10-K 1 shlm-20140831x10k.htm 10-K SHLM-2014.08.31-10K

 

UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
(Mark One)
þ
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended August 31, 2014
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 No. 0-7459
A. SCHULMAN, INC.
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter)
 
Delaware
(State or Other Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)
 
34-0514850
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
3637 Ridgewood Road,
Fairlawn, Ohio
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)
 
44333
(ZIP Code)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (330) 666-3751
Securities Registered Pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
 
Title of each class
 
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, $1.00 Par Value
 
The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC
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  þ         No  ¨
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act.    Yes  ¨        No  þ
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  þ        No   ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).    Yes  þ        No   ¨
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.    ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
 
Large accelerated filer  þ
Accelerated filer  o
Non-accelerated filer  ¨
Smaller reporting company  ¨
(Do not check if smaller reporting company)
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes  ¨         No  þ
As of February 28, 2014, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $979,000,000 based on the closing sale price as reported on the NASDAQ Global Select Market.
Indicate the number of shares outstanding of each of the issuer’s classes of common stock, as of the latest practicable date 29,143,212 shares of common stock, $1.00 par value, at October 15, 2014.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Document
Part of Form 10-K
In Which  Incorporated
Portions of the registrant’s proxy statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of Stockholders
III

 



TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
PART I
 
PART II
 
PART III
 
PART IV

 



PART    I

ITEM 1.
BUSINESS

A. Schulman, Inc. (the “Company,” “A. Schulman,” “we,” “our” and “us”) was founded as an Ohio corporation in 1928 by Alex Schulman in Akron, Ohio as a processor of rubber compounds. During those early days, when Akron, Ohio was known as the rubber capital of the world, Mr. Schulman saw opportunity in taking existing rubber products and compounding new formulations to meet under-served market needs. As the newly emerging science of polymers began to make market strides in the early 1950s, A. Schulman was there to advance the possibilities of the technology, leveraging its compounding expertise into developing solutions to meet exact customer application requirements. The Company later expanded into Europe, Latin America and Asia, establishing manufacturing plants, innovation centers and sales offices in numerous countries. The Company changed its state of incorporation to Delaware in 1969 and went public in 1972. Today, A. Schulman, Inc. is a leading international supplier of high-performance plastic compounds, resins, and services and provides innovative solutions to meet its customers' demanding requirements through proprietary and custom-formulated products. The Company's customers span a wide range of markets such as packaging, mobility, building & construction, electronics & electrical, agriculture, personal care & hygiene, custom services, and sports, home & leisure. Recent acquisitions have strengthened the Company's core businesses serving its custom performance colors, masterbatch solutions, engineered plastics and specialty powders customers.

The Company leverages the following competitive advantages to develop and maintain strong customer relationships and drive continued profitable growth:
 
The Company's sales and marketing teams partner with customers to understand needs and provide tailored solutions that enhance success through its broad and diverse product line.
The Company has a solid reputation in product innovation and application development driven by its market knowledge and insights, customer relationships and research and development capabilities. To further enhance these capabilities, the Company continues to leverage its four global innovation centers located in Belgium, Germany, Mexico and the United States. These centers combine research and innovation in plastics engineering and application technology with specific product developments. They manage the development of collaborative business projects through networks comprised of customers, suppliers, and in some instances, academic institutions and research centers. In addition, the Company also has over a dozen application development centers located within existing facilities. The Company has a long history of successful application development and these dedicated resources further the Company’s advancement with customers and new markets.
The Company's procurement teams are critical to its success as its global purchasing leverage strategy positions the Company to formulate and manufacture products competitively.
The Company has manufacturing facilities worldwide allowing it to be an ideal partner by quickly servicing target markets for its local and global customers.
The Company's strong financial position provides the resources to effectively grow in the current economic environment as well as aggressively pursue growth through acquisitions.

The Company has successfully created a strong presence in the global market place, providing new and enhanced product solutions that result in a product portfolio that is strongly positioned in the markets we serve. With world-class innovation centers and manufacturing facilities that host application development centers strategically positioned around the world, A. Schulman is able to anticipate and respond to changing market and customer needs. Accordingly, the Company's collaboration between development and production is especially important to the Company and its customers, as a quick response to meet their needs is critical. Of course, a quick response means little without quality. A. Schulman has a long and proud history of consistently supplying products of the highest standards, which is evidenced by the Company's numerous certifications and accreditations as well as supplier awards.

Business Segments

The Company considers its operating structure and the types of information subject to regular review by its President and Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”), who is the Chief Operating Decision Maker (“CODM”), to identify reportable segments. The CODM makes decisions, assesses performance and allocates resources by the following regions, which are also the Company's reportable segments: Europe, Middle East and Africa (“EMEA”), the Americas, and Asia Pacific (“APAC”).

The CODM uses net sales to unaffiliated customers, segment gross profit, and segment operating income in order to make decisions, assess performance and allocate resources to each segment. Segment operating income does not include items such as interest income or expense, other income or expense, foreign currency transaction gains or losses, restructuring and related costs

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including accelerated depreciation, asset impairments, or costs and inventory step-up charges related to business acquisitions. Corporate expenses include the compensation of certain personnel, certain audit expenses, Board of Directors related costs, certain insurance costs, costs associated with being a publicly traded entity and other miscellaneous legal and professional fees.

Information regarding the amount of net sales to unaffiliated customers, segment operating income and identifiable assets attributable to each of the Company's business segments for the last three years is set forth in the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements of the Company appearing in ITEM 8, FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Recent Business Transactions

On September 2, 2013, the Company acquired the Perrite Group ("Perrite"), a thermoplastics manufacturing business with operations in Malaysia, the United Kingdom and France for $51.3 million, net of cash. Perrite has manufactured and distributed thermoplastic compounds for the household, electrical, automotive and industrial markets for more than 35 years, offering a broad portfolio of standard and custom compounded polymer products. Perrite employs approximately 200 people among the three facilities. Additionally, Perrite holds leading positions in attractive target markets such as electronics, appliances and niche automotive, and offers well-established and respected brands to global customers while maintaining a strong track record of profitable growth. The Perrite acquisition provides the opportunity to expand the custom performance colors and engineered plastics business in the APAC region and the manufacturing facility in Malaysia will enhance the Company's ability to serve key customers in the region, as well as globally. Additionally, the acquisition provides an opportunity to leverage the Company's broader portfolio of products through our successful color and niche engineered plastics business in the EMEA region.

On December 2, 2013, the Company completed the acquisition of Network Polymers, Inc., a niche engineered plastics compounding business with operations in Akron, Ohio for $49.2 million. The acquisition expands A. Schulman's product offerings with a broad spectrum of custom resins and alloys to meet customer-specific product design and manufacturing requirements. The acquisition also provides greater penetration in key markets such as building and construction, agricultural products, and lawn and garden, as well as the opportunity to leverage existing A. Schulman products and technology to a wider customer base.

On December 31, 2013 the Company acquired Prime Colorants, a leading manufacturer of custom color and additive concentrates in Franklin, Tennessee for $15.1 million. The acquisition grew the Company's custom color capabilities in the U.S., as well as further transformed the U.S. operations from commodity products to a business focused on niche products and services. This acquisition also provides an entry point for A. Schulman in the liquid color market.

On July 1, 2014, the Company acquired the majority of the assets of the specialty plastics business from Ferro Corporation for $91 million. The acquisition strategically expands the Company's geographic footprint with four facilities located in the U.S. and one facility located in Spain, diversifies the Company's product mix and strengthens its position in a broad range of attractive product markets. Additionally, the business offers a broad portfolio of proprietary products and recognized brand names serving a wide range of end markets including packaging, transportation, construction, appliances and agriculture. Approximately 300 employees support the five acquired facilities.

On September 2, 2014, the Company acquired Compco Pty. Ltd., a manufacturer of specialty masterbatches and custom colors in Melbourne, Australia for $6.7 million. The acquisition expands the capabilities of the Company's APAC operations and marks its first entry into the growing pipe and highly regulated wire and cable markets. This acquisition also provides additional growth into key markets that include packaging.
 
Product Families

Globally, the Company operates in five product families: (1) custom performance colors, (2) masterbatch solutions, (3) engineered plastics, (4) specialty powders and (5) distribution services. The Company offers tolling services to customers primarily in the specialty powders product family.

Custom Performance Colors

Custom Performance Colors ("CPC") offers powdered or pelletized color concentrates custom-designed to enhance virtually all thermoplastic resins. These concentrates are available separately, or can be combined with additives as a complete package providing additional functionality such as weather resistance. In many instances, the Company’s products are designed to deliver multiple attributes to meet customer needs. During fiscal 2014, the CPC product family provided 7% of the Company's consolidated net sales.

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The Company's expansive offering of color solutions includes:

A wide spectrum of standard and customized colors;
Organic and inorganic pigments;
High chroma colors in translucent or opaque formats; and
Special effects including but not limited to: metallic, pearlescent (shimmer), thermochromatic (heat sensitive), photochromatic (light sensitive), fluorescent, phosphorescent (glow-in-the-dark) and interference (color shift) technologies.

The Company first began expanding color concentrates through its European acquisition of Deltaplast in 2007. Since then, the Company aggressively grew its global network of custom performance colors capabilities through acquisitions as well as strategic investment in key markets. CPC provides customers with a solution-based approach driven by technical understanding, responsive service, and consistent quality to address evolving market needs. The Company’s color business engages with customers at every stage of their product cycle, from color selection to product delivery and ongoing support. Color products are suitable for numerous processes, such as injection molding, blow molding, compression molding, profile extrusion, blown film, cast film, oriented film, rotational molding, sheet and thermoforming, among others.

The Company’s color concentrates excel in many of the same markets as its masterbatch solutions product family (food packaging, industrial packaging, consumer products, etc.) and its engineered plastics product family, which provides an excellent platform for cross utilization of technology. They have become a trusted source for many of the world’s largest consumer products companies, providing aesthetic solutions for a wide range of bottles, caps and closures.

Masterbatch Solutions

Masterbatches (also referred to as “concentrates”) are often the key ingredient in a successful application product formula. These highly concentrated compounds are combined with polymer resins by the Company’s customers at the point-of-process to provide a unique property portfolio that meets needed performance criteria for a given product application. During fiscal 2014, the masterbatch solutions product family provided 33% of the Company's consolidated net sales.

The Company first began supplying masterbatches through its application development center in Bornem, Belgium in the early 1960s. Since then, the Company has expanded its presence in masterbatch globally. Recent acquisitions have broadened the Company’s product offerings in the high-quality masterbatch markets, provided capacity, flexibility and efficiency to advance our growth in targeted markets, and reduced dependence on large volume, commodity-type automotive applications. The Company’s manufacturing facilities and innovation centers are strategically positioned around the world to ensure that orders are shipped within specification and on time.

The Company's masterbatch solutions product offerings include:
Concentrates designed to improve the performance, appearance, and processing of plastics for intended applications such as white color, absorptive, anti-fog, anti-static and carbon black, among others;
Additive solutions to enhance performance such as antibacterial, flame retardants, ultra-violet (“UV”), anti-static, barrier (optimal heat and light transmittance), antioxidants (protection of foods) and processing (foaming agents, slip, process aids, release agents, and anti-blocking) properties; and
Application solutions that have a reduced impact on the environment such as those that minimize the use of plastics or incorporate the use of either recycled plastics or renewable-based polymers.

Film for agricultural and packaging applications continues to be a primary focus for these products. The Company’s film additives for food packaging are internationally renowned for their performance and cost benefits, and are commonly used in biaxially oriented films which are critical for protective packaging of shelf ready foods, snack foods, candy, as well as various consumer products and industrial applications. The Company also provides solutions for agriculture films, offering additives that provide UV control, barrier, and anti-fog solutions among others.

Many of the Company’s masterbatch product offerings contain proprietary technology that plays a key role in providing application solutions that have a reduced impact on the environment. The Company’s technical team works with customers to design and develop products that assist customers in meeting their sustainability goals. The Company continues to advance its additive technologies to support its customer development of more sustainable solutions from packaging to durable goods.


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Engineered Plastics

Engineered plastics provide unique performance characteristics by combining high-performance polymer resins with various modifiers, reinforcements, additives and pigments, which result in a compound tailored to meet stringent customer specifications for durable applications. The Company’s products are often developed to replace metal or other traditional materials. During fiscal 2014, the engineered plastics product family provided 31% of the Company's consolidated net sales.

The Company’s engineered plastics products typically comprise 100% of the plastics material used by its customers in their end products. The Company began formulating a variety of compounds in the early 1950s, meeting the needs of a newly forming plastics industry and has evolved into its current market leader position.

The result of this innovation forms a pipeline of products being produced in A. Schulman facilities around the world. The Company offers an extensive portfolio based on a variety of polymers within the engineered plastics product family, allowing customers to tailor solutions that meet their exact performance needs.

The Company focuses on the ability to develop enhanced polymer solutions that provide:
Structural integrity such as strength, stiffness, low distortion, among others;
Multi-component blends that include polyolefins, nylons, polyesters and elastomers, among others; and
Formulating know-how with fiber reinforcements such as glass and carbon, nano-reinforcements, flame retardants, impact modifiers, and UV stabilization.

The engineered plastics product family uses the Company's state-of-the-art innovation centers to drive technology and innovation. These centers are highly focused on developing niche solutions that meet the needs of existing and developing markets.

The Company’s engineered plastics product family supplies numerous markets and applications. Durable consumer products and industrial applications are core markets where continued growth is planned, including such applications as building and construction materials, household appliances, electrical connectors, power tools, recreational items, and lawn and garden equipment. The Company also supplies materials for major, high-end, or specified automotive applications, working closely with major global manufacturers.

Specialty Powders

Specialty powders includes size reduction and resins for the injection, blow molding and rotational molding markets. During fiscal 2014, the specialty powders product family provided 14% of the Company's consolidated net sales.

Size reduction, or grinding, is a major component of the Company’s specialty powders product family and is a specialized process whereby polymer resins produced by chemical manufacturers in pellet form are reduced to a specified powder size and form, depending on the customer’s specifications. The majority of the Company’s size reduction services involve ambient grinding, a mechanical attrition milling process suitable for products which do not require ultrafine particle size and are not highly heat sensitive. The Company also provides jet milling services used for products requiring very fine particle size such as additives for printing ink, adhesives, waxes and cosmetics. Jet milling uses high velocity compressed air to reduce materials to sizes between 0.5 and 150 microns. For materials with specific thermal characteristics (such as heat sensitive materials) or which are soft and difficult to manage, the Company provides cryogenic milling services, which use liquid nitrogen to chill materials to extremely low temperatures to enable grinding and classification. The Company's cryogenic and jet milling capabilities are very unique in the grinding industry and give the Company a competitive advantage that customers value.

