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Table of Contents

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

(Mark One)

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

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019

OR

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: 001-13122

Graphic

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Delaware
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)

95-1142616
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

350 South Grand Avenue, Suite 5100

Los Angeles, California 90071

(213687-7700

(Address of principal executive offices, including zip code, and Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

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

Title of each class

    

Trading Symbol(s)

    

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, $0.001 par value

RS

New York Stock Exchange

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

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

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

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

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

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

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

Smaller reporting company

Emerging growth company

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

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

The aggregate market value of the voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based on the closing price on the New York Stock Exchange on June 30, 2019 was approximately $6,260,000,000. For purposes of this computation, it is assumed that the shares of voting stock held by Directors and Officers would be deemed to be stock held by affiliates. As of February 21, 2020, 66,860,589 shares of the registrant’s common stock, $0.001 par value, were outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement for the 2020 annual meeting of stockholders to be held on May 20, 2020 are incorporated by reference into Part III of this report. The Proxy Statement for the 2020 annual meeting will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the end of the fiscal year to which this report relates.

Table of Contents

INDEX

    

Page

PART I

Item 1.

Business

1

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

13

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

24

Item 2.

Properties

24

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

24

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

24

PART II

Item 5.

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

24

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

27

Item 7.

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

28

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

39

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

41

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

80

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

80

Item 9B.

Other Information

80

PART III

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

83

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

83

Item 12.

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

83

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

83

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

83

PART IV

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

84

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

86

SIGNATURES

86

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FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

Unless otherwise indicated or required by the context, as used in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, the terms “Company,” “Reliance,” “we,” “our,” and “us” refer to Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. and all of its subsidiaries that are consolidated in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. This Annual Report on Form 10-K and the information incorporated by reference contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We may also provide oral or written forward-looking information in other materials we release to the public. Our forward-looking statements may include, but are not limited to, discussions of our industry and end markets, our business strategies and our expectations concerning future demand and metals pricing and our results of operations, margins, profitability, impairment charges, taxes, liquidity, litigation matters and capital resources. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “would,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “preliminary,” “range”  and “continue,” the negative of these terms, and similar expressions. These statements relate to future events or our future financial performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to differ materially from those in the future that are implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks and other factors include those described in “Risk Factors” (Part I, Item 1A of this Form 10-K) and “Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk” (Part II, Item 7A). In addition, other factors may affect the accuracy of our forward-looking information. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual events and results of operations may vary materially.

We do not assume any responsibility to publicly update any of our forward-looking statements regardless of whether factors change as a result of new information, future events, or for any other reason, except as may be required by law. You should review any additional disclosures we make in our press releases and other documents we file or furnish with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), including our Forms 10-Q and 8-K.

This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes registered trademarks, trade names and service marks of the Company and its subsidiaries.

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Table of Contents

PART I

Item 1.  Business

We are a leading diversified metal solutions provider in North America (U.S. and Canada) and have been serving our customers for more than 80 years. Through a network of more than 300 locations in 40 U.S. states and in 13 countries outside the U.S., Reliance provides value-added metals processing services and distributes a full line of over 100,000 metal products, including alloy, aluminum, brass, copper, carbon steel, stainless steel, titanium and specialty steel products, to more than 125,000 customers in a broad range of industries. We focus on small orders with quick turnaround and increasing levels of value-added processing. We have made significant investments in our businesses in recent years, including investments in advanced, start-of-the-art value-added processing equipment to better service our customers while simultaneously increasing our gross profit margin, resulting in higher earnings levels.

In 2019, we performed value-added processing on 51% of the orders we shipped, up from 49% in 2018 and our more historical rate of about 40%. Our average order size in 2019 was $2,090 and approximately 40% of our orders were delivered within 24 hours from receipt of the order. Many of our metals service centers process and distribute only specialty metals. In 2019, our net sales were $10.97 billion and we achieved multiple financial milestones, including record net income attributable to Reliance of $701.5 million, record earnings per diluted share of $10.34 and record cash provided by operations of $1.30 billion.

Our primary business strategy is to provide the highest levels of quality and service to our customers in the most efficient operational manner, allowing us to maximize our financial results. Our growth strategy is based on increasing our operating results through organic growth activities and strategic acquisitions that enhance our product, customer and geographic diversification with a focus on higher margin specialty products and value-added processing services. We focus on improving the operating performance at acquired locations by integrating them into our operational model and providing them access to capital and other resources to promote growth and efficiencies. We believe our focused growth strategy of diversifying our products, customers and geographic locations and increasing the level of value-added services provided our customers makes us less vulnerable to regional or industry-specific economic volatility and somewhat lessens the negative impact of volatility experienced in commodity pricing and cyclicality of our customer end markets, as well as general economic trends. We also believe that our focus on servicing customers with small order sizes and quick turnaround, along with our growth and diversification strategy have been instrumental in our ability to produce industry-leading operating results among publicly traded metals service center companies in North America.

We have one operating segment and one reportable segment — metals service centers. Further information about our reportable segment, including geographic information, appears in Note 18 — “Segment information” of Part II, Item 8 “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.”

Industry Overview

Metals service centers acquire carbon steel, aluminum, stainless and alloy steel and other metal products from primary metals producers, which we also refer to as mills, and then process these materials to meet customer specifications using techniques such as beam, bar, pipe and tube cutting; bending, forming and shaping; coil and flat roll processing; plate and sheet cutting; machining and various other specialized services such as laser cutting, fabricating, and mechanical and electropolishing, among others. Customers purchase from service centers for a variety of reasons, including the ability to obtain value-added metals processing, readily available inventory, reliable and timely delivery, flexible minimum order size, and quality control. Many customers deal exclusively with service centers because the quantities of metal products that they purchase are smaller than the minimum order sizes specified by mills or because those customers require intermittent deliveries over long or irregular periods. Metals service centers respond to a niche market created because of the focus on when-needed inventory management and materials management outsourcing in the capital goods and related industries. In general, metals service center customers have placed increased emphasis on carrying lower amounts of inventory, especially during declining price environments. We believe that many customers have also reduced their in-house processing capabilities, opting to source processed metal from service centers like us. We have invested significantly in innovative, state-of-art processing equipment in recent years that has increased our ability to raise our selling prices and increase our gross profit margins as we provide higher quality products and increase the efficiency of our customers’ manufacturing operations.

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The processing services we provide save our customers time, labor, and expense, reducing their overall manufacturing costs. Specialized metals processing equipment requires high utilization to be cost effective. Many manufacturers and their suppliers are not able or willing to invest in the necessary technology, equipment, and warehousing of inventory to efficiently and effectively perform metal processing for their own operations. Accordingly, we believe industry dynamics have created a niche in the market for metals service centers. Metals service centers purchase, process, and deliver metals to end-users in a more efficient and cost-effective manner than the end-user could achieve by dealing directly with the primary producer. Service centers comprise the largest customer group for North American mills, buying and reselling almost 50% of all the carbon, alloy, stainless and specialty steels, aluminum, copper, brass, bronze and superalloys produced in the United States according to a December 2019 report on the metals wholesaling industry issued by IBISWorld Inc., a global intelligence publication.

We believe that metals service centers are generally less susceptible to market cycles than metals producers because service centers are generally able to pass on all or a portion of increases in metal costs to their customers, unless they are selling to their customers on a fixed-price contractual basis. We believe that service center companies, like Reliance, that emphasize rapid inventory turnover and minimal contract sales, are generally less vulnerable to changing metals prices than the metals producers. However, fluctuations in metals pricing have a significant impact on our revenue and profit.

The metals service center industry is highly fragmented and competitive within localized areas or regions. Many of our competitors operate single, stand-alone service centers. According to IBISWorld Inc., there were approximately 10,700 metal wholesaling locations operated by approximately 7,800 companies in the United States in 2019. The significant number of metals service centers that exist in this fragmented market, along with the consolidation trend continues to create opportunities for us to expand by making acquisitions.

According to IBISWorld Inc.’s December 2019 report, the United States metals wholesale industry (which includes metals service centers) is expected to generate revenues of $236.59 billion in 2019, a decrease of 4.3% from 2018 revenues of $247.16 billion, mainly due to metals price volatility. The five largest U.S. metals service center companies are expected by IBISWorld Inc. to represent slightly less than 10% of the estimated $236.59 billion industry total in 2019. While we remain the largest metals service center company in the United States on a revenue basis, our 2019 U.S. revenues of $10.10 billion represented only about 4.3% of the entire U.S. market based on IBISWorld Inc.’s estimated 2019 industry revenues, leaving significant opportunity for further strategic growth within the industry.

History and Overview of Reliance

In 2019, we celebrated our 80th year in business since our original organization as a California corporation on February 3, 1939, operating a single metals service center in Los Angeles, California fabricating steel reinforcing bar. Within ten years of our founding, our metals service center had become a full-line distributor of steel and aluminum. In the early 1950s, we automated our materials handling operations and began to provide processing services to meet our customers’ requirements. In the 1960s, we began to acquire other companies to establish additional service centers, expanding into other geographic areas.

In the mid-1970s, we began to establish specialty metals centers stocked with inventories of selected metals such as aluminum, stainless steel or brass and copper, and equipped with automated materials handling and precision cutting equipment specific to the selected metals. In the mid-1990s, we began to expand nationally and focused on acquiring well-run, profitable metals service center companies, and we continue to expand our network, with a focus on providing increased levels of value-added services and specialty products to our customers as opposed to merely distributing metal. We reincorporated in the State of Delaware in 2015. Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the symbol “RS” and was first traded on September 16, 1994.

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Table of Contents

We continue to execute our growth strategy and have become the largest North American (U.S. and Canada) metals service center company based on revenues, with over 300 locations and 2019 net sales of $10.97 billion. We continue to expand the types of metals that we sell and the processing services that we perform and we strive to consistently perform as the best in our industry. We currently operate metals service centers under the following trade names:

Trade Name

    

No. of Locations

Reliance Divisions

Bralco Metals

Bralco Metals

6

Affiliated Metals

1

Airport Metals (Australia)

1

Olympic Metals

1

Central Plains Steel Co.

1

MetalCenter

1

Reliance Metalcenter

8

Reliance Steel Company

2

Smith Pipe & Steel Company

1

Tube Service Co.

6

All Metals Holding

All Metals Processing & Logistics, Inc.

2

All Metal Services

All Metal Services Ltd. (China)

1

All Metal Services France

1

All Metals Services India Private Limited

1

All Metal Services Limited (United Kingdom)

5

All Metal Services (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.

1

Allegheny Steel Distributors, Inc.

1

American Metals Corporation

American Metals

2

American Steel

2

Alaska Steel Company

3

Haskins Steel Company

1

Lampros Steel

3

AMI Metals, Inc.

AMI Metals

6

AMI Metals UK, Limited

2

AMI Metals Europe (Belgium)

1

AMI Metals France

1

AMI Metals Aero Services Ankara Havacılık Anonim Şirketi (Turkey)

1

Best Manufacturing, Inc.

1

CCC Steel, Inc.

CCC Steel

1

IMS Steel Co.

1

Chapel Steel Corp.

Chapel Steel Corp.

6

Chapel Steel Canada, Ltd.

1

Chatham Steel Corporation

5

Clayton Metals, Inc.

2

Continental Alloys & Services Inc.

Continental Alloys & Services

2

Continental Alloys & Services, Inc. (Canada)

1

Continental Alloys & Services Limited (UK)

2

Continental Alloys & Services Middle East FZE (Dubai)

1

Continental Alloys & Services (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.

1

3

Table of Contents

Trade Name

    

No. of Locations

Continental Alloys & Services Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)

1

Crest Steel Corporation

1

Delta Steel, Inc.

5

Diamond Manufacturing Company

Diamond Manufacturing

3

Ferguson Perforating Company

2

McKey Perforating Co.

1

McKey Perforated Products Co.

1

Perforated Metals Plus

1

DuBose

DuBose National Energy Services, Inc.

1

DuBose National Energy Fasteners & Machined Parts, Inc.

1

Durrett Sheppard Steel Co., Inc.

