10-K 1 cbt-10k_20150930.htm 10-K cbt-10k_20150930.htm

 

 

UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

Form 10-K

 

x

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

For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015

or

 

o

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

For the transition period from                      to                    

Commission file number 1-5667

Cabot Corporation

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Delaware

04-2271897

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

 

 

Two Seaport Lane, Suite 1300

 

Boston, Massachusetts

02210

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

(Zip Code)

 

(617) 345-0100

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

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

 

Title of Each Class

 

Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered

Common stock, $1.00 par value per share

 

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  x     No  o

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

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  x    No  o

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted 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 and post such files).    Yes  x    No  o

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the Registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.    x

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

 

Large accelerated filer

x

Accelerated filer

o

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

o  (Do not check if a smaller reporting company)

Smaller reporting company

o

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

As of the last business day of the Registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter (March 31, 2015), the aggregate market value of the Registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates was $2,832,098,400. As of November 19, 2015, there were 62,566,968 shares of the Registrant’s common stock outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the Registrant’s definitive proxy statement for its 2016 Annual Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this annual report on Form 10-K.

 

 

 

 

 


TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

PART I

ITEM 1.

Business

3

 

 

 

ITEM 1A.

Risk Factors

10

 

 

 

ITEM 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

15

 

 

 

ITEM 2.

Properties

15

 

 

 

ITEM 3.

Legal Proceedings

17

 

 

 

ITEM 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

18

 

PART II

 

 

 

ITEM 5.

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

20

 

 

 

ITEM 6.

Selected Financial Data

20

 

 

 

ITEM 7.

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

24

 

 

 

ITEM 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

41

 

 

 

ITEM 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

42

 

 

 

ITEM 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

93

 

 

 

ITEM 9A.

Controls and Procedures

93

 

 

 

ITEM 9B.

Other Information

94

 

PART III

 

 

 

ITEM 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

95

 

 

 

ITEM 11.

Executive Compensation

95

 

 

 

ITEM 12.

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

95

 

 

 

ITEM 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

95

 

 

 

ITEM 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

95

 

PART IV

 

 

 

ITEM 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

96

 

 

Signatures

99

 

 

Exhibit Index

100

 

2


Information Relating to Forward-Looking Statements

This annual report on Form 10-K contains “forward-looking statements” under the Federal securities laws. These forward-looking statements include statements relating to our expectations regarding our future business performance and overall prospects; demand for our products; the cost savings we expect to achieve from our restructuring plans; when we expect to cease manufacturing operations at our carbon black plant in Merak, Indonesia; the amount expected to be received from the sale of land by our carbon black joint venture in Malaysia; the sufficiency of our cash on hand, cash provided from operations and cash available under our credit and commercial paper facilities to fund our cash requirements; anticipated capital spending, including environmental-related capital expenditures; cash requirements and uses of available cash, including future cash outlays associated with long-term contractual obligations, restructurings, contributions to employee benefit plans, environmental remediation costs and future respirator liabilities; exposure to interest rate and foreign exchange risk; future benefit plan payments we expect to make; future amortization expenses; our expected tax rate for fiscal 2016; our ability to recover deferred tax assets; and the possible outcome of legal and environmental proceedings. From time to time, we also provide forward-looking statements in other materials we release to the public and in oral statements made by authorized officers.

Forward-looking statements are based on our current expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections about Cabot’s businesses and strategies, market trends and conditions, economic conditions and other factors. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties, potentially inaccurate assumptions, and other factors, some of which are beyond our control and difficult to predict. If known or unknown risks materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove inaccurate, our actual results could differ materially from past results and from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed in our forward-looking statements are described in Item 1A in this report.

We undertake no obligation to publicly update forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law. Investors are advised, however, to consult any further disclosures we make on related subjects in our 10-Q and 8-K reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).

 

 

PART I

Item 1.

Business

General

Cabot is a global specialty chemicals and performance materials company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Our principal products are rubber and specialty grade carbon blacks, fumed metal oxides, activated carbon, inkjet colorants, aerogel, and cesium formate drilling fluids. Cabot and its affiliates have manufacturing facilities and operations in the United States and over 20 other countries. Cabot’s business was founded in 1882 and incorporated in the State of Delaware in 1960. The terms “Cabot”, “Company”, “we”, and “our” as used in this report refer to Cabot Corporation and its consolidated subsidiaries.

Our strategy is to deliver earnings growth through leadership in performance materials. We intend to achieve this goal by focusing on margin improvement, capacity expansion and emerging market growth, developing new products and businesses and actively managing our portfolio of businesses.

Our products are generally based on technical expertise and innovation in one or more of our three core competencies: making and handling very fine particles; modifying the surfaces of very fine particles to alter their functionality; and designing particles to impart specific properties to a composite. We focus on creating particles with the composition, morphology, surface functionalities and formulations to support our customers’ existing and emerging applications.

During fiscal 2015, we realigned our global business segments to improve efficiency and resource prioritization, as well as to enable stronger customer focus. Our four business segments are: Reinforcement Materials; Performance Chemicals; Purification Solutions; and Specialty Fluids. The business segments are discussed in more detail later in this section. Financial information about our business segments appears in Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in Item 7 below (“MD&A”) and in Note V of the Notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 below (“Note V”).

Our internet address is www.cabotcorp.com. We make available free of charge on or through our internet website our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as soon as reasonably practicable after electronically filing such material with, or furnishing it to, the SEC. Information appearing on our website is not a part of, and is not incorporated in, this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

3


Reinforcement Materials

Products

Carbon black is a form of elemental carbon that is manufactured in a highly controlled process to produce particles and aggregates of varied structure and surface chemistry, resulting in many different performance characteristics for a wide variety of applications. Rubber grade carbon blacks are used to enhance the physical properties of the systems and applications in which they are incorporated.

Our rubber blacks products are used in tires and industrial products. Rubber blacks have traditionally been used in the tire industry as a rubber reinforcing agent to increase tread durability and are also used as a performance additive to reduce rolling resistance and improve traction. In industrial products such as hoses, belts, extruded profiles and molded goods, rubber blacks are used to improve the physical performance of the product, including the product’s physical strength, fluid resistance, conductivity and resistivity.

Sales and Customers

Sales of rubber blacks products are made by Cabot employees and through distributors and sales representatives. Sales to three major tire customers represent a material portion of Reinforcement Materials’ total net sales and operating revenues. The loss of any of these customers, or a significant reduction in volumes sold to them, could have a material adverse effect on the Segment.

Under appropriate circumstances, we have entered into supply contracts with certain customers, the typical duration of which is one year. Many of these contracts provide for sales price adjustments to account for changes in relevant feedstock indices and, in some cases, changes in other relevant costs (such as the cost of natural gas). In fiscal 2015, approximately half of our rubber blacks volume was sold under these supply agreements. The majority of the volumes sold under these agreements are sold to customers in North America and Europe.

In addition to sales of our rubber blacks products, we have licensed our patented elastomer composites manufacturing process to Manufacture Francaise des Pneumatiques Michelin for their exclusive use in tire applications. This liquid phase process is used to manufacture compounds of carbon black and natural latex rubber that improve abrasion/wear resistance, reduce fatigue and reduce rolling resistance compared to carbon black/natural rubber compounds made by conventional dry mix methods. As consideration, we receive quarterly royalty payments extending through fiscal 2022.

Much of the rubber blacks we sell is used in tires and automotive products and, therefore, our financial results may be affected by the cyclical nature of the automotive industry. However, a large portion of the market for our products is in replacement tires that historically have been less subject to automotive industry cycles.

Competition

We are one of the leading manufacturers of carbon black in the world. We compete in the manufacture of carbon black primarily with two companies with a global presence and numerous other companies that operate regionally. Competition for products within Reinforcement Materials is based on product performance, quality, reliability, price, service, technical innovation, and logistics. We believe our product differentiation, technological leadership, global manufacturing presence, operations and logistics excellence and customer service provide us with a competitive advantage.

Raw Materials

The principal raw material used in the manufacture of carbon black is a portion of the residual heavy oils derived from petroleum refining operations,   the distillation of coal tars, and the production of ethylene throughout the world. Natural gas is also used in the production of carbon black. Raw material costs generally are influenced by the availability of various types of carbon black feedstock and natural gas, supply and demand of such raw materials, and related transportation costs. Importantly, movements in the market price for crude oil typically affect carbon black feedstock costs.

Operations

We own, or have a controlling interest in, and operate plants that produce rubber blacks in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands and the United States. Our equity affiliate operates a carbon black plant in Venezuela.

4


The following table shows our ownership interest as of September 30, 2015 in rubber blacks operations in which we own less than 100% of the common equity:

 

Location

 

Percentage Interest

Shanghai, China

 

70% (consolidated subsidiary)

Tianjin, China

 

70% (consolidated subsidiary)

Xingtai City, China

 

60% (consolidated subsidiary)

Valasske Mezirici (Valmez), Czech Republic

 

52% (consolidated subsidiary)

Cilegon and Merak, Indonesia ⁽¹⁾

 

97% (consolidated subsidiary)

Valencia, Venezuela

 

49% (equity affiliate)

(1)

The Company intends to cease its manufacturing operations in Merak in January 2016.

Performance Chemicals

Performance Chemicals is comprised of two businesses: (i) our Specialty Carbons and Formulations business, which manufactures and sells specialty grades of carbon black, specialty compounds and inkjet colorants, and (ii) our Metal Oxides business, which manufactures and sells fumed silica, fumed alumina and dispersions thereof and aerogel. In Performance Chemicals, we design, manufacture and sell materials that deliver performance in a broad range of customer applications across the automotive, construction and infrastructure, inkjet printing, electronics, and consumer products sectors.

Products

Specialty Carbons and Formulations Business

Carbon black is a form of elemental carbon that is manufactured in a highly controlled process to produce particles and aggregates of varied structure and surface chemistry, resulting in many different performance characteristics for a wide variety of applications.

Our specialty grades of carbon black are used to impart color, provide rheology control, enhance conductivity and static charge control, provide UV protection, enhance mechanical properties, and provide formulation flexibility through surface treatment. These specialty carbon products are used in a wide variety of applications, such as inks, coatings, cables, pipes, toners and electronics.

Our thermoplastic concentrates and compounds, which we refer to as “specialty compounds”, are derived from our specialty grades of carbon black mixed with polymers and other additives.  These products are generally used by plastics formulators in thermoplastic polymer applications, such as cable jacketings, films, fibers, moldings, pipes and sheets, as they are generally easier to handle, mix and disperse for these applications than carbon black alone.  In addition, our electrically conductive compound products generally are used to reduce the risk of damage from electrostatic discharge in plastics applications.

Our inkjet colorants are high-quality pigment-based black and color dispersions based on our patented carbon black surface modification technology. The dispersions are used in aqueous inkjet inks to impart color, sharp print characteristics and durability, while maintaining high printhead reliability. These products are used in various inkjet printing applications, including commercial printing, small office/home office and corporate office, and niche applications that require a high level of dispersibility and colloidal stability. Our inkjet inks, which utilize our pigment-based colorant dispersions, are used in the emerging commercial printing segment for digital print.

Metal Oxides Business

Fumed silica is an ultra-fine, high-purity particle used as a reinforcing, thickening, abrasive, thixotropic, suspending or anti-caking agent in a wide variety of products for the automotive, construction, microelectronics, and consumer products industries. These products include adhesives, sealants, cosmetics, inks, toners, silicone rubber, coatings, polishing slurries and pharmaceuticals. Fumed alumina, also an ultra-fine, high-purity particle, is used as an abrasive, absorbent or barrier agent in a variety of products, such as inkjet media, lighting, coatings, cosmetics and polishing slurries.

Aerogel is a hydrophobic, silica-based particle with a high surface area that is used in a variety of thermal insulation and specialty chemical applications. In the building and construction industry, the product is used in insulative sprayable plasters and composite building products, as well as translucent skylight, window, wall and roof systems for insulating eco-daylighting applications. In the specialty chemicals industry, the product is used to provide matte finishing, insulating and thickening properties for use in a variety of applications.

5


Sales and Customers

Sales of these products are made by Cabot employees and through distributors and sales representatives. In our Specialty Carbons and Formulations business, sales are generally to a broad number of customers. In our Metal Oxides business, sales under long-term contracts with two customers account for a substantial portion of the revenue.

