfully identify suitable acquisition or joint venture opportunities or complete any particular acquisition, combination, joint venture or other transaction on acceptable terms. We cannot predict the timing and success of our efforts to acquire any particular business. Also, efforts to acquire other businesses or the implementation of other elements of this business strategy may divert managerial resources away from our business operations. In addition, our ability to engage in strategic acquisitions may depend on our ability to raise substantial capital and we may not be able to raise the funds necessary to implement our acquisition strategy on terms satisfactory to us, if at all. Our failure to identify suitable acquisition or joint venture opportunities may restrict our ability to grow our business. In addition, we may not be able to successfully integrate businesses that we acquire in the future or have recently acquired, which could lead to increased operating costs, a failure to realize anticipated operating synergies, or both.

Litigation against us could be costly and time-consuming to defend, and due to the nature of our business and products, we may be liable for damages arising out of our acts or omissions, which may have a material adverse effect on us.

We are and have been a defendant in a significant number of lawsuits in which the plaintiffs claim they have suffered a variety of illnesses (including cancer) and/or property damage as a result of exposure to coal tar pitch, pavement sealer, benzene, wood treatment chemicals and other chemicals. In addition, we are regularly subject to legal proceedings and claims that arise in the ordinary course of business, such as workers’ compensation claims, governmental investigations, employment disputes, and customer and supplier disputes arising out of the conduct of our business. We also are involved in various litigation and proceedings relating to environmental matters. Litigation could result in substantial costs and may divert management’s attention and resources away from the day-to-day operation of our business.

We are indemnified for certain product liability exposures under the Indemnity with Beazer East related to products sold prior to the closing of the acquisition of assets from Beazer East. Beazer East and Beazer Limited may not continue to meet their indemnification obligations. In addition, Beazer East could choose to challenge its indemnification obligations or our satisfaction of the conditions to indemnification imposed on us thereunder. If for any reason (including disputed coverage or financial incapability) one or more of such parties fail to perform their obligations and we are held liable for or otherwise required to pay all or part of such liabilities without reimbursement, the imposition of such liabilities on us could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, cash flows and results of operations. Furthermore, we could be required to record a contingent liability on our balance sheet with respect to such matters, which could result in us having significant negative net worth.

Labor disputes could disrupt our operations and divert the attention of our management and may cause a decline in our production and a reduction in our profitability.

Many of our employees are represented by a number of different labor unions and are covered under numerous labor agreements. Typically, a number of our labor agreements are scheduled to expire each year. We may not be able to reach new agreements without union action or on terms satisfactory to us. Any future labor disputes with any such unions could result in strikes or other labor protests, which could disrupt our operations and divert the attention of our management from operating our business. If we were to experience a strike or work stoppage, it may be difficult for us to find a sufficient number of employees with the necessary skills to replace these employees. Any such labor disputes could cause a decline in our production and a reduction in our profitability.

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Our post-retirement obligations are currently underfunded. We may be required to make significant cash payments to our pension and other post-retirement plans, which will reduce the cash available for our business.

As of December 31, 2019, our benefit obligation under our defined benefit pension plans exceeded the fair value of plan assets by $28.3 million. Our pension asset funding to total pension obligation ratio was 87 percent as of December 31, 2019. The underfunding was caused, in large part, by fluctuations in the financial markets that have caused the value of the assets in our defined benefit pension plans to be significantly lower than anticipated and by fluctuations in interest rates which increased the discounted pension liabilities. In addition, our obligations for other post-retirement benefit obligations are unfunded and total $9.2 million at December 31, 2019.

During the years ended December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2018, we contributed $4.5 million and $4.7 million, respectively, to our post-retirement benefit plans. Management expects that any future obligations under our post-retirement benefit plans that are not currently funded will be funded from our future cash flow from operations. If our contributions to our post-retirement benefit plans are insufficient to fund the post-retirement benefit plans adequately to cover our future obligations, the performance of the assets in our pension plans does not meet our expectations or other actuarial assumptions or mandatory funding laws are modified, our contributions to our post-retirement benefit plans could be materially higher than we expect, thus reducing the cash available for our business.

We may incur significant charges in the event we close all or part of a manufacturing plant or facility.

We periodically assess our manufacturing operations in order to manufacture and distribute our products in the most efficient manner. Based on our assessments, we may make capital improvements to modernize certain units, move manufacturing or distribution capabilities from one plant or facility to another plant or facility, discontinue manufacturing or distributing certain products or close all or part of a manufacturing plant or facility, any of which could cause us to incur significant charges. The actual costs to close a manufacturing facility may exceed our original cost estimate and may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, cash flow from operations and results from operations.

We depend on our senior management team and other key employees and the loss of these employees could adversely affect our business.

Our success is dependent on the management, experience and leadership skills of our senior management team and key employees. The loss of any of these individuals or an inability to attract, retain and maintain additional personnel with similar industry experience could prevent us from implementing our business strategy. We cannot assure you that we will be able to retain our existing senior management and key personnel or to attract additional qualified personnel when needed. Senior management or key personnel may retire from time to time, and our employment agreements with these individuals may expire from time to time.

We may be subject to information technology systems failures, network disruptions and breaches of data security, which could harm our relationships with our customers and third-party business partners, subject us to negative publicity and litigation and cause substantial harm to our business.

We depend on integrated information systems to conduct our business. Information technology systems failures could disrupt our operations by impeding our processing of transactions, our ability to protect customer or company information and our financial reporting. System failures include risks associated with upgrading our systems, integrating information technology and other systems in connection with the integration of businesses we acquire, network disruptions and breaches of data security. Our computer systems, including our back-up systems, could be damaged or interrupted by power outages, computer and telecommunications failures, computer viruses, internal or external security breaches, events such as fires, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, and/or errors by our employees.

We have been subject to cyberattacks in the past, including phishing and malware incidents, and although no such attack has had a material adverse effect on our business, this may not be the case with future attacks. As the prevalence of cyberattacks continues to increase, our information technology systems may be subject to increased security threats and we may incur additional costs to upgrade and maintain our security measures in place to prevent and detect such threats. The security and privacy measures that our vendors and customers implement may not be sufficient to prevent and detect cyberattacks that could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. While our vendor agreements typically contain provisions that seek to eliminate or limit our exposure to liability for damages from a cyberattack, we cannot assure that such provisions will withstand legal challenges or cover all or any such damages.