The Company supplies customers in the rotational molding market, while utilizing its compounding expertise and global footprint to add value in specialty powders (which includes custom size reduction service applications such as powder coatings, oil field services, cosmetic applications and additive manufacturing/3D printing). Specialty powders products for the injection, blow molding and rotational molding markets include compounded resin powders, such as gas and storage tanks, kayaks, playground slides, and other large applications.

The Company's specialty powders product portfolio includes:
Compound colors offered in customized colors and specialty effects;
Compounds and cross-linkable resins developed specifically for the rotational molding process; and
Specialty powders for the oil and gas industry.


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Distribution Services

As a distributor, the Company works with leading global polymer producers to assist in servicing market segments that are not easily accessible to these producers, or does not fit into these producers' core customer segment or supply chain. As a merchant, the Company buys, repackages into A. Schulman labeled packaging, and resells producer grade polymers to our customers, providing sales, marketing and technical services where required. During fiscal 2014, the distribution services product family provided 15% of the Company's consolidated net sales.

A. Schulman leverages its global supply relationships to fill customer needs around the world for a variety of olefinic and non-olefinic resins, as well as selected styrenics and engineering plastics. This consumption of large quantities of base resins also helps support the customers of our other product families by providing purchasing leverage to help keep costs down and providing reliable, convenient access to bulk resin supplies to customers.

The Company’s distribution services offerings include specialty polymers for all processing types, including injection molding, blow molding, thermoforming and film and sheet extruding. Offering various compliant grades, the Company has products that meet the most stringent of needs while allowing customers to optimize their cost-to-performance ratio. Most grades can be supplied in carton, bulk truck and rail car quantities, thus helping customers manage inventory levels and their working capital. The Company’s products are supplied into every major plastics market segment such as packaging, mobility, building and construction, electronics and electrical, and agriculture, among others.

Non Wholly-owned Subsidiaries

A. Schulman International, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary which owns a 65% interest in PT. A. Schulman Plastics, Indonesia, an Indonesian joint venture. This joint venture has a manufacturing facility in East Java, Indonesia focusing on the masterbatch solutions and custom performance colors product families. The remaining 35% interest in this joint venture is owned by P.T. Prima Polycon Indah.

A. Schulman International, Inc. also owns a 63% interest in Surplast S.A., an Argentinean venture, with Alta Plastica S.A., one of the largest distributors of resins in Argentina. Surplast has one manufacturing facility in Buenos Aires, Argentina focusing on rotational molded specialty powders.

Prior to December 31, 2011, ASI Investments Holding Co., a wholly-owned subsidiary, owned a 70% partnership interest in The Sunprene Company in Bellevue, Ohio. Effective December 31, 2011, the Company’s partnership with Mitsubishi Chemical MKV Company was dissolved by a vote of the partners.

Employee Information

As of August 31, 2014, the Company had approximately 3,900 employees. Approximately 45% of all of the Company’s employees are represented by various unions under collective bargaining agreements, primarily outside of the United States.

Research and Development

The research and development of new products and the improvement of existing products are important for the Company to continuously improve its product offerings. New product innovation is a term used to describe the new product development process, beginning with the generation of new innovative ideas through their development into new products which are commercialized into the market. The Company has teams of dedicated individuals with varied backgrounds to lead its new product innovation, putting an aggressive global focus on the Company’s research and development activities. New product innovation is a key component of the Company's organic growth strategy.

Research and development expenses totaled $16.9 million, $8.7 million, and $6.1 million in fiscal years 2014, 2013, and 2012, respectively, related to certain activities performed by manufacturing facilities, innovation and application centers, and analytical laboratories that contribute to the development and significant enhancement of the Company's current and new products and processes. The $8.2 million increase in research and development expense in fiscal 2014 is further evidence of the Company's commitment to innovation and belief that research and development is important to our organic growth strategy. Fiscal 2014 investments included improvements in our color matching capabilities within our custom performance colors product family, development of solutions for the mobility market within our engineered plastics product family, product development at manufacturing facilities acquired during the year and an increase in personnel dedicated to research and development efforts.


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The Company focuses on its organic growth strategy which is aimed at increasing the Company's ability to leverage new and existing products into new geographic markets, further explore adjacent markets and improve the profitability of the Company's product mix. Creating new and collaborative innovation models is key to the growth strategy; therefore, the Company has four global innovation centers located in Belgium, Germany, Mexico and the United States that create faster, focused solutions for customers and partners. The expansion of these critical relationships helps to align the Company's global technology and product development efforts with the current requirements and emerging needs of its customers and end-markets. The Company also has over a dozen application development centers located within its manufacturing facilities that assist in the discovery of new applications for existing technologies.

The Company utilizes a stage gate process globally for new product and technology development initiatives. A stage gate development process is internationally recognized as the most effective and efficient method to conduct new product development. The stage gate method is a development process that manages risk in new product development, so the Company's valuable resources of people and capital are invested to improve the success rate and accelerate the time to market for the Company's products. The stage gate process can be thought of as a blueprint that maps out the development process and helps to manage risk by the use of gate reviews at critical investment points in the project. Gate reviews ensure that only those projects with the highest probability of success are afforded investment resources during the product development process.

Compliance with Environmental Regulations

The Company believes that its stewardship responsibilities include attention to environmental concerns. The Company addresses its environmental responsibilities on a global basis and senior management regularly reports the Company’s performance to the Board of Directors. Management believes that the Company is in material compliance with the national, state and local provisions regulating the discharge of materials into the environment, or otherwise relating to the protection of the environment, and such compliance activity does not currently have a material effect upon the capital expenditures, results of operations, financial position or competitive position of the Company.

Dependence on Customers

During the year ended August 31, 2014, the Company’s five largest customers accounted in the aggregate for less than 10% of net sales. In management’s opinion, the Company is not dependent upon any single customer and the loss of any one customer would not have a materially adverse effect on the Company’s business.

Availability of Raw Materials

The raw materials required by the Company are available from a number of major plastic resin producers or other suppliers. The Company does not distinguish between raw materials and finished goods because numerous products that can be sold as finished goods are also used as raw materials in the production of other inventory items. The principal materials used in the manufacture of the Company’s proprietary plastic compounds are polypropylene, polyethylene, polystyrene, nylon and titanium dioxide. For additional information on the availability of raw materials, see ITEM 1A, RISK FACTORS, Shortages or price increases of raw materials and energy costs could adversely affect operating results and financial condition, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Working Capital Practices

The nature of the Company’s business does not require significant amounts of inventories to be held to meet rapid delivery requirements of its products or services or ensure the Company of a continuous allotment of materials from suppliers. The Company’s manufacturing processes are generally performed with a short response time. The Company generally offers payment terms to its customers that factor in credit risk and industry practices. For additional information relating to the Company’s working capital items, see ITEM 7, MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Competition

The Company’s business is highly competitive. The Company competes with producers of basic plastic resins, many of which also operate compounding plants, as well as other independent plastic compounders. The producers of basic plastic resins generally are large producers of petroleum and chemicals, which are much larger than the Company. Some of these producers compete with the Company principally in such competitors’ own respective local market areas, while other producers compete with the Company on a global basis.


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The Company also competes with other merchants and distributors of plastic resins and other products. Limited information is available to the Company as to the extent of its competitors’ sales and earnings in respect of these activities, but management believes that the Company has a fraction of the highly-fragmented distribution market.

The principal methods of competition in plastics manufacturing are innovation and development of proprietary formulations, application and processing know-how, price, availability of inventory, quality, quick delivery and service. The principal methods of competition for merchant and distribution activities are price, availability of inventory and service. Management believes it has strong financial capabilities, excellent supplier relationships and the ability to provide quality plastic compounds at competitive prices. In addition, A. Schulman has a strong global footprint which allows the Company to effectively serve multi-national customers globally while maintaining a solid local presence to quickly address changing markets, shorten delivery cycles and local customer demands.

Intellectual Property

The Company uses various trademarks and tradenames in its business. These trademarks and tradenames protect certain names of the Company’s products and are significant to the extent they provide a certain amount of goodwill and name recognition in the industry. The Company also holds patents in various parts of the world for certain of its products. Additionally, the Company utilizes proprietary formulas in its product manufacturing and benefits from intangible assets acquired through acquisitions. Collectively, the Company's intellectual property, including other intangible assets, contribute to profitability.

International Operations

The Company has facilities and offices positioned throughout the world. Financial information related to the Company’s geographic areas for the three-year period ended August 31, 2014 appears in Note 13 to the consolidated financial statements in ITEM 8, FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and is incorporated herein by reference. For additional information regarding the risks related to the Company’s foreign operations, see ITEM 1A, RISK FACTORS, and ITEM 7A, QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Executive Officers of the Company

The age, business experience during the past five years and offices held by each of the Company’s executive officers are reported below. The Company’s Amended and Restated By-Laws provide that officers shall hold office until their successors are elected and qualified.

Joseph M. Gingo:    Age 69; Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company since January 2008. Previously, Mr. Gingo served as Executive Vice President, Quality Systems and Chief Technical Officer for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company since 2003. Prior to that, Mr. Gingo held numerous leadership roles in both technology and business positions in his 41-year tenure at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. On June 19, 2014, the Company’s Board of Directors nominated Mr. Gingo to continue as Chairman of the Board after his retirement as President and Chief Executive Officer. The change is part of the Company’s succession planning process, and the nomination of Mr. Gingo as Chairman of the Board is subject to his re-election as a director by shareholders at the Company’s annual meeting in December 2014.

Bernard Rzepka:    Age 54; Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Company since April 2013. Mr. Rzepka formerly served as the General Manager and Chief Operating Officer – EMEA since September 2008 and has been with the Company since 1992, serving in a variety of technology and commercial management positions. On June 19, 2014, the Company’s Board of Directors appointed Mr. Rzepka as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, effective January 2015.

Joseph J. Levanduski:    Age 52; Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Company since June 2011. Previously, Mr. Levanduski was with Hawk Corporation for approximately 15 years where he held various financial roles before becoming Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Levanduski also serves as the Company's Principal Accounting Officer.

Derek Bristow:    Age 54; Vice President and General Manager – APAC since September 2010. Mr. Bristow formerly was General Manager, of ICO Australasia, for ICO, Inc., which was acquired by the Company in April 2010. Mr. Bristow had been with ICO, Inc. since 1998, serving in a variety of management positions.


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Heinrich Lingnau: Age 52; Vice President and General Manager – EMEA since April 2013. Previously, Mr. Lingnau was the regional business leader for the masterbatch product family and held various management-level positions with the Company's EMEA operations since 1999.

Timothy J. McDannold: Age 52; Treasurer and Director of Risk Management of the Company since April 2013. Previously, Mr. McDannold served in various global management roles, including Vice President and Treasurer, and Vice President of Global Business Services for Diebold, Incorporated since 1988.

Donald B. McMillan:    Age 54; Vice President and Chief Information Officer of the Company since July 2013. Previously, Mr. McMillan served as the Chief Accounting Officer and Corporate Controller since April 2011, Corporate Controller since April 2006 and held various financial positions since joining the Company in 1996.

Gary A. Miller:    Age 68; Vice President, Global Supply Chain and Chief Procurement Officer of the Company since April 2008. Previously, Mr. Miller served as Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company since 1992.

David C. Minc:    Age 65; Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary of the Company since May 2008. Previously, Mr. Minc served as General Counsel, Americas, for Flexsys America L.P. since 1996.

Patricia M. Mishic:    Age 49; Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the Company since January 2012. Previously, Ms. Mishic served as Global Director of Marketing Excellence for Dow Chemical Company's Performance Materials and Performance Plastics divisions and held a variety of global business development, marketing and business management positions since 2000.

Gustavo Perez:    Age 50; Vice President and General Manager – Americas since August 2010. Mr. Perez most recently served as the General Manager of Masterbatch for the Company’s North America operations and has been with the Company since 1995, serving in a variety of management positions.

Stacy R. Walter: Age 52; Vice President, Internal Audit of the Company since April 2013. Ms. Walter has served as the Director of Internal Audit for the Company since June 2006 and Sarbanes-Oxley Audit Manager since joining the Company in 2005.

Kim L. Whiteman:    Age 57; Vice President, Global Human Resources of the Company since June 2009. Previously, Mr. Whiteman held various human resource management roles at The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company since 1979.

Available Information

The Company is subject to the information and reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), and, in accordance with these requirements, files annual, quarterly and other reports, as well as proxy statements and other information with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) relating to its business and financial results. Investors may inspect a copy of such reports, proxy statements and other information the Company files with the Commission on its website at http://www.sec.gov.

The Company’s internet address is www.aschulman.com. The Company’s Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and Current Reports on Form 8-K, together with any amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to the Exchange Act, will be made available on its website as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with or furnished to the Commission. 

ITEM 1A.
RISK FACTORS
The following are certain risk factors that could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flows and/or financial condition. These risk factors should be considered in connection with evaluating the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K because these factors could cause our actual results or financial condition to differ materially from those projected in forward-looking statements. The risks that are discussed below are not the only ones we face. If any of the following risks occur, our business, results of operations, cash flows and/or financial condition could be adversely affected.