1

Earle M. Jorgensen Company

Earle M. Jorgensen

32

Earle M. Jorgensen (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.

1

Encore Metals USA

2

Steel Bar

1

FastMetals, Inc.

1

Feralloy Corporation

Feralloy

3

Acero Prime S. de R.L. de C.V.

4

Feralloy Processing Company (51%-owned)

1

GH Metal Solutions, Inc.

4

Indiana Pickling and Processing Company (56%-owned)

1

Oregon Feralloy Partners (40%-owned)

1

Fox Metals and Alloys, Inc.

1

Fry Steel Company

1

Infra-Metals Co.

Infra-Metals

6

Athens Steel

1

Infra-Metals / IMS Steel

2

KMS

KMS Fab, LLC

1

KMS South, Inc.

1

Liebovich Bros., Inc.

Liebovich Steel & Aluminum Company

4

Custom Fab Company

1

Good Metals

1

Hagerty Steel & Aluminum Company

1

Metalweb Limited

3

Metals USA, Inc.

Gregor Technologies

1

Lynch Metals

2

Metals USA

22

Ohio River Metal Services

1

Port City Metal Services

1

The Richardson Trident Company, LLC

3

National Specialty Alloys, Inc.

National Specialty Alloys

3

Aleaciones Especiales de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V.

1

Northern Illinois Steel Supply Co.

1

Pacific Metal Company

6

4

Table of Contents

Trade Name

    

No. of Locations

PDM Steel Service Centers, Inc.

PDM Steel Service Centers

8

Feralloy PDM Steel Service

1

Phoenix Corporation

Phoenix Metals Company

12

Aluminum and Stainless

2

Precision Flamecutting and Steel, Inc.

1

Precision Strip, Inc.

13

Reliance Metalcenter Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)

1

Reliance Metals Canada Limited

Earle M. Jorgensen (Canada)

5

Encore Metals

5

Team Tube

5

Service Steel Aerospace Corp.

Service Steel Aerospace

3

Dynamic Metals International

1

United Alloys Aircraft Metals

1

Siskin Steel & Supply Company, Inc.

Siskin Steel

4

East Tennessee Steel Supply Company

1

Sunbelt Steel Texas, Inc.

2

Sugar Steel Corporation

3

Tubular Steel, Inc.

Tubular Steel

6

Metalcraft Enterprises

1

Valex Corp.

Valex

1

Valex Semiconductor Materials (Zhejiang) Co., Ltd.

1

Valex Korea Co., Ltd. (96%-owned)

1

Viking Materials, Inc.

2

Yarde Metals, Inc.

8

Operational Strategy

Our executive officers maintain a control environment that is focused on integrity and ethical behavior. In addition, our executive officers establish policies and operating guidelines, monitor performance, provide oversight and promote adherence to policies, guidelines and financial controls, while our division managers and subsidiary officers have autonomy with respect to day-to-day operations. This balanced yet entrepreneurial management style has enabled us to improve our safety performance and the productivity and profitability of both our acquired businesses and of our existing operations. Key management personnel are eligible for incentive compensation based, in part, on the profitability of their particular division or subsidiary and, in part, on the Company’s overall profitability.

Safety is our top priority and an important element of our day-to-day operational focus. Our executive team supports a safety management system that includes policies, standard practices and goals at our facilities. In addition, our safety professionals monitor compliance with regulatory requirements and conduct safety assessments and training to improve safety practices.

We seek to increase profitability through improvements in our customer service, operational efficiencies, pricing discipline, and inventory management as well as by providing increased levels of value-added processing. We continue to adjust our business practices to leverage our size and gain efficiencies which contribute to our profitability. We believe that we have an excellent reputation in the industry and are known for our integrity and the quality and timeliness of our service.

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Historically, we have expanded through both acquisitions and internal growth. Since our initial public offering in September 1994, we have successfully purchased 67 businesses. Our internal growth activities during the last few years, which are supported by our capital expenditures, have been at historically high levels with 2019 being a record at $242.2 million, and have included opening new facilities, adding to our processing capabilities, upgrading processing equipment, relocating existing operations to larger, more efficient facilities, improving the safety of our operations and enhancing the working environments of our employees. Our investments in processing equipment have allowed us to increase the range of value-added services that we provide to our customers and increase our efficiency, which we believe has contributed to the recent increases in our gross profit margin. These investments also differentiate us from our competitors and have allowed us to focus our efforts on higher margin business. We will continue to evaluate acquisition opportunities and we expect to continue to grow our business through acquisitions and internal growth initiatives, particularly those that will diversify our products, customer base and geographic locations and increase our sales of high-margin specialty products and value-added processing.

Customers and Markets

We have more than 125,000 customers in a variety of industries, including general manufacturing, non-residential construction (including infrastructure), transportation (rail, truck trailer and shipbuilding), aerospace and defense, energy (oil and natural gas), electronics and semiconductor fabrication, and heavy industry (agricultural, construction and mining equipment). We also service the auto industry, primarily through our toll processing operations where we process the metal for a fee, without taking ownership of the metal.

Although we sell directly to many large original equipment manufacturer customers, the majority of our sales are to small machine shops and fabricators, in small quantities with frequent deliveries, helping them manage their working capital and credit needs more efficiently. Our metals service centers wrote and delivered over 5,242,000 orders during 2019 or an average of 20,760 per day, with an average price of approximately $2,090 per order. Most of our metals service center customers are located within a 200-mile radius of the Reliance metals service center serving them. The proximity of our service centers to our customers helps us provide quick delivery and increases the likelihood of repeat business. In 2019, approximately 96% of our orders were from repeat customers. With our fleet of approximately 1,750 trucks (some of which are leased), we are able to service many smaller customers and provide quick turnaround deliveries. We believe that maintaining our own fleet of trucks and drivers provides a competitive advantage in the current environment as third party freight costs have increased due to strong demand and tight supply. Moreover, our order entry systems and flexible production scheduling enable us to meet customer requirements for short lead times and quick delivery. We believe that our long-term relationships with many of our customers significantly contribute to the success of our business. Providing prompt and efficient services and quality products at reasonable prices are important factors in maintaining and expanding these relationships.

Our acquisitions in recent years have increased our international exposure from both a customer and physical location perspective. In addition, we have built and opened international locations in recent years to service specific industries, typically making limited investments to support existing key U.S. customers that also operate in those international markets. Accordingly, our exposure to risks associated with such investments is minimal. Net sales of our international locations (based on where the shipments originated) accounted for approximately 8% of our consolidated 2019 net sales, or $874.6 million. However, our net sales to international customers (based on the shipping destination) were approximately 11% of our consolidated 2019 net sales or $1.18 billion, with approximately 24% of our international sales, or $282.5 million, to Canadian customers.

Customer demand may change from time to time based on, among other things, general economic conditions and industry capacity. Many of the industries in which our customers compete are cyclical in nature. Because we sell to a wide variety of customers in a wide variety of industries, we believe that we are able to somewhat mitigate earnings volatility. In addition, many of our customers are small job shops and fabricators who also have a diverse customer base and the versatility to service different end markets when an existing market slows. Given our business model and focus on small, quick turnaround orders, we primarily operate in the spot market for both the purchase and sale of our products. As we have limited contractual business, this enables us to better pass on higher metal prices to our customers and maintain consistency in our gross profit margin.

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Due to our focus on small orders, decentralized operating structure and the diversity of the markets we serve, customer concentrations are not significant. Our largest customer represented only 1.0% of our net sales in 2019. In 2019, we had only 26 customers with sales greater than $25 million.

The geographic breakout of our sales based on the location of our metals service center facilities in each of the three years ended December 31 was as follows:

2019

2018

2017

Midwest

30

%

32

%

32

%

West/Southwest

23

%

22

%

22

%

Southeast

19

%

18

%

18

%

International

8

%

8

%

9

%

Mid-Atlantic

7

%

6

%

6

%

Northeast

6

%

6

%

6

%

Pacific Northwest

4

%

5

%

4

%

Mountain

3

%

3

%

3

%

Total

100

%

100

%

100

%

See Note 18 — “Segment information” of Part II, Item 8 “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” for further information on U.S. and foreign revenues and assets.

Suppliers

We primarily purchase our inventory from the major domestic metals producers, which we also refer to as mills. We do, however, also purchase limited amounts of certain products from foreign producers. We have multiple suppliers for all of our products.

Because of our total volume of purchases and our long-term relationships with our suppliers, we believe that we are generally able to purchase inventory at the best prices offered by our suppliers. We believe that these relationships provide us an advantage in our ability to source product and have it available for our customers in accelerated timeframes when needed, and also allows us to more efficiently manage our inventory. We believe that we are not dependent on any one supplier for our metal inventory. We believe both our size and our long-term relationships with our suppliers continue to be important because mill consolidation has reduced the number of suppliers.

Backlog

Because of the when-needed delivery and the short lead-time nature of our business, we do not believe information on our backlog of orders is meaningful to an understanding of our business.

Capital Expenditures

We maintained our focus on internal growth in 2019 by opening new facilities, building or expanding existing facilities, adding processing equipment, improving the safety of our operations and enhancing the working environments of our employees with record capital expenditures of $242.2 million, with the majority growth-related. Our 2020 capital expenditure budget is approximately $250 million, much of which is again related to internal growth activities comprised of purchases of equipment and new facilities, expansions of existing facilities and the purchase of existing facilities that we currently lease. The amount of our capital expenditure budget reflects our confidence in our long-term prospects; however, we will continue to evaluate and execute each growth project and consider the economic conditions and outlook at the time of investment. We estimate our maintenance capital expenditures at approximately $90 to $100 million annually, which allows us to significantly reduce our capital expenditures if economic conditions warrant a more conservative approach to capital allocation and provides flexibility to redirect capital to other strategic priorities.

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Products and Processing Services

We provide a wide variety of processing services to meet our customers’ specifications and deliver products to fabricators, manufacturers and other end users. We maintain a wide variety of products in inventory, and believe this differentiates us from all other North American service centers. Approximately 40% of our orders were delivered within 24 hours from receipt of the order. This provides a competitive advantage to us, and, for the remainder of our orders we typically have shorter lead times than our competitors given our decentralized structure and investments in processing equipment. Our product mix has become more diverse mainly as a result of our targeted growth strategy to acquire companies that distribute mainly specialty products and provide increased levels of value-added processing services. We have increased our investments in processing equipment due to our existing and potential customers requesting higher levels of value-added processing, which has contributed to increases in our gross profit margin and earnings. In 2019, we performed value-added processing on 51% of the orders we shipped, up from 49% in 2018 and our more historical rate of about 40%. Our significant capital expenditures that totaled over $970 million over the past five years, with approximately 50% spent on processing equipment, drove a 600 basis point increase in the percentage of our orders that include value-added processing from 45% in 2014 to 51% in 2019, resulting in an increase in our gross profit margin from 25.1% in 2014 to our record gross profit margin of 30.3% in 2019. We believe our investments in state-of-the-art equipment and advanced technology coupled with our focus on maintaining pricing discipline related to our processing services were significant contributors to our substantial increases in gross profit margin over the past few years. We also believe our enhanced processing capabilities have increased our ability to sell higher-margin metals processing services to a larger group of customers. Flat-rolled carbon steel products (i.e., hot-rolled, cold-rolled and galvanized steel sheet and coil), which generally have the most volatile and competitive pricing, accounted for only 14% of our 2019 sales.