In addition, outside parties may attempt to fraudulently induce employees or customers to disclose access credentials or other sensitive information in order to gain access to our systems and networks. We also may be subject to additional vulnerabilities as we integrate the systems, computers, software and data of acquired businesses and third-party business partners into our networks and separate the systems, computers, software and data of disposed businesses from our networks.

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Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

There are no assurances that our security measures, our business continuity and disaster recovery plans or actions or our investments to improve the maturity of our systems, processes and risk management framework to remediate vulnerabilities will be sufficient or completed quickly enough to prevent or detect or limit the impact of critical adverse events such as cyberattacks or security breaches. Potential consequences include, but are not limited to, transactional errors, business disruptions, loss of or damage to intellectual property, loss of customers and business opportunities, unauthorized access to or disclosure of confidential or personal information, regulatory fines, penalties or litigation, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensatory costs and additional compliance costs. Any of these could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Risks Related to Our Common Stock

Our stock price may be extremely volatile.

There has been significant volatility in the market price and trading volume of equity securities, which is unrelated to the financial performance of the companies issuing the securities. These types of broad market fluctuations may negatively affect the market price of our common stock.

Some specific factors that may have a significant effect on our common stock market price include the following:

 

actual or anticipated fluctuations in our operating results or future prospects;

 

the public’s reaction to our press releases, our other public announcements and our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission;

 

strategic actions by us or our competitors, such as acquisitions or restructurings;

 

new laws or regulations or new interpretations of existing laws or regulations applicable to our business;

 

changes in accounting standards, policies, guidance, interpretations or principles;

 

adverse conditions in the financial markets or general economic conditions, including those resulting from war, incidents of terrorism and responses to such events;

 

sales of common stock by us, members of our management team or a significant shareholder;

 

changes in stock market analyst recommendations or earnings estimates regarding our common stock or other comparable companies; and

 

changes in our current dividend policy.

We cannot predict the extent to which investor interest in our company will continue to support an active trading market for our common stock on the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) or otherwise or how liquid that market will continue to be. If there does not continue to be an active trading market for our common stock, you may have difficulty selling any of our common stock that you buy.

If securities analysts or industry analysts publish negative research or reports, or do not publish reports about our business, our share price and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for our common stock is influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts publish about us, our business and our industry.  If one or more analysts adversely change their recommendation regarding our shares or our competitors’ stock, our share price would likely decline.  If one or more analysts cease coverage of us or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause our share price or trading volume to decline.

Future sales, or the perception of future sales, of a substantial amount of our common stock may depress the price of the shares of our common stock.

Future sales, or the perception or the availability for sale in the public market, of substantial amounts of our common stock could adversely affect the prevailing market price of our common stock and could impair our ability to raise capital through future sales of equity securities at a time and price that we deem appropriate.

We may issue shares of our common stock, or other securities, from time to time as consideration for future acquisitions and investments. We may also issue shares of our common stock, or other securities, in connection with employee stock compensation programs, employee stock purchase programs and board of directors’ compensation. In addition, we may issue shares of our common stock or other securities in public or private offerings as part of our efforts to raise additional capital. In the event any such acquisition, investment, issuance under stock compensation programs or offering is significant, the number of shares of our common stock or the number or aggregate principal amount, as the case may be, of other securities that we may issue may in turn be significant. We may also grant registration rights covering those shares or other securities in connection with any such acquisitions and investments. Any additional capital raised through the sale of our equity securities may dilute your percentage ownership in us.

21


Our ability to raise capital in the future may be limited.

Our ability to raise capital in the future may be limited.  Our business and operations may consume resources faster than we anticipate.  In the future, we may need to raise additional funds through the issuance of new equity securities, debt or a combination of both.  Additional financing may not be available on favorable terms, or at all.  If adequate funds are not available on acceptable terms, we may be unable to fund our capital requirements.  If we issue new debt securities, the debt holders would have rights senior to common shareholders to make claims on our assets, and the terms of any debt could restrict our operations, including our ability to pay dividends on our common stock.  If we issue additional equity securities, existing shareholders will experience dilution, and the new equity securities could have rights senior to those of our common stock.  Because our decision to issue securities in any future offering will depend on market conditions and other factors beyond our control, we cannot predict or estimate the amount, timing or nature of our future offerings.  Thus, our shareholders bear the risk of our future securities offerings diluting their interest and reducing the market price of our common stock.

We have not declared a dividend since November 2014.

We are not required to pay dividends, and our shareholders are not guaranteed, and do not have contractual rights, to receive dividends. Our board of directors may decide at any time, in its discretion, to change or revoke our dividend policy. We currently intend to use the annual cash savings from such dividend suspension to preserve financial flexibility while funding our strategic growth initiatives and debt repayments. Any determination to pay dividends in the future will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend upon results of operations, financial condition, contractual restrictions, restrictions imposed by applicable law and other factors our board of directors deems relevant.

The ability of Koppers Inc. and its subsidiaries to pay dividends or make other payments or distributions to us will depend on our operating results and may be restricted by, among other things, the covenants in Koppers Inc.’s Credit Facility. Our ability to pay dividends is also limited by the indenture governing the 2025 Notes as well as Pennsylvania law and may in the future be limited by the covenants of any future outstanding indebtedness we or our subsidiaries incur. If a dividend is paid in violation of Pennsylvania law, each director approving the dividend could be liable to the corporation if the director did not act with such care as a person of ordinary prudence would use under similar circumstances. Directors are entitled to rely in good faith on information provided by employees of the corporation and experts retained by the corporation. Directors who are held liable would be entitled to contribution from any shareholders who received an unlawful dividend knowing it to be unlawful. Furthermore, we are a holding company with no operations, and unless we receive dividends, distributions, advances, transfers of funds or other payments from our subsidiaries, we will be unable to pay dividends on our common stock.

Provisions of our charter documents may inhibit a takeover, which could negatively affect our stock price.