Competition

We are a leading producer of the products we sell in this segment.  We compete in the manufacture of carbon black primarily with two companies with a global presence and several other companies that have a regional presence, some of which export product outside their region. We compete with several companies that produce specialty compounds, primarily in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.  Our inkjet colorants and inks are designed to replace traditional pigment dispersions and dyes used in inkjet printing applications.  Competitive products for inkjet colorants are organic dyes and other dispersed pigments manufactured and marketed by large chemical companies and small independent producers.  For fumed silica, we compete primarily with two companies with a global presence and several other companies which have a regional presence. For aerogel, we compete principally with one other company that produces aerogel products.  We also compete with non-aerogel insulation products manufactured by regional companies throughout the world.

Competition for our products is based on product performance, quality, reliability, service, technical innovation and price. We believe our product differentiation, technological leadership, operations excellence and customer service provide us with a competitive advantage.

Raw Materials

Raw materials for our products are, in general, readily available.  The principal raw material used in the manufacture of carbon black is a portion of the residual heavy oils derived from petroleum refining operations, the distillation of coal tars, and the production of ethylene throughout the world. Natural gas is also used in the production of carbon black. These raw material costs generally are influenced by the availability of various types of carbon black feedstock and natural gas, supply and demand of such raw materials, and related transportation costs. Importantly, movements in the market price for crude oil typically affect carbon black feedstock costs. The primary raw materials used for our specialty compounds include carbon black sourced from our carbon black plants, thermoplastic resins and mineral fillers from various sources. Raw materials for inkjet colorants include carbon black sourced from our carbon black plants, organic pigments and other treating agents available from various sources.  Raw materials for inkjet inks include pigment dispersions, solvents and other additives.  We believe that all raw materials to produce inkjet colorants and inks are in adequate supply.

Raw materials for the production of fumed silica are various chlorosilane feedstocks. We purchase feedstocks and for some customers convert their feedstock to product on a fee-basis (so called “toll conversion”). We also purchase aluminum chloride as feedstock for the production of fumed alumina. We have long-term procurement contracts or arrangements in place for the purchase of fumed silica feedstock, which we believe will enable us to meet our raw material requirements for the foreseeable future. In addition, we buy some raw materials in the spot market to help ensure flexibility and minimize costs. The principal raw materials for the production of aerogel are silica sol and/or sodium silicate.

Operations

We own, or have a controlling interest in, and operate plants that produce specialty grades of carbon black primarily in China, The Netherlands and the United States. Our specialty compounds are produced in facilities that we own, or have a controlling interest in, located in Belgium, China and the United Arab Emirates. Our inkjet colorants and inks are manufactured at our facility in Haverhill, Massachusetts. We also own, or have a controlling interest in, manufacturing plants that produce fumed metal oxides in the United States, China, the United Kingdom, and Germany and a manufacturing plant that produces aerogel in Frankfurt, Germany. An equity affiliate operates a fumed metal oxides plant in Mettur Dam, India.

The following table shows our ownership interest as of September 30, 2015 in these segment operations in which we own less than 100%:

 

Location

 

Percentage Interest

Tianjin, China (Specialty Carbons and Formulations business)

 

90% (consolidated subsidiary)

Jiangxi Province, China (Metal Oxides business)

 

90% (consolidated subsidiary)

Mettur Dam, India (Metal Oxides business)

 

50% (equity affiliate)

6


Purification Solutions

Products

Activated carbon is a porous material consisting mainly of elemental carbon treated with heat, steam and/or chemicals to create high internal porosity, resulting in a large internal surface area that resembles a sponge. It is generally produced in two forms, powdered and granular, and is manufactured in different sizes, shapes and levels of purity and using a variety of raw materials for a wide variety of applications. Activated carbon is used to remove contaminants from liquids and gases using a process called adsorption, whereby the interconnected pores of activated carbon trap contaminants.

Our activated carbon products are used for the purification of water, air, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals and other liquids and gases, as either a colorant or a decolorizing agent in the production of products for food and beverage applications and as a chemical carrier in slow release applications. In gas and air applications, one of the uses of activated carbon is for the removal of mercury in flue gas streams. In certain applications, used activated carbon can be reactivated for further use by removing the contaminants from the pores of the activated carbon product. The most common applications for our reactivated carbon are water treatment and food and beverage purification. In addition to our activated carbon production and reactivation, we also provide activated carbon solutions through on-site equipment and services, including delivery systems for activated carbon injection in coal-fired utilities, mobile water filter units and carbon reactivation services.

Sales and Customers

Sales of activated carbon are made by Cabot employees and through distributors and sales representatives to a broad range of customers, including coal-fired utilities, food and beverage processors, water treatment plants, pharmaceutical companies and catalyst producers. Some of our sales of activated carbon are made under annual contracts or longer-term agreements, particularly in mercury removal applications.

Competition

We are one of the leading manufacturers of activated carbon in the world. We compete in the manufacture of activated carbon with a number of companies, some of whom have a global presence and others who have a regional or local presence, although not all of these companies manufacture activated carbon for the range of applications for which we sell our products.

Competition for activated carbon and activated carbon equipment and services is based on quality, performance, price and supply-chain stability. We believe our product and application diversity, product differentiation, technological leadership, quality, cost-effective access to raw materials, and scalable manufacturing capabilities provide us with a competitive advantage.

Raw Materials

The principal raw materials we use in the manufacture of activated carbon are various forms of coal, including lignite, wood and other carbonaceous materials, which are, in general, readily available and we believe we have in adequate supply. We also own a lignite mine that is operated by Caddo Creek Resources Company, LLC, a subsidiary of the North American Coal Company. The mine began operations in November 2014 and supplies our Marshall, Texas facility.

Operations

We own, or have a controlling interest in, and operate plants that produce activated carbon in the United States, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Italy. Our affiliates operate activated carbon plants in Canada and Mexico. The following table shows our ownership interest as of September 30, 2015 in activated carbon operations in which we own less than 100%:

 

Location

 

Percentage Interest

Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada

 

50% (contractual joint venture)

Atitalaquia, Hidalgo, Mexico

 

49% (equity affiliate)

Specialty Fluids

Products

Our Specialty Fluids segment principally produces and markets cesium formate as a drilling and completion fluid for use primarily in high pressure and high temperature oil and gas well construction. Cesium formate products are solids-free, high-density fluids that have a low viscosity, enabling safe and efficient well construction and workover operations. The fluid is resistant to high temperatures, minimizes damage to producing reservoirs and is readily biodegradable in accordance with the testing guidelines set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In a majority of applications, cesium formate is blended with other formates or products. We also manufacture and sell fine cesium chemicals that are used in a wide range of applications, including catalysts and brazing fluxes.

7


Sales, Rental and Customers

Sales of our cesium formate products are made to oil and gas operating companies directly by Cabot employees and sales representatives and indirectly through oil field service companies. We generally rent cesium formate to our customers for use in drilling operations on a short-term basis and on occasion make direct sales of cesium formate outside of the rental process. After completion of a job under our rental process, the customer returns the remaining fluid to Cabot and it is reprocessed for use in subsequent well operations. Any fluid that is lost during use and not returned to Cabot is paid for by the customer.

A large portion of our fluids has been used for drilling and completion of wells in the North Sea with a limited number of customers, where we have supplied cesium formate-based fluids for both reservoir drilling and completion activities on large gas and condensate field projects in the Norwegian Continental Shelf. We continue to look for opportunities to expand the use of our fluids to drilling operations outside of the North Sea, particularly in Asia and the Middle East.

Competition

Formate fluids compete mainly with traditional drilling fluid technologies. Competition in the well fluids business is based on product performance, quality, reliability, service, technical innovation, price, and proximity of inventory to customers’ drilling operations. We believe our commercial strengths include our unique product offerings and their performance, and our customer service.

Raw Materials

The principal raw material used in this business is pollucite (cesium ore), of which we own a substantial portion of the world’s known pollucite reserves.  In November 2015, we successfully completed a development project at our mine in Manitoba, Canada.  We believe we have sufficient raw material to enable us to continue to supply cesium products for the foreseeable future, based on our anticipated consumption.  We are not currently mining at the site and will assess options to access additional reserves in the mine, various technologies to augment our cesium supply and alternative sources of ore as demand for our cesium products warrants.

Most jobs for which cesium formate is used require a large volume of the product. Accordingly, the Specialty Fluids business maintains a large inventory of fluid.

Operations

Our mine and cesium formate manufacturing facility are located in Manitoba, Canada, and we have fluid blending and reclamation facilities in Aberdeen, Scotland and in Bergen, Norway. In addition, we warehouse fluid at various locations around the world to support existing and potential operations.

Patents and Trademarks

We own and are a licensee of various patents, which expire at different times, covering many of our products as well as processes and product uses. Although the products made and sold under these patents and licenses are important to Cabot, the loss of any particular patent or license would not materially affect our business, taken as a whole. We sell our products under a variety of trademarks we own and take reasonable measures to protect them.  While our trademarks are important to Cabot, the loss of any one of our trademarks would not materially affect our business, taken as a whole.

Seasonality

Our businesses are generally not seasonal in nature, although we may experience some regional seasonal declines during holiday periods and some weather-related seasonality in Purification Solutions.

Backlog

We do not consider backlog to be a significant indicator of the level of future sales activity. In general, we do not manufacture our products against a backlog of orders. Production and inventory levels are based on the level of incoming orders as well as projections of future demand. Therefore, we believe that backlog information is not material to understanding our overall business and is not a reliable indicator of our ability to achieve any particular level of revenue or financial performance.

Employees

As of September 30, 2015, we had approximately 4,600  employees. Some of our employees in the United States and abroad are covered by collective bargaining or similar agreements. We believe that our relations with our employees are generally satisfactory.

8


Research and Development

Cabot develops new and improved products and higher efficiency processes through Company-sponsored research and technical service activities, including those initiated in response to customer requests. Our expenditures for such activities generally are spread among our businesses and are shown in the consolidated statements of operations. Further discussion of our research and technical expenses incurred in each of our last three fiscal years appears in MD&A in Item 7 below.

Safety, Health and Environment (“SH&E”)

Cabot has been named as a potentially responsible party under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (the “Superfund law”) and comparable state statutes with respect to several sites primarily associated with our divested businesses. (See “Legal Proceedings” below.) During the next several years, as remediation of various environmental sites is carried out, we expect to spend against our $16 million environmental reserve for costs associated with such remediation. Adjustments are made to the reserve based on our continuing analysis of our share of costs likely to be incurred at each site. Inherent uncertainties exist in these estimates due to unknown conditions at the various sites, changing governmental regulations and legal standards regarding liability, and changing technologies for handling site investigation and remediation. While the reserve represents our best estimate of the costs we expect to incur, the actual costs to investigate and remediate these sites may exceed the amounts accrued in the environmental reserve. While it is always possible that an unusual event may occur with respect to a given site and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations in a particular period, we do not believe that the costs relating to these sites, in the aggregate, are likely to have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position. Furthermore, it is possible that we may also incur future costs relating to environmental liabilities not currently known to us or as to which it is currently not possible to make an estimate.

Our ongoing operations are subject to extensive federal, state, local, and foreign laws, regulations, rules, and ordinances relating to safety, health, and environmental matters (“SH&E Requirements”). These SH&E Requirements include requirements to obtain and comply with various environmental-related permits for constructing any new facilities and operating all of our existing facilities and for product registrations. We have expended and will continue to expend considerable sums to construct, maintain, operate, and improve facilities for safety, health and environmental protection and to comply with SH&E Requirements. We spent approximately $17 million in environmental-related capital expenditures at existing facilities in fiscal 2015 and anticipate spending approximately $34 million for such matters in fiscal 2016.

In recognition of the importance of compliance with SH&E Requirements to Cabot, our Board of Directors has a Safety, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. The Committee, which is comprised of independent directors, meets at least three times a year and provides oversight and guidance to Cabot’s safety, health and environmental management programs. In particular, the Committee reviews Cabot’s environmental reserve, safety, health and environmental risk assessment and management processes, environmental and safety audit reports, performance metrics, performance as benchmarked against industry peer groups, assessed fines or penalties, site security and safety issues, health and environmental training initiatives, and the SH&E budget. The Committee also consults with our outside and internal advisors regarding management of Cabot’s safety, health and environmental programs.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (“IARC”) classifies carbon black as a Group 2B substance (known animal carcinogen, possible human carcinogen). We have communicated IARC’s classification of carbon black to our customers and employees and have included that information in our safety data sheets and elsewhere, as appropriate. We continue to believe that the available evidence, taken as a whole, indicates that carbon black is not carcinogenic to humans, and does not present a health hazard when handled in accordance with good housekeeping and safe workplace practices as described in our safety data sheets.

REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals), the European Union (“EU”) regulatory framework for chemicals developed by the European Commission (“EC”), applies to all chemical substances produced or imported into the EU in quantities greater than one metric ton a year. Manufacturers or importers of these chemical substances are required to submit specified health, safety, risk and use information about the substance to the European Chemical Agency. We have completed all required registrations under REACH to date and will continue to complete the registrations under REACH for our products in accordance with future registration deadlines. We will also continue to work with the manufacturers and importers of our raw materials, including our feedstocks, to ensure their registration prior to the applicable deadlines. In addition, the EC has adopted a harmonized definition of “nanomaterial” to be used in the EU to identify materials for which special provisions may apply, such as risk assessment and ingredient labeling. The EC definition is broad and applies to many of our existing products, including carbon black, fumed silica and alumina. Country-specific product registration and assessment programs have been implemented in some countries and are being developed by others. We will continue to address these requirements.

9


Environmental agencies worldwide are increasingly implementing regulations and other requirements resulting in more restrictive air emission limits globally, particularly as they relate to nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter emissions. In addition, global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions impact the carbon black and activated carbon industries as carbon dioxide is emitted from those manufacturing processes. The EU Emission Trading Scheme applies to our carbon black facilities and one activated carbon facility in Europe.  In China, two of our carbon black facilities are participating in an emissions trading regional pilot program associated with the development of a national trading program.  In the U.S., some of our facilities are required to report their greenhouse gas emissions, but are not currently subject to programs requiring trading or emission controls.  We generally expect to purchase emission credits where necessary to respond to allocation shortfalls.  In addition, air emission regulations may be adopted in the future in other regions and countries where we operate which could have an impact on our operations.

A number of organizations and regulatory agencies have become increasingly focused on the issue of water scarcity and water quality, particularly in certain geographic regions. We are engaged in various activities to promote water conservation and wastewater recycling. The costs associated with these activities are not expected to have a material adverse effect on our operations.

Various U.S. agencies and international bodies have adopted security requirements applicable to certain manufacturing and industrial facilities and marine port locations. These security-related requirements involve the preparation of security assessments and security plans in some cases, and in other cases the registration of certain facilities with specified governmental authorities. We closely monitor all security-related regulatory developments and believe we are in compliance with all existing requirements. Compliance with such requirements is not expected to have a material adverse effect on our operations.

Foreign and Domestic Operations and Export Sales

A significant portion of our revenues and operating profits is derived from overseas operations. The profitability of our segments is affected by fluctuations in the value of the U.S. dollar relative to foreign currencies. (See MD&A and the Geographic Information portion of Note V for further information relating to sales and long-lived assets by geographic area.) Currency fluctuations, nationalization and expropriation of assets are risks inherent in international operations. We have taken steps we deem prudent in our international operations to diversify and otherwise to protect against these risks, including the use of foreign currency financial instruments to reduce the risk associated with changes in the value of certain foreign currencies compared to the U.S. dollar. (See the risk management discussion contained in “Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk” in Item 7A below and Note L of the Notes to the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements).

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

In addition to factors described elsewhere in this report, the following are important factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed in our forward-looking statements. The risks described below are not the only risks we face. Additional risks not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also impair our business operations and financial results.

Negative or uncertain worldwide or regional economic conditions may adversely impact our business.

Our operations and performance are affected by worldwide and regional economic conditions. Continued uncertainty or a deterioration in the economic conditions affecting the businesses to which, or geographic areas in which, we sell products could reduce demand for our products. We may also experience pricing pressure on products and services, which could decrease our revenues and have an adverse effect on our financial condition and cash flows. In addition, during periods of economic uncertainty, our customers may temporarily pursue inventory reduction measures that exceed declines in the actual underlying demand. Our businesses are sensitive to industry capacity utilization, particularly Reinforcement Materials and Purification Solutions. As a result, pricing tends to fluctuate when capacity utilization changes occur, which could affect our financial performance.

As a chemical manufacturing company, our operations are subject to operational risks and have the potential to cause environmental or other damage as well as personal injury, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and cash flows.

The operation of a chemical manufacturing business as well as the sale and distribution of chemical products involve safety, health and environmental risks. For example, the production and/or processing of carbon black, fumed metal oxides, aerogel, activated carbon and other chemicals involve the handling, transportation, manufacture or use of certain substances or components that may be considered toxic or hazardous. Our manufacturing processes and the transportation of chemical products entail risks such as leaks, fires, explosions, toxic releases, mechanical failures or unscheduled downtime. If operational risks materialize, they could result in injury or loss of life, damage to the environment, or damage to property. In addition, the occurrence of material operating problems at our facilities may result in loss of production, which, in turn, may make it difficult for us to meet customer

10


needs. Accordingly, these events and their consequences could negatively impact the Company’s results of operations and cash flows, both during and after the period of operational difficulties, and could harm our reputation.

A significant adverse change in a customer relationship or the failure of a customer to perform its obligations under agreements with us could harm our business or cash flows.

Our success in strengthening relationships and growing business with our largest customers and retaining their business over extended time periods could affect our future results. We have a group of key customers across our businesses that together represent a significant portion of our total net sales and operating revenues. The loss of any of our important customers, or a significant reduction in volumes sold to them, could adversely affect our results of operations until such business is replaced or any temporary disruption ends. Any deterioration in the financial condition of any of our customers that impairs our customers’ ability to make payments to us also could increase our uncollectible receivables and could affect our future results and financial condition.

Our restructuring activities and cost saving initiatives may not achieve the results we anticipate.

We have undertaken and expect to continue to undertake cost reduction initiatives and organizational restructurings to improve operating efficiencies, optimize our asset base and generate cost savings. For example, we have recently undertaken a restructuring plan to reduce our cost structure. We cannot be certain that we will be able to complete these initiatives as planned or without business interruption, or that the estimated operating efficiencies or cost savings from such activities will be fully realized or maintained over time.

Volatility in the price of energy and raw materials could impact our margins and working capital.

Our manufacturing processes consume significant amounts of energy and raw materials, the costs of which are subject to worldwide supply and demand as well as other factors beyond our control. Dramatic increases in such costs or decreases in the availability of raw materials at acceptable costs could have an adverse effect on our results of operations. For example, movements in the market price for crude oil typically affect carbon black feedstock costs. Significant movements in the market price for crude oil tend to create volatility in our carbon black feedstock costs, which can affect our working capital and results of operations. Certain of our carbon black supply contracts contain provisions that adjust prices to account for changes in a relevant feedstock price index. We attempt to offset the effects of increases in raw material costs through selling price increases in our non-contract sales, productivity improvements and cost reduction efforts. Success in offsetting increased raw material costs with price increases is largely influenced by competitive and economic conditions and could vary significantly depending on the segment served. Such increases may not be accepted by our customers, may not be sufficient to compensate for increased raw material and energy costs or may decrease demand for our products and our volume of sales. If we are not able to fully offset the effects of increased raw material or energy costs, it could have a significant impact on our financial results.  Rapid declines in energy and raw material costs can also negatively impact our financial results, as such changes can negatively affect the returns we receive on our energy centers and yield improvement investments, and may negatively impact our contract pricing adjustments.  In addition, we use a variety of feedstock indices in our supply contracts to adjust our prices for changes in raw materials costs.  Depending on feedstock markets and our choice of feedstocks, the indices we use in our supply contracts may not precisely track  our actual costs.  This could result in an incongruity between our contract pricing adjustments and changes in our actual feedstock costs, which can affect our margins.

The strategic growth plan of the mercury removal products portion of our Purification Solutions segment relies significantly on the enforcement of environmental laws and regulations, and if our assumptions about future sales and profitability prove incorrect, we may be required to impair certain assets.

The strategic growth plan for the mercury removal products portion of our Purification Solutions segment relies significantly upon the enforcement of environmental laws and regulations, particularly those that would require industrial facilities to reduce the quantity of air pollutants they release. In particular, we expect demand for our activated carbon products to increase as coal fired utilities in the U.S. enhance their emission control systems in order to comply with the U.S. Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which sets forth federal mercury emission levels. The implementation period for the MATS regulation began in April 2015, although state permitting agencies that enforce these standards were authorized to allow a one-year extension of time for compliance.  In addition, the MATS regulation has been subject to legal challenge, and in June, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the EPA unreasonably failed to consider costs in determining whether it is necessary and appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants, including mercury, emitted by coal-fired utilities and remanded the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for further proceedings.  Pending these legal proceedings, the MATS regulation remains in effect and utilities are required to comply with these emission regulations unless they obtained an extension.  However, there are a number of possible outcomes of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ current review, ranging from the current rule staying in place to a significant multi-year delay in the time when compliance is required, if at all. In our assumptions about the future sales and profitability of the mercury removal products portion of our Purification Solutions segment, we have assumed an approximate two year delay in the time within which compliance with MATS will be required.  If our assumptions concerning sales volumes or margins are incorrect because of a change

11


in the implementation of or requirements under MATS as a result of the Court’s review or otherwise, our actual results for our activated carbon business could be less than expected, which could lead to an impairment of certain assets.

Our mining operations have the potential to cause safety issues, including those that could result in significant personal injury.

We own two mines, a cesium mine in Manitoba, Canada, a portion of which is located under Bernic Lake, and an above-ground lignite mine, which is located close to our Marshall, Texas facility and operated by a subsidiary of The North American Coal Company. Mining operations by their nature are activities that involve a high level of uncertainty and are often affected by risks and hazards outside of our control. At our lignite mine, the risks are primarily operational risks associated with the maintenance and operation of the heavy equipment required to dig and haul the lignite, and risks relating to lower than expected lignite quality or recovery rates.   Our underground mine in Manitoba is subject to a number of risks, including industrial accidents, unexpected geological conditions, fall of ground accidents or structural collapses, which, in the case of our cesium mine, could lead to flooding, and lower than expected ore quality, ore grades or recovery rates.  In 2013, following a fall of ground in a portion of the mine that contains significant cesium reserves, we implemented additional safety measures and added several types of monitoring devices in the mine.  Since that time, the monitoring devices have indicated good structural stability in the mine, however, the structural stability may change at any time and there is a possibility of further deterioration and flooding of this mine.  In November 2015, we successfully completed a development project at our mine in Manitoba, Canada and we are not currently mining at the site.  The failure to adequately manage these risks could result in significant personal injury, loss of life, damage to mineral properties, production facilities or mining equipment, damage to the environment, delays in or reduced production, and potential legal liabilities.

Any failure to realize benefits from acquisitions, alliances or joint ventures could adversely affect future financial results.

Attainment of our strategic plan objectives requires, in part, strategic acquisitions or joint ventures intended to complement or expand our businesses globally or add product technology, or both. The success of acquisitions of businesses, new technologies and products, or arrangements with third parties is not always predictable and we may not be successful in realizing our objectives as anticipated. We may not be able to integrate any acquired businesses successfully into our existing businesses, make such businesses profitable, or realize anticipated cost savings or synergies, if any, from these acquisitions, which could adversely affect our business results.

Plant capacity expansions and site development projects may be delayed and/or not achieve the expected benefits.

Our ability to complete capacity expansions and other site development projects as planned may be delayed or interrupted by the need to obtain environmental and other regulatory approvals, unexpected cost increases, availability of labor and materials, unforeseen hazards such as weather conditions, and other risks customarily associated with construction projects. Moreover, the cost of these activities could have a negative impact on the financial performance of the relevant business, and in the case of capacity expansion projects, until capacity utilization at the particular facility is sufficient to absorb the incremental costs associated with the expansion. In addition, our ability to expand capacity in emerging regions depends in part on economic and political conditions in these regions and, in some cases, on our ability to establish operations, construct additional manufacturing capacity or form strategic business alliances.

An interruption in our operations as a result of fence-line arrangements could disrupt our manufacturing operations and adversely affect our financial results.

At certain of our facilities we have fence-line arrangements with adjacent third party manufacturing operations (“fence-line partners”), who provide raw materials for our manufacturing operations and/or take by-products generated from our operations. Accordingly, any unplanned disruptions or curtailments in a fence-line partner’s production facilities that impacts their ability to supply us with raw materials or to take our manufacturing by-products could disrupt our manufacturing operations or cause us to incur increased operating costs to mitigate such disruption.

We are exposed to political or country risk inherent in doing business in some countries.