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Our gross sales dollars by product type as a percentage of total sales in each of the three years ended December 31 were as follows:

2019

2018

2017

11

%  

12

%  

11

%  

carbon steel plate

11

%  

11

%  

10

%  

carbon steel tubing

10

%  

9

%  

10

%  

carbon steel structurals

7

%  

7

%  

7

%  

hot-rolled steel sheet and coil

6

%  

6

%  

6

%  

carbon steel bar

4

%  

5

%  

5

%  

galvanized steel sheet and coil

3

%  

3

%  

3

%  

cold-rolled steel sheet and coil

Carbon steel

52

%  

53

%  

52

%  

7

%  

7

%  

7

%  

heat-treated aluminum plate

5

%  

5

%  

6

%  

aluminum bar and tube

5

%  

5

%  

4

%  

common alloy aluminum sheet and coil

1

%  

1

%  

1

%  

common alloy aluminum plate

1

%  

1

%  

1

%  

heat-treated aluminum sheet and coil

Aluminum

19

%  

19

%  

19

%  

7

%  

6

%  

6

%  

stainless steel bar and tube

5

%  

6

%  

6

%  

stainless steel sheet and coil

2

%  

2

%  

2

%  

stainless steel plate

Stainless steel

14

%  

14

%  

14

%  

4

%  

4

%  

4

%  

alloy bar and rod

1

%  

1

%  

1

%  

alloy tube

1

%  

1

%  

1

%  

alloy plate, sheet and coil

Alloy

6

%  

6

%  

6

%  

4

%  

4

%  

4

%  

toll processing — aluminum, carbon steel and stainless steel(1)

5

%  

4

%  

5

%  

miscellaneous, including brass, copper, titanium, manufactured parts and scrap

Other

9

%  

8

%  

9

%  

Total

100

%  

100

%  

100

%  

(1)Includes revenues for logistics services provided by our toll processing companies.

We are not dependent on any particular customer group or industry because we process and distribute a variety of metals. This diversity of product type and material reduces our exposure to fluctuations or other weaknesses in the financial or economic stability of particular customers or industries. We are also less dependent on any particular suppliers as a result of our product diversification.

For sheet and coil products, we purchase coiled metal from primary producers in the form of a continuous sheet, typically 36 to 60 inches wide, between 0.015 and 0.25 inches thick, and rolled into 3-to-20 ton coils. The size and weight of these coils require specialized equipment to move and process the material into smaller sizes and various products. Many of the other products that we carry also require specialized equipment for material handling and processing. We believe few of our customers have the capability to process the metal into the desired sizes or the capital available to acquire the necessary equipment.

We believe that few metals service centers offer the broad range of processing services and metals that we provide. In addition to a focus on growing our revenues from specialty products, we have also increased the amount of value-added

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processing services we provide through recent acquisitions and significant investments in new equipment over the past few years. For example, we have made significant investments in facilities and equipment due to the increased demand for our products sold to the aerospace market and toll processing aluminum for the automotive industry.

After receiving an order, we enter it into one of our order entry systems, select appropriate inventory and schedule processing to meet the specified delivery date. In 2019, we delivered approximately 40% of our orders within 24 hours of the customer placing the order with us. We attempt to maximize the yield from the various metals that we process by combining customer orders to use each product that we purchase to the fullest extent practicable.

In 2019, we performed processing services for approximately 51% of our sales orders. Our primary processing services range from cutting, leveling or sawing to more complex processes such as machining or electropolishing. Throughout our service centers we perform most processes available in the marketplace, without encroaching upon the services performed by our customers. Consistent with our growth strategy, we continue to increase our offering of higher-margin value-added services, including certain fabrication processes in select geographic areas at the request of our customers.

We generally only process specific metals to non-standard sizes pursuant to customer purchase order specifications. In addition, we typically acquire standard size and grade products that can be processed into many different sizes to meet the needs of many different customers. We do not maintain a significant inventory of finished products, but we carry a wide range of metals to meet our customers’ short lead time and when-needed delivery requirements. Our metals service centers maintain inventory and equipment selected to meet the needs of that facility’s customers. We work with our customers to understand their needs and identify areas where we can provide additional value, increasing our importance to them.

Sales and Marketing

As of December 31, 2019, we had approximately 2,100 sales personnel. We believe that our sales force has extensive product, service, market and customer knowledge. Sales personnel are organized by division or subsidiary and are divided into two groups. Outside sales personnel travel throughout a specified geographic territory and maintain relationships with our existing customers and develop new customers. Inside sales personnel remain at the facilities to price and write orders. Outside sales personnel generally receive incentive compensation based on the gross profit from their particular geographic territories. Inside sales personnel generally receive incentive compensation based on the gross profit and/or pretax profit of their particular location.

Our business is relationship-based and because of that, we operate under many different trade names. We acquire well-run businesses with strong customer relationships and solid reputations within the marketplace. Because of this, we find value in the acquired trade name and continue to use the business name and maintain the customer relationships.

Competition

The metals service center industry is highly fragmented and competitive. We have numerous competitors in each of our product lines and geographic locations, and competition is most frequently local or regional. Our domestic service center competitors are generally smaller than we are, but we also face strong competition from national, regional and local independent metals distributors and the producers themselves, some of which have greater resources than we do. In their December 2019 report, IBISWorld Inc. estimated that in 2019 there were approximately 10,700 metal wholesale locations in the United States operated by approximately 7,800 companies. Nevertheless, the five largest U.S. metals service center companies are expected to represent slightly less than 10% of the estimated industry revenue in 2019. Based on estimated 2019 industry revenues by IBISWorld Inc., our 2019 U.S. revenues represented only about 4.3% of the entire U.S. market. We are the largest North American (U.S. and Canada) metals service center company on a revenue basis.

We compete with other companies on price, service, quality, processing capability and availability of products and services. We maintain relationships with our major suppliers at the executive and local levels. We believe that this division of responsibility has increased our ability to obtain competitive prices of metals by leveraging our total size and to provide more responsive service to our customers by allowing our local management teams to make the purchasing decisions. In addition, we believe that the size of our inventory, the diversity of metals products we have available, and the wide variety

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of processing services we provide distinguish us from our competition. We believe our competitors are generally unable to offer the same high quality products and services we provide using state-of-the-art equipment and advanced technology as they do not have the financial ability or risk tolerance to grow their businesses at the same rate as Reliance. We believe our industry-leading financial results in recent years were due to our strong financial condition, the high quality of products and services we are able to offer as a result of our significant investments in our acquired businesses, facilities and equipment, as well as our continued focus on small order sizes with quick turnaround.

Quality Control

Procuring high quality metal from suppliers on a consistent basis is critical to our business. We have instituted strict quality control measures to assure that the quality of purchased raw materials will enable us to meet our customers’ specifications and to reduce the costs of production interruptions. In certain instances, we perform physical and chemical analyses on selected raw materials, typically through a third party testing lab, to verify that mechanical and dimensional properties, cleanliness and surface characteristics meet our requirements and our customers’ specifications. We also conduct certain analyses of surface characteristics on selected processed metal before delivery to the customer. We believe that maintaining high standards for accepting metals ultimately results in reduced return rates from our customers.

We maintain various quality certifications throughout our operations. Approximately 55% of our operating locations are ISO 9001:2015 certified. Many of our locations maintain additional certifications specific to the industries they serve, such as aerospace, auto, nuclear, and others, including certain international certifications.

Government Regulation

Our operations are subject to many foreign, federal, state and local requirements to protect the environment, including hazardous waste disposal and underground storage tank regulations. Our policy is to comply with all such requirements and regulations. The only hazardous substances that we generally use in our operations are lubricants, cleaning solvents and diesel for fueling our trucks. We pay state-certified private companies to haul and dispose of the limited amounts of hazardous waste our operations produce.

Our operations are also subject to laws and regulations relating to workplace safety and worker health, principally the Occupational Safety and Health Act and related regulations, which, among other requirements, establish noise, dust and safety standards. We maintain comprehensive health and safety policies and encourage our employees to follow established safety practices. Safety of our employees and others is critical to our success. We continue to expand and improve our internal safety resources, which has contributed positively to our safety metrics and financial results. We encourage social well-being by instituting these high quality labor, health and safety standards.

We are subject to the conflict mineral provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. We are required to undertake due diligence, disclose and report whether the products we sell originate from the Democratic Republic of Congo and adjoining countries. We verify with our suppliers the origins of all metals used in our products.

We sell metals to foreign customers and otherwise operate abroad, subjecting us to various countries’ trade regulations concerning the import and export of materials and finished products. Our operations are subject to the laws and regulations of the jurisdictions in which we conduct our business that seek to prevent corruption and bribery in the marketplace, including the United States’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”) and the United Kingdom’s Bribery Act 2010. We have developed and implemented company-wide export and anti-corruption policies designed to provide our employees clear statements of our compliance requirements and to ensure compliance with applicable export and anti-corruption regulations. For information about risks related to government regulation, please see the risk factors set forth under the caption Item 1A. “Risk Factors” including the Risk Factors captioned “We are subject to various environmental, employee safety and health, and customs and export laws and regulations, which could subject us to significant liabilities and compliance expenditures;” “We operate internationally and are subject to exchange rate fluctuations, exchange controls, political risks and other risks relating to international operations;” and “Our international operations continue to expand, exposing us to additional risks.”

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Environmental

Some of the properties we own or lease are located in industrial areas with histories of heavy industrial use. We may incur some environmental liabilities because of the location of these properties. In addition, we are currently involved with a certain environmental remediation project related to activities at former manufacturing operations of Earle M. Jorgensen Company (“EMJ”), our wholly owned subsidiary, that were sold many years prior to our acquisition of EMJ in 2006. Although the potential cleanup costs could be significant, EMJ maintained insurance policies during the time they owned the manufacturing operations that have covered substantially all of our expenditures related to this matter to date, and are expected to continue to cover the majority of the related costs. We do not expect that these obligations will have a material adverse impact on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

We believe that all scrap metal produced by our operations is recycled by the independent scrap metal companies and producers to whom we sell our scrap metal. We continue to evaluate and implement energy conservation and other initiatives to reduce pollution and our environmental impact. Enactment of more stringent environmental regulations could have an adverse impact on our financial results.

We believe that we are in compliance, in all material respects, with presently applicable governmental provisions relating to environmental protection.

Employees

As of December 31, 2019, we had approximately 15,300 employees. We consider our employee relations to be good. Approximately 11% of our employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements that expire at various times over the next six years. Approximately 400 employees are covered by 18 different collective bargaining agreements that expire in 2020. We have entered into collective bargaining agreements with 40 union locals at 52 of our locations. These collective bargaining agreements have not had a material impact on our revenues or profitability at our various locations. Over the years we have experienced minor work stoppages by our employees at certain of our locations, but due to the small number of employees and the short time periods involved, these stoppages have not had a material impact on our operations.

Seasonality

Some of our customers are in seasonal businesses, especially customers in the construction industry and related businesses. Our overall operations have not shown any material seasonal trends as a result of our geographic, product and customer diversity. Typically, revenues in the months of July, November and December have been lower than in other months because of a reduced number of working days for shipments of our products, resulting from holidays observed by the Company as well as vacation and extended holiday closures at some of our customers. Reduced shipping days also have a significant impact on our profitability. We cannot predict whether period-to-period fluctuations will be consistent with historical patterns. Results of any one or more quarters are therefore not necessarily indicative of annual results.

Available Information

We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other documents with the SEC under the Exchange Act. The SEC maintains a website that contains reports, proxy statements and other information regarding issuers, including our Company, that file reports electronically with the SEC. The public can obtain any reports that we file with the SEC at http://www.sec.gov.

Our Investor Relations website is located at http://investor.rsac.com. Our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 are made available, free of charge, through our website as soon as reasonably practical after we electronically file or furnish the reports to the SEC. We encourage investors to visit our website.

The website addresses presented above are not intended to function as hyperlinks, and the information contained in our website and in the SEC’s website is not intended to be a part of this filing.

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Item 1A.  Risk Factors

Set forth below are the risks that we believe are material to our investors. Our business, results of operations and financial condition may be materially adversely affected due to any of the following risks. The risks described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks of which we are not presently aware or that we currently believe are immaterial may also harm our business.

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

The costs that we pay for metals fluctuate due to a number of factors beyond our control, and such fluctuations could adversely affect our operating results, particularly if we cannot pass on higher metal prices to our customers.