Provisions of our charter documents and the Business Corporation Law of Pennsylvania, the state in which we are incorporated, could discourage potential acquisition proposals or make it more difficult for a third party to acquire control of our company, even if doing so might be beneficial to our shareholders. Our Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation (our “Articles of Incorporation”) and our Second Amended and Restated Bylaws (our “Bylaws”) provide for various procedural and other requirements that could make it more difficult for shareholders to effect certain corporate actions. For example, our Articles of Incorporation authorize our board of directors to determine the rights, preferences, privileges and restrictions of unissued series of preferred stock without any vote or action by our shareholders. Our board of directors can therefore authorize and issue shares of preferred stock with voting or conversion rights that could adversely affect the voting or other rights of holders of our common stock. The following additional provisions could make it more difficult for shareholders to effect certain corporate actions:

 

Our shareholders will be able to remove directors only for cause by the affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of our capital stock entitled to vote in the election of directors. Vacancies on our board of directors may be filled only by our board of directors.

 

Under Pennsylvania law, cumulative voting rights are available to the holders of our common stock if our Articles of Incorporation have not negated cumulative voting. Our Articles of Incorporation provide that our shareholders do not have the right to cumulative votes in the election of directors.

 

Our Articles of Incorporation do not permit shareholder action without a meeting by consent except for the unanimous consent of all holders of our common stock. The Articles of Incorporation also provide that special meetings of our shareholders may be called only by the board of directors or the chairman of the board of directors.

 

Our Bylaws provide that shareholders seeking to nominate candidates for election as directors or to bring business before an annual meeting of shareholders must provide timely notice of their proposal in writing to the corporate secretary.

22


Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

These provisions may discourage acquisition proposals and may make it more difficult or expensive for a third party to acquire a majority of our outstanding voting stock or may delay, prevent or deter a merger, acquisition, tender offer or proxy contest, which may negatively affect our stock price.

 

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

The following chart sets forth information regarding our production facilities. Generally, our production and port facilities are suitable and adequate for the purposes for which they are intended and overall have sufficient capacity to conduct business in the upcoming year.

 

Primary Product Line

 

Location

 

Description of

Property Interest

 

Railroad and Utility Products and Services

 

 

 

 

 

Railroad crossties

 

Ashcroft, British Columbia, Canada

 

Owned

 

Utility poles

 

Bunbury, Western Australia, Australia

 

Owned/Leased

 

Railroad crossties

 

Denver, Colorado

 

Owned

 

Utility poles

 

Eutawville, South Carolina

 

Owned

 

Railroad crossties

 

Florence, South Carolina

 

Owned

 

Railroad crossties

 

Galesburg, Illinois

 

Leased

 

Utility poles

 

Grafton, New South Wales, Australia

 

Owned

 

Railroad crossties

 

Guthrie, Kentucky

 

Owned

 

Rail joint bars

 

Huntington, West Virginia

 

Leased

 

Utility poles

 

Jasper, Texas

 

Leased

 

Railroad crosstie materials recovery

 

L’Anse, Michigan

 

Leased

 

Utility poles

 

Leland, North Carolina

 

Owned

 

Utility poles

 

Longford, Tasmania, Australia

 

Owned

 

Railroad structures

 

Madison, Wisconsin

 

Owned

 

Railroad crossties

 

Muncy, Pennsylvania

 

Owned

 

Utility poles

 

Newsoms, Virginia

 

Owned

 

Utility poles

 

North, South Carolina

 

Owned

 

Railroad crossties

 

North Little Rock, Arkansas

 

Owned

 

Railroad crosstie materials recovery

 

Queen City, Texas

 

Leased

 

Railroad crossties

 

Roanoke, Virginia

 

Owned

 

Railroad crossties

 

Somerville, Texas

 

Owned

 

Utility poles

 

Sweetwater, Tennessee

 

Owned

 

Utility poles

 

Takura, Queensland, Australia

 

Leased

 

Utility poles

 

Vance, Alabama

 

Leased

 

Utility poles

 

Vidalia, Georgia

 

Owned

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Performance Chemicals

 

 

 

 

 

Wood preservation chemicals

 

Auckland, New Zealand

 

Owned

 

Wood preservation chemicals

 

Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Owned

 

Wood preservation chemicals

 

Darlington, United Kingdom

 

Owned

 

Wood preservation chemicals

 

Geelong, Victoria, Australia

 

Owned

 

Intermediate copper products

 

Hubbell, Michigan

 

Leased

 

Wood preservation chemicals

 

Millington, Tennessee

 

Owned

 

Wood preservation chemicals

 

Mt. Gambier, South Australia, Australia

 

Owned

 

Wood preservation chemicals

 

Rock Hill, South Carolina

 

Owned

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carbon Materials and Chemicals

 

 

 

 

 

Carbon products

 

Mayfield, New South Wales, Australia

 

Owned

 

Carbon products

 

Nyborg, Denmark

 

Owned/Leased

 

Carbon products

 

Pizhou, Jiangsu Province, China

 

Leased

 

Carbon products, phthalic anhydride

 

Stickney, Illinois

 

Owned

 

 

 

Our corporate offices are located in leased office space in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The lease term expires on December 31, 2028. We also own office space in Griffin, Georgia.

23


We are involved in litigation and other proceedings relating to environmental laws and regulations, toxic tort, product liability and other matters. An adverse outcome for certain of these cases could result in a material adverse effect on our business, cash flows and results of operations. The information related to legal matters set forth in Note 20 to the Consolidated Financial Statements of Koppers Holdings Inc. is hereby incorporated by reference.

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not applicable.

EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF THE REGISTRANT

The following table sets forth the names, ages and positions of our and Koppers Inc.’s executive officers as of February 27, 2020. Our executive officers hold their positions until the annual meeting of the board of directors or until their respective successors are elected and qualified.

 

Name

 

Age

 

Position

Leroy M. Ball

 

51

 

President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Koppers Holdings Inc. and Koppers Inc.

Joseph P. Dowd

 

59

 

Global Vice President, Zero Harm, Koppers Inc.

Daniel R. Groves

 

53

 

Vice President, Culture and Engagement, Koppers Inc.

Leslie S. Hyde

 

59

 

Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Koppers Inc.

Steven R. Lacy

 

64

 

Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel and Secretary, Koppers Holdings Inc. and Koppers Inc., and Director of Koppers Inc.

Bradley A. Pearce

 

53

 

Chief Accounting Officer, Koppers Holdings Inc. and Koppers Inc.

James A. Sullivan

 

56

 

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Koppers Inc.