10


Risks Relating to Economic and Market Conditions
Our sales, profitability, operating results and cash flows are sensitive to global economic conditions, financial markets and cyclicality, and could be adversely affected during economic downturns or financial market instability.
The business of our customers can be cyclical in nature and sensitive to changes in general economic conditions. Deterioration in our customers’ financial position can adversely affect our sales and profitability. Historically, downturns in general economic conditions have resulted in diminished product demand, excess manufacturing capacity and lower average selling prices, and we may experience similar problems in the future. Recent global economic conditions have caused, among other things, significant reductions in available capital and liquidity from banks and other providers of credit, substantial reductions and fluctuations in equity and currency values worldwide, and concerns that the worldwide economy may enter into a prolonged recessionary or slow growth period, each of which may materially adversely affect our customers’ access to capital. Turbulent global economic conditions, even without a sustained downturn, may limit our customers’ access to capital or otherwise impair their creditworthiness, which could inhibit their ability to purchase our products or affect their ability to pay for products that they have already purchased from us. Such challenges can affect our ability to collect customer receivables on the intended terms and amounts. In addition, downturns in our customers’ industries, even during periods of strong general economic conditions, could adversely affect our sales, profitability, operating results and cash flows.
Although no one customer currently accounts for a significant portion of our sales, we are exposed to certain industries such as automotive, appliances and construction. Economic challenges which more acutely affect such particular industries may directly reduce demand for our products by customers within such industries. Bankruptcies by major original equipment manufacturers (OEM) could have a cascading effect on a group of our customers who supply to OEMs, directly affecting their ability to pay.
Similar to our customers’ situation, turbulent global economic conditions, even without a sustained downturn, may materially adversely affect our suppliers’ access to capital and liquidity with which they maintain their inventories, production levels and product quality, causing them to raise prices or lower production levels. An increase in prices could adversely affect our profitability, operating results and cash flows.
The future of the global economic and financial condition is difficult to forecast and mitigate, and therefore the impact on our operating results for a particular period is difficult to predict. Any of the foregoing effects could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and cash flows.
Negative global financial or credit market conditions may significantly affect our access to capital, cost of capital and ability to meet liquidity needs.
Unstable conditions in the financial or credit markets or sustained poor financial performance may adversely impact our ability to access credit already arranged and the availability and cost of credit to us in the future. A volatile credit market may limit our ability to replace maturing credit facilities and access the capital necessary to grow and maintain our business. Accordingly, we may be required to enter into credit agreements that have terms that we do not prefer, which could require us to pay unattractive interest rates. This could increase our interest expense, decrease our profitability and significantly reduce our financial flexibility. There can be no assurances that government responses to disruptions in the financial markets will stabilize markets or increase liquidity and the availability of credit. Long term disruptions in the capital and credit markets as a result of uncertainty, changing or increased regulation, reduced alternatives or failures of significant financial institutions could adversely affect our access to liquidity needed for our business. Any disruption could require us to take measures to conserve cash until markets stabilize or until alternative credit arrangements or other funding sources can be arranged. Such measures could include deferring, eliminating or reducing capital expenditures, dividends, share repurchases or other discretionary uses of cash. Overall, our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows could be materially adversely affected by disruptions in the credit markets.
Shortages or price increases of raw materials and energy costs could adversely affect operating results and financial condition.
We purchase various plastic resins to produce our proprietary plastic compounds. These resins, derived from petroleum or natural gas, have on occasion been subject to periods of short supply as well as rapid and significant movements in price. These fluctuations in supply and price may be caused or intensified by a number of factors, including inclement weather, political instability or hostilities in oil-producing countries, other force majeure events affecting the production facilities of our suppliers, and more general supply and demand changes. We may not be able to obtain sufficient raw materials or pass on increases in the prices of raw materials and energy to our customers. Such shortages or higher petroleum or natural gas costs could lead to declining margins, operating results and financial conditions.

11


An unanticipated increase in demand may result in the inability to meet customer needs and loss of sales.
If we experience an unforeseen increase in demand, we may have difficulty meeting our supply obligations to our customers due to limited capacity or delays from our suppliers. We may lose sales as a result of not meeting the demands of our customers in the timeline required and our results of operations may be adversely affected. We may be required to change suppliers or may need to outsource our operations where possible and, if so, we will be required to verify that the new manufacturer maintains facilities and procedures that comply with our high quality standards and with all applicable regulations and guidelines.
The occurrence or threat of extraordinary events, including natural disasters, contagious diseases, political disruptions, domestic and international terrorist attacks and acts of war, could disrupt commerce and significantly decrease demand for our products.
Extraordinary events, including natural disasters, contagious diseases, political disruptions, domestic and international terrorist attacks and acts of war could adversely affect the economy generally, our business and operations specifically, and the demand for our products. The occurrence of extraordinary events cannot be predicted and their occurrence could adversely affect our results.
Risks Related to Our Business
Our substantial international operations subject us to risks of doing business in foreign countries, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We conduct a majority of our business outside of the United States. We expect sales from international markets to continue to represent a significant portion of our net sales. Accordingly, our business is subject to risks related to the differing legal, political, social and regulatory requirements and economic conditions of many jurisdictions. Risks inherent in international operations include, but are not limited to, the following: 
fluctuations in exchange rates may affect product demand and profitability due to volatility in U.S. dollars of products and services we provide in international markets where payment for our products and services is made in the local currency;
potential disruption that could be caused with the partial or complete reconfiguration of the European Union;
intellectual property rights may be more difficult to enforce;
foreign countries may impose additional withholding taxes or otherwise tax our foreign income, or adopt other restrictions on foreign trade or investment, including currency exchange controls;
unexpected adverse changes in foreign laws or regulatory requirements may occur;
agreements may be difficult to enforce and receivables difficult to collect;
compliance with a variety of foreign laws and regulations may be burdensome;
unexpected adverse changes may occur in export duties, quotas and tariffs and difficulties in obtaining export licenses;
general economic conditions in the countries in which we operate could have an adverse effect on our earnings from operations in those countries and economic downturns in any particular country or region may have cascading adverse impacts on our business, financial conditions and results of operations in other countries or regions;
foreign operations may experience staffing difficulties and labor disputes;
foreign governments may nationalize private enterprises;
foreign governments may enact tax law changes to increase revenue;
our business and profitability in a particular country could be affected by political or economic repercussions on a domestic, country specific or global level from terrorist activities and the response to such activities, such as the imposition of economic sanctions or other measures; and
unanticipated geopolitical and other events, such as economic sanctions, could adversely impact our business and profitability in the country being sanctioned and retaliatory actions by such countries may also adversely impact the countries imposing the sanctions which could result in a write-down of some of our international investments.

12


Our continued success as a global supplier will depend, in part, upon our ability to succeed in differing legal, regulatory, economic, social and political conditions by developing, implementing and maintaining policies and strategies that are effective in each location where we and our joint ventures do business.
Although the majority of our international business operations are currently in regions where the risk level and established legal systems are considered reasonable, our international business also includes projects in countries where governmental corruption has been known to exist. We emphasize compliance with the law and have policies, procedures and certain ongoing training of employees with regard to business ethics and key legal requirements such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”); however, there can be no certain assurances that our employees or outside agents will adhere to our code of business conduct, other internal policies or the FCPA. Additionally, in such high risk regions, our competitors who may not be subject to U.S. laws and regulations, such as the FCPA, can gain competitive advantages over us by securing business awards, licenses or other preferential treatment in those jurisdictions using methods that U.S. law and regulations prohibit us from using. We may be subject to competitive disadvantages to the extent that our competitors are able to secure business, licenses or other preferential treatment by making payments to government officials and others in positions of influence. If we fail to enforce our policies and procedures properly or maintain internal accounting practices to accurately record our international transactions, we may be subject to regulatory sanctions. Violations of these laws could result in significant monetary or criminal penalties for potential violations of the FCPA or other laws or regulations which, in turn, could negatively affect our results of operations, financial position, cash flows, damage our reputation and, therefore, our ability to do business.
Our manufacturing operations are subject to hazards and other risks associated with polymer processing production and the related storage and transportation of inventories, products and wastes.
Our manufacturing operations are subject to the potential hazards and risks associated with polymer production and the related storage and transportation of inventories and wastes, including explosions, fires, inclement weather, natural disasters, mechanical failure, unscheduled downtime, transportation interruptions, remediation, chemical spills, discharges or releases of toxic or hazardous substances or gases and other risks. These hazards can cause personal injury and loss of life, severe damage to, or destruction of, property and equipment and environmental contamination. In addition, the occurrence of material operating problems at our facilities due to any of these hazards may diminish our ability to meet our output goals. These hazards, and their consequences, could have a material adverse effect on our operations as a whole, including our results of operations and cash flows, both during and after the period of operational difficulties.
We face competition from other polymer companies, which could adversely affect our sales and financial condition.
We operate in a highly competitive industry, competing against a number of domestic and foreign polymer producers on a variety of key criteria, including product performance and quality, product price, pricing strategies, product availability and security of supply, responsiveness of product development in cooperation with customers and customer service. Some of our competitors are larger than we are and may have greater financial resources. These competitors may also be able to maintain significantly greater operating and financial flexibility than we do. As a result, these competitors may be better able to withstand changes in conditions within our industry, changes in the prices of raw materials and energy and in general economic conditions. Additionally, competitors’ pricing decisions could compel us to decrease our prices, which could adversely affect our margins and profitability. Our ability to maintain or increase our profitability is, and will continue to be, dependent upon our ability to offset decreases in the prices and margins of our products by improving production efficiency and volume, shifting to higher margin products and improving existing products through innovation and research and development. If we are unable to do so or to otherwise maintain our competitive position, we could lose market share to our competitors.
We expect that our competitors will continue to develop and introduce new and enhanced products, which could cause a decline in the market acceptance of our products. In addition, our competitors could lower prices which would cause a reduction in the selling prices of some of our products as a result of intensified price competition. Competitive pressures can also result in the loss of major customers. An inability to compete successfully could have an adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows. We may also experience increased competition from companies that offer products based on alternative technologies and processes that may be more competitive or better in price or performance, causing us to lose customers which would result in a decline in our sales volume and earnings.
We are dependent upon good relationships with our various suppliers, vendors and distributors.
We rely upon good relationships with a number of different suppliers, vendors and distributors. If our relationships with these parties were to deteriorate or if a number of these parties should elect to discontinue doing business with us, our business operations could be adversely affected.

13


If we fail to develop and commercialize new products, our business operations would be adversely affected.
Successful development and commercialization of new products is a key driver in our anticipated growth plans. Also, on an ongoing basis a certain portion of our products slowly become obsolete or commoditized and, therefore, new products are necessary to maintain current volumes. The development and commercialization of new products requires significant investments in research and development, production, and marketing. The successful production and commercialization of these products is uncertain as is the acceptance of the new products in the marketplace. If we fail to successfully develop and commercialize new products, or if customers decline to purchase the new products, we will not be able to recover our development investment and the growth prospects and overall demand for our products will be adversely affected.
Increased indebtedness could restrict growth and adversely affect our financial health.
As of August 31, 2014, our debt on a consolidated basis was $371.3 million. A significant increase in the level of indebtedness could have significant consequences. For example, it could: 
limit our ability to satisfy current debt obligations;
increase interest expense due to the change in interest rates and increase in debt levels;
require us to dedicate a significant portion of cash flow to repay principal and pay interest on the debt, reducing the amount of funds that would be available to finance operations and other business activities;
impair our ability to obtain financing in the future for working capital, capital expenditures, research and development, or acquisitions;
make us vulnerable to economic downturns or adverse developments in our business or markets; and
place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to competitors with less debt.
We expect to pay expenses and to pay principal and interest on current and future debt from cash provided by operating activities. Therefore, our ability to meet these payment obligations will depend on future financial performance and regional cash availability, which is subject in part to numerous economic, business and financial factors beyond our control. If our cash flow and capital resources are insufficient to fund our debt obligations, we may be forced to reduce or delay expansion plans and capital expenditures, limit payment of dividends, sell material assets or operations, obtain additional capital or restructure our debt.
An impairment of goodwill would negatively impact our financial results.
At least annually, we perform an impairment test for goodwill. Under current accounting guidance, if the carrying value of goodwill exceeds the estimated fair value, impairment is deemed to have occurred and the carrying value of goodwill is written down to fair value with a charge against earnings. Accordingly, any determination requiring the write-off of a significant portion of goodwill could negatively impact the Company’s results of operations.
We may not have adequate or cost-effective liquidity or capital resources.
We require cash or committed liquidity facilities for business purposes, such as funding our ongoing working capital, acquisition, and capital expenditure needs, as well as to make interest payments on and to refinance indebtedness and pay taxes. As of August 31, 2014, we had cash and cash equivalents of $135.5 million. In addition, we currently have access to committed credit lines of $559.1 million, with $243.2 million available as of August 31, 2014. Our ability to satisfy our cash needs depends on our ability to generate cash from operations and to access the financial markets, both of which are subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory, and other factors that are beyond our control.
We may, in the future, need to access the financial markets to satisfy our cash needs. Our ability to obtain external financing is affected by various factors including general financial market conditions and our debt ratings. While, thus far, uncertainties in global credit markets have not significantly affected our access to capital, future financing could be difficult or more expensive. Further, any increase in our level of debt, change in status of our debt from unsecured to secured debt, or deterioration of our operating results may impact our ability to obtain favorable financing terms. Any tightening of credit availability could impair our ability to obtain additional financing or renew existing credit facilities on acceptable terms. Under the terms of any external financing, we may incur higher than expected financing expenses and become subject to additional restrictions and covenants. Our lack of access to cost-effective capital resources, an increase in our financing costs, or a breach of debt instrument covenants could have a material adverse effect on our business.

14


On September 24, 2013 the Company entered into a new $500 million Credit Agreement with certain financial institutions. The agreement consists of a $300 million credit facility and a $200 million term loan, replacing a previous $300 million revolving credit facility which was scheduled to expire in January 2016. The new Credit Agreement expires in September 2018.
If we are unable to retain key personnel or attract new skilled personnel, it could have an adverse effect on our business.
The unanticipated departure of any key member of our management team or employee base could have an adverse effect on our business. In addition, because of the specialized and technical nature of our business, our future performance is dependent on the continued service of, and on our ability to attract and retain, qualified management, scientific, technical, marketing and support personnel. Competition for such personnel is intense, and we may be unable to continue to attract or retain such personnel.
Our business depends upon good relations with our employees.
We may experience difficulties in maintaining appropriate relations with unions and employees in certain locations. About 45% of our employees are represented by labor unions. In addition, problems or changes affecting employees in certain locations may affect relations with our employees at other locations. The risk of labor disputes, work stoppages or other disruptions in production could adversely affect us. If we cannot successfully negotiate or renegotiate collective bargaining agreements, or if negotiations take an excessive amount of time, there may be a heightened risk of a prolonged work stoppage. Work stoppages may be caused by the inability of national unions and the governments of countries that the Company operates in from reaching agreement, and are outside the control of the Company. Any work stoppage could have a material adverse effect on the productivity and profitability of a manufacturing facility or on our operations as a whole.
A major failure or breach of our information systems could harm our business.
We currently depend upon numerous local and several regionally integrated information systems to process orders, respond to customer inquiries, manage inventory, purchase, sell and ship goods on a timely basis, maintain cost-efficient operations, prepare financial information and reports, and operate our website. We are also in the process of reviewing our global information system options to help strengthen common business practices including security and improve operational efficiency.
While we have a comprehensive security program that is continuously reviewed and upgraded, we may experience operating problems with our information systems as a result of system security failures such as viruses, cyber attacks, breaches or other causes. Theft of sensitive data and our inability to protect intellectual property could have an adverse effect on our business, customers, suppliers and employees. Additionally, any significant disruption or slowdown of our current or future information systems as a result of a system security failure could disrupt the flow of operational information, cause orders to be lost or delayed and could damage our reputation with our customers or cause our customers to cancel orders, any of which could adversely affect our financial results.
Other increases in operating costs could affect our profitability.
Scheduled or unscheduled maintenance programs could cause significant production outages, higher costs and/or reduced production capacity at our suppliers due to the industry in which they operate. These events could also affect our future profitability.
Although our pension and postretirement plans currently meet all applicable minimum funding requirements, events could occur that would require us to make significant contributions to the plans and reduce the cash available for our business.
We have several defined benefit pension and postretirement plans around the world in which a substantial portion of our employees participate in. We are required to make cash contributions to our pension plans to the extent necessary to comply with minimum funding requirements imposed by the various countries’ benefit and tax laws. The amount of any such required contributions will be determined annually based on an actuarial valuation of the plans as performed by our outside actuaries and as required by law. The amount we may elect or be required to contribute to our pension plans in the future may increase significantly. Specifically, if year-end accumulated obligations exceed assets, we may elect to make a voluntary contribution, over and above the minimum required. These contributions could be substantial and would reduce the cash available for our business.
Increasing cost of employee healthcare may decrease our profitability.
The cost of providing healthcare coverage for our employees is a significant operating cost for the Company. If healthcare costs increase at a rapid pace, we may not be able to or willing to pass on those costs to employees. Therefore, if we are unable to offset rising healthcare costs through improved operating efficiencies and reduced expenditures, the increased costs of employee healthcare may result in declining margins and operating results.