We purchase large quantities of aluminum, carbon, stainless and alloy steel and other metals, which we sell to a variety of customers. The price of metals we purchase and the price we charge our customers for the products we sell change based on many factors outside of our control, including general economic conditions (both domestic and international), competition, production levels, raw material costs, customer demand levels, import duties and other trade restrictions, currency fluctuations and surcharges imposed by our suppliers. We attempt to pass cost increases on to our customers with higher selling prices but we are not always able to do so, particularly when the cost increases are not demand driven. When metal prices decrease, we often cannot replace our higher cost inventory with the lower cost metal at a rate that would allow us to maintain a consistent gross profit margin, which would reduce our profitability during that interim period.

Metal prices are volatile due to, among other things, fluctuations in foreign and domestic production capacity, raw material availability and related pricing, metals consumption, tariffs, import levels into the U.S., and the strength of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies. Future changes in global general economic conditions or in production, consumption or export of metals could cause fluctuations in metal prices globally, which could adversely affect our profitability and cash flows. We generally do not enter into long-term agreements with our suppliers or hedging arrangements that could lessen the impact of metal price fluctuations.

We maintain substantial inventories of metal to accommodate the short lead times and delivery requirements of our customers. Our customers typically purchase products from us pursuant to purchase orders and typically do not enter into long-term purchase agreements or arrangements with us. Accordingly, we purchase metal in quantities we believe to be appropriate to satisfy the anticipated needs of our customers based on information derived from customers, market conditions, historic usage and industry research. Commitments for metal purchases are generally at prevailing market prices in effect at the time orders are placed or at the time of shipment. During periods of rising metal costs, our results may be negatively impacted by increases in the costs of the metals we purchase if we are unable to make equivalent increases in the selling prices of the products we sell. In addition, when metal prices decline, our selling prices generally decline and, as we sell inventory purchased at higher costs, results in lower gross profit margins. Consequently, during periods in which we sell this existing inventory, the effects of changing metal prices could adversely affect our operating results.

Excess capacity and over-production by foreign metal producers or decreases in tariffs could increase the level of metal imports into the U.S., resulting in lower domestic prices, which would adversely affect our sales, margins and profitability.

Global metal-making capacity exceeds demand for metal products in some regions around the world. Rather than reducing employment by rationalizing capacity with consumption, we believe metal manufacturers in many countries (often with government assistance or subsidies in various forms) have periodically exported metal at prices which may not reflect their costs of production or capital. Excessive imports of metal into the U.S. have exerted, and may continue to exert, downward pressure on U.S. metal prices.

On March 1, 2018, the President of the United States announced a plan to indefinitely impose a 25 percent tariff on certain imported steel products and a 10 percent tariff on certain imported aluminum products under Section 232 of the

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Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (the “Section 232”) tariffs. Application of the tariffs commenced March 23, 2018, with temporary or long-term exemptions for a number of countries and subject to a product exemption process.

We expect that these tariffs, while in effect, will discourage metal imports from non-exempt countries. These tariffs have had a favorable impact on the prices of the products we sell and our results of operations. If these or other tariffs or duties expire or if others are relaxed or repealed, or if relatively higher U.S. metal prices make it attractive for foreign metal producers to export their products to the U.S., despite the presence of duties or tariffs, the resurgence of substantial imports of foreign steel could create downward pressure on U.S. metal prices which could have a material adverse effect on our potential earnings and future results of operations. In addition, these tariffs have triggered retaliatory actions by certain affected countries, and other foreign governments have initiated or are considering imposing trade measures on steel and aluminum produced in the United States. To the extent these tariffs and other trade actions result in a decrease in international demand for steel and aluminum produced in the United States or otherwise negatively impact demand for our products, our business may be adversely impacted.

Currency fluctuations and changes in the worldwide balance of supply and demand could negatively impact our profitability and cash flows.

Significant currency fluctuations in the United States or abroad could negatively impact our cost of metals and the pricing of our products. A decline in the U.S. dollar relative to foreign currencies may result in increased prices for metals and metal products in the United States and reduce the amount of metal imported into the U.S. as imported metals become relatively more expensive. We may not be able to pass these increased costs on to our customers. If the value of the U.S. dollar improves relative to foreign currencies, this may result in increased metal being imported into the U.S., which in turn may pressure existing domestic prices for metal. This could also occur if global economies are weaker than the U.S. economy, creating a significant price spread between the U.S. and foreign markets.

We operate in an industry that is subject to cyclical fluctuations and any downturn in general economic conditions or in our customers’ specific industries could negatively impact our profitability and cash flows.

The metals service center industry is cyclical and impacted by both market demand and metals supply. Periods of economic slowdown or recession in the United States or other countries, or the public perception that these may occur, could decrease the demand for our products and adversely affect our pricing. If either demand or pricing were to decline from the current levels, this could reduce our profitability and cash flows.

We sell many products to industries that are cyclical, such as the non-residential construction, semiconductor, energy, aerospace and heavy equipment industries. Although many of our direct sales are to sub-contractors or job shops that may serve many customers and industries, the demand for our products is directly related to, and quickly impacted by, demand for the finished goods manufactured by customers in these industries, which may change as a result of changes in the general U.S. or worldwide economy, domestic exchange rates, energy prices or other factors beyond our control.

We compete with a large number of companies in the metals service center industry, and, if we are unable to compete effectively, our profitability and cash flows may decline.

We compete with a large number of other general-line distributors and processors, and specialty distributors in the metals service center industry. Competition is based principally on price, inventory availability, timely delivery, customer service, quality and processing capabilities. Competition in the various markets in which we participate comes from companies of various sizes, some of which have more established brand names in the local markets that we serve. To compete for customer sales, we may lower prices or offer increased services at a higher cost, which could reduce our profitability and cash flows. Rapidly declining prices and/or demand levels may escalate competitive pressures, with service centers selling at substantially reduced prices, and sometimes at a loss, in an effort to reduce their high cost inventory and generate cash. Any increased and/or sustained competitive pressure could cause our share of industry sales to decline along with our profitability and cash flows.

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If we were to lose any of our primary suppliers or otherwise be unable to obtain sufficient amounts of necessary metals on a timely basis, we may not be able to meet our customers’ needs and may suffer reduced sales.

We have few long-term contracts to purchase metals. Therefore, our primary suppliers of aluminum, carbon, stainless and alloy steel or other metals could curtail or discontinue their delivery of these metals to us in the quantities we need with little or no notice. Our ability to meet our customers’ needs and provide value-added inventory management services depends on our ability to maintain an uninterrupted supply of high quality metal products from our suppliers. If our suppliers experience production problems, lack of capacity or transportation disruptions, the lead times for receiving our supply of metal products could be extended and the cost of our inventory may increase. If, in the future, we are unable to obtain sufficient amounts of the necessary metals at competitive prices and on a timely basis from our customary suppliers, we may not be able to obtain these metals from acceptable alternative sources at competitive prices to meet our delivery schedules. Even if we do find acceptable alternative suppliers, the process of locating and securing these alternatives may be disruptive to our business, which could have an adverse impact on our ability to meet our customers’ needs and reduce our profitability and cash flows. In addition, if a significant domestic supply source is discontinued and we cannot find acceptable domestic alternatives, we may need to find foreign sources of supply. Using foreign sources of supply could result in longer lead times, increased price volatility, less favorable payment terms, increased exposure to foreign currency movements and certain tariffs and duties and require greater levels of working capital. Alternative sources of supply may not maintain the quality standards that are in place with our current suppliers that could impact our ability to provide the same quality of products to our customers that we have provided in the past, which could cause our customers to move their business to our competitors or to file claims against us, and such claims may be more difficult to pass through to foreign suppliers.

There has been significant consolidation at the metal producer level both globally and within the U.S. This consolidation has reduced the number of suppliers available to us, which may limit our ability to obtain the necessary metals to service our customers. The number of available suppliers may be further reduced if the general economy enters into another recession. Lower metal prices and lower demand levels may cause certain mills to reduce their production capacity and, in that case, the mill may operate at a loss, which could cause one or more mills to discontinue operations if the losses continue over an extended period of time or if the mill cannot obtain the necessary financing to fund its operating costs.

We rely upon our suppliers as to the specifications of the metals we purchase from them.

We rely on mill certifications that attest to the physical and chemical specifications of the metal received from our suppliers for resale and generally, consistent with industry practice, we do not undertake independent testing of such metals unless independent tests are required by customers. We rely on customers to notify us of any metal that does not conform to the specifications certified by the supplying mill. Although our primary sources of products have been domestic mills, we have and will continue to purchase product from foreign suppliers when we believe it is appropriate. In the event that metal purchased from domestic suppliers is deemed to not meet quality specifications as set forth in the mill certifications or customer specifications, we generally have recourse against these suppliers for both the cost of the products purchased and possible claims from our customers. However, such recourse will not compensate us for the damage to our reputation that may arise from substandard products and possible losses of customers. Moreover, there is a greater level of risk that similar recourse will not be available to us in the event of claims by our customers related to products from foreign suppliers that do not meet the specifications set forth in the mill certifications. In such circumstances, we may be at greater risk of loss for claims for which we do not carry, or carry insufficient, insurance.

We face increased competition from alternative materials and risks concerning innovation, new technologies, products and increasing customer requirements.

As a result of increasingly stringent regulatory requirements, designers, engineers and industrial manufacturers, especially those in the automotive industry, are increasing their use of lighter weight and alternative materials, such as composites, plastics, glass and carbon fiber. Use of such materials could reduce the demand for metal products, which may reduce our profitability and cash flow.

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Climate change might adversely impact our supply chain or our operations.

Concern about climate change might result in new legal and regulatory requirements to reduce or mitigate the effects of climate change. These changes  may result in higher prices for metal, higher prices for utilities required to run our facilities, higher fuel costs for us and our suppliers and other adverse impacts. To the extent that new legislation or regulations increase our costs, we may not be able to fully pass these costs on to our customers without a resulting decline in sales and adverse impact to our profits.

There is also increased focus by governmental and non-governmental entities on sustainability matters. Any perception that we have failed to act responsibly regarding climate change could result in negative publicity and adversely affect our business and reputation.

If metals prices increase compared to certain substitute materials, the demand for our products could be negatively impacted, which could have an adverse effect on our financial results.  

In certain applications, metal products compete with other materials, such as composites, glass, carbon fiber and plastic. Prices of all of these materials fluctuate widely, and differences between the prices of these materials and the price of metal products may adversely affect demand for our products and/or encourage material substitution, which could adversely affect the prices of and demand for metal products. The higher cost of metal relative to certain other materials may make material substitution more attractive for certain uses.

Our insurance coverage, customer indemnifications or other liability protections may be unavailable or inadequate to cover all of our significant risks or our insurers may deny coverage of or be unable to pay for material losses we incur, which could adversely affect our profitability and overall financial position.

We strive to obtain insurance agreements from financially solid, highly rated counterparties in established markets to cover significant risks and liabilities. Not every risk or liability can be insured, and for risks that are insurable, the policy limits and terms of coverage reasonably obtainable in the market may not be sufficient to cover all actual losses or liabilities incurred. Even if insurance coverage is available, we may not be able to obtain it at a price or on terms acceptable to us. Disputes with insurance carriers, including over policy terms, reservation of rights, the applicability of coverage (including exclusions), compliance with provisions (including notice) and/or the insolvency of one or more of our insurers may significantly affect the amount or timing of recovery.

In some circumstances we may be entitled to certain legal protections or indemnifications from our customers through contractual provisions, laws, regulations or otherwise. However, these protections are not always available, are typically subject to certain terms or limitations, including the availability of funds, and may not be sufficient to cover all losses or liabilities incurred.

If insurance coverage, customer indemnifications and/or other legal protections are not available or are not sufficient to cover our risks or losses, it could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations and/or cash flows.

An increase in delinquencies or net losses of customers could adversely affect our results.

 

Inherent in the operation of our business is the credit risk associated with our customers. The creditworthiness of each customer and the rate of delinquencies and net losses on customer obligations are directly impacted by several factors, including relevant industry and economic conditions, the availability of capital, the experience and expertise of the customer's management team, commodity prices and political events. Any increase in delinquencies and net losses on customer obligations could have a material adverse effect on our earnings and cash flows. In addition, although we evaluate and adjust allowances for credit losses related to past due and non-performing receivables on a regular basis, adverse economic conditions or other factors that might cause deterioration of the financial health of our customers could change the timing and level of payments received and thus necessitate an increase in our estimated losses, which could also have a material adverse effect on our earnings and cash flows.