Michael J. Zugay

 

68

 

Chief Financial Officer, Koppers Holdings Inc. and Koppers Inc., and Director of Koppers Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Ball has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Koppers Holdings Inc. and Koppers Inc. since January 2015. From May 2014 through December 2014, Mr. Ball served as Chief Operating Officer of Koppers Holdings Inc. and Koppers Inc. From May 2014 until August 2014, Mr. Ball served as both Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Koppers Holdings Inc. and Koppers Inc. He served as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Koppers Holdings Inc. and Koppers Inc. from September 2010 to May 2014. Mr. Ball has served as a Director of Koppers Holdings Inc. since February 2015 and as a Director of Koppers Inc. since May 2013.

Mr. Dowd has served as Vice President, Zero Harm, Koppers Inc. since January 2020. From January 2016 to December 2019, Mr. Dowd served as Global Vice President, Safety, Health, Environmental, and Process Excellence, Koppers Inc.  From July 2012 to December 2015, Mr. Dowd served as Vice President, North American Carbon Materials and Chemicals, Koppers Inc.

Mr. Groves has served as Vice President, Culture and Engagement, Koppers Inc. since January 2020. From May 2011 to December 2019, Mr. Groves served as Vice President, Human Resources, Koppers Inc.

Ms. Hyde has served as Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Koppers Inc. since January 2020. From November 2017 to December 2019, Ms. Hyde served as Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Risk Management. From January 2016 to October 2017, Ms. Hyde served as Vice President, Risk Management and Deputy General Counsel of Koppers Inc. From January 2005 to December 2015, Ms. Hyde served as Vice President, Safety and Environmental Affairs of Koppers Inc.

Mr. Lacy has served as Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel and Secretary of Koppers Holdings Inc. and Koppers Inc. since January 2018. Effective March 1, 2020, Mr. Lacy will assume the role of Assistant to the President, Koppers Inc. Mr. Lacy had previously served as Senior Vice President, Administration, General Counsel and Secretary of Koppers Holdings Inc. since November 2004 and served as Senior Vice President, Administration, General Counsel and Secretary of Koppers Inc. since January 2004. Mr. Lacy has served as a Director of Koppers Inc. since May 2013.

Mr. Pearce has served as Chief Accounting Officer, Koppers Holdings Inc. and Koppers Inc. since May 2019. From April 2008 to April 2019, Mr. Pearce served as Director, Corporate Control and Taxes, Koppers Inc.

24


Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

Mr. Sullivan has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Koppers Inc. since January 2020. From May 2018 to December 2019, Mr. Sullivan served as Senior Vice President, Railroad Products and Services and Global Carbon Materials and Chemicals, Koppers Inc. Prior to that, Mr. Sullivan served as Senior Vice President, Global Carbon Materials and Chemicals of Koppers Inc. from April 2014 to May 2018. Mr. Sullivan served as Vice President of Business Development, Koppers Inc. from June 2013 to April 2014.

Mr. Zugay has served as Chief Financial Officer of Koppers Holdings Inc. and Koppers Inc. since August 2014. Mr. Zugay also served as Treasurer of Koppers Holdings Inc. and Koppers Inc. from August 2018 to February 12, 2020. Prior to joining Koppers, Mr. Zugay was Co-Chief Executive Officer for Michael Baker Corporation (engineering and other consulting services) from December 2012 to October 2013. Mr. Zugay served as Chief Financial Officer of Michael Baker Corporation from February 2009 to January 2014. Mr. Zugay has served as a Director of Koppers Inc. since May 2015.

 

 

PART II

ITEM 5. MARKET FOR THE REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Our shares of common stock are listed and traded on the NYSE under the symbol “KOP”.

The number of registered holders of Koppers common stock at January 31, 2020 was 132.

Dividend Policy

In 2006, our board of directors adopted a dividend policy that provided for quarterly dividends, payable at the discretion of our board of directors. Dividends will be considered if cash generated by our business is in excess of our expected cash needs. Our expected cash needs include operating expenses and working capital requirements, interest and principal payments on our indebtedness, capital expenditures, incremental costs associated with being a public company, acquisitions, taxes and certain other costs. On an annual basis we expect to pay dividends, if declared, with cash flow from operations, but, due to seasonal or other temporary fluctuations in cash flow, we may from time to time use temporary short-term borrowings to pay quarterly dividends.

We are not required to pay dividends, and our shareholders will not be guaranteed, or have contractual or other rights, to receive dividends. Nevertheless, our board of directors may decide, in its discretion, at any time, to otherwise modify or repeal the dividend policy. We have not declared a dividend since November 2014. Any future determination to declare and pay dividends will be made at the discretion of our board of directors, after taking into account our financial results, capital requirements and other factors it may deem relevant.

Because we are a holding company, substantially all the assets shown on our consolidated balance sheet are held by our subsidiaries. Accordingly, our earnings and cash flow and our ability to pay dividends are dependent upon the earnings and cash flows of our subsidiaries and the distribution or other payment of such earnings to us in the form of dividends. Our ability to pay dividends is restricted by limitations on the ability of our only direct subsidiary, Koppers Inc., to pay dividends, as a result of limitations imposed by the Credit Facility, the indenture governing the 2025 Notes and by Pennsylvania law. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Liquidity and Capital Resources – Restrictions on Dividends to Koppers Holdings.”

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

No shares were repurchased in the three months ended December 31, 2019 under the current $75 million share repurchase program approved in November 2011. The approximate dollar value of common shares that may yet be purchased under this program is $24.8 million. The repurchase program has no expiration date.

 

 

25


ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

The following table contains our selected historical consolidated financial data for the five years ended December 31, 2019. The selected historical consolidated financial data for each of the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements. This selected financial data should be read in conjunction with Koppers’ Consolidated Financial Statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K as well as Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

(Dollars in millions, except share and per share amounts)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statement of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net sales

 

$

1,772.8

 

 

$

1,710.2

 

 

$

1,475.5

 

 

$

1,416.2

 

 

$

1,626.9

 

Depreciation and amortization

 

 

55.1

 

 

 

50.8

 

 

 

49.8

 

 

 

52.9

 

 

 

59.0

 

Impairment and restructuring charges (1)

 

 

6.0

 

 

 

4.0

 

 

 

16.2

 

 

 

20.1

 

 

 

42.2

 

Goodwill impairment (2)

 

 

0.0

 

 

 

0.0

 

 

 

0.0

 

 

 

0.0

 

 

 

67.2

 

Operating profit (loss)

 

 

130.8

 

 

 

110.4

 

 

 

123.6

 

 

 

93.4

 

 

 