15


Risks Associated With Restructuring Initiatives
The inability to achieve, delays in achieving or achievement of less than the anticipated financial benefit from initiatives related to cost reductions and improving efficiencies could adversely affect our profitability.
From time to time, we undertake plans and initiatives that are expected to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. We could be unable to achieve, or may be delayed in achieving, some or all of the benefits from such initiatives because of limited resources or uncontrollable economic conditions. If these initiatives are not as successful as planned, the result could negatively impact our results of operations or financial condition. Additionally, even if we achieve these goals, we may not receive the expected benefits of the initiatives, or the costs of implementing these initiatives could exceed the related benefits.
We may incur significant charges in the event we close or relocate all or part of a manufacturing facility.
We periodically assess our manufacturing operations in order to manufacture and distribute our products in the most efficient manner. Based on our assessments, we may make capital improvements to modernize certain units, move manufacturing or distribution capabilities from one facility to another facility, discontinue manufacturing or distributing certain products or close all or part of a manufacturing facility. We also have shared services agreements at several of our facilities and if such agreements are terminated or revised, we would assess and potentially adjust our manufacturing operations. The closure or relocation of all or part of a manufacturing facility could create unintended challenges with production quality and result in future charges which could be significant.
Risks Associated With Acquisitions
We may experience difficulties in integrating acquired businesses, or acquisitions may not otherwise perform as expected.
During the past several fiscal years, we have acquired multiple businesses, and we may continue to acquire other businesses, intended to complement or expand our business. The successful integration of these acquisitions depends on our ability to manage the operations and personnel of the acquired businesses. Integrating operations is complex and requires significant efforts and expenses on the part of both the Company and the acquisitions. Personnel may voluntarily or involuntarily exit the Company because of the acquisitions. Our management team may have its attention diverted while trying to integrate the acquired companies. We may encounter obstacles when incorporating the acquired operations into our operations and management and achieving intended levels of manufacturing quality, or the acquired operations may not otherwise perform as expected or provide expected results. If such acquisitions are not integrated successfully or they do not perform as well as anticipated, our results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.
We may fail to realize all of the anticipated benefits of acquisitions, which could reduce our anticipated profitability.
We expect that our acquisitions will result in certain synergies, business opportunities and growth prospects, although we may not realize these expected synergies, business opportunities and growth prospects. Integrating operations is complex and requires significant efforts and expenses on the part of both the Company and the acquisitions. Personnel may voluntarily or involuntarily exit the Company because of the acquisitions. Our management team may have its attention diverted while trying to integrate the acquired companies. We may experience increased competition that limits our ability to expand our business. We may not be able to capitalize on expected business opportunities including successfully developing new geographic or product markets or retaining acquired current customers. Our assumptions underlying estimates of expected cost savings may be inaccurate or general industry and business conditions may deteriorate. In addition, our growth and operating strategies for acquired businesses may be different from the strategies that the acquired companies pursued. If these factors limit our ability to integrate or operate the acquired companies successfully or on a timely basis, our expectations of future results of operations, including certain cost savings and synergies expected to result from acquisitions, may not be met.
We may experience difficulties in identifying acquisitions that meet the objectives of our strategic plan and delays or other challenges in completing intended acquisitions and new ventures, particularly those in foreign jurisdictions.
We may acquire other businesses or form new ventures intended to complement or expand our business, both in the U.S. and in foreign jurisdictions, although, we may experience delays and other challenges in completing such acquisitions and ventures within our anticipated time frames which are difficult to predict, particularly in foreign jurisdictions. If such acquisitions or ventures are not completed within anticipated time frames, or are not completed successfully, our results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.

16


Risks Related to the Legal and Regulatory Environment
Extensive environmental, health and safety laws and regulations impact our operations and assets, and compliance, or lack of compliance, with these regulations could adversely affect our results of operations.
Our operations on and ownership of real property are subject to extensive environmental, health and safety laws and regulations at the national, state and local governmental levels. The nature of our business exposes us to risks of liability under these laws and regulations due to the production, storage, transportation, recycling or disposal and/or sale of materials that can cause contamination or personal injury if they are released into the environment or workplace. Environmental laws may have a significant effect on the costs of these activities involving inventory and wastes. We may incur substantial costs, including fines, damages, criminal or civil sanctions, remediation costs, or experience interruptions in our operations for violations of these laws.
Also, national and state environmental statutes impose strict, and under some circumstances, joint and several liability for the cost of investigations and remedial actions on any company that generated the waste, arranged for disposal of the waste, transported the waste to the disposal site or selected the disposal site, as well as on the owners and operators of these sites. Any or all of the responsible parties may be required to bear all of the costs of clean up, regardless of fault or legality of the waste disposal or ownership of the site, and may also be subject to liability for natural resource damages. It is possible that we could be identified as a potentially responsible party at various sites in the future, which could result in being assessed substantial investigation or clean-up costs.
Accruals for estimated costs, including, among other things, the ranges associated with our accruals for future environmental compliance and remediation may be too low or we may not be able to quantify the potential costs. We may be subject to additional environmental liabilities or potential liabilities that have not yet been identified. We expect that we will continue to be subject to increasingly stringent environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. We believe that compliance with these laws and regulations may, but does not currently, require significant capital expenditures and operating costs, which could adversely affect our results of operations or financial condition.
Our business and financial condition could be adversely affected if we are unable to protect our material trademarks, tradenames and other proprietary information.
We have numerous patents, trade secrets and know-how, domain names, trademarks and tradenames, which are discussed under ITEM 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Despite our efforts to protect our trademarks, tradenames and other proprietary rights from unauthorized use or disclosure, other parties, including our former employees or consultants, may attempt to disclose, obtain or use our proprietary information or marks without our authorization. Unauthorized use of our trademarks or tradenames, or unauthorized use or disclosure of our other intellectual property, could negatively impact our business and financial condition.
Changes in tax laws could have an adverse impact on our earnings.
Changes to tax laws, rules and regulations, including changes in the interpretation or implementation of tax laws, rules and regulations by the Internal Revenue Service or other domestic or foreign governmental bodies, could affect us in substantial and unpredictable ways. Such changes could subject us to additional compliance costs and tax liabilities which could have an adverse impact on our earnings. Recently, several proposals to reform U.S. tax laws to effectively increase the U.S. taxation of income with respect to foreign operations have been announced. Whether any such initiatives will win Congressional or executive approval and become law is presently unknown; however, if any such initiatives were to become law and apply to our international operations, there could be a material impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
Litigation from customers, employees or others could adversely affect our financial condition.
From time to time, we may be subject to claims or legal action from customers, employees or others. Whether these claims and legal actions are founded or unfounded, if these claims and legal actions are not resolved in our favor, they may result in significant financial liability and/or adversely affect market perception of the Company and our products. Any financial liability or reputation damage could have a material adverse effect on our business, which, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. The Company could also incur costs in connection with defending these possible claims and legal actions.
We may be required to adopt accounting or financial reporting standards, the ultimate adoption of such standards could negatively impact our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We could be required to adopt new or modified accounting or financial reporting standards that are different than current accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. The impact and cost of implementation of new standards could unfavorably impact our business, financial condition or results of operations.


17


ITEM 1B.
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
  
None.

ITEM 2.
PROPERTIES

The following table indicates the location of each of the Company’s 42 manufacturing facilities, the projected annual manufacturing capacity for fiscal 2015 and approximate floor area, including warehouse and office space and the segment that is principally supported by such plants as of August 31, 2014. The following locations are owned or leased by the Company: 
Location
Approximate
Annual
Capacity (lbs.)(1)
 
Approximate
Floor Area
(Square Feet)
 
(In thousands)
Akron, Ohio
71,600

(2)
 
236

North Canton, Ohio
4,800

  
 
48

Stryker, Ohio
25,000

 
 
107

Allentown, Pennsylvania
29,000

  
 
128

Fontana, California
40,000

  
 
46

East Chicago, Indiana
68,000

 
 
73

Plymouth, Indiana
6,000

 
 
42

Evansville, Indiana
53,000

 
 
189

Grand Junction, Tennessee
18,000

  
 
88

China, Texas
100,000

  
 
137

La Porte, Texas
294,000

  
 
252

Worcester, Massachusetts
43,800

 
 
216

Franklin, Tennessee
5,500

 
 
55

Carpentersville, Illinois
10,000

 
 
118

Contagem, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
14,300

  
 
26

Sumare, Brazil
41,400

 
 
241

Buenos Aires, Argentina
19,200

  
 
31

San Luis Potosi, Mexico
102,000

  
 
187

Total Americas Segment
945,600

  
 
2,220

Bornem, Belgium
147,200

  
 
455

Opglabbeek, Belgium
6,300

  
 
34

Givet, France
241,000

  
 
241

Beaucaire, France
43,900

  
 
76

Montereau, France
51,700

  
 
57

Bellignat, France
13,900

 
 
92

Savigny, France
17,600

 
 
27

Kerpen, Germany
130,400

  
 
653

Budapest, Hungary
600

  
 
45

Gorla Maggiore, Italy
76,900

  
 
166

s-Gravendeel, The Netherlands
88,200

  
 
172

Nowa Biala, Poland
4,100

  
 
49

Gainsborough, United Kingdom
57,600

  
 
68


18


Crumlin Gwent, South Wales, United Kingdom
22,800

  
 
106

Warrington, United Kingdom
44,100

 
 
67

Astorp, Sweden
6,300

  
 
27

Castellon, Spain
34,300

 
 
108

Total EMEA Segment
986,900

  
 
2,443

Batu Pahat, Malaysia
68,800

  
 
62

Johor, Malaysia
48,500

 
 
120

Guangdong Province, China
64,800

  
 
112

East Java, Indonesia
37,000

  
 
136

Vadodara, India
14,500

 
 
491

Total APAC Segment
233,600

  
 
921

Total
2,166,100

  
 
5,584


The Company considers each of the foregoing facilities to be in good condition and suitable for its purposes. Approximate annual capacity amounts may fluctuate as a result of capital expenditures or lean process initiatives to increase capacity, a shutdown of certain equipment to reduce capacity or permanent changes in mix which could increase or decrease capacity.
 
(1)
The approximate annual capacity for fiscal 2015 set forth in this table is an estimate of practical capacity that is based upon several factors. It is determined as the production level at which the manufacturing facilities can operate with an acceptable degree of efficiency, taking into consideration factors such as longer term customer demand, permanent staffing levels, operating shifts, holidays, scheduled maintenance and mix of product. Capacity utilization is calculated by dividing actual production pounds by practical capacity at each plant.

The annual poundage of plastic compounds manufactured does not, in itself, reflect the extent of utilization of the Company’s plants or the profitability of the plastic compounds produced. 

(2)
Akron, Ohio includes three manufacturing facilities: Akron plant, Innovation and Collaboration Center and Network Polymers.

Public warehouses are used wherever needed to store the Company’s products to best service the needs of customers. The number of public warehouses in use varies from time to time. Currently, the Company utilizes approximately 60 warehouses worldwide. The Company believes an adequate supply of suitable public warehouse facilities is available.

The Company leases its corporate headquarters, which is located in Fairlawn, Ohio and contains approximately 34,000 square feet. The Company also leases sales and administrative offices in various locations globally.
 
ITEM 3.
LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

In the normal course of business, the Company is at times subject to pending and threatened legal actions, some for which the relief or damages sought may be substantial. Although the Company is not able to predict the outcome of such actions, after reviewing all pending and threatened actions with counsel and based on information currently available, management believes that the outcome of such actions, individually or in the aggregate, will not have a material adverse effect on the results of operations or financial position of the Company. However, it is possible that the ultimate resolution of such matters, if unfavorable, may be material to the results of operations in a particular future period as the time and amount of any resolution of such actions and its relationship to the future results of operations are not currently known.

Reserves are established for legal claims only when losses associated with the claims are judged to be probable, and the loss can be reasonably estimated. In many lawsuits and arbitrations, it is not considered probable that a liability has been incurred or not possible to estimate the ultimate or minimum amount of that liability until the case is close to resolution, in which case no reserve would be recognized until that time.
 