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If we do not successfully implement our growth strategy, our ability to grow our business could be impaired.

We may not be able to identify suitable acquisition candidates or successfully complete any acquisitions or integrate any other businesses into our operations. If we cannot identify suitable acquisition candidates or are otherwise unable to complete acquisitions, we may not be able to continue to grow our business as expected and, if we cannot successfully integrate recently acquired businesses, we may incur increased or redundant expenses. Moreover, any additional indebtedness we incur to pay for these acquisitions could adversely affect our liquidity and financial condition.

We have invested a significant amount of capital in new locations and new processing capabilities. We may not continue to identify sufficient opportunities for internal growth to be able to sustain growth at similar levels. In addition, we may not realize the expected returns from these investments.

Acquisitions present many risks, and we may not realize the financial and strategic goals that were contemplated at the time of each transaction.

Since our initial public offering in September 1994, we have successfully purchased 67 businesses, including our 2019 acquisition of Fry Steel Company. We continue to evaluate acquisition opportunities and expect to continue to grow our business through acquisitions in the future. Risks we may encounter in acquisitions include:

the acquired company may not perform as anticipated or expected strategic benefits may not be realized, which could result in an impairment charge or otherwise impact our results of operations;

we may not realize the anticipated increase in our revenues if a larger than predicted number of customers decline to continue purchasing products from us;

we may have to delay or not proceed with a substantial acquisition if we cannot obtain the necessary funding to complete the acquisition in a timely manner;

we may significantly increase our interest expense, leverage and debt service requirements if we incur additional debt to pay for an acquisition or assume existing debt of an acquired company, which, among other things, may result in a downgrade of our credit ratings;

we may have multiple and overlapping product lines that may be offered, priced and supported differently, which could cause our gross profit margin to decline;

we may have increased inventory exposure for a short time period if the acquired company has significant amounts of material on order;

our relationship with current and new employees, customers and suppliers could be impaired;

our due diligence process may fail to identify risks that could negatively impact our financial condition;

we may lose anticipated tax benefits or have additional legal or tax exposures if we have prematurely or improperly combined entities;

we may face contingencies related to product liability, intellectual property, financial disclosures, environmental issues, violations of regulations/policies, tax positions and accounting practices or internal controls;

the acquisition may result in litigation from terminated employees or third parties;

our management’s attention may be diverted by transition or integration issues;

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higher than expected investments may be required to implement necessary compliance processes and related systems, including IT systems, accounting systems and internal controls over financial reporting;

we may pay more than the acquired company is worth;

we may be unable to obtain timely approvals from governmental authorities under competition and antitrust laws; and

we may undertake acquisitions financed in part through public offerings or private placements of debt or equity securities, or other arrangements. Such acquisition financing could result in a decrease in our earnings and adversely affect other leverage measures. If we issue equity securities or equity-linked securities, the issued securities may have a dilutive effect on the interests of the holders of our common stock.

These factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition or cash flows, particularly in the case of a larger acquisition or the completion of a number of acquisitions in any short period of time.

In addition, most of the acquisition agreements we have entered into require the former owners to indemnify us against certain liabilities related to the operation of those companies before we acquired them. In most of these agreements, however, the liability of the former owners is limited and certain former owners may be unable to meet their indemnification responsibilities. Similarly, the purchasers of our non-core businesses may from time to time agree to indemnify us for operations of such businesses after the closing. We cannot be assured that any of these indemnification provisions will fully protect us, and as a result we may face unexpected liabilities that adversely affect our consolidated results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.

We are a decentralized company, which presents certain risks.

With a diverse geographic footprint in both North America and internationally, we believe our decentralized structure has catalyzed our growth and enabled us to remain responsive to opportunities and to our customers’ needs by leaving significant control and decision-making authority and accountability in the hands of local management. Because we are decentralized, we may be slower to detect compliance-related problems (e.g., a rogue employee undertaking activities that are prohibited by applicable law or by our internal policies) and “company-wide” business initiatives, such as the integration of disparate information technology systems, are often more challenging and costly to implement than they would be in a more centralized environment. Depending on the nature of the problem or initiative in question, such failure could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

As a decentralized business, we depend on both senior management and our key operating employees. If we are unable to attract and retain these individuals, our ability to operate and grow our business may be adversely affected.

Because of our decentralized operating structure, we depend on the efforts of our senior management, including our President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hoffman, and our Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Karla Lewis, and other senior management, as well as our key operating employees. We may not be able to retain these individuals or attract and retain additional qualified personnel when needed. We do not have employment agreements with any of our corporate officers or most of our key employees, so they may have less of an incentive to continue their employment with us when presented with alternative employment opportunities. The compensation of our officers and key employees is heavily dependent on our financial performance and in times of reduced financial performance this may cause our employees to seek other employment opportunities. The loss of any key officer or employee will require remaining officers and employees to direct immediate and substantial attention to identifying and training a replacement. Our inability to retain members of our senior management or key operating employees or to find adequate replacements for any departing key officer or employee on a timely basis could adversely affect our ability to operate and grow our business.

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We are subject to various environmental, employee safety and health, and customs and export laws and regulations, which could subject us to significant liabilities and compliance expenditures.

We are subject to foreign, federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations concerning air emissions, wastewater discharges, underground storage tanks and solid and hazardous waste disposal at or from our facilities. Our operations are also subject to various employee safety and health laws and regulations, including those concerning occupational injury and illness, employee exposure to hazardous materials and employee complaints. We are also subject to customs and export laws and regulations for international shipment of our products. Environmental, employee safety and health, and customs and export laws and regulations are comprehensive, complex and frequently changing. Some of these laws and regulations are subject to varying and conflicting interpretations. We are subject from time to time to administrative and/or judicial proceedings or investigations brought by private parties or governmental agencies with respect to environmental matters, employee safety and health issues or customs and export issues. Proceedings and investigations with respect to environmental matters, any employee safety and health issues or customs and export issues could result in substantial costs to us, divert our management’s attention and result in significant liabilities, fines or the suspension or interruption of our service center activities. Some of our current properties are located in industrial areas with histories of heavy industrial use. The location of these properties may require us to incur environmental expenditures and to establish accruals for environmental liabilities that arise from causes other than our operations. In addition, we are currently remediating contamination in connection with a certain property related to activities at former manufacturing operations of a subsidiary we acquired. Future events, such as changes in existing laws and regulations or their enforcement, new laws and regulations or the discovery of conditions not currently known to us, could result in material environmental or export compliance or remedial liabilities and costs, constrain our operations or make such operations more costly.

We operate internationally and are subject to exchange rate fluctuations, exchange controls, political risks and other risks relating to international operations.

Eleven percent of our 2019 sales were to international customers, subjecting us to the risks of doing business on a global level. These risks include fluctuations in currency exchange rates, economic instability and disruptions, restrictions on the transfer of funds and the imposition of duties and tariffs. Additional risks from our multinational business include transportation delays and interruptions, war, terrorist activities, epidemics, pandemics, political instability, import and export controls, local regulation, changes in governmental policies, labor unrest and current and changing regulatory environments. In addition, government policies on international trade and investment such as import quotas, tariffs, and capital controls, whether adopted by individual governments or addressed by regional trade blocs, can affect the demand for our customers’ products and services. The implementation of more restrictive trade policies, such as higher tariffs or new barriers to entry, in countries in which our customers sell large quantities of products and services could negatively impact our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Our operating results could be negatively affected by the global laws, rules and regulations, as well as political environments in the jurisdictions in which we operate. There could be reduced demand for our products, decreases in the prices at which we can sell our products and disruptions of production or other operations. Additionally, there may be substantial capital and other costs to comply with regulations and/or increased security costs or insurance premiums, any of which could negatively impact our operating results.

In addition, new or revised laws or regulations may alter the environment in which we do business, including the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, which could adversely impact our financial results. For example, new legislation or regulations may result in loss of revenue for our businesses in the United Kingdom that serve customers in the European Union or increased costs to us, directly for our compliance, or indirectly to the extent suppliers increase prices of goods and services because of increased compliance costs, excise taxes or reduced availability of materials.

Our international operations continue to expand, exposing us to additional risks.

Our international presence has grown, so the risk of incurring liabilities or fines resulting from non-compliance with various U.S. or international laws and regulations has increased. For example, we are subject to the FCPA, and similar worldwide anti-bribery laws in non-U.S. jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom’s Bribery Act 2010, which generally

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prohibit companies and their intermediaries from corruptly paying, offering to pay, or authorizing the payment of money, a gift, or anything of value, to a foreign official or foreign political party, for purposes of obtaining or retaining business. A company can be held liable under these anti-bribery laws not just for its own direct actions, but also for the actions of its foreign subsidiaries or other third parties, such as agents or distributors. In addition, we could be held liable for actions taken by employees or third parties on behalf of a company that we acquire. If we fail to comply with the requirements under these laws and other laws we are subject to due to our international operations, we may face possible civil and/or criminal penalties, which could have a material adverse effect on our business or financial results.

We may be subject to risks relating to changes in our tax rates or exposure to additional income tax liabilities.

We are subject to income taxes in the United States and various non-U.S. jurisdictions. Domestic and international tax liabilities are subject to the allocation of income among various tax jurisdictions. Our effective income tax rate could be affected by changes in the mix of earnings among countries with differing statutory tax rates, changes in the valuation allowance of deferred tax assets or changes in tax rates or tax laws or regulations. In particular, although the passage of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 reduced the U.S. tax rate to 21%, our future earnings could be negatively impacted by changes in tax legislation including changing tax rates and tax base such as limiting, phasing-out or eliminating deductions or tax credits, changing rules for earnings repatriations and changing other tax laws in the U.S. or other countries. In addition, it is uncertain if, and to what extent, various states will conform to the new tax law and foreign countries will react by adopting tax legislation or taking other actions that could adversely affect our business.

In addition, the amount of income taxes we pay is subject to audits by U.S. federal, state and local tax authorities and by non-U.S. tax authorities. If these audits result in assessments different from amounts reserved, future financial results may include unfavorable adjustments to our income tax liabilities, which could adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows.

We rely on information management systems and any damage, interruption or compromise of our information management systems or data could disrupt and harm our business.

We rely upon information technology systems and networks, some of which are managed by third parties, to process, transmit, and store electronic information in connection with the operation of our business. Additionally, we collect and store data that is sensitive to our company. Operating these information technology systems and networks and processing and maintaining this data, in a secure manner, is critical to our business operations and strategy. Our information management systems and the data contained therein are vulnerable to damage, including interruption due to power loss, system and network failures, operator negligence and similar causes.

In addition, our systems and data are susceptible to security breaches, viruses, malware, and other cybersecurity attacks. Cybersecurity attacks are increasing in frequency and sophistication. Cybersecurity attacks may range from random attempts to coordinated and targeted attacks, including sophisticated computer crime and advanced threats. These threats pose a risk to the security of our information technology systems and networks and the confidentiality, availability and integrity of our data. We have experienced cybersecurity events such as viruses and attacks on our IT systems. To date, none of these events has had a material impact on our or our subsidiaries’ operations or financial results. However, future threats could, among other things, cause harm to our business and our reputation; disrupt our operations; expose us to potential liability, regulatory actions and loss of business; and impact our results of operations materially. Our insurance coverage may not be adequate to cover all the costs related to cybersecurity attacks or disruptions resulting from such events.

Given the unpredictability of the timing, nature and scope of cybersecurity attacks or potential disruptions, we could potentially be subject to production downtimes, operational delays, other detrimental impacts on our operations or ability to provide products and services to our customers, the compromising, misappropriation, destruction or corruption of data, security breaches, other manipulation or improper use of our systems or networks, financial losses from remedial actions, loss of business or potential liability, and/or damage to our reputation, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, results of operations, cash flows or financial condition. Any significant compromise of our information management systems or data could impede or interrupt our business operations and may result in negative consequences including loss of revenue, fines, penalties, litigation, reputational damage, inability to accurately and/or

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timely complete required filings with government entities including the SEC and the Internal Revenue Service, unavailability or disclosure of confidential information (including personal information) and negative impact on our stock price.