Sales outside of the U.S. constituted a majority of our revenues in fiscal 2015. Although much of our international business is currently in regions where the political and economic risk levels and established legal systems are similar to those in the U.S., we also conduct business in countries that have less stable legal systems and financial markets, and potentially more corrupt business environments than the U.S. Our operations in some countries may be subject to the following risks: changes in the rate of economic growth; unsettled political or economic conditions; possible expropriation or other governmental actions; corruption by government officials and other third parties; social unrest, war, terrorist activities or other armed conflict; confiscatory taxation or other adverse tax policies; deprivation of contract rights; trade regulations affecting production, pricing and marketing of products; reduced protection of intellectual property rights; restrictions on the repatriation of income or capital; exchange controls; inflation; currency fluctuations and devaluation; the effect of global health, safety and environmental matters on economic conditions and market opportunities; and changes in financial policy and availability of credit. We have an equity method investment in Venezuela, a

12


country that has established rigid controls over the ability of foreign companies to repatriate cash and which has effectively devalued its currency in the past. Such exchange controls could potentially impact our ability, in both the short and long term, to recover both the cost of our investment and earnings from that investment.

We face competition from other specialty chemical companies.

We operate in a highly competitive marketplace. Our ability to compete successfully depends in part upon our ability to maintain a superior technological capability and to continue to identify, develop and commercialize new and innovative, high value-added products for existing and future customers. Increased competition from existing or newly developed products offered by our competitors or companies whose products offer a similar functionality as our products and could be substituted for our products, may negatively affect demand for our products. In addition, actions by our competitors could affect our ability to maintain or raise prices, successfully enter new markets or maintain or grow our market position.

Litigation or legal proceedings could expose us to significant liabilities and thus negatively affect our financial results.

As more fully described in “Item 3—Legal Proceedings”, we are a party to or the subject of lawsuits, claims, and proceedings, including, but not limited to, those involving environmental, and health and safety matters as well as product liability and personal injury claims relating to asbestosis, silicosis, and coal worker’s pneumoconiosis. We are also a potentially responsible party in various environmental proceedings and remediation matters wherein substantial amounts are at issue. Adverse rulings, judgments or settlements in pending or future litigation (including liabilities associated with respirator claims) or in connection with environmental remediation activities could adversely affect our financial results or cause our results to differ materially from those expressed or forecasted in any forward-looking statements.

Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange and interest rates could affect our financial results.

We earn revenues, pay expenses, own assets and incur liabilities in countries using currencies other than the U.S. dollar. In fiscal 2015, we derived a majority of our revenues from sales outside the U.S. Because our consolidated financial statements are presented in U.S. dollars, we must translate revenues, income and expenses, as well as assets and liabilities, into U.S. dollars at exchange rates in effect during or at the end of each reporting period. Therefore, increases or decreases in the value of the U.S. dollar against other currencies in countries where we operate will affect our results of operations and the value of balance sheet items denominated in foreign currencies. Due to the geographic diversity of our operations, weaknesses in some currencies might be offset by strengths in others over time. In addition, we are exposed to adverse changes in interest rates. We manage both these risks through normal operating and financing activities and, when deemed appropriate, through the use of derivative instruments as well as foreign currency debt. We cannot be certain, however, that we will be successful in reducing the risks inherent in exposures to foreign currency and interest rate fluctuations.  

There are also instances where we have direct current exposures to foreign currency movements because settlement back into a different currency is intended. These situations can have a direct impact on our cash flows.

Our tax rate is dependent upon a number of factors, a change in any of which could impact our future tax rates and net income.

Our future tax rates may be adversely affected by a number of factors, including changes in tax laws or the interpretation of such tax laws; changes in the estimated realization of our net deferred tax assets; the jurisdictions in which profits are determined to be earned and taxed; the repatriation of non-U.S. earnings for which we have not previously provided for U.S. income and non-U.S. withholding taxes; adjustments to estimated taxes upon finalization of various tax returns; increases in expenses that are not deductible for tax purposes, including impairment of goodwill in connection with acquisitions; changes in available tax credits; and the resolution of issues arising from tax audits with various tax authorities. Losses for which no tax benefits can be recorded could materially impact our tax rate and its volatility from one quarter to another. Any significant change in our jurisdictional earnings mix or in the tax laws in those jurisdictions could impact our future tax rates and net income in those periods.

We may be subject to information technology systems failures, network disruptions and breaches of data security.

We depend on integrated information systems to conduct our business. Information technology systems failures, including risks associated with upgrading our systems or in successfully integrating information technology and other systems in connection with the integration of businesses we acquire, network disruptions and breaches of data security could disrupt our operations by impeding our processing of transactions, our ability to protect customer or company information and our financial reporting. 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. Although we have taken steps to address these concerns by implementing sophisticated network security and internal control measures and back-up systems at multiple sites, there can be no assurance that a system failure or data security breach will not have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

13


Our operations are subject to extensive safety, health and environmental requirements, which could increase our costs and/or reduce our profit.

Our ongoing operations are subject to extensive federal, state, local and foreign laws, regulations, rules and ordinances relating to safety, health and environmental matters, many of which provide for substantial monetary fines and criminal sanctions for violations. These include requirements to obtain and comply with various environmental-related permits for constructing any new facilities and operating all of our existing facilities, and, in certain geographic areas, to pay emissions-related fees based on certain emissions levels. The enactment of new environmental laws and regulations and/or the more aggressive interpretation of existing requirements could require us to incur significant costs for compliance or capital improvements or limit our current or planned operations, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our earnings or cash flow. We attempt to offset the effects of these compliance costs through price increases, productivity improvements and cost reduction efforts.  Success in offsetting any such increased regulatory costs is largely influenced by competitive and economic conditions and could vary significantly depending on the segment served.  Such increases may not be accepted by our customers, may not be sufficient to compensate for increased regulatory costs or may decrease demand for our products and our volume of sales.  See “Item 3 Legal Proceedings—Environmental Proceedings”.

Regulations requiring a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions may impact our carbon black and activated carbon operations.

Global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions impact the carbon black and activated carbon industries as carbon dioxide is emitted from those manufacturing processes. The European Commission’s Emissions Trading Scheme applies to our carbon black facilities and one of our activated carbon facilities in Europe, and we generally expect to purchase emission credits where necessary to respond to allocation shortfalls. However, if our carbon black or activated carbon operations generate more carbon dioxide than our allocations permit, the cost to purchase allocation credits at that time may be unacceptable to us. There are also regulatory developments in other regions and countries, including the U.S., Canada, China and Brazil, regarding greenhouse gas emission reduction programs. Those programs have not yet been fully defined and their potential impact on our manufacturing operations or financial results cannot be estimated at this time.

The money we spend developing new businesses and technologies may not result in a proportional increase in our revenues or profits.

We cannot be certain that the costs we incur investing in new businesses and technologies will result in a proportional increase in revenues or profits. In addition, the timely commercialization of products that we are developing may be disrupted or delayed by manufacturing or other technical difficulties, market acceptance or insufficient market size to support a new product, competitors’ new products, and difficulties in moving from the experimental stage to the production stage. These disruptions or delays could affect our future business results.

The reduction or elimination of tariffs placed on U.S. imports of Chinese activated carbon could have a material adverse effect on our Purification Solutions segment.

Purification Solutions faces pressure and competition in its U.S. markets from low-priced imports of activated carbon products that are frequently sold at less than fair value in the U.S. If the amounts of these low-priced imports increase, especially if they are sold at less than fair value, our sales of competing products could decline, which could have an adverse effect on the earnings of Purification Solutions. In addition, sales of these low-priced imports may negatively impact our pricing. To limit these activities, regulators in the U.S. have enacted antidumping duties on steam activated carbon products that are set to expire in 2017, subject to provisions for renewal. The amount of these antidumping duties are reviewed annually, and the lower the tariff, the less effective they may be in reducing the volume of low-priced activated carbon imports in the U.S., which could negatively effect demand or pricing for our products.

The continued protection of our patents, trade secrets and other proprietary intellectual property rights are important to our success.

Our patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property rights are important to our success and competitive position. We own various patents and other intellectual property rights in the U.S. and other countries covering many of our products, as well as processes and product uses. Where we believe patent protection is not appropriate or obtainable, we rely on trade secret laws and practices to protect our proprietary technology and processes, such as physical security, limited dissemination and access and confidentiality agreements with our employees, customers, consultants, business partners, potential licensees and others to protect our trade secrets and other proprietary information. However, trade secrets can be difficult to protect and the protective measures we have put in place may not prevent disclosure or unauthorized use of our proprietary information or provide an adequate remedy in the event of misappropriation or other violations of our proprietary rights. In addition, we are a licensee of various patents and intellectual property rights belonging to others in the U.S. and other countries. Because the laws and enforcement mechanisms of some countries may not allow us to protect our proprietary rights to the same extent as we are able to do in the U.S., the strength of our intellectual property rights will vary from country to country.

14


Irrespective of our proprietary intellectual property rights, we may be subject to claims that our products, processes or product uses infringe the intellectual property rights of others. These claims, even if they are without merit, could be expensive and time consuming to defend and if we were to lose such claims, we could be enjoined from selling our products or using our processes and/or be subject to damages, or be required to enter into licensing agreements requiring royalty payments and/or use restrictions. Licensing agreements may not be available to us, or if available, may not be available on acceptable terms.

Natural disasters could affect our operations and financial results.

We operate facilities in areas of the world that are exposed to natural hazards, such as floods, windstorms and earthquakes. Such events could disrupt our supply of raw materials or otherwise affect production, transportation and delivery of our products or affect demand for our products.

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

Item 2.

Properties

Cabot’s corporate headquarters are in leased office space in Boston, Massachusetts. We also own or lease office, manufacturing, storage, distribution, marketing and research and development facilities in the United States and in foreign countries. The locations of our principal manufacturing and/or administrative facilities are set forth in the table below. Unless otherwise indicated, all the properties are owned.

 

Location by Region

 

Reinforcement

Materials

 

Performance

Chemicals

 

Purification

Solutions

 

Specialty Fluids

Americas Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alpharetta, GA*(1)

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

Tuscola, IL

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Canal, LA

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

Ville Platte, LA

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Billerica, MA

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

Haverhill, MA

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Midland, MI

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Pryor, OK

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

Marshall, TX

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

Pampa, TX

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

Campana, Argentina

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maua, Brazil

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

Sao Paulo, Brazil*(1)

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

Cartagena, Colombia

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

Altamira, Mexico

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarnia, Ontario

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

(1)

Business service center

*

Leased premises

**

Building(s) owned by Cabot on leased land

 

15


Location by Region

 

Reinforcement

Materials

 

Performance

Chemicals

 

Purification

Solutions

 

Specialty Fluids

EMEA Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loncin, Belgium

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Pepinster, Belgium

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Valasske Mezirici (Valmez), Czech Republic**

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Port Jerome, France**

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frankfurt, Germany*

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Rheinfelden, Germany

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Ravenna, Italy (2 plants)

 

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

Riga, Latvia*(1)

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

Bergen, Norway*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

Schaffhausen, Switzerland*

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

Botlek, The Netherlands**

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

Amersfoort, The Netherlands*

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

Klazienaveen, The Netherlands

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

Zaandam, The Netherlands

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

Dubai, United Arab Emirates*

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Purton, United Kingdom (England)

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

Aberdeen, United Kingdom (Scotland)*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

Glasgow, United Kingdom (Scotland)

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

Barry, United Kingdom (Wales)**

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Asia Pacific Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jiangxi Province, China**

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Tianjin, China**

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

Shanghai, China*(1)

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

Shanghai, China** (plant)

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xingtai City, China**

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mumbai, India*

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

Cilegon, Indonesia**

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jakarta, Indonesia*(1)

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

Merak, Indonesia(2)

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chiba, Japan

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shimonoseki, Japan**

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tokyo, Japan*(1)

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

Port Dickson, Malaysia**

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1)

Business service center

(2)

The Company intends to cease its manufacturing operations in Merak in January 2016.

*

Leased premises

**

Building(s) owned by Cabot on leased land

We conduct research and development for our various businesses primarily at facilities in Billerica, MA; Amersfoort, The Netherlands; Pampa, TX; Pepinster, Belgium; Frankfurt and Rheinfelden, Germany; and Shanghai, China.

Our existing manufacturing plants will generally have sufficient production capacity to meet current requirements and expected near-term growth. These plants are generally well maintained, in good operating condition and suitable and adequate for their intended use. Our administrative offices and other facilities are generally suitable and adequate for their intended purposes.

16


Item  3.

Legal Proceedings

Cabot is a party in various lawsuits and environmental proceedings wherein substantial amounts are claimed. The following is a description of the significant proceedings pending on September 30, 2015, unless otherwise specified.