19


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
 
The Company’s common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “SHLM.” At October 15, 2014, there were 569 holders of record of the Company’s common stock. This figure does not include beneficial owners who hold shares in nominee name. The closing stock price on October 15, 2014 was $29.95.
The quarterly high and low closing stock prices are presented in the table below: 
 
Fiscal 2014
 
Fiscal 2013
Common stock price range
High - Low
 
High - Low
1st Quarter
$34.53 - 27.27
 
$26.40 - 23.14
2nd Quarter
$35.50 - 32.21
 
$33.03 - 25.88
3rd Quarter
$37.26 - 33.42
 
$32.72 - 24.82
4th Quarter
$42.01 - 34.16
 
$28.83 - 25.73

The quarterly cash dividends declared are presented in the table below: 
Cash dividends per share
Fiscal 2014
 
Fiscal 2013
1st Quarter
$
0.200

 
$
0.195

2nd Quarter
0.200

 
0.195

3rd Quarter
0.200

 
0.195

4th Quarter
0.200

 
0.195

Total
$
0.800

 
$
0.780


On April 3, 2014, the Board of Directors approved a new share repurchase program under which the Company is authorized to repurchase up to $55 million of its common stock in the open market or in privately negotiated transactions, subject to market and other conditions (the “Program”). Repurchases under the Program may take place over a three-year period ending April 2, 2017, when the Program is scheduled to expire. During fiscal 2014, the Company did not repurchase any shares of common stock under the Program, which may be modified, suspended or terminated by the Company at any time. The Program replaces the Company’s previous share repurchase program, which was authorized on April 1, 2011 and expired on March 31, 2014.

In fiscal 2014, the Company repurchased 40,327 shares of common stock under the previous share repurchase program at an average price of $27.68 per share for a total cost of $1.1 million. In total under the previous program, the Company acquired 2,192,612 shares at an average price of $20.33 per share.







20


ITEM 6.
SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
 
 
Year Ended August 31,
 
2014(1)
 
2013(1),(2)
 
2012(1),(2)
 
2011(2)
 
2010(2)
 
(In thousands, except per share data)
Net sales
$
2,446,998

 
$
2,133,402

 
$
2,081,272

 
$
2,159,053

 
$
1,577,180

Cost of sales
2,116,990

 
1,852,223

 
1,802,029

 
1,868,443

 
1,340,134

Other costs and expenses
258,396

 
228,159

 
214,434

 
227,024

 
197,072

Interest and other income
(720
)
 
(712
)
 
(2,018
)
 
(2,553
)
 
(3,739
)
Total costs and expenses, net
2,374,666

 
2,079,670

 
2,014,445

 
2,092,914

 
1,533,467

Income from continuing operations before taxes
72,332

 
53,732

 
66,827

 
66,139

 
43,713

Provision (benefit) for U.S. and foreign income taxes
18,542

 
19,733

 
13,918

 
15,764

 
(4,218
)
Income from continuing operations
53,790

 
33,999

 
52,909

 
50,375

 
47,931

Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of tax
3,202

 
(6,671
)
 
(860
)
 
(8,690
)
 
(3,820
)
Net income
56,992

 
27,328

 
52,049

 
41,685

 
44,111

Noncontrolling interests
(799
)
 
(1,229
)
 
(1,162
)
 
(689
)
 
(221
)
Net income attributable to A. Schulman, Inc.
$
56,193

 
$
26,099

 
$
50,887

 
$
40,996

 
$
43,890

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total assets
$
1,512,484

 
$
1,238,342

 
$
1,193,767

 
$
1,239,987

 
$
1,071,315

Long-term debt
$
339,546

 
$
207,435

 
$
174,466

 
$
184,598

 
$
93,834

Total equity
$
536,451

 
$
514,744

 
$
507,689

 
$
554,305

 
$
493,140

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Weighted-average number of shares outstanding:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Basic
29,061

 
29,260

 
29,389

 
30,978

 
27,746

Diluted
29,362

 
29,337

 
29,549

 
31,141

 
27,976

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Basic earnings per share attributable to A. Schulman, Inc.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Income from continuing operations
$
1.82

 
$
1.12

 
$
1.76

 
$
1.60

 
$
1.72

Income (loss) from discontinued operations
0.11

 
(0.23
)
 
(0.03
)
 
(0.28
)
 
(0.14
)
Net income (loss) attributable to A. Schulman, Inc.
$
1.93

 
$
0.89

 
$
1.73

 
$
1.32

 
$
1.58

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Diluted earnings per share attributable to A. Schulman, Inc.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Income from continuing operations
$
1.80

 
$
1.12

 
$
1.75

 
$
1.60

 
$
1.71

Income (loss) from discontinued operations
0.11

 
(0.23
)
 
(0.03
)
 
(0.28
)
 
(0.14
)
Net income (loss) attributable to A. Schulman, Inc.
$
1.91

 
$
0.89

 
$
1.72

 
$
1.32

 
$
1.57

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cash dividends per common share
$
0.80

 
$
0.78

 
$
0.72

 
$
0.62

 
$
0.60

 
(1) 
For additional information, see ITEM 7, MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

(2) Certain items previously reported in specific financial statement captions have been reclassified to conform to the 2014 presentation.

21


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 (“MD&A”) is intended to help investors understand our results of operations, financial condition and current business environment. The MD&A is provided as a supplement to, and should be read in conjunction with, our consolidated financial statements and related notes included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2014. The MD&A is organized as follows:

Overview: From management’s point of view, we discuss the following:

Summary of our business and the markets in which we operate;
Key trends, developments and challenges; and
Significant events during the current fiscal year.

Results of Operations: An analysis of our results of operations as reflected in our consolidated financial statements. Throughout this MD&A, the Company provides operating results for continuing operations exclusive of certain items such as costs related to acquisitions, restructuring and related expenses and asset write-downs, which are considered relevant to aid analysis and understanding of the Company’s results and business trends.

Critical Accounting Policies: An overview of accounting policies identified by the Company as critical that, as a result of the judgments, uncertainties, and the operations involved, could result in material changes to its financial condition or results of operations under different conditions or using different assumptions.

Liquidity and Capital Resources: An analysis of our cash flows, working capital, debt structure, contractual obligations and other commercial commitments.

Overview

Business Summary

A. Schulman, Inc. is a leading international supplier of high-performance plastic compounds and resins headquartered in Fairlawn, Ohio. The Company’s customers span a wide range of markets such as packaging, mobility, building & construction, electronics & electrical, agriculture, personal care & hygiene, custom services, and sports, home & leisure. The Chief Operating Decision Maker makes decisions, assesses performance and allocates resources by the following regions which represent our reportable segments:

Europe, Middle East and Africa ("EMEA"),
Americas, and
Asia Pacific ("APAC").

The Company has approximately 3,900 employees and 42 manufacturing facilities worldwide. Globally, the Company operates in five product families: (1) custom performance colors, (2) masterbatch solutions, (3) engineered plastics, (4) specialty powders and (5) distribution services. The Company offers tolling services to customers primarily in the specialty powders product family.

Key Trends, Developments and Challenges

We continue the execution of our growth strategy, which is a set of initiatives aimed at increasing our ability to leverage our innovative products into different geographic markets and explore adjacent markets and applications in order to improve the profitability of the Company's product mix and sales volume.

The following present opportunities and challenges as we work toward our goal of providing attractive returns for all of our stakeholders:

Cross Selling. We engage in the cross selling of our products through the collaborative efforts and training of our sales teams. We encourage cross selling between different product families and promote cross regional sales to better service our valued customers.


22


Development of New Products. We are dedicated to the development of new, higher-margin products and applications that optimize the appearance, performance, and processing of plastics to meet our customers' specifications. We strive to maintain a balanced position between low-cost production and technological leadership with focused application development. We are also committed to continuing our growth in high value-added markets and reducing our exposure to commodity markets. We look to enhance our efforts through strategic collaborations with leading innovators in key markets.

Innovation Centers. We have four global innovation centers located in Belgium, Germany, Mexico and the United States which promote collaborative partnerships between A. Schulman and our customers, suppliers, universities and other technical organizations. These innovation centers enable us to undertake research and development activities that align our technical and product development capabilities with the emerging needs of our customers and end markets.

Adjacent Markets. We are committed to identifying and pursuing adjacent markets, such as personal care and cosmetics, for our products that have sustainable growth opportunities.

Purchasing and Pricing. We pursue opportunities to continue our savings on purchasing and to optimize pricing strategies and vendor payment terms. We continue to leverage our global volume base to enhance savings and identify alternate supply sources.

Continuous Improvement. The Company's Six Sigma Black Belt and Green Belt associates continue to look for ways to improve our processes and optimize our performance. We remain determined to control and manage our selling, general and administrative expenses, especially in developed markets.

Acquisitions and Joint Ventures. We continue to seek acquisitions and joint ventures that are within our specialty plastics business to leverage our product innovation, technical know-how and market knowledge. We will also continue to explore opportunities for transformational acquisitions that will transition us into a premier specialty chemical company.

Significant Events

The following items represent significant events during fiscal year 2014:

1.
Share Repurchases. On April 3, 2014, the Board of Directors approved a new share repurchase program under which the Company is authorized to repurchase up to $55 million of its common stock. During fiscal 2014, the Company did not repurchase any shares of common stock under this new Program. Under the previous share repurchase program, the Company repurchased 40,327 shares of common stock at an average price of $27.68 per share for a total cost of $1.1 million in fiscal 2014.

2.
Business Acquisitions. On September 2, 2013, the Company acquired the Perrite Group, a thermoplastics manufacturer with business in niche engineered plastics and custom color with operations in Malaysia, the United Kingdom and France, for $51.3 million, net of cash.

On December 2, 2013, the Company completed the acquisition of Network Polymers, a niche engineered plastics compounding business with operations in Akron, Ohio for $49.2 million.

On December 31, 2013, the Company acquired Prime Colorants, a leading manufacturer of custom color and additive concentrates in Franklin, Tennessee, for $15.1 million.

On July 1, 2014, the Company acquired the majority of the assets of the specialty plastics business from Ferro Corporation ("Specialty Plastics" acquisition) for $91 million which includes four facilities located in the U.S. and one facility located in Spain.

3.
Sale of Australia Business. The Company completed the sale of its rotational compounding business in Australia on September 3, 2013. The operating results for this business were previously included in the Company's specialty powders product family within the APAC segment and are reported as discontinued operations.
    
4.
Credit Agreement. On September 24, 2013, the Company entered into a new $500 million Credit Agreement. The
agreement consists of a $300 million Revolving Facility and a $200 million Term Loan Facility, replacing a previous

23


$300 million revolving credit facility, and offers increased borrowing capacity and improved terms and covenants. The agreement expires in September 2018.

5.
Long-term Growth Targets. On April 10, 2014, the Company hosted an Investor Day where the Company introduced
several new long-term financial targets, which are based largely on the Company's expectations for continued success with its organic growth initiatives and acquisition strategy, combined with our financial strength and the growth potential of our global markets. The adjusted earnings per share target for fiscal 2018 is $4.50 to $4.75 per diluted share.

6.
Appointment of President and Chief Executive Officer. On June 19, 2014, the Company's Board of Directors named Bernard Rzepka as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, effective January 2015. In addition, the Board nominated Joseph M. Gingo to continue as the Chairman of the Board after his retirement as President and Chief Executive Officer. The nomination of Mr. Gingo as Chairman of the Board is subject to his re-election as a director by shareholders at the Company's annual meeting in December 2014.

The following items represent significant events during early fiscal 2015:

1.
Business Acquisition. On September 2, 2014, the Company acquired Compco Pty. Ltd., a manufacturer of masterbatches and custom colors in Melbourne, Australia for $6.7 million.

2.
Dividend Activities. In October 2014, the Company increased its regular quarterly cash dividend by 2.5% to $0.205 per common share. This reflected the Company's confidence in its ability to generate cash and its long-term growth prospects, along with a continued commitment to shareholders

3.
Restructuring Plan. In October 2014, the Company announced actions to optimize the back-office and support functions in EMEA. The Company expects to reduce headcount by approximately 40 and realize annual savings of approximately $4 million on completion of these actions.

Results of Operations

FISCAL YEAR 2014 COMPARED WITH FISCAL YEAR 2013

The Company uses net sales to unaffiliated customers, gross profit and operating income before certain items in order to make decisions, assess performance and allocate resources to each segment. The following discussion regarding the Company’s segment gross profit and operating income does not include items such as interest income or expense, other income or expense, foreign currency transaction gains or losses, restructuring and related expenses including accelerated depreciation, asset impairments, or costs and inventory step-up charges related to business acquisitions. Corporate expenses include the compensation of certain personnel, certain audit expenses, Board of Directors related costs, certain insurance costs, costs associated with being a publicly traded entity and other miscellaneous legal and professional fees. For a reconciliation of segment operating income to operating income and income from continuing operations before taxes, please refer to Note 13 of the consolidated financial statements within this Form 10-K.
Segment Information
  
Year Ended August 31,
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Favorable (unfavorable)
EMEA
2014
 
2013
 
Increase (decrease)
 
FX Impact
 
Excluding FX
 
(In thousands, except for %’s and per pound data)
Pounds sold
1,262,027

 
1,167,603

 
94,424

 
8.1
%
 
 
 
 
Net sales
$
1,577,867

 
$
1,405,882

 
$
171,985

 
12.2
%
 
$
53,072

 
8.5
%
Segment gross profit
$
206,268

 
$
179,242

 
$
27,026

 
15.1
%
 
$
6,890

 
11.2
%
Segment gross profit percentage
13.1
%
 
12.7
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Segment operating income
$
80,690

 
$
67,320

 
$
13,370

 
19.9
%
 
$
2,556

 
16.1
%
Price per pound
$
1.250

 
$
1.204

 
$
0.046

 
3.8
%
 
$
0.042

 
0.3
%
Segment operating income per pound
$
0.064

 
$
0.058

 
$
0.006

 
10.3
%
 
$
0.002

 
6.9
%


24


EMEA net sales for the year ended August 31, 2014 were $1,577.9 million, an increase of $172.0 million or 12.2%, compared with the prior year. Excluding the favorable impact of foreign currency translation of $53.1 million, net sales increased $118.9 million. During fiscal 2014, the incremental contribution of the Perrite and Specialty Plastics acquisitions was $93.2 million and 60.8 million pounds in net sales and volume, respectively. Excluding acquisitions and foreign currency translation, organic sales increased $25.7 million, primarily driven by volume increases in all product families.

EMEA gross profit was $206.3 million for the year ended August 31, 2014, an increase of $27.0 million over prior year. The improvement over prior year was due to the positive contribution of the Perrite and Specialty Plastics acquisitions combined with the favorable impact of foreign currency translation of $6.9 million and organic growth across nearly all product families.