Data privacy and information security may require significant resources and present certain risks.

We collect, store, have access to and otherwise process certain confidential or sensitive data, including proprietary business information, personal data or other information that is subject to privacy and security laws, regulations and/or customer-imposed controls. Despite our efforts to protect such data, we cannot guarantee protection from all material security breaches, theft, misplaced or lost data, programming errors, or employee errors that could potentially lead to the compromise of such data, improper use of our systems, software solutions or networks, unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification or destruction of information, defective products, production downtimes and operational disruptions, any of which could result in costly litigation and liability or reputational harm. Furthermore, we may be required to expend significant attention and financial resources to protect against physical or cybersecurity breaches that could result in the misappropriation of our information or the information of our employees and customers.

Our enterprise data practices, including the collection, use, sharing, and security of the personal identifiable information of our customers, employees, or suppliers are subject to increasingly complex, restrictive, and punitive regulations in all key market regions

Under these regulations, the failure to maintain compliant data practices could result in consumer complaints and regulatory inquiry, resulting in civil or criminal penalties, as well as brand impact or other harm to our business. In addition, increased consumer sensitivity to real or perceived failures in maintaining acceptable data practices could damage our reputation and deter current and potential users or customers from using our products and services. Because many of these laws are new, there is little clarity as to their interpretation, as well as a lack of precedent for the scope of enforcement. The cost of compliance with these laws and regulations will be high and is likely to increase in the future. For example, in Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation came into effect on May 25, 2018, and applies to all of our ongoing operations in the EU as well as some of our operations outside of the EU that involve the processing of EU personal data. This regulation significantly increases the potential financial penalties for noncompliance, including fines of up to 4% of worldwide revenue. Similar regulations are coming into effect in Brazil and China. California has adopted, and several states and provinces in Canada are considering adopting, laws and regulations imposing obligations regarding personal data. In some cases, these laws provide a private right of action that would allow customers to bring suit directly against us for mishandling their data.

Our financial results may be affected by various legal and regulatory proceedings, including those involving antitrust, tax, environmental, or other matters.

We are subject to a variety of litigation and legal compliance risks. These risks include, among other things, possible liability relating to product liability, personal injuries, intellectual property rights, contract-related claims, government contracts, taxes, environmental matters and compliance with U.S. and foreign laws, including competition laws and laws governing improper business practices. We or one of our subsidiaries could be charged with wrongdoing as a result of such matters. If convicted or found liable, we could be subject to significant fines, penalties, repayments, or other damages (in certain cases, treble damages). As a global business, we are subject to complex laws and regulations in the U.S. and other countries in which we operate. Those laws and regulations may be interpreted in different ways. They may also change from time to time and so may their related interpretations. Changes in laws or regulations could result in higher expenses and payments, and uncertainty relating to laws or regulations may also affect how we conduct our operations and structure our investments and could limit our ability to enforce our rights.

The volatility of the market could result in a material impairment of goodwill or indefinite-lived intangible assets.

We review the recoverability of goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets annually or whenever significant events or changes in circumstances occur that might impair the recovery of recorded costs. Factors that may be considered a change in circumstances, indicating that the carrying value of our goodwill or indefinite-lived intangible assets may not be recoverable, include a decline in stock price and market capitalization, declines in the market conditions of our products,

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viability of end markets (such as the energy market in which we have downsized a business due to competitive factors for certain products we sell - see discussion of our 2018 impairment charge in Note 19 — “Impairment and Restructuring Charges” of Part II, Item 8 “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data”), loss of customers, reduced future cash flow estimates, and slower growth rates in our industry. If prices for the products our customers sell fall substantially or remain low for a sustained period, we may be (i) unable to realize a profit from businesses that service such customers, (ii) required to record additional impairments, or (iii) required to suspend or reorganize operations that service such customers. An impairment charge, if incurred, could be material.

Our business operations and financial performance could be adversely affected by changes in our relationship with our employees or changes to U.S. or foreign employment regulations.

We had approximately 15,300 employees worldwide as of December 31, 2019. This means we have a significant exposure to changes in domestic and foreign laws governing our relationships with our employees, including wage and hour laws and regulations, fair labor standards, minimum wage requirements, overtime pay, unemployment tax rates, workers’ compensation rates, citizenship requirements and payroll taxes, which likely would have a direct impact on our operating costs. A significant increase in minimum wage or overtime rates in jurisdictions where we have employees could have a significant impact on our operating costs and may require that we relocate those operations or take other steps to mitigate such increases, all of which may cause us to incur additional costs, expend resources responding to such increases and lower our profitability.

We face certain risks associated with potential labor disruptions.

Approximately 11% of our employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements and/or are represented by unions or workers’ councils. Approximately 400 employees are covered by 18 different collective bargaining agreements that expire in 2020. While we believe that our relations with our employees are generally good, we cannot provide assurances that we will be completely free of labor disruptions such as work stoppages, work slowdowns, union organizing campaigns, strikes, lockouts or that any existing labor disruption will be favorably resolved. We could incur additional costs and/or experience work stoppages that could adversely affect our business operations through a loss of revenue and strained relationships with customers.

Risks Related to our Indebtedness

Our indebtedness could impair our financial condition or cause a downgrade of our credit rating and reduce the funds available to us for other purposes and our failure to comply with the covenants contained in our debt instruments could result in an event of default that could adversely affect our operating results.

We have substantial debt service obligations. As of December 31, 2019, we had aggregate outstanding indebtedness of approximately $1.60 billion. This indebtedness could adversely affect us in the following ways:

additional financing may not be available to us in the future for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, general corporate purposes or other purposes and, if available, may be considerably more costly than our current debt costs;

a significant portion of our cash flow from operations must be dedicated to the payment of interest and principal on our debt, which reduces the funds available to us for our operations, dividends or other purposes;

some of the interest on our debt is, and will continue to be, accrued at variable rates, which could result in higher interest expense in the event of increases in interest rates, which is expected to occur in future periods;

our leverage may increase our vulnerability to economic downturns and limit our ability to withstand adverse events in our business by limiting our financial alternatives; and

our ability to capitalize on significant business opportunities, including potential acquisitions, and to plan for, or respond to, competition and changes in our business may be limited due to our indebtedness.

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Our existing debt agreements contain financial and restrictive covenants that limit the total amount of debt that we may incur, and may limit our ability to engage in other activities that we may believe are in our long-term best interests. Our failure to comply with these covenants may result in an event of default, which, if not cured or waived, could accelerate the maturity of our indebtedness or prevent us from accessing additional funds under our revolving credit facility. If the maturity of our indebtedness is accelerated, we may not have sufficient cash resources to satisfy our debt obligations and we may not be able to continue our operations as planned. See discussion regarding our financial covenants in the “Liquidity and Capital Resources” section of Item 7Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

We may not be able to generate sufficient cash flow to meet our existing debt service obligations.

Our ability to generate sufficient cash flow from operations, draw on our revolving credit facility or access the capital markets to make scheduled payments on our debt obligations will depend on our future financial performance, which will be affected by a range of economic, competitive and business factors, many of which are outside of our control. For example, we may not generate sufficient cash flow from our operations or new acquisitions to repay amounts drawn under our revolving credit facility when it matures in 2021, amortization payments on our term loan and the balance to be paid when it matures in 2021, or our debt securities when they mature in 2023 and 2036. If we do not generate sufficient cash flow from operations or have availability to borrow on our revolving credit facility to satisfy our debt obligations, we would expect to undertake alternative financing plans, such as refinancing or restructuring our debt, selling assets, reducing or delaying capital investments or seeking to raise additional capital. We may not be able to consummate any such transactions at all or on a timely basis or on terms, and for proceeds, that are acceptable to us. These transactions may not be permitted under the terms of our various debt instruments then in effect. Our inability to generate sufficient cash flow to satisfy our debt obligations or to timely refinance our obligations on acceptable terms could adversely affect our ability to serve our customers or we may not be able to continue our operations as planned.

Changes in the Company’s credit ratings could increase cost of funding.

Our credit ratings are important to our cost of capital. The major rating agencies routinely evaluate our credit profile and assign debt ratings to Reliance. This evaluation is based on a number of factors, which include financial strength, business and financial risk, as well as transparency with rating agencies and timeliness of financial reporting. Any downgrade in our credit rating could increase our cost of capital and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

We are permitted to incur more debt, which may intensify the risks associated with our current leverage, including the risk that we will be unable to service our debt or that our credit rating may be downgraded.

We may be able to incur substantial additional indebtedness in the future. Although the terms governing our indebtedness contain restrictions on our ability to incur additional indebtedness, these restrictions are subject to numerous qualifications and exceptions, and the indebtedness we may incur in compliance with these restrictions could be substantial. If we incur additional debt, the risks associated with our leverage, including the risk that we will be unable to service our debt or that we may be subject to a credit rating downgrade, may increase.

Our acquisition strategy and growth capital expenditures may require access to external capital, and limitations on our access to external financing sources could impair our ability to grow.

We may have to rely on external financing sources, including commercial borrowings and issuances of debt and equity securities, to fund our acquisitions and growth capital expenditures. Limitations on our access to external financing sources, whether due to tightened capital markets, more expensive capital or otherwise, could impair our ability to execute our growth strategy.

Because a substantial portion of our indebtedness bears interest at rates that fluctuate with changes in certain prevailing short-term interest rates, we are vulnerable to interest rate increases.

A substantial portion of our indebtedness bears interest at rates that fluctuate with changes in certain short-term prevailing interest rates, primarily based on the London Interbank Offered Rate for deposits of U.S. dollars (“LIBOR”). LIBOR tends to fluctuate based on general interest rates, rates set by the Federal Reserve and other central banks, the supply of and demand for credit in the London interbank market and general economic conditions. At December 31, 2019,

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we had $846.3 million in total variable interest rate debt outstanding with $1.09 billion available for borrowing on our revolving credit facility. Assuming a consistent level of debt, a 100 basis point increase in the interest rate on our floating rate debt would result in approximately $8.5 million of additional interest expense on an annual basis. We currently do not use derivative financial instruments to manage the potential impact of interest rate risk. Accordingly, our interest expense for any particular period will fluctuate based on LIBOR and other variable interest rates.

On July 27, 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority (the authority that regulates LIBOR) announced that it intends to stop compelling banks to submit rates for the calculation of LIBOR after 2021. Financial industry working groups are developing replacement rates and methodologies to transition existing agreements that depend on LIBOR as a reference rate; however, we can provide no assurance that market-accepted rates and transition methodologies will be available and finalized at the time of LIBOR cessation. If clear market standards and transition methodologies have not developed by the time LIBOR becomes unavailable, we may have difficulty reaching agreement on acceptable replacement rates under our revolving credit facility. If we are unable to negotiate replacement rates on favorable terms, it could have a material adverse effect on our earnings and cash flows.

Item 1B.  Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

Item 2.  Properties

As of December 31, 2019, we maintained more than 300 metals service center processing and distribution facilities in 40 states in the U.S. and in 13 other countries, and our corporate headquarters. In the opinion of management, all of our service center facilities are in good or excellent condition and are adequate for our existing operations. These facilities currently operate at about 50-60% of capacity based upon a 24-hour seven-day week, with each location averaging approximately two shifts operating at full capacity for a five-day work week. We have the ability to increase our operating capacity significantly without further investment in facilities or equipment if demand levels increase.

We leased 92 of the more than 300 processing and distribution facilities that we maintained as of December 31, 2019. In addition, we have ground leases and other leased spaces, such as depots, sales offices and storage, for a total of 6.1 million square feet. Total square footage on all company-owned properties is approximately 28.3 million and represents approximately 82% of the total square footage of our operating facilities. In addition, we lease our corporate headquarters in Los Angeles, California. Our leases of facilities and other spaces expire at various times through 2031 and our ground leases expire at various times through 2068. The aggregate monthly rent amount for these properties is approximately $2.6 million.