Environmental Proceedings

In November 2013, Cabot entered into a Consent Decree with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (“LDEQ”) regarding Cabot’s three carbon black manufacturing facilities in the United States. This settlement is related to EPA’s national enforcement initiative focused on the U.S. carbon black manufacturing sector alleging non-compliance with certain regulatory and permitting requirements under The Clean Air Act, including the New Source Review (“NSR”) construction permitting requirements. Pursuant to this settlement, which was approved by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in March, 2014, Cabot paid a combined $975,000 civil penalty to EPA and LDEQ, agreed to fund environmental mitigation projects in the three communities where the plants are located for a total cost of approximately $450,000, two of which have been completed, and will install technology controls for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. We expect that the capital costs to install these controls will total approximately $100 million and be incurred through calendar year 2020. In addition, Cabot has agreed to certain best management practices (“BMPs”) to control emissions of particulate matter at the three locations. Continental Carbon settled with EPA on similar terms in 2015. It is expected that other carbon black manufacturers will also be required to install technology controls and agree to adopt BMPs at their U.S. facilities in connection with this initiative and are also likely to pay a civil penalty and fund mitigation projects.

In 1986, Cabot sold a beryllium manufacturing facility in Reading, Pennsylvania to NGK Metals, Inc. (“NGK”). In doing so, we agreed to share with NGK the costs of certain environmental remediation of the Reading plant site. After the sale, the EPA issued an order to NGK pursuant to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) requiring NGK to address soil and groundwater contamination at the site. Soil remediation at the site has been completed and the groundwater remediation activities are ongoing pursuant to the RCRA order. We are contributing to the costs of the groundwater remediation activities pursuant to the cost-sharing agreement with NGK. Cabot and NGK also pursued various legal claims against the U.S. for cost recovery and participation in future remediation activities based on the U.S.’s previous involvement at the site and contractual arrangements, beginning in World War II and continuing thereafter. Those claims were recently settled by the U.S. Government with a cash payment toward past costs and a commitment to pay a designated share of future costs to be incurred at the site.

We continue to perform certain sampling and remediation activities at a former pine tar manufacturing site in Gainesville, Florida that we sold in the 1960s. Those activities are pursuant to a formal Record of Decision and 1991 Consent Decree with EPA. Cabot installed a groundwater treatment system at the site in the early 1990s, and that system is still in operation. We have also been requested by EPA and other stakeholders to carry out various other additional work at the site, the scope of which has yet to be determined. We continue to work cooperatively with EPA, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the local authorities on this matter.

As of September 30, 2015, we had a $16 million reserve for environmental remediation costs at various sites. The operation and maintenance component of this reserve was $7 million. The $16 million reserve represents our current best estimate of costs likely to be incurred for remediation based on our analysis of the extent of cleanup required, alternative cleanup methods available, the ability of other responsible parties to contribute and our interpretation of laws and regulations applicable to each of our sites.

 

Other Proceedings

Respirator Liabilities

We have exposure in connection with a safety respiratory products business that a subsidiary acquired from American Optical Corporation (“AO”) in an April 1990 asset purchase transaction. The subsidiary manufactured respirators under the AO brand and disposed of that business in July 1995. In connection with its acquisition of the business, the subsidiary agreed, in certain circumstances, to assume a portion of AO’s liabilities, including costs of legal fees together with amounts paid in settlements and judgments, allocable to AO respiratory products used prior to the 1990 purchase by the Cabot subsidiary. In exchange for the subsidiary’s assumption of certain of AO’s respirator liabilities, AO agreed to provide to the subsidiary the benefits of: (i) AO’s insurance coverage for the period prior to the 1990 acquisition and (ii) a former owner’s indemnity of AO holding it harmless from any liability allocable to AO respiratory products used prior to May 1982.

Generally, these respirator liabilities involve claims for personal injury, including asbestosis, silicosis and coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, allegedly resulting from the use of respirators that are alleged to have been negligently designed and/or labeled. Neither Cabot, nor its past or present subsidiaries, at any time manufactured asbestos or asbestos-containing products. At no time did this respiratory product line represent a significant portion of the respirator market.

17


The subsidiary transferred the business to Aearo Corporation (“Aearo”) in July 1995. Cabot agreed to have the subsidiary retain certain liabilities associated with exposure to asbestos and silica while using respirators prior to the 1995 transaction so long as Aearo paid, and continues to pay, Cabot an annual fee of $400,000. Aearo can discontinue payment of the fee at any time, in which case it will assume the responsibility for and indemnify Cabot against those liabilities which Cabot’s subsidiary had agreed to retain. We anticipate that we will continue to receive payment of the $400,000 fee from Aearo and thereby retain these liabilities for the foreseeable future. We have no liability in connection with any products manufactured by Aearo after 1995.

In addition to Cabot’s subsidiary and as described above, other parties are responsible for significant portions of the costs of respirator liabilities, leaving Cabot’s subsidiary with a portion of the liability in only some of the pending cases. These parties include Aearo, AO, AO’s insurers, another former owner and its insurers, and a third-party manufacturer of respirators formerly sold under the AO brand and its insurers (collectively, with Cabot’s subsidiary, the “Payor Group”).

As of September 30, 2015 and 2014, there were approximately 38,000 and 41,000 claimants, respectively, in pending cases asserting claims against AO in connection with respiratory products. Cabot has contributed to the Payor Group’s defense and settlement costs with respect to a percentage of pending claims depending on several factors, including the period of alleged product use. In order to quantify our estimated share of liability for pending and future respirator liability claims, we have engaged, through counsel, the assistance of Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Alschuler, Inc. (“HR&A”), a leading consulting firm in the field of tort liability valuation. The methodology used by HR&A addresses the complexities surrounding our potential liability by making assumptions about future claimants with respect to periods of asbestos, silica and coal mine dust exposure and respirator use. Using those and other assumptions, HR&A estimates the number of future asbestos, silica and coal mine dust claims that will be filed and the related costs that would be incurred in resolving both currently pending and future claims. On this basis, HR&A then estimates the value of the share of these liabilities that reflect our period of direct manufacture and our contractual obligations. Based on the HR&A estimates, we have recorded an $11 million reserve for our estimated share of liability for pending and future respirator claims. We made payments related to our respirator liability of $2 million in each of fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013.

Our current estimate of the cost of our share of existing and future respirator liability claims is based on facts and circumstances existing at this time. Developments that could affect our estimate include, but are not limited to, (i) significant changes in the number of future claims, (ii) changes in the rate of dismissals without payment of pending silica and non-malignant asbestos claims, (iii) significant changes in the average cost of resolving claims, (iv) significant changes in the legal costs of defending these claims, (v) changes in the nature of claims received, (vi) changes in the law and procedure applicable to these claims, (vii) the financial viability of members of the Payor Group, (viii) a change in the availability of the insurance coverage of the members of the Payor Group or the indemnity provided by AO’s former owner, (ix) changes in the allocation of costs among the Payor Group, and (x) a determination that the assumptions that were used to estimate our share of liability are no longer reasonable. We cannot determine the impact of these potential developments on our current estimate of our share of liability for these existing and future claims. Accordingly, the actual amount of these liabilities for existing and future claims could be different than the reserved amount.

Other Matters

We have various other lawsuits, claims and contingent liabilities. In our opinion, although final disposition of some or all of these other suits and claims may impact our financial statements in a particular period, they should not, in the aggregate, have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial statements.

Item  4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.

Executive Officers of the Registrant

Set forth below is certain information about Cabot’s executive officers as of November 25, 2015.

Patrick M. Prevost, age 60, is President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of Cabot’s Board of Directors, positions he has held since joining Cabot in January 2008. Prior to joining Cabot, since October 2005, Mr. Prevost served as President, Performance Chemicals, of BASF AG, an international chemical company. Prior to that, he was responsible for BASF Corporation’s Chemicals and Plastics business in North America. Prior to joining BASF in 2003, he held senior management positions at BP plc and Amoco.

Eduardo E. Cordeiro, age 48, is Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and President of the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa (“EMEA”) regions. Mr. Cordeiro joined Cabot in 1998 and has served in a variety of leadership positions, including Corporate Controller, General Manager of the Fumed Metal Oxides business and General Manager of the Supermetals business. He was responsible for Corporate Strategy from May 2008 until February 2009, when he became Cabot’s Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Cordeiro was appointed Vice President in March 2003 and Executive Vice President in March 2009.

18


Nicholas S. Cross, age 54, is Executive Vice President and President of Performance Chemicals and Specialty Fluids. Mr. Cross joined Cabot in September 2009 as President of the EMEA region and was appointed President of Advanced Technologies in January 2013 and President of Performance Chemicals in November 2014. He was appointed Vice President upon joining Cabot in 2009, Senior Vice President in March 2012 and Executive Vice President in November 2014. Prior to joining Cabot, Mr. Cross held a variety of leadership positions in BP plc’s Chemicals, Oil and Gas businesses, including Director of Chemicals Strategy and Head of International NGLs.

Sean D. Keohane, age 48, is Executive Vice President and President of Reinforcement Materials. Mr. Keohane joined Cabot in August 2002 and was named General Manager of Performance Chemicals in May 2008. From March 2012 until November 2014, he was Senior Vice President and President of Performance Chemicals and in November 2014 he was appointed President of Reinforcement Materials. He was appointed Vice President in March 2005, Senior Vice President in March 2012 and Executive Vice President in November 2014.

Brian A. Berube, age 53, is Senior Vice President and General Counsel. Mr. Berube joined Cabot in 1994 as an attorney in Cabot’s law department and became Deputy General Counsel in June 2001, business General Counsel in March 2002, and General Counsel in March 2003. Mr. Berube was appointed Vice President in March 2002 and Senior Vice President in March 2012.

Friedrich von Gottberg, age 47, is Senior Vice President and President of Purification Solutions.  Mr. von Gottberg joined Cabot in 1997.  Since joining the Company he has held a variety of leadership positions in Research and Development and Finance.  Prior to assuming his current role in January 2013, he was Vice President of the New Business Group from March 2008 until March 2012, and Senior Vice President and President of Advanced Technologies from March 2012 until January 2013.  Mr. von Gottberg was appointed Vice President in March 2005 and Senior Vice President in March 2012.  

 

19


PART II

Item  5.

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

Cabot’s common stock is listed for trading (symbol CBT) on the New York Stock Exchange. As of November 19, 2015, there were 792 holders of record of Cabot’s common stock. The tables below show the high and low sales price for Cabot’s common stock for each of the fiscal quarters ended December 31, March 31, June 30, and September 30 and the quarterly cash dividend paid on Cabot’s common stock for the past two fiscal years.

Stock Price and Dividend Data

 

 

 

Quarters Ended

 

 

 

December 31

 

 

March 31

 

 

June 30

 

 

September 30

 

Fiscal 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash dividends per share

 

$

0.22

 

 

$

0.22

 

 

$

0.22

 

 

$

0.22

 

Price range of common stock:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High

 

$

50.86

 

 

$

47.94

 

 

$

47.27

 

 

$

38.59

 

Low

 

$

39.62

 

 

$

40.33

 

 

$

37.24

 

 

$

31.04

 

Fiscal 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash dividends per share

 

$

0.20

 

 

$

0.20

 

 

$

0.22

 

 

$

0.22

 

Price range of common stock:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High

 

$

51.72

 

 

$

59.28

 

 

$

61.46

 

 

$

59.12

 

Low

 

$

41.59

 

 

$

46.24

 

 

$

55.05

 

 

$

50.36

 

 

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

The table below sets forth information regarding Cabot’s purchases of its equity securities during the quarter ended September 30, 2015:

 

Period

 

Total Number

of Shares

Purchased(1)

 

 

Average

Price Paid

per Share

 

 

Total Number of

Shares Purchased

as Part of Publicly

Announced Plans

or Programs(1)

 

 

Maximum Number (or

Approximate Dollar

Value) of Shares that

May Yet Be Purchased

Under the Plans or

Programs(1)

 

July 1, 2015—July 31, 2015

 

 

 

 

$

 

 

 

 

 

 

4,125,700

 

August 1, 2015—August 31, 2015

 

 

380,000

 

 

$

33.99

 

 

 

380,000

 

 

 

3,745,700

 

September 1, 2015—September 30, 2015

 

 

80,000

 

 

$

33.54

 

 

 

80,000

 

 

 

3,665,700

 

Total

 

 

460,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

460,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1)

On January 13, 2015, Cabot publicly announced that the Board of Directors authorized the Company to repurchase up to five million shares of its common stock on the open market or in privately negotiated transactions. The prior repurchase authorization was terminated at that time. The current authorization does not have a set expiration date. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Cabot repurchased 460,000 shares under this authorization.

Item  6.

Selected Financial Data

On July 31, 2012, Cabot completed the purchase of Norit N.V. (“Purification Solutions”). The operating results and ratios presented below for fiscal 2012 include two months of results of Purification Solutions. Beginning September 30, 2012 the balance sheet items presented below include those of Purification Solutions.