(29.6

)

Interest expense

 

 

62.5

 

 

 

56.3

 

 

 

42.5

 

 

 

50.8

 

 

 

50.7

 

Income (loss) from continuing operations

 

 

67.5

 

 

 

28.8

 

 

 

31.3

 

 

 

27.1

 

 

 

(75.9

)

(Loss) income from discontinued operations

 

 

(0.1

)

 

 

0.4

 

 

 

(0.8

)

 

 

0.6

 

 

 

(0.1

)

Net income (loss) (3)

 

 

67.4

 

 

 

29.2

 

 

 

30.5

 

 

 

27.7

 

 

 

(76.0

)

Net income (loss) attributable to Koppers

 

 

66.6

 

 

 

23.4

 

 

 

29.1

 

 

 

29.3

 

 

 

(72.0

)

Earnings (loss) from Continuing Operations Per

   Common Share Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic – continuing operations

 

$

3.23

 

 

$

1.10

 

 

$

1.44

 

 

$

1.39

 

 

$

(3.50

)

Diluted – continuing operations

 

 

3.16

 

 

 

1.08

 

 

 

1.36

 

 

 

1.36

 

 

 

(3.50

)

Weighted average common shares outstanding

   (in thousands):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

 

20,665

 

 

 

20,871

 

 

 

20,754

 

 

 

20,636

 

 

 

20,541

 

Diluted

 

 

21,068

 

 

 

21,326

 

 

 

22,000

 

 

 

21,055

 

 

 

20,541

 

Balance Sheet Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

$

33.0

 

 

$

40.6

 

 

$

60.3

 

 

$

20.8

 

 

$

21.8

 

Total assets (4)

 

 

1,564.6

 

 

 

1,479.9

 

 

 

1,200.2

 

 

 

1,087.5

 

 

 

1,137.9

 

Total debt (4)

 

 

901.2

 

 

 

990.4

 

 

 

677.0

 

 

 

662.4

 

 

 

722.3

 

Other Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capital expenditures

 

$

37.2

 

 

$

109.7

 

 

$

67.5

 

 

$

49.9

 

 

$

40.7

 

 

(1) Includes plant closure and severance costs totaling $6.0 million, $3.9 million, $14.6 million, $13.2 million and $36.5 million related to the decision to discontinue coal tar distillation activities at CMC plants located in the United States and the United Kingdom for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively. Includes plant closure and severance costs totaling $0.1 million, $1.6 million, $6.9 million and $5.7 million related to the restructuring of RUPS wood treating plants in the United States for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.

(2)

In 2015, we recorded a $67.2 million impairment charge related to goodwill for the CMC business segment.

(3)

Income tax expense for 2019 was favorably impacted by $14.9 million related to a one-time deferred tax benefit due to an intra-entity transfer of intangible assets. Income tax expense for 2018 and 2017 was impacted by $4.8 million and $20.5 million, respectively, related to the Tax Act. Income tax benefit for 2015 was impacted by $16.1 million related to CMC goodwill impairment.

(4)

The acquisition of UIP and KRR materially affect the comparability of these amounts for years prior to December 31, 2018.

26


Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Overview

We are a leading integrated global provider of treated wood products, wood preservation chemicals, and carbon compounds. Our products and services are used in a variety of niche applications in a diverse range of end-markets, including the railroad, specialty chemical, utility, residential lumber, agriculture, aluminum, steel, rubber, and construction industries. We serve our customers through a comprehensive global manufacturing and distribution network, with manufacturing facilities located in North America, South America, Australasia, China and Europe.

We operate three principal businesses: Railroad and Utility Products and Services (“RUPS”), Performance Chemicals (“PC”) and Carbon Materials and Chemicals (“CMC”).

Through our RUPS business, we believe that we are the largest supplier of wood crossties to the Class I railroads in North America. Our other treated wood products include utility poles for the electric and telephone utility industries in the United States and Australia. We also provide rail joint bar products as well as various services to the railroad industry. In April 2018, we re-entered the North American utility pole market with the acquisition of Koppers Utility and Industrial Products Inc. (“UIP”). UIP manufactures and sells utility poles and certain construction pilings through a network of eight manufacturing facilities and 19 distribution yards located throughout the United States. In February 2018, Koppers Inc. acquired Koppers Recovery Resources LLC (“KRR”) a business related to the recovery of used crossties.

Through our PC business, we believe that we are the global leader in developing, manufacturing and marketing wood preservation chemicals and wood treatment technologies for use in the pressure treating of lumber for residential, industrial and agricultural applications.

Our CMC business processes coal tar into a variety of products, including creosote, carbon pitch, carbon black feedstock, naphthalene and phthalic anhydride, which are intermediate materials necessary in the pressure treatment of wood, the production of aluminum, the production of carbon black, the production of high-strength concrete, and the production of plasticizers and specialty chemicals, respectively.

Outlook

Trend Overview

Our businesses and results of operations are affected by various competitive and other factors including (i) the impact of global economic conditions on demand for our products, including the impact of imported products from competitors in certain regions where we operate; (ii) raw material pricing and availability, in particular the cost and availability of hardwood lumber for railroad crossties and softwood lumber for utility poles, scrap copper prices, and the cost and amount of coal tar available in global markets, which is negatively affected by reductions in blast furnace steel production; (iii) volatility in oil prices, which impacts the cost of coal tar and certain other raw materials, as well as selling prices and margins for certain of our products including carbon black feedstock, phthalic anhydride, and naphthalene; (iv) competitive conditions in global carbon pitch markets; and (v) changes in foreign exchange rates.

Railroad and Utility Products and Services

We provide our customers with treated and untreated wood products, rail joint bars and services primarily for the railroad markets in the United States and Canada. We also operate a railroad services business that conducts engineering, design, repair and inspection services primarily for railroad bridges in the U.S. and Canada. In addition, we supply treated utility poles for the utility sector in the United States and Australia. The primary end-markets for RUPS is the North American railroad industry, which has an installed base of approximately 700 million wood crossties, and the investor-owned utility industry which utilizes wooden distribution and transmission poles. Both crossties and utility poles require periodic replacement.