Item 3.  Legal Proceedings

From time to time, we are named as a defendant in legal actions. Generally, these actions arise in the ordinary course of business. We are not currently a party to any pending legal proceedings other than routine litigation incidental to the business. We expect that these matters will be resolved without having a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows. We maintain general liability insurance against risks arising in the ordinary course of business.

Item 4.  Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.

PART II

Item 5.  Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Our common stock is owned by 182 stockholders of record as of February 21, 2020. Our common stock has traded for the past 26 years on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the symbol “RS” and was first traded September

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16, 1994. Our stockholders of record exclude those stockholders whose shares were held for them in street name through banks, brokers or other nominee accounts.

We have paid quarterly cash dividends on our common stock for 60 consecutive years and have never reduced or suspended our dividend. In February 2020, our Board of Directors increased the regular quarterly dividend amount 13.6% to $0.625 per share. This recent increase is the 27th increase in our dividend since our IPO in 1994. Further increases in the quarterly dividend rate will be evaluated by the Board based on conditions then existing, including our earnings, cash flows, financial condition and capital requirements, or other factors the Board may deem relevant. We expect to continue to declare and pay dividends in the future, if earnings are available to pay dividends, but we also intend to continue to retain a portion of earnings for reinvestment in our operations and expansion of our businesses. We cannot assure you that any dividends will be paid in the future or that, if paid, the dividends will be at the same amount or frequency as paid in the past. Our payment of dividends in the future will depend on business conditions, our financial condition, earnings, liquidity and capital requirements and other factors.

On October 23, 2018, our Board of Directors amended our share repurchase plan increasing by 5,000,000 shares the total number of shares authorized to be repurchased and extending the duration of the program through December 31, 2021. Our share repurchase plan does not obligate us to acquire any specific number of shares. Under the share repurchase plan, shares may be repurchased in the open market under plans complying with Rule 10b-18 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or privately negotiated transactions. During the year ended December 31, 2019, we repurchased 592,934 shares at an average cost of $84.33 per share, or $50.0 million in total. As of December 31, 2019, we had remaining authorization to purchase an additional 6,433,821 shares. We did not repurchase any shares of our common stock in the three months ended December 31, 2019.

Additional information regarding securities authorized for issuance under all stock-based compensation plans will be included under the caption “EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION — Equity Compensation Plan Information” in our definitive Proxy Statement for the 2020 annual meeting of stockholders to be held on May 20, 2020.

Stock Performance Graph

This graph is not deemed to be “filed” with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or subject to the liabilities of Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the Exchange Act), and should not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any of our prior or subsequent filings under the Securities Act of 1933 or the Exchange Act.

The following graph compares the performance of our common stock with that of the S&P 500, the Russell 2000 and an industry peer group consisting of publicly-traded metals service center companies (the “industry peer group”) for the five-year period from December 31, 2014 through December 31, 2019. The graph assumes, in each case, that an initial investment of $100 is made at the beginning of the five-year period. The cumulative total return reflects market prices at the end of each year and the reinvestment of dividends. Since there is no nationally-recognized industry index consisting of metals service center companies to be used as a peer group index, Reliance constructed the industry peer group. As of December 31, 2019, the industry peer group consisted of Olympic Steel Inc., which has securities listed for trading on NASDAQ; Ryerson Holding Corporation and Worthington Industries, Inc., each of which has securities listed for trading on the NYSE; and Russel Metals Inc., which has securities listed for trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The returns of each member of the industry peer group are weighted according to that member’s stock market capitalization.

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The stock price performance shown on the graph below is not necessarily indicative of future price performance.

Comparison of 5 Year Cumulative Total Return Among Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.,
the S&P 500 Index, the Russell 2000 Index and an Industry Peer Group

Graphic

Copyright© 2020 Standard & Poor's, a division of S&P Global. All rights reserved.
Copyright© 2020 Russell Investment Group. All rights reserved.

2014

    

2015

    

2016

    

2017

    

2018

    

2019

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.

$

100.00

$

97.07

$

136.37

$

150.65

$

127.85

$

220.21

S&P 500

100.00

101.38

113.51

138.29

132.23

173.86

Russell 2000

100.00

95.59

115.95

132.94

118.30

148.49

Industry Peer Group

100.00

80.00

138.55

139.64

105.33

133.36

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Item 6.  Selected Financial Data

We have derived the following selected consolidated financial data for each of the five years ended December 31, 2019 from our audited consolidated financial statements. The information below should be read in conjunction with Part II, Item 7 “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto included in Part II, Item 8 “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.”

SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA

Year Ended December 31,

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

(in millions, except number of shares which are reflected in thousands and per share amounts)

Income Statement Data:

    

    

    

    

    

Net sales

$

10,973.8

$

11,534.5

$

9,721.0

$

8,613.4

$

9,350.5

Cost of sales (exclusive of depreciation and amortization expense)

7,644.4

8,253.0

6,933.2

6,023.1

6,803.6

Gross profit(1)

3,329.4

3,281.5

2,787.8

2,590.3

2,546.9

Warehouse, delivery, selling, general and administrative expense ("S,G&A")

2,095.4

2,091.8

1,902.8

1,798.1

1,725.3

Depreciation and amortization expense

219.3

215.2

218.4

222.0

218.5

Impairment of long-lived assets

1.2

37.0

4.2

52.4

53.3

Operating income

1,013.5

937.5

662.4

517.8

549.8

Other (income) expense:

Interest expense

85.0

86.2

73.9

84.6

84.3

Other (income) expense, net

(0.8)

0.7

4.7

4.0

6.8

Income before income taxes

929.3

850.6

583.8

429.2

458.7

Income tax provision (benefit)(2)

223.2

208.8

(37.2)

120.1

142.5

Net income

706.1

641.8

621.0

309.1

316.2

Less: Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests

4.6

8.1

7.6

4.8

4.7

Net income attributable to Reliance

$

701.5

$

633.7

$

613.4

$

304.3

$

311.5

Earnings per share attributable to Reliance stockholders:

Diluted

$

10.34

$

8.75

$

8.34

$

4.16

$

4.16

Basic

$

10.49

$

8.85

$

8.42

$

4.21

$

4.20

Shares used in computing earnings per share:

Diluted

67,855

72,441

73,539

73,121

74,902

Basic

66,885

71,621

72,851

72,363

74,096

Other Data:

Cash flow provided by operations

$

1,301.5

$

664.6

$

399.0

$

626.5

$

1,025.0

Capital expenditures

242.2

239.9

161.6

154.9

172.2

Cash dividends per share

2.20

2.00

1.80

1.65

1.60

Balance Sheet Data (December 31):

Working capital

$

2,334.9

$

2,585.9

$

2,347.6

$

2,032.5

$

1,564.5

Total assets

8,131.1

8,044.9

7,751.0

7,411.3

7,121.6

Short-term debt(3)

65.6

66.8

92.6

83.1

501.3

Long-term debt(3)

1,525.2

2,141.1

1,809.6

1,847.2

1,428.9

Total equity

5,214.1

4,679.5

4,699.9

4,179.1

3,942.7

(1)Gross profit, calculated as net sales less cost of sales, is a non-GAAP financial measure as it excludes depreciation and amortization expense associated with the corresponding sales. About half of our orders are basic distribution with no processing services performed. For the remainder of our sales orders, we perform “first-stage” processing, which is generally not labor intensive as we are simply cutting the metal to size. Because of this, the amount of related labor and overhead, including depreciation and amortization, is not significant and is excluded from cost of sales. Therefore, our cost of sales is substantially comprised of the cost of the material we sell. We use gross profit as shown above as a measure of operating performance. Gross profit is an important operating and financial measure, as fluctuations in our gross profit can have a significant impact on our earnings. Gross profit, as presented, is not necessarily comparable with similarly titled measures for other companies.

(2)Income tax provision (benefit) includes a provisional $207.3 million net tax benefit in 2017 relating to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. See Note 11 — “Income Taxes” of Part II, Item 8 “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” for further information on the impact of the tax legislation.

(3)Includes finance lease obligations.

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Item 7.  Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

This Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations should be read in conjunction with the other sections of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the consolidated financial statements and related notes contained in Item 8, and the discussion of cautionary statements and significant risks to the Company’s business under Item 1A “Risk Factors” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Overview

Strong operational execution led to record financial results in 2019 despite softening demand and weakened metals pricing.

Certain key financial results for 2019 are:

Net sales of $10.97 billion decreased $560.7 million, or 4.9%, from record sales of $11.53 billion in 2018;
Record gross profit of $3.33 billion increased $47.9 million, or 1.5%, from $3.28 billion in 2018;
Record gross profit margin of 30.3% compared to 28.4% in 2018;
Record pretax income of $929.3 million increased $78.7 million, or 9.3%, from $850.6 million in 2018;
Record net income attributable to Reliance of $701.5 million increased $67.8 million, or 10.7%, from $633.7 million in 2018;
Record earnings per diluted share of $10.34 increased $1.59, or 18.2%, from $8.75 in 2018; and
Record cash provided by operations of $1.30 billion increased $636.9 million, or 95.8%, from $664.6 million in 2018.

Our same-store tons sold decreased 4.2% and our same-store average selling price per ton sold decreased 1.8% in 2019 compared to 2018. The decline in our same-store tons sold outperformed industry shipments which were down 7.2% as reported by the Metals Service Center Institute (“MSCI”). The decline in our average selling price per ton sold was mainly due to carbon steel pricing trending lower throughout most of 2019. Our ability to generate a record gross profit margin of 30.3% in 2019 despite softening demand and weakened metals pricing was due in part to our continued investments in processing equipment that supported an increase to 51% in the percentage of our orders we shipped that included value-added processing in 2019 from 49% in 2018. In addition, our significant capital expenditures that totaled over $970 million over the past five years, with approximately 50% spent on processing equipment, drove a 600 basis point increase in the percentage of our orders that include value-added processing from 45% in 2014 to 51% in 2019, resulting in an increase in our gross profit margin from 25.1% in 2014 to our record gross profit margin of 30.3% in 2019.

Strong operating income and effective working capital management generated record cash flow provided by operations of $1.30 billion in 2019, nearly double our cash flow provided by operations of $664.6 million in 2018. As of December 31, 2019, our net debt-to-total capital ratio was 21.4%, down significantly from 30.8% as of December 31, 2018 due to the repayment of approximately $620 million of indebtedness. As a result of our lower debt levels, the applicable margins over lending reference rates were reduced during the 2019 third quarter.

We believe that our broad end market exposure, diverse product offerings, focus on small order sizes, when-needed delivery and significant value-added processing capabilities along with our wide geographic footprint will continue to mitigate earnings volatility compared to many of our competitors. We believe that these business model characteristics combined with pricing discipline and our strategy of concentrating on higher margin business differentiate us from our peers and have allowed us to achieve industry-leading results.

We will continue to focus on working capital management and maximizing profitability of our existing businesses, as well as executing our proven growth strategies and stockholder return activities. As of December 31, 2019, we had $1.09 billion available for borrowing on our revolving credit facility and $174.3 million in cash and cash equivalents. We believe our sources of liquidity will continue to be adequate to maintain operations, finance strategic initiatives, pay dividends, and execute purchases under our share repurchase program.

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Effect of Demand and Pricing Changes on our Operating Results

Customer demand can have a significant impact on our results of operations. When volume increases, our revenue dollars generally increase, which contributes to increased gross profit dollars. Variable costs also increase with volume, primarily our warehouse, delivery, selling, general and administrative expenses. Conversely, when volume declines, we typically produce fewer revenue dollars, which can reduce our gross profit dollars. We can reduce certain variable expenses when volumes decline, but we cannot easily reduce our fixed costs.