On November 18, 2013, Cabot purchased all of its joint venture partner’s common stock in NHUMO, S.A. de C.V. (“NHUMO”), which represented approximately 60% of the outstanding common stock of the joint venture. Prior to this transaction, the Company owned approximately 40% of the outstanding common stock of NHUMO, and the NHUMO entity was accounted for as an equity affiliate of the Company. The results of fiscal 2014 in the table below include 11 months of results at 100% consolidation and one month of results accounted for under the equity method at 40%. Results for all years prior to fiscal 2014 are reported under the equity method at 40%.

20


The Company completed the sales of its Supermetals business and Security Materials business on January 20, 2012 and July 31, 2014, respectively. The results of operations for both businesses for all periods presented are reflected as discontinued operations in the Consolidated Statements of Operations.

 

 

 

Years Ended September 30

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

2011

 

 

 

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

 

Consolidated Net (Loss) Income

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net sales and other operating revenues

 

$

2,871

 

 

$

3,647

 

 

$

3,456

 

 

$

3,291

 

 

$

3,091

 

Gross profit

 

 

585

 

 

 

721

 

 

 

633

 

 

 

644

 

 

 

553

 

Selling and administrative expenses

 

 

282

 

 

 

326

 

 

 

297

 

 

 

281

 

 

 

247

 

Research and technical expenses

 

 

58

 

 

 

60

 

 

 

68

 

 

 

72

 

 

 

63

 

Purification Solutions long-lived assets impairment charge

 

 

210

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purification Solutions goodwill impairment charge

 

 

352

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Loss) income from operations

 

 

(317

)

 

 

335

 

 

 

268

 

 

 

291

 

 

 

243

 

Net interest expense and other charges(1)

 

 

(60

)

 

 

(27

)

 

 

(58

)

 

 

(45

)

 

 

(40

)

(Loss) income from continuing operations (2)

 

 

(377

)

 

 

308

 

 

 

210

 

 

 

246

 

 

 

203

 

Benefit (provision) for income taxes (3)

 

 

45

 

 

 

(92

)

 

 

(60

)

 

 

(55

)

 

 

(6

)

Equity in earnings of affiliated companies

 

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

8

 

Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of tax

 

 

2

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

(1

)

 

 

204

 

 

 

53

 

Net (loss) income

 

 

(326

)

 

 

218

 

 

 

160

 

 

 

406

 

 

 

258

 

Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests, net

   of tax

 

 

8

 

 

 

19

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

18

 

 

 

22

 

Net (loss) income attributable to Cabot Corporation

 

$

(334

)

 

$

199

 

 

$

153

 

 

$

388

 

 

$

236

 

Common Share Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diluted net (loss) income attributable to Cabot Corporation:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Loss) income from continuing operations

 

$

(5.29

)

 

$

3.01

 

 

$

2.37

 

 

$

2.84

 

 

$

2.77

 

Income (loss) from discontinued operations

 

 

0.02

 

 

 

0.02

 

 

 

(0.01

)

 

 

3.15

 

 

 

0.80

 

Net (loss) income attributable to Cabot Corporation

 

$

(5.27

)

 

$

3.03

 

 

$

2.36

 

 

$

5.99

 

 

$

3.57

 

Dividends

 

$

0.88

 

 

$

0.84

 

 

$

0.80

 

 

$

0.76

 

 

$

0.72

 

Closing prices

 

$

31.56

 

 

$

50.77

 

 

$

42.71

 

 

$

36.57

 

 

$

24.78

 

Weighted-average diluted shares outstanding—

   millions

 

 

63.4

 

 

 

65.1

 

 

 

64.5

 

 

 

64.2

 

 

 

65.4

 

Shares outstanding at year end—millions

 

 

62.5

 

 

 

64.4

 

 

 

64.0

 

 

 

63.3

 

 

 

63.9

 

Consolidated Financial Position

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current assets

 

$

1,048

 

 

$

1,364

 

 

$

1,495

 

 

$

1,443

 

 

$

1,555

 

Net property, plant, and equipment

 

 

1,383

 

 

 

1,581

 

 

 

1,600

 

 

 

1,547

 

 

 

1,031

 

Other assets

 

 

644

 

 

 

1,139

 

 

 

1,138

 

 

 

1,409

 

 

 

555

 

Total assets

 

$

3,075

 

 

$

4,084

 

 

$

4,233

 

 

$

4,399

 

 

$

3,141

 

Current liabilities

 

$

441

 

 

$

630

 

 

$

844

 

 

$

919

 

 

$

656

 

Long-term debt

 

970

 

 

 

1,004

 

 

 

1,020

 

 

 

1,172

 

 

 

556

 

Other long-term liabilities

 

 

326

 

 

 

386

 

 

 

286

 

 

 

369

 

 

 

313

 

Cabot Corporation stockholders’ equity

 

 

1,234

 

 

 

1,942

 

 

 

1,951

 

 

 

1,813

 

 

 

1,487

 

Noncontrolling interests

 

 

104

 

 

 

122

 

 

 

132

 

 

 

126

 

 

 

129

 

Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity

 

$

3,075

 

 

$

4,084

 

 

$

4,233

 

 

$

4,399

 

 

$

3,141

 

Selected Financial Ratios

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjusted return on invested capital(4)

 

 

8

%

 

 

9

%

 

 

8

%

 

 

12

%

 

 

16

%

Net debt to capitalization ratio(5)

 

 

41

%

 

 

33

%

 

 

36

%

 

 

40

%

 

 

20

%

Adjusted return on net assets(6)

 

 

9

%

 

 

10

%

 

 

9

%

 

 

12

%

 

 

14

%

 

(1)

Net interest expense and other charges includes foreign currency activity as follows: a loss of $8 million for fiscal 2015, a loss of $2 million for fiscal 2014, a gain of $2 million for fiscal 2013, and losses of $2 million and $6 million for fiscal 2012 and 2011, respectively.

21


(2)

Income from operations includes certain items as presented in the table below. Refer to Note V to the consolidated financial statements for a description of certain items.

 

 

 

Years Ended September 30

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

2011

 

 

 

(Dollars in millions)

 

Global restructuring activities (Note P)

 

$

(21

)

 

$

(29

)

 

$

(35

)

 

$

(17

)

 

$

(18

)

Legal and environmental matters and reserves

 

 

 

 

 

(18

)

 

 

(1

)

 

 

(8

)

 

 

(1

)

Acquisition and integration-related charges

 

 

(5

)

 

 

(7

)

 

 

(21

)

 

 

(26

)

 

 

 

Employee benefit plan settlement and other charges (Note N)

 

 

(21

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impairment of goodwill and long-lived assets of Purification Solutions (Note G)

 

 

(562

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foreign currency (loss) gain on revaluations

 

 

(2

)

 

 

(3

)

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gain on existing investment in NHUMO

 

 

 

 

 

29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inventory adjustment (Note E)

 

 

(6

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certain items, pre-tax

 

$

(617

)

 

$

(28

)

 

$

(54

)

 

$

(51

)

 

$

(19

)

 

(3)

The Company’s effective tax rate for fiscal 2015 was a benefit of 12%, which included $13 million of discrete tax benefits composed of $7 million for tax settlements, $4 million for repatriation, and $2 million for the renewal of the U.S. research and experimentation credit. The Company’s effective tax rate for fiscal 2014 was a provision of 30% which included net discrete charges of $17 million, composed of a $20 million charge for a valuation allowance, offset by $3 million of net tax benefit primarily related to tax settlements. The Company’s effective tax rate for fiscal 2013 was a provision of 28% which included net discrete charges of $3 million, composed of a $13 million foreign currency related charge, offset by $10 million of net tax benefit related to tax settlements, renewal of the U.S. research and experimentation (“R&E”) credit, and other miscellaneous tax items in the tax provision. The Company’s effective tax rate for fiscal 2012 was a provision of 22% which includes net discrete tax benefits of $8 million from the release of a valuation allowance and $3 million from settlements and miscellaneous tax items. The Company’s effective tax rate for fiscal 2011 was a provision of 3% which includes net tax benefits of $24 million from the repatriation of high taxed income, $10 million from the settlements of various tax audits, $2 million from the renewal of the R&E credit and $2 million for investment incentive tax credits recognized in China.

(4)

Adjusted return on invested capital (“Adjusted ROIC”) is a non-GAAP financial measure that management believes is useful to investors as a measure of performance and the effectiveness of our use of capital. We use Adjusted ROIC as one measure to monitor and evaluate performance. ROIC is not a measure of financial performance under GAAP and may not be defined and calculated by other companies in the same manner. Adjusted ROIC, which excludes items management does not consider representative of the Company’s segment results, is calculated as follows.

Numerator (four quarter rolling):

Net income (loss) attributable to Cabot Corporation

Less the after-tax impact of:

 

Noncontrolling interest in net income

Interest expense

Interest income

Certain items

Discontinued operations

Denominator:

Previous five quarter average ending invested capital calculated as follows:

Total Cabot Corporation stockholders’ equity

 

Plus:

Noncontrolling interests’ equity

 

Long-term debt

 

Current portion of long-term debt

 

Notes payable

 

 

Less:

Cash and cash equivalents

Less the four quarter rolling impact of after tax certain items.

22


(5)

Net debt to capitalization ratio is calculated by dividing total debt (the sum of short-term and long-term debt less cash and cash equivalents) by total capitalization (the sum of Total stockholders’ equity plus total Debt).

(6)

Adjusted return on net assets (“Adjusted RONA”) is a non-GAAP financial measure that management believes is useful to investors as a measure of performance and the effectiveness of our use of capital. We use Adjusted RONA as one measure to monitor and evaluate performance. RONA is not a measure of financial performance under GAAP and may not be defined and calculated by other companies in the same manner. Adjusted RONA, which excludes items management does not consider representative of the Company’s segment results, is calculated as follows.

Numerator (four quarter rolling):

Net income (loss) attributable to Cabot Corporation

Less the after-tax impact of:

Noncontrolling interest in net income

Certain items

Discontinued operations

Denominator:

Previous five quarter average ending net asset balance calculated as follows:

Net Working Capital (Accounts Receivable plus Inventory less Accounts Payable and Accruals)

 

Plus:

Property Plant & Equipment (net of depreciation)

 

Assets held for rent

 

External investments, including Equity affiliates

 

 

23


Item 7.

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

Critical Accounting Policies

The preparation of our financial statements requires management to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues, and expenses and related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities. We consider an accounting estimate to be critical to the financial statements if (i) the estimate is complex in nature or requires a high degree of judgment and (ii) different estimates and assumptions were used, the results could have a material impact on the consolidated financial statements. On an ongoing basis, we evaluate our estimates and the application of our policies. We base our estimates on historical experience, current conditions and on various other assumptions that we believe are reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions. The policies that we believe are critical to the preparation of the Consolidated Financial Statements are presented below.

Revenue Recognition and Accounts and Notes Receivable

We recognize revenue when persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, delivery has occurred or services have been rendered, the price is fixed or determinable and collectability is reasonably assured. We generally are able to ensure that products meet customer specifications prior to shipment. If we are unable to determine that the product has met the specified objective criteria prior to shipment or if title has not transferred because of sales terms, the revenue is considered “unearned” and is deferred until the revenue recognition criteria are met.

Shipping and handling charges related to sales transactions are recorded as sales revenue when billed to customers or included in the sales price. Taxes collected on sales to customers are excluded from revenues.

The following table shows the relative size of the revenue recognized in each of the Company’s reportable segments:

 

 

 

Years ended September 30

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

Reinforcement Materials

 

 

54

%

 

 

59

%

 

 

57

%

Performance Chemicals

 

 

33

%

 

 

29

%

 

 

30

%

Purification Solutions

 

 

11

%

 

 

9

%

 

 

10

%

Specialty Fluids

 

 

2

%

 

 

3

%

 

 

3

%

 

We derive the substantial majority of revenues from the sale of products in Reinforcement Materials and Performance Chemicals. Revenue from these products is typically recognized when the product is shipped and title and risk of loss have passed to the customer. We offer certain customers cash discounts and volume rebates as sales incentives. The discounts and volume rebates are recorded as a reduction in sales at the time revenue is recognized and are estimated based on historical experience and contractual obligations. We periodically review the assumptions underlying estimates of discounts and volume rebates and adjust revenues accordingly.

Revenue in Purification Solutions is typically recognized when the product is shipped and title and risk of loss have passed to the customer. For major activated carbon injection systems projects, revenue is recognized using the percentage-of-completion method.