EMEA operating income for the year ended August 31, 2014 was $80.7 million, an increase of $13.4 million compared with the prior year. The increase in segment operating income in fiscal 2014 was primarily due to the aforementioned increase in segment gross profit, benefits from prior restructuring activities of $3.8 million and a reduction of bad debt expense of $1.8 million. Partially offsetting these items were incremental SG&A expenses from acquisitions of $5.0 million and increased variable incentive compensation and a government regulated increase in annual salaries of $5.4 million, and increased promotional trade show activities of $0.9 million. Foreign currency translation negatively impacted EMEA SG&A expense by $4.3 million. Segment operating income per pound increased $0.006 to $0.064 per pound primarily due to increased price per pound, partially offset by increased SG&A expense.
 
Year Ended August 31,
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Favorable (unfavorable)
Americas
2014
 
2013
 
Increase (decrease)
 
FX Impact
 
Excluding FX
 
(In thousands, except for %’s and per pound data)
Pounds sold
669,017

 
653,914

 
15,103

 
2.3
%
 
 
 
 
Net sales
$
673,363

 
$
600,824

 
$
72,539

 
12.1
%
 
$
(14,358
)
 
14.5
%
Segment gross profit
$
99,517

 
$
81,315

 
$
18,202

 
22.4
%
 
$
(1,678
)
 
24.4
%
Segment gross profit percentage
14.8
%
 
13.5
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Segment operating income
$
38,806

 
$
28,351

 
$
10,455

 
36.9
%
 
$
(522
)
 
38.7
%
Price per pound
$
1.006

 
$
0.919

 
$
0.087

 
9.5
%
 
$
(0.022
)
 
11.9
%
Segment operating income per pound
$
0.058

 
$
0.043

 
$
0.015

 
34.9
%
 
$
(0.001
)
 
37.2
%

Net sales for the Americas for the years ended August 31, 2014 and 2013 were $673.4 million and $600.8 million, respectively, an increase of $72.5 million or 12.1%. Incremental net sales and volume from the Network Polymers, Prime Colorants and the Specialty Plastics acquisitions were $70.2 million and 46.7 million pounds for the year ended August 31, 2014, respectively. Excluding acquisitions, selling price per pound increased in all product families, while volume declined across all product families partially driven by the continued execution of the Company’s strategy to increase specialty product sales and shift away from less profitable commodity sales.

Americas gross profit was $99.5 million for the year ended August 31, 2014, an increase of $18.2 million from the prior year. The benefits of prior restructuring initiatives of $1.5 million, as well as recent acquisitions and improved mix were partially offset by increased variable incentive compensation of $1.6 million and $1.7 million of unfavorable foreign currency translation.
 
Americas operating income for the year ended August 31, 2014 was $38.8 million compared with $28.4 million last year. Segment operating income benefited from the increase in segment gross profit, offset by increases in SG&A expense from recent acquisitions of $4.8 million and higher variable incentive compensation expense of $2.1 million. Foreign currency translation negatively impacted the Americas operating income by $0.5 million.

25


 
Year Ended August 31,
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Favorable (unfavorable)
APAC
2014
 
2013
 
Increase (decrease)
 
FX Impact
 
Excluding FX
 
(In thousands, except for %’s and per pound data)
Pounds sold
153,899

 
95,994

 
57,905

 
60.3
 %
 
 
 
 
Net sales
$
195,768

 
$
126,696

 
$
69,072

 
54.5
 %
 
$
(649
)
 
55.0
 %
Segment gross profit
$
26,767

 
$
22,345

 
$
4,422

 
19.8
 %
 
$
(57
)
 
20.0
 %
Segment gross profit per pound
13.7
%
 
17.6
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Segment operating income
$
12,527

 
$
12,108

 
$
419

 
3.5
 %
 
$
131

 
2.4
 %
Price per pound
$
1.272

 
$
1.320

 
$
(0.048
)
 
(3.6
)%
 
$
(0.004
)
 
(3.3
)%
Segment operating income per pound
$
0.081

 
$
0.126

 
$
(0.045
)
 
(35.7
)%
 
$

 
(35.7
)%

Net sales for APAC for the year ended August 31, 2014 were $195.8 million, an increase of $69.1 million or 54.5%. During fiscal 2014, the Perrite acquisition in APAC provided net sales and volume of $53.6 million and 40.3 million pounds, respectively. Excluding the Perrite acquisition, volumes increased across all product families, partially offset by decreased price per pound driven by competitive pricing pressures primarily in the masterbatch solutions product family. Foreign currency translation unfavorably impacted net sales by $0.6 million.

APAC gross profit for the year ended August 31, 2014 was $26.8 million, an increase of $4.4 million compared with last year. Segment gross profit benefited from the positive contribution of the Perrite acquisition. The APAC gross profit percentage declined as a result of product mix and the competitive pricing pressures, as noted above.

APAC operating income for the year ended August 31, 2014 was $12.5 million, compared with $12.1 million last year. The increase in segment operating income was primarily due to the increased segment gross profit and favorable foreign currency translation, partially offset by incremental SG&A expenses from the Perrite acquisition of $2.3 million.
 
Year Ended August 31,
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Favorable (unfavorable)
Consolidated
2014
 
2013
 
Increase (decrease)
 
FX Impact
 
Excluding FX
 
(In thousands, except for %’s and per pound data)
Pounds sold
2,084,943

 
1,917,511

 
167,432

 
8.7
%
 
 
 
 
Net sales
$
2,446,998

 
$
2,133,402

 
$
313,596

 
14.7
%
 
$
38,065

 
12.9
%
Operating income
$
82,321

 
$
63,103

 
$
19,218

 
30.5
%
 
$
2,135

 
27.1
%
Total operating income before certain items*
$
99,853

 
$
82,853

 
$
17,000

 
20.5
%
 
$
2,165

 
17.9
%
Price per pound
$
1.174

 
$
1.113

 
$
0.061

 
5.5
%
 
$
0.019

 
3.8
%
Total operating income per pound before certain items*
$
0.048

 
$
0.043

 
$
0.005

 
11.6
%
 
$
0.001

 
9.3
%

* Total operating income before certain items represents segment operating income combined with Corporate and other operating expenses. For a reconciliation of segment operating income to operating income and income from continuing operations before taxes, refer to Note 13 of the consolidated financial statements within this Form 10-K.

Consolidated net sales for the year ended August 31, 2014 were $2,447.0 million, an increase of $313.6 million, or 14.7%, compared with the same prior year period. Incremental net sales and volume from the Company’s recent acquisitions contributed $217.0 million and 147.8 million pounds, respectively, for the year ended August 31, 2014. Excluding the impact of recent acquisitions, net sales were positively impacted by a 3.5% increase in price per pound and 1.0% increase in volume. Foreign currency translation favorably impacted net sales for the year ended August 31, 2014 by $38.1 million.

Operating income increased $19.2 million for the year ended August 31, 2014 compared to the prior year. Total operating income, before certain items, for the year ended August 31, 2014 was $99.9 million, an increase of $17.0 million compared with last fiscal year. The increase in both operating income and total operating income, before certain items, was primarily due to increased gross profit across all segments, partially offset by the increased SG&A expense noted below. Recent acquisitions contributed $12.3 million of operating income, before certain items.


26


Excluding $9.8 million and $5.4 million of acquisition and restructuring related costs for the years ended August 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively, the Company’s SG&A expenses increased $32.7 million for the year ended August 31, 2014 compared with the prior year. The increase was primarily attributable to incremental SG&A expense of $12.1 million from recent acquisitions, higher variable incentive compensation expense of $11.5 million and unfavorable foreign currency translation of $3.0 million. The increase in variable incentive compensation expense consists of $6.2 million of annual performance-based cash bonus primarily impacting the regions and $5.3 million of long-term incentive compensation primarily impacting Corporate.

Additional consolidated results

Interest expense, net of interest income, increased $1.1 million for the year ended August 31, 2014, as compared with the prior year primarily related to increased borrowings for recent acquisitions.

Foreign currency transaction gains or losses represent changes in the value of currencies in major areas where the Company operates. The Company experienced foreign currency transaction losses of $2.2 million and $2.4 million for the years ended August 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively. Foreign currency losses related to the Argentine peso from the Company's consolidated venture in Argentina were $1.6 million and were primarily related to the remeasurement of non-functional currency liabilities. The Argentine peso weakened against the US dollar by 48% during the year. The impact of these losses on net income attributable to the Company is reduced in proportion to the equity held by noncontrolling interests in the venture, or $0.8 million for the year ended August 31, 2014.

Generally, the foreign currency transaction gains or losses relate to the changes in the value of the U.S. dollar compared with the Euro and other local currencies throughout all regions, and also changes between the Euro and other non-Euro European currencies. The Company may enter into foreign exchange forward contracts to reduce the impact of changes in foreign exchange rates on the consolidated statements of operations. These contracts reduce exposure to currency movements affecting the remeasurement of foreign currency denominated assets and liabilities primarily related to trade receivables and payables, as well as intercompany activities. Any gains or losses associated with these contracts, as well as the offsetting gains or losses from the underlying assets or liabilities, are recognized on the foreign currency transaction line in the consolidated statements of operations. There were no foreign exchange forward contracts designated as hedging instruments as of August 31, 2014 and 2013.

Other income for the year ended August 31, 2014 was $0.4 million, compared with other income of $0.2 for the year ended August 31, 2013. In both fiscal 2014 and 2013, there were no individually significant transactions.

Noncontrolling interests represent a 37% equity position of Alta Plastica S.A. in an Argentinean venture with the Company and a 35% equity position of P.T. Prima Polycon Indah in an Indonesian joint venture with the Company.

Net income attributable to the Company’s common stockholders was $56.2 million and $26.1 million for the years ended August 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively. Foreign currency translation had a favorable impact on net income of $3.0 million for the year ended August 31, 2014.

Product Family

The consolidated net sales for the Company's five product families are as follows:
 
Year Ended August 31,
 
2014
 
2013
 
(In thousands, except for %’s)
Custom performance colors
$
174,007

 
7
%
 
$
150,890

 
7
%
Masterbatch solutions
805,798

 
33

 
781,770

 
37

Engineered plastics

745,493

 
31

 
534,777

 
25

Specialty powders
350,510

 
14

 
308,619

 
14

Distribution services
371,190

 
15

 
357,346

 
17

Total consolidated net sales
$
2,446,998

 
100
%
 
$
2,133,402

 
100
%

Fiscal 2013 includes a reclassification of revenue between product families to better reflect the way the businesses are managed.


27


Capacity

The Company’s practical capacity is not based on a theoretical 24-hour, seven-day operation, rather it is determined as the production level at which the manufacturing facilities can operate with an acceptable degree of efficiency, taking into consideration factors such as longer term customer demand, permanent staffing levels, operating shifts, holidays, scheduled maintenance and mix of product. Capacity utilization is calculated by dividing actual production pounds by practical capacity at each plant. A comparison of capacity utilization levels is as follows: 
 
Years ended August 31,
 
2014
 
2013
EMEA
82
%
 
77
%
Americas
65
%
 
67
%
APAC
70
%
 
68
%
Worldwide
73
%
 
72
%

Restructuring

Consolidated Restructuring Summary

The following table summarizes the activity related to the Company’s restructuring plans: 
 
Employee-related Costs
 
Other Costs
 
Translation Effect
 
Total Restructuring Costs
 
(In thousands)
Accrual balance as of August 31, 2012
$
3,524

 
$
381

 
$
(539
)
 
$
3,366

Fiscal 2013 charges
8,669

 
1,831

 

 
10,500

Fiscal 2013 payments
(6,747
)
 
(1,812
)
 

 
(8,559
)
Translation

 

 
42

 
42

Accrual balance as of August 31, 2013
$
5,446

 
$
400

 
$
(497
)
 
$
5,349

Fiscal 2014 charges
2,223

 
2,660

 

 
4,883

Fiscal 2014 payments
(5,924
)
 
(2,689
)
 

 
(8,613
)
Translation

 

 
193

 
193

Accrual balance as of August 31, 2014
$
1,745

 
$
371

 
$
(304
)
 
$
1,812


See Note 15 of the consolidated financial statements within this Form 10-K for further details regarding the Company's restructuring activities.

Asset Impairment

The Company recorded $0.1 million and $1.9 million in pretax asset impairment charges during the years ended August 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively.

During fiscal 2014 and 2013, the Company recorded asset impairment charges of $0.1 million and $0.5 million, respectively, related to a reduction in the carrying value of one of the Company’s facilities in Oyonnax, France, which was held for sale as of August 31, 2014 and 2013. The impairment charges were determined based on the estimated sales value of the facility less the estimated costs to sell utilizing information provided by a third-party real estate valuation source using the market approach. During early fiscal 2015, the Company sold this facility to a third-party for $0.6 million, which approximated its carrying value.

During fiscal 2013 and 2012, the Company recorded asset impairment charges of $1.4 million and $2.7 million related to a reduction in the carrying value of the Company's facility in Verolanuova, Italy using comparable prices for similar facilities provided by a third-party real estate valuation source using the market approach. During fiscal 2014, the Company sold this facility to a third-party for $1.5 million, which approximated its carrying value.

Refer to Note 19 of the consolidated financial statements within this Form 10-K for the discussion on impairment charges included in discontinued operations.


28


Income Tax

A reconciliation of the statutory U.S. federal income tax rate with the effective tax rates is as follows:
 
Year Ended August 31,
 
2014
 
2013
 
(In thousands, except for %’s)
U.S. statutory federal income tax rate
$
25,316

 
35.0
 %
 
$
18,806

 
35.0
 %
Amount of foreign taxes at less than U.S. statutory federal income tax rate
(13,602
)
 
(18.8
)
 
(9,189
)
 
(17.1
)
U.S. and foreign losses with no tax benefit
4,899

 
6.8

 
5,826

 
10.8

U.S. restructuring and other U.S. charges with no benefit
3,010

 
4.2

 
1,704

 
3.2

Valuation allowance charges

 

 
2,361

 
4.4

Establishment (resolution) of uncertain tax positions
(121
)
 
(0.2
)
 
(84
)
 
(0.2
)
Other
(960
)
 
(1.3
)
 
309

 
0.6

Provision (benefit) for U.S. and foreign income taxes
$
18,542

 
25.7
 %
 
$
19,733

 
36.7
 %

The effective tax rate for the year ended August 31, 2014 was less than the U.S. statutory federal income tax rate primarily because of the Company’s overall foreign rate being less than the U.S. statutory federal income tax rate. This favorable effect of the Company’s tax rate was partially offset by no tax benefits being recognized for U.S. restructuring and other U.S. charges and certain foreign losses. The change in the effective tax rate compared with the same period last year was driven primarily by lower U.S. and foreign losses with no benefit in fiscal 2014 as well as the valuation allowance established in the second quarter of fiscal 2013 against the net operating loss deferred tax asset of the Company’s Brazilian entity due to the uncertainty in the realization of this asset.