Historically, North American demand for crossties had been in the range of 22-25 million crossties annually. However, the crosstie replacement market has been significantly lower in recent years. According to the Railway Tie Association (“RTA”), the estimated total crosstie installations in 2018 were approximately 21 million, of which 16 million were for Class I railroads. The RTA initially forecasted demand in 2019 to be at 22 million to 23 million crossties; however, that has recently been revised to 20.7 million crossties for 2019 and 20.8 million crossties for 2020. The key drivers for the lower projected crosstie demand levels include reduced heavy-haul loads because of the continuing secular shift from coal to natural gas, lower agricultural shipments due to lower crop yields, manufacturing constraints related to a less optimistic economic outlook, and uncertainties from ongoing trade tensions.

27


For distribution poles, nearly half of the installed base is over 40 years old and the demand has historically been in the range of two to three million poles annually. On an overall basis, we believe that the rate at which utilities purchase utility poles will grow as they continue replacement programs within their service territories. Given that backdrop, we anticipate that 2020 will be a relatively stable year from a demand standpoint. Longer term, we are evaluating opportunities to potentially expand our market presence in the United States as well as certain overseas markets.

The supply of untreated crossties can vary at times based upon weather conditions in addition to other factors. We have a nationwide wood procurement team that maintains close working relationships with a network of sawmills. We procure untreated crossties, either on behalf of our customers, or for our own inventory for future treating. We also procure switch ties and various other types of lumber used for railroad bridges and crossings. Untreated crossties go through a six- to nine-month air seasoning process before they are ready to be pressure treated. After the air seasoning process is complete, the crossties are pressure treated using creosote-only treatment or a combined creosote and borate treatment. During any given year, there is a seasonal effect in the winter and spring months on our crosstie business depending on weather conditions for harvesting lumber and crosstie installation.

For the past several years, the major companies in the rail industry substantially reduced both operating and capital spending from peak spending levels, which had a negative impact on sales of various products and services that we provide to that industry. Current year revenues and profitability reflect an increase year-over-year due to a slight rise in demand as capital budgets have now stabilized for most North American Class I railroads. We currently supply all seven of the North American Class I railroads and have long-standing relationships with these customers. Approximately 72 percent of our North American sales are under long-term contracts and we believe that we are positioned to maintain or grow our current market position.

According to the Association of American Railroads (“AAR”), railroads are facing multiple challenges that include fundamental long-term structural changes as a result of the continued decline of coal markets, growth in the domestic intermodal and chemical sectors, evolution of consumer purchasing practices, and disruptions stemming from trade uncertainty. In the recent past, the Class I railroads were highly dependent on the oil and gas and coal mining industries. Currently, the railroads are more correlated to commodity prices, interest rates and trade relations. The AAR reported that rail traffic trended down for much of 2019. For the twelve months ended December 31, 2019, total U.S. carload traffic decreased 4.9 percent from the prior year while intermodal units were lower by 5.1 percent from the prior year, and on a combined basis, U.S. traffic for carloads and intermodal units was 5.0 percent lower than the prior year. The decline can be attributed to continuing demand weakness in coal markets as well as trade disputes and related uncertainties, which had more of a dampening effect on rail-served industries than the overall economy.

Although year-over-year rail traffic had been relatively positive during the past several years prior to 2019, the amount of heavy-haul loads such as coal and fracking sands have declined significantly from historical levels. As a result, this translates into lighter-weight loads having less wear on tracks and ties. The AAR reports that coal was by far the biggest source of U.S. rail carload decline in 2019, falling by 9.2 percent compared with the prior year. In 2019, the coal carloads were at the lowest level in decades and were 45 percent lower than the previous peak in 2006. Additionally, the current demand for rail service has been softening due to lower U.S. manufacturing output, decelerating market trends in housing and tensions with trading partners overseas. Over an economic cycle, the long-term prognosis for the railroad industry and the products and services that we provide to it are generally favorable. However, in the near-term, railroad customers have scaled back and are focusing on reducing their operating costs and working capital. In general, demand has shown improvements in 2019 and we anticipate that to continue, contingent on the availability of lumber for untreated crosstie production.

In terms of raw material, in 2018, there was less available inventory of untreated crossties from the sawmills and lumber prices increased dramatically due to unfavorable weather conditions affecting production. During 2019, lumber prices declined and remained relatively stable; however, the weather challenges in the first half of the year negatively affected the availability of logs for production at sawmill operators. The RTA indicates that the industry continues to experience a shortage of lumber availability and consequently, the sawmills are reducing their tie production, which has resulted in a tightness in the supply of untreated crossties which constrains our ability to procure needed inventory. In addition, the potential effects from the current or future tariffs on trade between China and the U.S. may negatively impact the hardwood industry and the availability of lumber. The conditions for log availability improved somewhat late in the second quarter of 2019 and continued throughout the remainder of the year. To the extent that we can build our untreated tie inventory, we anticipate having higher levels of dry crosstie inventory ready for future treatment.

From a long-term perspective, we believe there remains a need for sustained investment in infrastructure and capacity expansion. We believe that with our vertical integration capabilities in wood treatment and strong customer relationships, we will ultimately benefit from increased demand.

28


Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

Strategic Initiatives and Integration Synergies

As part of optimizing our business, we continue to evaluate a number of opportunities to improve efficiencies in our operational processes, people and facilities. With 17 North American RUPS treating facilities operating at less than full utilization, our goal is to either capture more volume through the existing facilities or consolidate our operating footprint. We are pursuing actions to achieve both goals as demonstrated by the sale of our Blackstone, Virginia utility pole treating facility in 2019.

Performance Chemicals

The largest geographic market for wood treating chemicals sold by our PC business is in North America, and the largest application for our products is the residential remodeling market. We also have a market presence in Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand and Africa. We believe that PC is the largest global manufacturer and supplier of water-based wood preservatives and wood specialty additives to treaters that supply pressure treated wood products to large retailers and independent lumber dealers. These retailers and dealers, in turn, serve the residential, agricultural and industrial pressure-treated wood market. Our primary products are copper-based wood preservatives, including micronized copper azole (“MicroPro®”) and micronized pigments (“MicroShades®”). Applications for these products include decking, fencing, utility poles, construction lumber and other outdoor structures.

In North America, we are vertically integrated due to our manufacturing capabilities for copper compounds for our copper-based wood preservatives. We believe our vertical integration is part of our proprietary processes and reflects an important competitive advantage.