A significant portion of the revenue in Specialty Fluids arises from the rental of cesium formate. This revenue is recognized throughout the rental period based on the contracted rental terms. Customers are also billed and revenue is recognized, typically at the end of the job, for cesium formate product that is not returned. We also generate revenues from cesium formate sold outside of a rental process and revenue is recognized upon delivery of the fluid.

We maintain allowances for doubtful accounts based on an assessment of the collectability of specific customer accounts, the aging of accounts receivable and other economic information on both a historical and prospective basis. Customer account balances are charged against the allowance when it is probable the receivable will not be recovered. There is no material off-balance sheet credit exposure related to customer receivable balances.

Inventory Valuation

The cost of all carbon black inventories in the U.S. is determined using the last-in, first-out (“LIFO”) method. Total U.S. inventories utilizing this cost flow assumption was $24 million at September 30, 2015 and $28 million at September 30, 2014. These inventories represent 6% and 5% of total worldwide inventories at September 30, 2015 and 2014, respectively. Had we used the first-in, first-out (“FIFO”) method instead of the LIFO method for such inventories, the value of those inventories would have been $30 million and $52 million higher as of September 30, 2015 and 2014, respectively. The cost of Specialty Fluids inventories, which are classified as assets held for rent, is determined using the average cost method. The cost of other U.S. and all non-U.S. inventories is determined using the FIFO method. In periods of rapidly rising or declining raw material costs, the inventory method we employ

24


can have a significant impact on our profitability. Under our current LIFO method, when raw material costs are rising, our most recent higher priced purchases are the first to be charged to Cost of sales. If, however, we were using a FIFO method, our purchases from earlier periods, which were at lower prices, would instead be the first charged to Cost of sales. The opposite result could occur during a period of rapid decline in raw material costs.

At certain times, we may decrease inventory levels to the point where layers of inventory recorded under the LIFO method that were purchased in preceding years are liquidated. The inventory in these layers may be valued at an amount that is different than our current costs. If there is a liquidation of an inventory layer, there may be an impact to our Cost of sales and Net income for that period. If the liquidated inventory is at a cost lower than our current cost, there would be a reduction in our Cost of sales and an increase to our Net income during the period. Conversely, if the liquidated inventory is at a cost higher than our current cost, there will be an increase in our Cost of sales and a reduction to our net income during the period.

We review inventory for both potential obsolescence and potential declines in anticipated selling prices periodically. In this review, we make assumptions about the future demand for and market value of the inventory and based on these assumptions estimate the amount of any obsolete, unmarketable, slow moving or overvalued inventory. We write down the value of our inventories by an amount equal to the difference between the cost of inventory and the estimated market value. Historically, such write-downs have not been material. If actual market conditions are less favorable than those projected by management at the time of the assessment, however, additional inventory write-downs may be required, which could reduce our gross profit and our earnings.

Intangible Assets and Goodwill Impairment

We record tangible and intangible assets acquired and liabilities assumed in business combinations under the acquisition method of accounting. Amounts paid for an acquisition are allocated to the assets acquired and liabilities assumed based on their fair values at the date of acquisition. Goodwill is comprised of the purchase price of business acquisitions in excess of the fair value assigned to the net tangible and identifiable intangible assets acquired. Goodwill is not amortized, but is reviewed for impairment annually as of May 31, or when events or changes in the business environment indicate that the carrying value of the reporting unit may exceed its fair value. A reporting unit, for the purpose of the impairment test, is at or below the operating segment level, and constitutes a business for which discrete financial information is available and regularly reviewed by segment management. The separate businesses included within Performance Chemicals are considered separate reporting units. The goodwill balance relative to this segment is recorded in the Metal Oxides reporting unit.

For the purpose of the goodwill impairment test, we first assess qualitative factors to determine whether it is more likely than not that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount. If an initial qualitative assessment identifies that it is more likely than not that the carrying value of a reporting unit exceeds its estimated fair value, an additional quantitative evaluation is performed under the two-step impairment test. Alternatively, we may elect to proceed directly to the quantitative goodwill impairment test. If based on the quantitative evaluation the fair value of the reporting unit is less than its carrying amount, we perform an analysis of the fair value of all assets and liabilities of the reporting unit. If the implied fair value of the reporting unit’s goodwill is determined to be less than its carrying amount, an impairment is recognized for the difference. The fair value of a reporting unit is based on discounted estimated future cash flows. The fair value is also benchmarked against a market approach using the guideline public companies method. The assumptions used to estimate fair value include management’s best estimates of future growth rates, operating cash flows, capital expenditures and discount rates over an estimate of the remaining operating period at the reporting unit level. Should the fair value of any of our reporting units decline below its carrying amount because of reduced operating performance, market declines, changes in the discount rate, or other conditions, charges for impairment may be necessary. Based on our most recent annual goodwill impairment test performed as of May 31, 2015, the fair values of the Reinforcement Materials and Metal Oxides reporting units were substantially in excess of their carrying values. The fair value of the Purification Solutions reporting unit was less than its carrying amount and an impairment charge was recorded in the third quarter of fiscal 2015 as described below under “Purification Solutions Goodwill and Long-Lived Assets Impairment Charges.” Due to the impairment recorded, the fair value of the Purification Solutions reporting unit was insignificantly higher than its carrying value. No events occurred in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2015 that would suggest that it is more likely than not that the carrying values of any of our reporting units exceeded its fair value.

We use assumptions and estimates in determining the fair value of assets acquired and liabilities assumed in a business combination. The determination of the fair value of intangible assets requires the use of significant judgment with regard to assumptions used in the valuation model. We estimate the fair value of identifiable acquisition-related intangible assets principally based on projections of cash flows that will arise from these assets. The projected cash flows are discounted to determine the fair value of the assets at the dates of acquisition.

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Definite-lived intangible assets, which are comprised of customer relationships and developed technologies, are amortized over their estimated useful lives and are reviewed for impairment when indication of potential impairment exists, such as a significant reduction in cash flows associated with the assets. We evaluate indefinite-lived intangible assets, which are comprised of the trademarks of Purification Solutions, for impairment annually or when events occur or circumstances change that may reduce the fair value of the asset below its carrying amount. The annual review is performed as of May 31. We may first perform a qualitative assessment to determine whether it is necessary to perform the quantitative impairment test or bypass the qualitative assessment and proceed directly to performing the quantitative impairment test. The quantitative impairment test is based on discounted estimated future cash flows. The assumptions used to estimate fair value include management’s best estimates of future growth rates and discount rates over an estimate of the remaining operating period at the unit of accounting level.  Refer to the “Purification Solutions Goodwill and Long-Lived Assets Impairment Charges” section below for details on the impairment test performed on intangible assets of the Purification Solutions reporting unit and the resulting impairment charges recorded. Effective in the third quarter of fiscal year 2015 and as a part of the impairment assessment performed, we determined that the trademarks for Purification Solutions no longer had an indefinite life.

Long-lived Assets Impairment

Our long-lived assets primarily include property, plant and equipment, intangible assets, long-term investments and assets held for rent. The carrying values of long-lived assets are reviewed for impairment whenever events or changes in business circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable.

To test for impairment of assets we generally use a probability-weighted estimate of the future undiscounted net cash flows of the assets over their remaining lives to determine if the value of the asset is recoverable. Long-lived assets are grouped with other assets and liabilities at the lowest level for which independent identifiable cash flows are determinable.

Refer to the “Purification Solutions Goodwill and Long-Lived Assets Impairment Charges” section below for details on the Purification Solutions goodwill impairment test and the resulting impairment charge recorded.

An asset impairment is recognized when the carrying value of the asset is not recoverable based on the analysis described above, in which case the asset is written down to its fair value.  If the asset does not have a readily determinable market value, a discounted cash flow model may be used to determine the fair value of the asset. In circumstances when an asset does not have separate identifiable cash flows, an impairment charge is recorded when we no longer intend to use the asset.

Purification Solutions Goodwill and Long-Lived Assets Impairment Charges

During fiscal 2015 and as a result of the impairment tests performed on goodwill and long-lived assets of the Purification Solutions reporting unit, we recorded impairment charges and an associated tax benefit in the Consolidated Statements of Operations as follows:

 

 

 

Year Ended

September 30, 2015

 

 

 

(Dollars in millions)

 

Purifications Solutions goodwill impairment charge

 

$

352

 

Purification Solutions long-lived assets impairment charge

 

 

210

 

Provision (benefit) for income taxes

 

 

(80

)

Impairment charges, after tax

 

$

482

 

 

The future growth in the Purification Solutions segment is highly dependent on achieving the expected volumes and margins in the activated carbon based mercury removal business. These volumes and margins are highly dependent on demand for mercury removal products and our successful realization of our anticipated share of volumes in this segment. The expected demand for mercury removal products significantly depends on: (1) the implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations, particularly those that would require U.S. based coal-fired electric utilities to reduce the quantity of air pollutants they release, including mercury, to comply with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (“MATS”) issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and (2) other factors such as the anticipated usage of activated carbon in the coal-fired energy units. In November 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider whether the EPA appropriately considered costs in determining whether it is necessary and appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.  On June 29, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the EPA unreasonably failed to consider costs in determining whether it is necessary and appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by coal-fired utilities, and remanded the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for further proceedings.

26


The implementation period for the MATS regulations began in April 2015. With this recent implementation and associated customer and industry developments during the third fiscal quarter, as well as the Supreme Court’s ruling, we reassessed our previous estimates for expected growth in volumes, prices and margins in the Purification Solutions reporting unit. The main drivers of growth, including the size of the overall mercury removal industry, utility adoption rates, usage levels, and pricing, among others were lowered from previous estimates. Based on these revised estimates and as part of step one of the annual impairment test, we determined the estimated fair value of the Purification Solutions reporting unit was lower than the reporting unit's carrying value. As such, the reporting unit failed step one of the goodwill impairment test.

In determining the fair value of the Purification Solutions reporting unit, we used an income approach (a discounted cash flow analysis) which incorporated significant estimates and assumptions related to future periods including, timing of MATS implementation, the anticipated size of the mercury removal industry, and growth rates and pricing assumptions of activated carbon, among others. We assumed a two year delay in the final MATS implementation due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling. Additional impairment charges may be required if the rulings of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on remand result in a delay in the implementation of MATS that is longer than two years or if the regulation is vacated. In addition, an estimate of the reporting unit’s weighted average cost of capital (“WACC”) is used to discount future estimated cash flows to their present value. The WACC was based upon externally available data considering market participants’ costs of equity and debt, capital structure and risk factors specific to the Purification Solutions reporting unit.

Step two of the goodwill impairment test requires us to perform a theoretical purchase price allocation for the reporting unit to determine the implied fair value of goodwill and to compare the implied fair value of goodwill to the recorded amount of goodwill. The estimate of fair value is complex and requires significant judgment. Accounting guidance provides that a company should recognize an estimated impairment charge to the extent that it determines that it is probable that an impairment loss has occurred and such impairment can be reasonably estimated. As of June 30, 2015, we recorded a pre-tax goodwill impairment charge in the amount of $353 million. We completed the step two analysis in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2015, which resulted in recording a credit of $1 million to the pre-tax goodwill impairment charge. Therefore, for the year ended September 30, 2015, the pre-tax goodwill impairment charge was $352 million.

Based on the same factors leading to goodwill impairment, we also considered whether the reporting unit's carrying values of definite-lived intangible assets and property, plant and equipment may not be recoverable or whether the carrying value of certain indefinite-lived intangible assets were impaired. We used the income approach to determine the fair value of the indefinite-lived intangible assets represented by the trademarks of Purification Solutions and determined that the fair value of these intangible assets was lower than their carrying value. As such, an impairment loss was recorded in the amount of $39 million. Subsequent to this impairment analysis, we concluded that an indefinite life of such assets could no longer be supported and have begun amortizing these assets on their estimated useful life.  We also performed an impairment analysis to assess if definite-lived intangible assets and property, plant and equipment were recoverable based on the estimated undiscounted cash flows of the reporting unit, which was determined to be the lowest level of identifiable cash flows, and these cash flows were not sufficient to recover the carrying value of the long-lived assets over their remaining useful lives. Accordingly, an impairment charge was recorded based on the lower of the carrying amount or fair value of the long-lived assets. We used the income approach to determine the fair value of the definite-lived intangible assets and a combination of the cost and market approaches to fair value our property, plant and equipment. We recorded impairment charges of $119 million and $51 million, to our definite-lived intangible assets and property, plant and equipment, respectively, in the quarter ended June 30, 2015. We completed the impairment analysis in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2015 which resulted in increasing the property, plant and equipment impairment charge by $1 million to $52 million. Therefore, for the year ended September 30, 2015, the long-lived assets impairment charge was $210 million. In connection with the long-lived assets impairment charges, we recorded a deferred tax benefit of $80 million to our income tax provision.