The effective tax rate for the year ended August 31, 2013 is greater than the U.S. statutory rate primarily because of no tax benefits being recognized for U.S. and certain foreign losses, realization of tax charges due to changes in valuation allowances, and U.S. restructuring and other U.S. charges with no benefit. These unfavorable effects of the Company tax rate were partially offset by the Company’s overall foreign rate being less than the U.S. statutory rate.

FISCAL YEAR 2013 COMPARED WITH FISCAL YEAR 2012

Segment Information
 
Year ended August 31,
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Favorable (unfavorable)
EMEA
2013
 
2012
 
Increase (decrease)
 
FX Impact
 
Excluding FX
 
(In thousands, except for %’s and per pound data)
Pounds sold
1,167,603

 
1,174,515

 
(6,912
)
 
(0.6
)%
 
 
 
 
Net sales
$
1,405,882

 
$
1,403,151

 
$
2,731

 
0.2
 %
 
$
4,226

 
(0.1
)%
Segment gross profit
$
179,242

 
$
175,669

 
$
3,573

 
2.0
 %
 
$
359

 
1.8
 %
Segment gross profit percentage
12.7
%
 
12.5
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Segment operating income
$
67,320

 
$
71,849

 
$
(4,529
)
 
(6.3
)%
 
$
39

 
(6.4
)%
Price per pound
$
1.204

 
$
1.195

 
$
0.009

 
0.8
 %
 
$
0.004

 
0.4
 %
Segment operating income per pound
$
0.058

 
$
0.061

 
$
(0.003
)
 
(4.9
)%
 
$

 
(4.9
)%

EMEA net sales for the year ended August 31, 2013 were $1,405.9 million, an increase of $2.7 million or 0.2%, compared with the prior year. Excluding the favorable impact of foreign currency translation of $4.2 million, net sales decreased $1.5 million which was impacted by reduced volume, primarily in the specialty powders and engineered plastics product families due to the weak economic environment in Europe. During fiscal 2013, the incremental contribution of the Elian acquisition was $18.5 million and 5.9 million pounds in net sales and volume, respectively.

EMEA gross profit was $179.2 million for the year ended August 31, 2013, an increase of $3.6 million over prior year. The positive contribution of the Elian acquisition combined with the favorable impact of foreign currency translation of $0.4 million was partially offset by the challenging economic environment in Europe.

29



EMEA operating income for the year ended August 31, 2013 was $67.3 million, a decrease of $4.5 million compared with the prior year. The decrease in segment operating income in fiscal 2013 was primarily due to an $8.1 million increase in selling, general and administrative expenses ("SG&A"). The increase in SG&A expense was primarily driven by increased compensation and benefits expense of $3.8 million, excluding Elian, which includes increased pension expense and annual government regulated compensation increases. SG&A expense was also impacted by increased bad debt expense of $1.0 million, increased information technology expense of $0.8 million, and incremental expenses of $2.5 million from Elian. These expenses were partially offset by savings from successful restructuring initiatives. Segment operating income per pound decreased $0.003 to $0.058 per pound primarily due to the aforementioned economic environment in Europe and increased SG&A expenses.
 
 
Year ended August 31,
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Favorable (unfavorable)
Americas
2013
 
2012
 
Increase (decrease)
 
FX Impact
 
Excluding FX
 
(In thousands, except for %’s and per pound data)
Pounds sold
653,914

 
610,418

 
43,496

 
7.1
 %
 
 
 
 
Net sales
$
600,824

 
$
558,910

 
$
41,914

 
7.5
 %
 
$
(680
)
 
7.6
 %
Segment gross profit
$
81,315

 
$
84,282

 
$
(2,967
)
 
(3.5
)%
 
$
180

 
(3.7
)%
Segment gross profit percentage
13.5
%
 
15.1
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Segment operating income
$
28,351

 
$
28,872

 
$
(521
)
 
(1.8
)%
 
$
720

 
(4.3
)%
Price per pound
$
0.919

 
$
0.916

 
$
0.003

 
0.3
 %
 
$
(0.001
)
 
0.4
 %
Segment operating income per pound
$
0.043

 
$
0.047

 
$
(0.004
)
 
(8.5
)%
 
$
0.001

 
(10.6
)%

Net sales for the Americas for the years ended August 31, 2013 and 2012 were $600.8 million, and $558.9 million, respectively, an increase of $41.9 million or 7.5%. Incremental net sales and volume from the ECM Plastics, Inc. acquisition were $37.9 million and 33.8 million pounds for the year ended August 31, 2013, respectively. Excluding the impact of ECM Plastics, Inc., net sales and volume increased primarily in the specialty powders product family. Foreign currency translation negatively impacted net sales by $0.7 million.

Americas gross profit was $81.3 million for the year ended August 31, 2013, a decrease of $3.0 million from the prior year. Contribution from the ECM Plastics, Inc. acquisition was offset by increased costs in Mexico to meet customer demand in Brazil as a result of the shortfall in production caused by the facility consolidation. Additional expenses were incurred as the Company increased capacity in Mexico to address anticipated improvement in local market demand that did not materialize. During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, the Company initiated restructuring activities to address these issues as discussed below. Foreign currency translation favorably impacted segment gross profit by $0.2 million.

Americas operating income for the year ended August 31, 2013 was $28.4 million compared with $28.9 million last year. Segment operating income decreased as a result of the aforementioned decrease in segment gross profit, offset primarily by the favorable impact of $0.7 million from foreign currency translation and a $2.4 million decrease in SG&A expenses. The decrease in SG&A expenses was primarily due to successful restructuring initiatives and cost control efforts combined with reduced incentive compensation expense of $3.2 million, partially offset by the incremental expenses from ECM Plastics.
 
Year ended August 31,
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Favorable (unfavorable)
APAC
2013
 
2012
 
Increase (decrease)
 
FX Impact
 
Excluding FX
 
(In thousands, except for %’s and per pound data)
Pounds sold
95,994

 
96,893

 
(899
)
 
(0.9
)%
 
 
 
 
Net sales
$
126,696

 
$
119,211

 
$
7,485

 
6.3
 %
 
$
1,151

 
5.3
%
Segment gross profit
$
22,345

 
$
19,969

 
$
2,376

 
11.9
 %
 
$
253

 
10.6
%
Segment gross profit percentage
17.6
%
 
16.8
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Segment operating income
$
12,108

 
$
10,908

 
$
1,200

 
11.0
 %
 
$
211

 
9.1
%
Price per pound
$
1.320

 
$
1.230

 
$
0.090

 
7.3
 %
 
$
0.012

 
6.3
%
Segment operating income per pound
$
0.126

 
$
0.113

 
$
0.013

 
11.5
 %
 
$
0.002

 
9.7
%

30



Net sales for APAC for the year ended August 31, 2013 were $126.7 million, an increase of $7.5 million or 6.3% primarily due to improved selling price per pound and product mix. Decreased volumes in the masterbatch solutions and specialty powders product families were largely offset by the increased volumes in the engineered plastics product family. Foreign currency translation favorably impacted net sales by $1.2 million.

APAC gross profit for the year ended August 31, 2013 was $22.3 million, an increase of $2.4 million compared with last year. The increase in segment gross profit was primarily due to the 7.3% increase in price per pound combined with a continued focus on products with higher technical requirements, partially offset by increased plant costs in China and India associated with the start-up of new production lines.

APAC operating income for the year ended August 31, 2013 was $12.1 million, compared with $10.9 million last year. The increase in profitability was principally due to the increase in segment gross profit offset by an increase of $1.2 million in SG&A expenses mainly related to increased compensation expense to support growth in the region and the establishment of the APAC regional office in Hong Kong.
 
Year ended August 31,
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Favorable (unfavorable)
Consolidated
2013
 
2012
 
Increase (decrease)
 
FX Impact
 
Excluding FX
 
(In thousands, except for %’s and per pound data)
Pounds sold
1,917,511

 
1,881,826

 
35,685

 
1.9
 %
 
 
 
 
Net sales
2,133,402

 
2,081,272

 
$
52,130

 
2.5
 %
 
$
4,697

 
2.3
 %
Operating income
63,103

 
73,403

 
$
(10,300
)
 
(14.0
)%
 
$
965

 
(15.3
)%
Total operating income before certain items*
82,853

 
87,843

 
$
(4,990
)
 
(5.7
)%
 
$
971

 
(6.8
)%
Price per pound
$
1.113

 
$
1.106

 
$
0.007

 
0.6
 %
 
$
0.003

 
0.4
 %
Total operating income per pound before certain items*
$
0.043

 
$
0.047

 
$
(0.004
)
 
(8.5
)%
 
$

 
(8.5
)%

* Total operating income before certain items represents segment operating income combined with Corporate and other operating expenses. For a reconciliation of segment operating income to operating income and income from continuing operations before taxes, refer to Note 13 of the consolidated financial statements within this Form 10-K.

The increase of $52.1 million in consolidated net sales for the year ended August 31, 2013 compared with the prior fiscal year was primarily a result of incremental net sales and volume from the Elian and ECM Plastics, Inc. acquisitions of $56.4 million and 39.7 million pounds, respectively. Net sales were positively impacted by the $4.7 million favorable impact of foreign currency translation. Excluding the positive impact of acquisitions and foreign currency translation, net sales and volume decreased primarily due to the aforementioned economic environment in Europe.

The Company’s SG&A expenses increased $7.9 million for the year ended August 31, 2013 compared with the prior year, excluding acquisition related transaction costs of $2.7 million and restructuring related costs of $2.7 million for fiscal 2013 and $1.4 million of acquisition related transaction costs for fiscal 2012. The increase was primarily attributable to incremental SG&A expense of $7.1 million from recent acquisitions, bad debt expense of $1.0 million and an increase in pension expense of $2.2 million. In addition, the Company invested in global marketing related initiatives, strategic planning in the APAC region, the establishment of the APAC regional headquarters in Hong Kong and the global ERP project. This was partially offset by savings from successful restructuring initiatives and cost control efforts, including $3.6 million related to the EMEA restructuring plans. Foreign currency translation favorably impacted SG&A expense by $0.2 million.
 
Operating income decreased $10.3 million for the year ended August 31, 2013 compared to the prior year. Total operating income, before certain items, for the year ended August 31, 2013 was $82.9 million, a decrease of $5.0 million compared with the prior year. The decrease in both operating income and total operating income, before certain items, was primarily due to the aforementioned increase in SG&A expense.

Additional consolidated results

Interest expense, net of interest income, decreased $0.5 million for the year ended August 31, 2013, as compared with the prior year primarily due to decreased borrowings.

31



Foreign currency transaction gains or losses represent changes in the value of currencies in major areas where the Company operates. The Company experienced foreign currency transaction losses of $2.4 million and $0.2 million for the years ended August 31, 2013 and 2012, respectively. Foreign currency transaction losses during fiscal 2013 were primarily related to increased import activity in Brazil. Generally, the foreign currency transaction gains or losses relate to the changes in the value of the U.S. dollar compared with the Euro and other local currencies throughout all regions, and also changes between the Euro and other non-Euro European currencies. The Company may enter into foreign exchange forward contracts to reduce the impact of changes in foreign exchange rates on the consolidated statements of operations. These contracts reduce exposure to currency movements affecting the remeasurement of foreign currency denominated assets and liabilities primarily related to trade receivables and payables, as well as intercompany activities. Any gains or losses associated with these contracts, as well as the offsetting gains or losses from the underlying assets or liabilities, are recognized on the foreign currency transaction line in the consolidated statements of operations. There were no foreign exchange forward contracts designated as hedging instruments as of August 31, 2013 and 2012.

Other income for the year ended August 31, 2013 was $0.2 million, compared with other income of $1.3 million for the year ended August 31, 2012. In both fiscal 2013 and 2012, there were no individually significant transactions.

Noncontrolling interests represent a 49% equity position of Alta Plastica S.A. in an Argentinean venture with the Company and a 35% equity position of P.T. Prima Polycon Indah in an Indonesian joint venture with the Company. Effective December 31, 2011, the Company's partnership with Mitsubishi Chemical MKV Company, which held a 30% equity position in The Sunprene Company in Bellevue, Ohio, was dissolved by a vote of the partners.

Net income attributable to the Company’s common stockholders was $26.1 million and $50.9 million for the years ended August 31, 2013 and 2012, respectively. Foreign currency translation had a positive impact on net income of $0.6 million for the year ended August 31, 2013.

Product Family

The consolidated net sales for the Company's five product families are as follows:
 
Year ended August 31,
 
2013
 
2012
 
(In thousands, except for %’s)
Custom performance colors
$
150,890

 
7
%
 
$
125,595

 
6
%
Masterbatch solutions
781,770

 
37

 
750,531

 
36

Engineered plastics
534,777

 
25

 
547,090

 
26

Specialty powders
308,619

 
14

 
314,965

 
16

Distribution services
357,346

 
17

 
343,091

 
16

Total consolidated net sales
$
2,133,402

 
100
%
 
$
2,081,272

 
100
%

Fiscal 2013 includes a reclassification of revenue between product families to better reflect the way the businesses are managed.


32


Capacity

The Company’s practical capacity is not based on a theoretical 24-hour, seven-day operation, rather it is determined as the production level at which the manufacturing facilities can operate with an acceptable degree of efficiency, taking into consideration factors such as longer term customer demand, permanent staffing levels, operating shifts, holidays, scheduled maintenance and mix of product. Capacity utilization is calculated by dividing actual production pounds by practical capacity at each plant. A comparison of capacity utilization levels is as follows: 
 
Years ended August 31,
 
2013
 
2012
EMEA
77
%
 
79
%
Americas
67
%
 
70
%
APAC
68
%
 
81
%
Worldwide
72
%
 
76
%

During fiscal 2013, the Company's new facility in India became operational. Additionally, the Company's APAC segment experienced lower capacity utilization as additional manufacturing capacity was added to existing facilities to meet anticipated demand in the region.