As most of the products sold by PC are copper-based products, changes in the price and availability of copper can have a significant impact on product pricing and margins. We attempt to moderate the variability in copper pricing over time by entering into hedging transactions for the majority of our copper needs, which primarily range from six months up to 36 months. These hedges typically match expected customer purchases and receive hedge accounting treatment. From time to time, we enter into forward transactions based upon long-term forecasted needs of copper. These forward positions are typically marked to market.

Product demand for our PC business has historically been closely associated with consumer spending on home repair and remodeling projects, and therefore, trends in existing home sales serve as a leading indicator. Overall, the market for existing homes continues to show mixed signals. According to the National Association of Realtors® (“NAR”), total existing-home sales in December increased 3.6 percent from November. Although the Midwest saw sales decline, the other three major U.S. regions reported meaningful growth from the previous month. Compared with prior year, overall sales grew significantly, up 10.8 percent from a year ago. On a full-year basis, total existing-home sales were neutral as sales were at the same level as in 2018. Even with historically low mortgage rates, sales have not commensurately increased, in part due to a low level of new housing options. Given the housing shortage, home prices are rising too rapidly, and this lack of inventory is preventing a potentially higher growth rate in existing-home sales.

According to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (“LIRA”) reported by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, national spending for improvements and repairs on owner-occupied homes is expected to rise only modestly in 2020. The LIRA projects that home remodeling expenditures will increase by just 1.5 percent in 2020 compared with annual gains of five percent to seven percent in recent years. While homebuilding and sales activity are projected to show modest growth, slowing demand in 2019 will likely continue to pull on remodeling spending growth through mid-2020 and then is expected to moderate in the second half of the year. Even with a lackluster growth projection, homeowner improvement and repair expenditures are still set to expand to more than $330 billion in 2020. However, the current environment of low interest rates may help to counter some of these headwinds, which could boost home improvement expenditures over the next six to twelve months.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® decreased marginally in December, following a slight increase in November. The Index now stands at 126.5, slightly down from 126.8 in November. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved; however, their expectations declined, primarily due to a softening in their short-term outlook regarding jobs and financial prospects. Although the economy is not showing signs of further weakening, consumer spending in 2020 is not expected to gain momentum in the next several months.

29


From a margin perspective, our profitability was unfavorably impacted for the past two years by rising raw material costs, primarily due to copper prices which began to trend higher in 2017, continued into 2018 and then pulled back from highs reached in the first half of 2018. Overall, copper prices in 2018 were higher, and given that we make purchasing commitments approximately 12 to 18 months in advance of the following 12-month period, we experienced higher year-over-year raw material costs throughout 2019. The market prices for copper were lower in 2019, therefore, we anticipate lower year-over-year raw material costs throughout 2020. Our strategy is to hedge a majority of our requirements over a one-to-three year time frame in order to provide short-term certainty and visibility of our cost structure by lessening the volatility that may arise in commodity markets. In a rising copper price environment, as has been the case for much of the past twenty-four months, our average hedged prices have increased from prior year. We have and will continue to implement pricing actions, where possible, to partially offset the impact of higher input costs.

Carbon Materials and Chemicals

The primary products produced by CMC are creosote, which is a registered pesticide in the United States and used primarily in the pressure treatment of railroad crossties, and carbon pitch, which is sold primarily to the aluminum industry for the production of carbon anodes used in the smelting of aluminum. We have reduced capacity in our CMC plants in North America and Europe over the past several years to levels required to meet creosote demand in North America for the treatment of railroad crossties. Most recently, in June 2019, we announced the cessation of remaining production activities at our Follansbee, West Virginia facility in the third quarter of 2019 and, as such, we recorded charges of $3.3 million in the second quarter of 2019 related to asset retirement obligations and inventory and fixed asset write-offs. As a result of these initiatives, we expect additional restructuring and related charges to earnings of approximately $3 million to $5 million through 2021. The overall expected future cash requirements for the CMC plant closures are estimated to be approximately $14 million through 2021.

We currently supply our North American RUPS business with the majority of its creosote requirements. As discussed in the RUPS outlook, there has been a decrease starting in 2017 with respect to spending for railroad infrastructure. This results in a shift in excess distillate production to the commodity carbon black feedstock market until demand stabilizes for creosote.

While the sale of carbon pitch remains a significant portion of our sales volume, the reduction of aluminum smelting capacity in the United States, Australia and Western Europe has led to sharply lower demand for carbon pitch over the past several years. Accordingly, we have experienced significantly lower sales volumes due to the reduction in aluminum production in parts of the world where the majority of our production facilities are located. However, beginning in 2018, aluminum production in the United States increased to some extent as tariffs have been imposed on certain imported steel and aluminum products that has stimulated restarts of previously idled capacity. This development has resulted in additional demand for carbon pitch in the United States that can likely only be sustained through a continuation of current trade policy.

The availability of coal tar, the primary raw material for our CMC business, is linked to levels of metallurgical coke production. As the global steel industry, excluding Asia, has reduced the production of steel using metallurgical coke, the volumes of coal tar have also been reduced. For the past decade, the coal tar distillation industry has operated in an excess capacity mode, which further increased the competition for a limited amount of coal tar in North America. Over the past three years we have consolidated our operating footprint and significantly lowered production levels at the same time that we added distribution assets to move finished products from Europe to the United States more efficiently. In addition, we entered into several new long-term supply agreements in 2017 to further lower our exposure to coal tar availability risk and volatile end markets. As a result, our raw material needs in North America have been significantly less than historically required.

For the external markets served by our CMC business, we expect that North America and Europe will benefit from relatively favorable demand levels for carbon pitch. However, phthalic anhydride markets have begun to soften and end market pricing for some products has been under pressure in certain regions as competitors are trying to increase market share. Globally, coal tar raw material supply remains constrained due to reductions in blast furnace steel capacity.  That said, our continued focus on streamlining CMC’s cost structure has been key to maximizing its profitability.

30


Koppers Holdings Inc.     2019 Annual Report

Subsequent Event

On February 18, 2020, we entered into a definitive agreement to sell Koppers (Jiangsu) Carbon Chemical Company Limited (“KJCC”) to Fangda Carbon New Material Co., Ltd and C-Chem Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Nippon Steel Chemical & Material Co., Ltd. KJCC is a 75 percent-owned coal tar distillation company which is part of our CMC segment. In 2019, KJCC’s sales totaled $127.4 million and its operating profit totaled $5.9 million. The sales price is $107.0 million, subject to adjustment for cash, debt and working capital at closing, which is expected to occur in four to six months due to required regulatory approvals in China and achievement of other closing conditions. At closing, we estimate the gain on the sale of KJCC will be approximately $45 million and net cash proceeds to Koppers will be approximately $65 million, after noncontrolling interest, taxes and expenses.