Pricing for our products generally has a much more significant impact on our results of operations than customer demand levels. Our revenue dollars rise in conjunction with pricing increases. Our pricing usually increases when the cost of our materials increase. We are typically able to pass higher prices on to our customers. If prices increase and we maintain the same gross profit percentage, we generate higher levels of gross profit and pretax income dollars for the same operational efforts. Conversely, if pricing declines, we will typically generate lower levels of gross profit and pretax income dollars. Because changes in pricing do not require us to adjust our expense structure other than for profit-based compensation, the impact on our results of operations from changes in pricing is typically much greater than the effect of volume changes.

In addition, when volume or pricing increases, our working capital (primarily accounts receivable and inventories) requirements typically increase, resulting in lower levels of cash flow from operations, which may also require us to increase our outstanding debt and incur higher interest expense. Conversely, when customer demand falls, our operations typically generate increased cash flow as our working capital needs decrease.

Acquisitions

2019 Acquisition

On December 31, 2019, we acquired Fry Steel Company (“Fry Steel”). Fry Steel is a general line and long bar distributor located in Santa Fe Springs, California. Fry Steel specializes in the cutting of various bar products including stainless, alloy, aluminum, carbon, brass and bronze. No sales of Fry Steel were included in our net sales for 2019.

We funded our 2019 acquisition of Fry Steel with borrowings on our revolving credit facility and cash on hand.

2018 Acquisitions

On November 1, 2018, we acquired All Metals Holding, LLC, including its operating subsidiaries All Metals Processing & Logistics, Inc. and All Metals Transportation and Logistics, Inc. (collectively, “All Metals”). All Metals is headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina with an additional facility in Cartersville, Georgia. All Metals specializes in toll processing for automotive, construction, appliance and other end markets, and provides value-added transportation and logistics services for metal products from six strategically located terminals throughout the southeastern United States. All Metals’ net sales in 2019 were $29.7 million.

On October 23, 2018, we purchased the remaining 40% noncontrolling interest of Acero Prime, a toll processor in Mexico, which increased our ownership from 60% to 100%. Acero Prime, headquartered in San Luis Potosi, has four toll processing locations. Acero Prime performs metal processing services such as slitting, multi-blanking and oxy-fuel cutting, as well as storage and supply-chain management for a variety of different industries including automotive, home appliance, lighting, HVAC, machinery and heavy equipment. Acero Prime’s net sales in 2019 were $44.8 million. We have consolidated the financial results of Acero Prime since October 1, 2014 when we acquired a controlling interest.

On August 1, 2018, we acquired KMS Fab, LLC and KMS South, Inc. (collectively, “KMS” or the “KMS Companies”). The KMS Companies are headquartered in Luzerne, Pennsylvania. The KMS Companies specialize in precision sheet metal fabrication ranging from prototypes to large production runs which utilize a wide variety of metals and fabrication methods including laser cutting, stamping, turret punching, machining, powder coating and welding. KMS’ net sales in 2019 were $32.6 million.

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On March 1, 2018, we acquired DuBose National Energy Services, Inc. (“DuBose Energy”) and its affiliate, DuBose National Energy Fasteners & Machined Parts, Inc. (“DuBose Fasteners” and, together with DuBose Energy, “DuBose”). DuBose is headquartered in Clinton, North Carolina. DuBose specializes in fabrication, supply and distribution of metal and metal products to the nuclear industry, including utilities, component manufacturers and contractors. DuBose’s net sales in 2019 were $42.9 million.

We funded our 2018 acquisitions with borrowings on our revolving credit facility and cash on hand.

2017 Acquisition

On October 2, 2017, through our wholly owned subsidiary Diamond Manufacturing Company, we acquired Ferguson Perforating Company (“Ferguson”). Ferguson, headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, specializes in manufacturing highly engineered and complex perforated metal parts that have application in diverse end markets including industrial machinery, automotive, aerospace, sugar products and consumer electronics manufacturers. Ferguson’s net sales in 2019 were $37.2 million.

We funded our acquisition of Ferguson with borrowings on our revolving credit facility and cash on hand.

Internal Growth Activities

We continued to maintain our focus on internal growth by opening new facilities, building or expanding existing facilities, adding and upgrading processing equipment, improving the safety of our operations and enhancing the working environments of our employees with record capital expenditures of $242.2 million in 2019, with the majority spent on growth activities. Our investments in processing equipment enable us to provide higher quality products and additional services to our existing and potential customers, resulting in higher gross profit margins. We believe that our ability to finance our investments in processing equipment and facilities provides a competitive advantage for us, as we can provide our customers with a higher quality product and expand our services to them, which we believe many of our competitors do not have the ability to provide.

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Results of Operations

The following table sets forth certain income statement data for each of the last three years ended December 31, 2019 (dollars are shown in millions and certain percentages may not calculate due to rounding):

Year Ended December 31,

2019

2018

2017

% of

% of

% of

$

Net Sales

$

Net Sales

$

Net Sales

Net sales

$

10,973.8

100.0

%

$

11,534.5

100.0

%

$

9,721.0

100.0

%

Cost of sales (exclusive of depreciation and amortization expense shown below)

7,644.4

69.7

8,253.0

71.6

6,933.2

71.3

Gross profit(1)

3,329.4

30.3

3,281.5

28.4

2,787.8

28.7

Warehouse, delivery, selling, general and administrative expense ("S,G&A")(2)

2,095.4

19.1

2,091.8

18.1

1,902.8

19.6

Depreciation expense

176.2

1.6

169.4

1.5

167.8

1.7

Amortization expense

43.1

0.4

45.8

0.4

50.6

0.5

Impairment of long-lived assets(3)

1.2

0.0

37.0

0.3

4.2

Operating income

$

1,013.5

9.2

%

$

937.5

8.1

%

$

662.4

6.8

%

(1)Gross profit, calculated as net sales less cost of sales, and gross profit margin, calculated as gross profit divided by net sales, are non-GAAP financial measures as they exclude depreciation and amortization expense associated with the corresponding sales. About half of our orders are basic distribution with no processing services performed. For the remainder of our sales orders, we perform “first-stage” processing, which is generally not labor intensive as we are simply cutting the metal to size. Because of this, the amount of related labor and overhead, including depreciation and amortization, is not significant and is excluded from cost of sales. Therefore, our cost of sales is substantially comprised of the cost of the material we sell. We use gross profit and gross profit margin as shown above as measures of operating performance. Gross profit and gross profit margin are important operating and financial measures as their fluctuations can have a significant impact on our earnings. Gross profit and gross profit margin, as presented, are not necessarily comparable with similarly titled measures for other companies.

(2)S,G&A includes $0.9 million, $19.1 million and $8.7 million of gains related to the sale of non-core property, plant and equipment in 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively.

(3)See “Expenses” below for discussion of our impairment charges.

Year Ended December 31, 2019 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2018

Net Sales

Year Ended December 31,

Dollar

Percentage

2019

   

2018

Change

Change

(dollars in millions)

Net sales

$

10,973.8

   

$

11,534.5

$

(560.7)

   

(4.9)

%

Net sales, same-store

$

10,868.5

   

$

11,491.5

$

(623.0)

(5.4)

%

Year Ended December 31,

Tons

Percentage

2019

   

2018

    Change    

Change

(tons in thousands)

Tons sold

   

5,861.6

   

6,112.6

   

(251.0)

   

(4.1)

%

Tons sold, same-store

   

5,850.3

   

6,107.0

   

(256.7)

   

(4.2)

%

Year Ended December 31,

   

Price

   

Percentage

2019

   

2018

   

Change

   

Change

Average selling price per ton sold

$

1,860

   

$

1,885

   

$

(25)

   

(1.3)

%

Average selling price per ton sold, same-store

$

1,846

   

$

1,879

   

$

(33)

   

(1.8)

%

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Tons sold and average selling price per ton sold amounts exclude our toll processing sales (as we process the metal for a fee, without taking ownership of the metal). Same-store amounts exclude the results of our acquisitions (other than our purchase of the remaining 40% ownership of Acero Prime) completed in 2019 and 2018.

Our net sales were lower in 2019 compared to our record sales in 2018 due to lower tons sold and a lower average selling price per ton sold.  

Demand in non-residential construction (including infrastructure), our largest end market served, improved slightly in 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. Demand in the automotive (which we serve primarily through our toll processing operations in the U.S. and Mexico) and aerospace end markets remained strong. Demand in heavy industry remained relatively steady. Demand for the products we sell to the energy (oil and natural gas) end market trended lower in 2019 compared to 2018. Our 2019 same-store tons sold were down 4.2% compared to 2018, outperforming industry shipments which were down 7.2% as reported by the MSCI.

Since we primarily purchase and sell our inventories in the spot market, the changes in our average selling prices generally fluctuate in accordance with the changes in the costs of the various metals we purchase. The mix of products sold can also have an impact on our average selling prices.

Our same-store average selling price per ton sold in 2019 was lower than 2018 due to our carbon steel average selling price per ton sold declining throughout most of 2019 given decreased mill pricing. As carbon steel sales represent approximately 52% of our sales dollars, changes in carbon steel prices have the most significant impact on changes in our overall average selling price per ton sold.

Our major commodity selling prices changed year-over-year from 2018 to 2019 as follows:

Same-store

Average Selling

Average Selling

Price per Ton Sold

Price per Ton Sold

(percentage change)

Carbon steel

(4.4)

%  

(4.4)

%

Aluminum

4.1

%  

4.1

%

Stainless steel

3.1

%  

2.9

%

Alloy

7.9

%  

7.9

%

Cost of Sales

Year Ended December 31,

2019

2018

   

% of

% of

Dollar

Percentage

$

   

Net Sales

    

$

    

Net Sales

    

Change

    

Change

(dollars in millions)

   

Cost of sales

$

7,644.4

69.7

%

   

$

8,253.0

71.6

%

   

$

(608.6)

(7.4)

%

The decrease in cost of sales in 2019 compared to 2018 is mainly due to a lower cost per ton sold and lower tons sold. See “Net Sales” above for trends in both demand and costs of our products.

Also, our last-in, first-out (“LIFO”) method inventory valuation reserve adjustment, which is included in cost of sales and, in effect, reflects cost of sales at current replacement costs, resulted in a credit, or income, of $156.0 million in 2019 compared to a charge, or expense, of $271.8 million in 2018.

Our LIFO inventory valuation reserve as of December 31, 2019 and 2018 was $137.6 million and $293.6 million, respectively. Lower metal costs in our inventory as of December 31, 2019 as compared to December 31, 2018 resulted in LIFO income in 2019.

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Gross Profit

Year Ended December 31,

2019

2018

   

% of

% of

Dollar

Percentage

$

   

Net Sales

    

$

    

Net Sales

    

Change

    

Change

(dollars in millions)

   

Gross profit

$

3,329.4

30.3

%

   

$

3,281.5

28.4

%

   

$

47.9

1.5

%

Our gross profit increased in 2019 compared to 2018 mainly due to higher LIFO income as a result of decreases in the cost of carbon steel products given decreased mill pricing. See “Net Sales” and “Cost of Sales” for further discussion on product pricing trends and our LIFO inventory valuation reserve adjustments, respectively.

Our gross profit margin in 2019 was a record. Despite lower pricing for most carbon products we sell during 2019, we were able to increase our gross profit margin in 2019 compared to 2018 through the strong execution of our managers in the field, the continuous improvements in our business and our ongoing investments in equipment that supported an increase to 51% in the percentage of our orders we shipped that included value-added processing in 2019 from 49% in 2018.  

Expenses

Year Ended December 31,

2019

2018

   

% of

% of

Dollar

Percentage

$

   

Net Sales

    

$

    

Net Sales

    

Change

    

Change

(dollars in millions)

S,G&A expense

$

2,095.4

19.1

%

   

$

2,091.8

18.1

%

   

$

3.6

0.2

%

S,G&A expense, same-store

$

2,069.2

19.0

%

   

$

2,078.0

18.1

%

   

$

(8.8)

(0.4)

%

Depreciation & amortization expense  

$

219.3

2.0

%

   

$

215.2

1.9

%

   

$

4.1

1.9

%

Impairment of long-lived assets

$

1.2

0.0

%

$

37.0