The performance of the Purification Solutions reporting unit will continue to be monitored. If the reporting unit does not achieve the financial performance that we expect or events or circumstances change, it is possible that additional impairment charges may result.

Pensions and Other Postretirement Benefits

We maintain both defined benefit and defined contribution plans for our employees. In addition, we provide certain postretirement health care and life insurance benefits for our retired employees. Plan obligations and annual expense calculations are based on a number of key assumptions. The assumptions, which are specific for each of our U.S. and foreign plans, are related to both the assets we hold to fund our plans (where applicable) and the characteristics of the benefits that will ultimately be provided to our employees. The most significant assumptions relative to our plan assets include the anticipated rates of return on these assets. Assumptions relative to our pension obligations are more varied; they include estimated discount rates, rates of compensation increases for employees, and mortality, employee turnover and other related demographic data. Projected health care and life insurance obligations also rely on the above mentioned demographic assumptions and assumptions surrounding health

27


care cost trends. Actual results that differ from the assumptions are generally accumulated and amortized over future periods and could therefore affect the recognized expense and recorded obligation in such future periods. However, cash flow requirements may be different from the amounts of expense that are recorded in the consolidated financial statements.

Litigation and Contingencies

We are involved in litigation in the ordinary course of business, including personal injury and environmental litigation. After consultation with counsel, as appropriate, we accrue a liability for litigation when it is probable that a liability has been incurred and the amount can be reasonably estimated. The estimated reserves are recorded based on our best estimate of the liability associated with such matters or the low end of the estimated range of liability if we are unable to identify a better estimate within that range. Our best estimate is determined through the evaluation of various information, including claims, settlement offers, demands by government agencies, estimates performed by independent third parties, identification of other responsible parties and an assessment of their ability to contribute, and our prior experience. Litigation is highly uncertain and there is always the possibility of an unusual result in any particular case that may reduce our earnings and cash flows.

The most significant reserves that we have established are for environmental remediation and respirator litigation claims. The amount accrued for environmental matters reflects our assumptions about remediation requirements at the contaminated sites, the nature of the remedies, the outcome of discussions with regulatory agencies and other potentially responsible parties at multi-party sites, and the number and financial viability of other potentially responsible parties. These liabilities can be affected by the availability of new information, changes in the assumptions on which the accruals are based, unanticipated government enforcement action or changes in applicable government laws and regulations, which could result in higher or lower costs.

Our current estimate of the cost of our share of existing and future respirator liability claims is based on facts and circumstances existing at this time. Developments that could affect our estimate include, but are not limited to, (i) significant changes in the number of future claims, (ii) changes in the rate of dismissals without payment of pending silica and non-malignant asbestos claims, (iii) significant changes in the average cost of resolving claims, (iv) significant changes in the legal costs of defending these claims, (v) changes in the nature of claims received, (vi) changes in the law and procedure applicable to these claims, (vii) the financial viability of other parties which contribute to the settlement of respirator claims, (viii) a change in the availability of insurance coverage maintained by certain of the other parties which contribute to the settlement of respirator claims, or the indemnity provided by a former owner of the business, (ix) changes in the allocation of costs among the various parties paying legal and settlement costs and (x) a determination that the assumptions that were used to estimate our share of liability are no longer reasonable. We cannot determine the impact of these potential developments on our current estimate of our share of liability for these existing and future claims. Accordingly, the actual amount of these liabilities for existing and future claims could be different than the reserved amount.

Income Taxes

Our business operations are global in nature, and we are subject to taxes in numerous jurisdictions. Tax laws and tax rates vary substantially in these jurisdictions and are subject to change based on the political and economic climate in those countries. We file our tax returns in accordance with our interpretations of each jurisdiction’s tax laws.

Significant judgment is required in determining our worldwide provision for income taxes and recording the related tax assets and liabilities. In the ordinary course of our business, there are operational decisions, transactions, facts and circumstances, and calculations which make the ultimate tax determination uncertain. Furthermore, our tax positions are periodically subject to challenge by taxing authorities throughout the world. We have recorded reserves for taxes and associated interest and penalties that may become payable in future years as a result of audits by tax authorities. Any significant impact as a result of changes in underlying facts, law, tax rates, tax audit, or review could lead to adjustments to our income tax expense, our effective tax rate, and/or our cash flow.

We record benefits for uncertain tax positions based on an assessment of whether the position is more likely than not to be sustained by the taxing authorities. If this threshold is not met, no tax benefit of the uncertain tax position is recognized. If the threshold is met, the tax benefit that is recognized is the largest amount that is greater than 50% likely of being realized upon ultimate settlement. This analysis presumes the taxing authorities’ full knowledge of the positions taken and all relevant facts, but does not consider the time value of money. We also accrue for interest and penalties on these uncertain tax positions and include such charges in the income tax provision in the Consolidated Statements of Operations.

Additionally, we have established valuation allowances against a variety of deferred tax assets, including net operating loss carry-forwards, foreign tax credits, and other income tax credits. Valuation allowances take into consideration our ability to use these deferred tax assets and reduce the value of such items to the amount that is deemed more likely than not to be recoverable. Our ability to utilize these deferred tax assets is dependent on achieving our forecast of future taxable operating income over an extended period of time. We review our forecast in relation to actual results and expected trends on a quarterly basis. Failure to

28


achieve our operating income targets may change our assessment regarding the recoverability of our net deferred tax assets and such change could result in a valuation allowance being recorded against some or all of our net deferred tax assets. An increase in a valuation allowance would result in additional income tax expense, while a release of valuation allowances in periods when these tax attributes become realizable would reduce our income tax expense.

Significant Accounting Policies

We have other significant accounting policies that are discussed in Note A of the Notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 below. Certain of these policies include the use of estimates, but do not meet the definition of critical because they generally do not require estimates or judgments that are as difficult or subjective to measure. However, these policies are important to an understanding of the Consolidated Financial Statements.

 

 

Results of Operations

Definition of Terms and Non-GAAP Financial Measures

When discussing our results of operations, we use several terms as described below.

The term “product mix” refers to the mix of types and grades of products sold or the mix of geographic regions where products are sold, and the positive or negative impact this has on the revenue or profitability of the business or segment.

The term “LIFO” includes two factors: (i) the impact of current inventory costs being recognized immediately in Cost of sales under a last-in first-out method, compared to the older costs that would have been included in Cost of sales under a first-in first-out method (“Cost of sales impact”); and (ii) the impact of reductions in inventory quantities, causing historical inventory costs to flow through Cost of sales (“liquidation impact”).

The discussion under the heading “Provision for Income Taxes and Reconciliation of Effective Tax Rate to Operating Tax Rate” includes a discussion of our “effective tax rate” and our “operating tax rate” and includes a reconciliation of the two rates. Our operating tax rate is a non-GAAP financial measure and should not be considered as an alternative to our effective tax rate, the most comparable GAAP financial measure. In calculating our operating tax rate, we exclude discrete tax items, which include: i) unusual or infrequent items such as a significant release of a valuation allowance, ii) items related to uncertain tax positions such as the tax impact of audit settlements, interest on tax reserves, and the release of tax reserves from the expiration of statutes of limitations, and iii) other discrete tax items, such as the tax impact of legislative changes and, on a quarterly basis, the timing of losses in certain jurisdictions and the cumulative rate adjustment, if applicable. We also exclude the tax impact of certain items, as defined below in the discussion of Total segment EBIT, on both operating income and the tax provision. Our definition of the operating tax rate may not be comparable to the definition used by other companies. Management believes that the non-GAAP financial measure is useful supplemental information because it helps our investors compare our tax rate year to year on a consistent basis and understand what our tax rate on current operations would be without the impact of these items which we do not believe are reflective of the underlying business results.

Total segment EBIT is a non-GAAP performance measure, and should not be considered an alternative for Income from continuing operations before taxes, the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure. In calculating Total segment EBIT, we make certain adjustments such as excluding certain items, meaning items that management does not consider representative of our fundamental segment results, as well as items that are not allocated to our business segments, such as interest expense and other corporate costs. Our Chief Operating Decision Maker uses segment EBIT to evaluate the operating results of each segment and to allocate resources to the segments. We believe Total segment EBIT provides useful supplemental information for our investors as it is an important indicator of the Company’s operational strength and performance. Investors should consider the limitations associated with this non-GAAP measure, including the potential lack of comparability of this measure from one company to another. A reconciliation of Total segment EBIT to Income from continuing operations before income taxes and equity in earnings of affiliated companies is provided in Note V of our consolidated financial statements.

Cabot is organized into four reportable business segments: Reinforcement Materials, Performance Chemicals, Purification Solutions, and Specialty Fluids. In fiscal 2015, we realigned our business reporting structure into these four segments.  Segment results have been recast for all periods presented to reflect the realignment of our global business segments. The new segment structure is designed to improve efficiency and resource prioritization and reflects how our chief operating decision maker reviews segment results to assess performance and allocate resources.

Our analysis of financial condition and operating results should be read with our consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes. Unless a calendar year is specified, all references to years in this discussion are to our fiscal years ended September 30.

29


Drivers of Demand and Key Factors Affecting Profitability

Drivers of demand and key factors affecting our profitability differ by segment. In Reinforcement Materials, demand is influenced on a long-term basis primarily by: i) the number of vehicle miles driven globally; ii) the number of original equipment and replacement tires produced; and iii) the number of automotive builds. Over the past several years, operating results have been driven by a number of factors, including: i) increases or decreases in our sales volumes driven by changes in production levels for tires or industrial rubber products and the level at which we service that demand; ii) changes in raw material costs and our ability to adjust the sales price for our products commensurate with changes in raw material costs; iii) changes in pricing and product mix dependent on the level of price increases or decreases to customers as well as the mix of products sold or the region in which they are sold; iv) global and regional capacity utilization for carbon black; v) fixed cost savings achieved through restructuring and other cost saving activities; vi) the growth of our volumes and market position in emerging economies; vii) capacity management and technology investments, including the impact of energy utilization and yield improvement technologies at our manufacturing facilities; and viii) royalties and technology payments related to our patented elastomer composites technology that is used in tire applications.

In Performance Chemicals, longer term demand is driven primarily by the construction and infrastructure, automotive, electronics and consumer products industries. In recent years, operating results in Performance Chemicals have been driven by: i) increases or decreases in sales volumes to the industries previously noted; ii) our ability to deliver differentiated products that drive enhanced performance in customers’ applications; iii) our ability to obtain value pricing for this differentiation; iv) the cost of new capacity; and v) the adoption of new products for use in our customers’ applications.

In Purification Solutions, longer term demand is driven primarily by the demand for activated carbon based solutions for water, gas and air, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, catalysts and other chemical applications. Operating results in Purification Solutions have been influenced by i) changes in volume in the various applications previously noted, ii) the amount of coal-based power generation utilized in the U.S. and the regulation of those utilities, iii) management of our operations, including inventory levels, and the commensurate costs, iv) changes in price and product mix, and v) industry capacity utilization.

In Specialty Fluids, demand for cesium formate is primarily driven by the level of drilling activity for high pressure oil and gas wells and by the petroleum industry’s acceptance of our product as a drilling and completion fluid for this application. Operating results in Specialty Fluids are influenced by the number of drilling projects as well as the size, type and duration of the drilling jobs within the business.

Overview of Results for Fiscal 2015

During fiscal 2015, Income from continuing operations before income taxes and equity in earnings (loss) of affiliated companies decreased compared to fiscal 2014 largely due to an impairment charge related to the assets of Purification Solutions. The impairment was driven by a less favorable estimate of the developing business for activated carbon in mercury removal applications and uncertainty created by the June 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (“MATS”) regulations.  This resulted in a pre-tax Long-lived assets impairment charge of $210 million and a pre-tax Goodwill impairment charge of $352 million. The total after-tax charge was $482 million. In addition, results declined due to margin pressure in Reinforcement Materials and lower project activity in Specialty Fluids, partially offset by improved EBIT results in Purification Solutions and Performance Chemicals.

Fiscal 2015 compared to Fiscal 2014 and Fiscal 2014 compared to Fiscal 2013—Consolidated

Net Sales and other operating revenue and Gross Profit

 

 

 

Years ended September 30

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

 

(Dollars in millions)

 

Net sales and other operating revenues

 

$

2,871

 

 

$

3,647

 

 

$

3,456

 

Gross profit

 

$

585

 

 

$

721

 

 

$

633