 

Seasonality and Effects of Weather on Operations

Our quarterly operating results fluctuate due to a variety of factors that are outside of our control, including inclement weather conditions, which in the past have affected operating results. Operations at some of our facilities have at times been reduced during the winter months. Moreover, demand for some of our products declines during periods of inclement weather. As a result of the foregoing, we anticipate that we may experience material fluctuations in quarterly operating results. Historically, our operating results have been significantly lower in the first and fourth calendar quarters as compared to the second and third calendar quarters.

Results of Operations – Comparison of Years Ended December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2018

Consolidated Results

Net sales for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018 are summarized by segment in the following table:

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

Net Change

 

(Dollars in millions)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Railroad and Utility Products and Services

 

$

733.5

 

 

$

634.8

 

 

 

16

%

Performance Chemicals

 

 

448.3

 

 

 

420.0

 

 

 

7

%

Carbon Materials and Chemicals

 

 

591.0

 

 

 

655.4

 

 

 

-10

%

 

 

$

1,772.8

 

 

$

1,710.2

 

 

 

4

%

 

RUPS net sales for the year ended December 31, 2019 increased by $98.7 million, or 16 percent, compared to the prior year. The sales increase was primarily due to volume increases in the Class I and commercial crosstie markets, as well as a full year of results from UIP which was acquired in the second quarter of the prior year, along with price increases across the segment in the current year period. Sales of crossties increased by $61.1 million in the current year period. These increases were offset, in part, by volume decreases in the rail joints market and an unfavorable impact from foreign currency translation in the current year period of $2.5 million from our Australian pole business.

PC net sales for the year ended December 31, 2019 increased by $28.3 million, or seven percent, compared to the prior year. The sales increase was due primarily to new customer wins, new product sales, higher organic volumes and price increases for copper-based preservatives in North America. Sales of non-copper based preservatives in Europe realized a more favorable pricing mix in the current year period as well. These increases were partially offset by an unfavorable impact from foreign currency translation in the current year period of $3.0 million.

CMC net sales for the year ended December 31, 2019 decreased by $64.4 million, or ten percent, compared to the prior year due mainly to lower sales prices for carbon pitch in China and Europe and naphthalene in Europe, along with lower sales volumes of carbon pitch in Australia and carbon black feedstock globally. Foreign currency translation also had an unfavorable impact on sales in the current year period of $21.7 million. These decreases were partially offset by increased volumes for carbon pitch in China and North America and naphthalene in China. In Australia, higher sales prices for carbon pitch were driven primarily by higher raw material cost and increases in global oil pricing.

Cost of sales as a percentage of net sales was 81 percent for the year ended December 31, 2019, compared to 80 percent in the prior year. Lower gross margins for CMC in the current year period were a result of favorable margins in the first quarter of 2018 in China due to higher pricing along with lower gross margins for PC due to higher year-over-year raw material costs. These were offset by higher gross margins for RUPS due to increased sales volumes of crossties coupled with commercial crosstie market price increases.

Depreciation and amortization charges for the year ended December 31, 2019 were $4.3 million higher when compared to the prior year period due mainly to assets placed in service over the past year related to our new naphthalene unit at our CMC plant in Stickney, Illinois along with a full year of depreciation and amortization from our acquisition of UIP which occurred in the second quarter of 2018.

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Loss on sale of assets of $8.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2018 reflects sales of our coal tar distillation facility in Clairton, Pennsylvania and our specialty chemicals business in the United Kingdom within our CMC segment and the sale of assets in the United Kingdom within our PC segment.

Impairment and restructuring charges were $2.0 million higher when compared to the prior year period. In the third quarter of 2019, we discontinued remaining production activities at our Follansbee, West Virginia facility and, as such, we recorded associated charges of approximately $3 million for asset retirement obligations and inventory and fixed asset write-offs in the current year. Prior year charges consisted of storage tank decommissioning costs and accelerated depreciation for the remaining fixed assets at our coal tar distillation facilities in Clairton, Pennsylvania and Follansbee, West Virginia.

Selling, general and administrative expenses for the year ended December 31, 2019 were $10.7 million lower when compared to the prior year period due primarily to a decrease of $9.4 million for travel, consulting and professional service expenses mostly related to our prior year acquisitions. This decrease was partially offset by an increase in legal costs.

Interest expense for the year ended December 31, 2019 was $6.2 million higher when compared to the prior year period primarily due to the higher average debt level related to our acquisitions of UIP and KRR in 2018 as well as cash used to fund our stock buybacks and capital expenditures in the second half of 2018.

Income taxes for the year ended December 31, 2019 were $24.6 million lower when compared to the prior year period. In December 2019, we completed a Dutch legal entity restructuring project, which resulted in an intra-entity transfer of certain intangible assets and intellectual property. This transaction resulted in the recognition of a deferred tax asset of $14.9 million. We also recorded a favorable tax benefit of $4.3 million in 2019 for the reversal of various unrecognized tax benefits due to the closure of a U.S. tax audit. Additionally, we recorded a favorable tax benefit of $2.6 million for provision-to-return adjustments as a result of filing our 2018 U.S. tax return during 2019, predominately due to various tax return elections made at the date of filing which enabled us to increase our U.S. taxable income and therefore decrease the limitation on our interest expense deduction as originally estimated. These favorable items are partially offset by additional income taxes due to an increase in pre-tax profit of $14.1 million when compared to the prior period. In the year ended December 31, 2018, income taxes included a tax cost of $4.8 million related to the completion of the analysis of the final impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “Tax Act”).

Income tax expense as a percentage of pre-tax profit for the year ended December 31, 2019 and 2018 was 2.0 percent and 47.4 percent, respectively. The decrease in this percentage is largely due to the factors that are described in the above paragraph. Additionally, the annual effective income tax rate is lower when compared to the prior period due to a decrease in unfavorable U.S. tax adjustments for the limitation on our interest expense deduction and the global intangible low taxed income (“GILTI”) inclusion. 

Segment Results

Segment operating profit for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018 is summarized in the following table:

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

% Change

 

(Dollars in millions)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating profit (loss):