Restructuring

Consolidated Restructuring Summary

The following table summarizes the activity related to the Company’s restructuring plans:
 
Employee-related Costs
 
Other Costs
 
Translation Effect
 
Total Restructuring Costs
 
(In thousands)
Accrual balance as of August 31, 2011
$
3,322

 
$
403

 
$
70

 
$
3,795

Fiscal 2012 charges
7,581

 
1,675

 

 
9,256

Fiscal 2012 payments
(7,379
)
 
(1,697
)
 

 
(9,076
)
Translation

 

 
(609
)
 
(609
)
Accrual balance as of August 31, 2012
$
3,524

 
$
381

 
$
(539
)
 
$
3,366

Fiscal 2013 charges
8,669

 
1,831

 

 
10,500

Fiscal 2013 payments
(6,747
)
 
(1,812
)
 

 
(8,559
)
Translation

 

 
42

 
42

Accrual balance as of August 31, 2013
$
5,446

 
$
400

 
$
(497
)
 
$
5,349


For discussion on the Company's restructuring plans, refer to Note 15 of the consolidated financial statements within this Form 10-K.

Asset Impairment

The Company recorded $1.9 million and $3.4 million in pretax asset impairment charges during the years ended August 31, 2013 and 2012, respectively.

During fiscal 2013, the Company recorded $0.4 million in asset impairments related to the reduction of the carrying value of its facility in Oyonnax, France. Additionally, the Company reduced the carrying value of its facility in Verolanuova, Italy and recorded pretax impairment charges of $1.4 million and $2.7 million in fiscal 2013 and 2012, respectively. Refer to the fiscal 2014 asset impairment discussion above for further details on these two facilities.

In fiscal 2012, as a result of the Americas Engineered Plastics restructuring initiative, the Company reduced the carrying value of its facility, machinery and equipment in Nashville, Tennessee to its combined fair value of $3.8 million. The disposal value of the facility was determined as the estimated sales value of the assets less the costs to sell based on information provided by a third-party real estate valuation source. The disposal value of machinery and equipment to be sold or disposed of was determined based on estimated salvage value. The Company recorded pretax impairment charges of $0.5 million in fiscal 2012, primarily related to

33


real estate, machinery and equipment at the Nashville, Tennessee facility. During fiscal 2013, the Company sold the Nashville, Tennessee facility which resulted in a minimal impact on the Company's consolidated financial results.

Refer to Note 19 of the consolidated financial statements within this Form 10-K for the discussion on impairment charges included in discontinued operations.

Income Tax

A reconciliation of the statutory U.S. federal income tax rate with the effective tax rates is as follows: 
 
Year Ended August 31,
 
2013
 
2012
 
(In thousands, except for %’s)
U.S. statutory federal income tax rate
$
18,806

 
35.0
 %
 
$
23,389

 
35.0
 %
Amount of foreign taxes at less than U.S. statutory federal income tax rate
(9,189
)
 
(17.1
)
 
(11,373
)
 
(17.0
)
U.S. and foreign losses with no tax benefit
5,826

 
10.8

 
1,291

 
1.9

U.S. restructuring and other U.S. charges with no benefit
1,704

 
3.2

 
1,029

 
1.5

Valuation allowance charges
2,361

 
4.4

 
(2,380
)
 
(3.6
)
Establishment (resolution) of uncertain tax positions
(84
)
 
(0.2
)
 
1,718

 
2.6

Other
309

 
0.6

 
244

 
0.4

Provision (benefit) for U.S. and foreign income taxes
$
19,733

 
36.7
 %
 
$
13,918

 
20.8
 %

The effective tax rate for the year ended August 31, 2013 is greater than the U.S. statutory rate primarily because of no tax benefits being recognized for U.S. and certain foreign losses, realization of tax charges due to changes in valuation allowances, and U.S. restructuring and other U.S. charges with no benefit. These unfavorable effects on the Company tax rate were partially offset by the Company's overall foreign rate being less than the U.S. statutory rate. The change in the effective tax rate compared with the same prior year period was driven primarily by the valuation allowance established in the second quarter of fiscal 2013 against the net operating loss deferred tax asset of the Company's Brazilian entity due to the uncertainty in the realization of this asset and the adjustment to the Italian valuation allowance in fiscal 2012.

The effective tax rate for the year ended August 31, 2012 was less than the U.S. statutory rate primarily because of the Company's overall foreign rate being less than the U.S. statutory rate and an adjustment to the Italian valuation allowance. These favorable effects on the Company's tax rate were partially offset by no tax benefits being recognized for U.S. and certain foreign losses as well as the establishment of a liability for uncertain tax positions.

CRITICAL ACCOUNTING POLICIES

The Company has identified critical accounting policies that, as a result of the judgments, uncertainties, and the operations involved, could result in material changes to its financial condition or results of operations under different conditions or using different assumptions. The Company’s critical accounting policies relate to the allowance for doubtful accounts, inventory reserve, restructuring charges, purchase accounting and goodwill, long-lived assets, income taxes, pension and other postretirement benefits and stock-based compensation.

Allowance for Doubtful Accounts

Management records an allowance for doubtful accounts receivable based on the current and projected credit quality of the Company’s customers, customer payment history, and other factors that affect collectability. Changes in these factors or changes in economic circumstances could result in changes to the allowance for doubtful accounts.

Inventory Reserve

Management establishes an inventory reserve based on historical experience and amounts expected to be realized for slow-moving and obsolete inventory. The Company continuously monitors its slow-moving and obsolete inventory and makes adjustments as considered necessary. The proceeds from the sale or dispositions of these inventories may differ from the net recorded amount.


34


Restructuring Charges

The Company’s policy is to recognize restructuring costs in accordance with the accounting rules related to exit or disposal activities and compensation and non-retirement post-employment benefits. Detailed contemporaneous documentation is maintained and updated to ensure that accruals are properly supported. If management determines that there is a change in estimate, the accruals are adjusted to reflect this change.

Purchase Accounting and Goodwill

Business combinations are accounted for using the purchase method of accounting. This method requires the Company to record assets and liabilities of the business acquired at their estimated fair market values as of the acquisition date. Any excess of the cost of the acquisition over the fair value of the net assets acquired is recorded as goodwill. The Company generally uses valuation specialists to perform appraisals and assist in the determination of the fair values of the assets acquired and liabilities assumed. These valuations require management to make estimates and assumptions.

Goodwill is tested for impairment annually as of June 1. If circumstances change during interim periods between annual tests that would more likely than not reduce the fair value of a reporting unit below its carrying value, the Company would test goodwill for impairment. Factors which would necessitate an interim goodwill impairment assessment include a sustained decline in the Company's stock price, prolonged negative industry or economic trends, and significant underperformance relative to expected historical or projected future operating results.

Management uses judgment to determine whether to use a qualitative analysis or a quantitative fair value measurement for its goodwill impairment testing. The Company's fair value measurement approach combines the income and market valuation techniques for each of the Company’s reporting units that carry goodwill. These valuation techniques use estimates and assumptions including, but not limited to, the determination of appropriate market comparables, projected future cash flows (including timing and profitability), discount rate reflecting the risk inherent in future cash flows, perpetual growth rate, and projected future economic and market conditions.

Effective September 1, 2012, the masterbatch product family was split into two separate product families, custom performance colors and masterbatch solutions. Consequently, the related goodwill was allocated to the custom performance colors and masterbatch solutions reporting units in EMEA and the Americas based on the relative fair value of these reporting units. Additional goodwill was recorded in fiscal 2013 as a result of the ECM Plastics, Inc. acquisition and in fiscal 2014 due to the Perrite Group, Network Polymers, Inc., Prime Colorants and Specialty Plastics acquisitions. All acquired goodwill was allocated to appropriate reporting units based on relative fair values.

2014 Annual Goodwill Impairment Test

As of June 1, 2014, the annual goodwill impairment test date for fiscal 2014, goodwill exists in five of the Company's reporting units in EMEA (masterbatch solutions, engineered plastics, specialty powders, custom performance colors and distribution services), four reporting units in the Americas (masterbatch solutions, custom performance colors, engineered plastics and specialty powders) and one reporting unit in APAC (engineered plastics).

Qualitative Analysis

The Company applied the qualitative goodwill impairment accounting guidance to its EMEA masterbatch, EMEA distribution services, Americas masterbatch and Americas custom performance color reporting units as of June 1, 2014. Qualitative trends and factors considered in the Company's analysis included overall economic conditions, access to capital markets, industry projections, competitive environment, actual and forecast operating results, business strategy, stock price and market capitalization, and other relevant qualitative trends and factors. These trends and factors were both compared to, and based on, the assumptions used in the quantitative assessment performed in fiscal 2013. As of June 1, 2014, the Company concluded that there were no indicators of impairment to the goodwill for the Company's EMEA masterbatch, EMEA distribution services, Americas masterbatch and Americas custom performance color reporting units.
Quantitative Analysis

Management used the quantitative fair value measurement for its annual goodwill impairment test as of June 1, 2014 for the EMEA engineered plastics, EMEA specialty powders, EMEA custom performance color, Americas engineered plastics, Americas specialty powders and APAC engineered plastics. The fair values of all these reporting units were established using a combination of the income and market approaches. These valuation methodologies use estimates and assumptions, as noted above.

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Based on this quantitative analysis, management concluded that as of June 1, 2014, the EMEA engineered plastics, EMEA custom performance color, the Americas specialty powders and APAC engineered plastics reporting units had fair values that substantially exceeded their carrying values.

Management also concluded, based on the quantitative fair value measurements performed, that as of June 1, 2014, the fair values of the EMEA specialty powders and Americas engineered plastics reporting units exceeded their carrying values by 13% in each instance. As of August 31, 2014, the EMEA specialty powders reporting unit had goodwill of $19.0 million while goodwill in the Americas engineered plastics reporting unit was $28.4 million. The goodwill associated with these reporting units is primarily the result of the acquisitions made within the last few years. Generally, goodwill recorded in business combinations is more susceptible to risk of impairment soon after the acquisition primarily because the business combination is recorded at fair value based on operating plans and economic conditions present at the time of the acquisition. If operating results or economic conditions deteriorate soon after an acquisition, it could result in the impairment of the acquired goodwill. A change in macroeconomic conditions in the Americas and EMEA regions, as well as future changes in the judgments, assumptions and estimates that were used in the Company's goodwill impairment testing for these two reporting units, including the discount rate and future cash flow projections, could result in a significantly different estimate of the fair value.

See Note 4 to the consolidated financial statements within this Form 10-K for further discussion on goodwill.

Long-lived Assets

Long-lived assets, except goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets, are reviewed for impairment when circumstances indicate the carrying value of an asset group may not be recoverable. Recoverability of asset groups to be held and used is measured by a comparison of the carrying amount of the asset group to future undiscounted net cash flows estimated by the Company to be generated by such asset groups. Fair value is the basis for the measurement of any asset write-downs that are recorded. Adjustments to the estimated remaining useful lives may result in accelerated depreciation, which is included in cost of sales.

Income Taxes

The Company’s provision for income taxes involves a significant amount of judgment by management. This provision is impacted by the income and tax rates of the countries where the Company operates. A change in the geographical source of the Company’s income can have a significant effect on the tax rate. No taxes are provided on certain foreign earnings which are permanently reinvested.

Various taxing authorities periodically audit the Company’s tax returns. These audits may include questions regarding the Company’s tax filing positions, including the timing and amount of deductions and the allocation of income to various tax jurisdictions. In evaluating the exposures associated with these various tax filing positions, the Company records tax liabilities for uncertain tax positions where the likelihood of sustaining the position is not more-likely-than-not based on its technical merits. A significant period of time may elapse before a particular matter, for which the Company has recorded a tax liability, is audited and fully resolved.

The establishment of the Company’s tax liabilities relies on the judgment of management to estimate the exposures associated with its various filing positions. Although management believes those estimates and judgments are reasonable, actual results could differ, resulting in gains or losses that may be material to the Company’s consolidated statements of operations.

To the extent that the Company prevails in matters for which tax liabilities have been recorded, or are required to pay amounts in excess of these tax liabilities, the Company’s effective tax rate in any given financial statement period could be materially affected. An unfavorable tax settlement could result in an increase in the Company’s effective tax rate in the financial statement period of resolution. A favorable tax settlement could be recognized as a reduction in the Company’s effective tax rate in the financial statement period of resolution.

The Company records a valuation allowance to reduce its deferred tax assets if it is more likely than not that some portion or all of the deferred tax assets will not be realized. All available evidence, both positive and negative, is considered to determine whether a valuation allowance is needed. Evidence, such as the results of operations for the current and preceding years, is given more weight than projections of future income, which is inherently uncertain. The Company’s losses in the U.S. in recent periods provide sufficient negative evidence to require a full valuation allowance against its net deferred tax assets in the U.S. The Company intends to maintain a valuation allowance against its net deferred tax assets in the U.S. until sufficient positive evidence exists to support realization of such assets.


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Pension and Other Postretirement Benefits

The Company has several postretirement benefit plans worldwide. These plans consist primarily of defined benefit and defined contribution pension plans and other postretirement benefit plans. These benefit plans are a significant cost of doing business that represents obligations that will be ultimately settled far into the future. Pension and postretirement benefit accounting is intended to reflect the recognition of future benefit costs over the employee’s approximate period of employment based on the terms of the plans and the investment and funding decisions made by the Company.

For financial statements prepared in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America, management is required to make many assumptions in order to value the plans’ liabilities on a projected and accumulated basis, as well as to determine the annual expense for the plans. The assumptions chosen take into account historical experience, the current economic environment and management’s best judgment regarding future experience. Assumptions include the discount rate, the expected long-term rate of return on assets, future salary increases, health care escalation rates, cost of living increases, turnover, retirement ages and mortality. While management believes the Company’s assumptions are appropriate, significant differences in the Company’s actual experience or significant changes in the Company’s assumptions, including the discount rate used and the expected long-term rate of return on plan assets, may materially affect the Company’s pension and postretirement obligations and future expenses.

Accounting guidance requires the full unfunded liability to be recognized on the consolidated balance sheet. The cumulative difference between actual experience and assumed experience is included in accumulated other comprehensive income (loss). For most of the plans, these gains or losses are recognized in expense over the average future service period of employees to the extent that they exceed 10% of the greater of the Projected Benefit Obligation (or Accumulated Postretirement Benefit Obligation for other postretirement benefits) and assets. The effects of any plan changes are also included as a component of accumulated other comprehensive income (loss) and then recognized in expense over the average future service period of the affected plan.

The Company consults with various actuaries at least annually when reviewing and selecting the discount rates to be used. The discount rates used by the Company are based on yields of various local corporate and governmental bond indices with actual maturity dates that approximate the estimated benefit payment streams of the related pension plans. The discount rates are also reviewed in comparison with current benchmark indices, economic market conditions and the movement in the benchmark yield since the previous fiscal year. The liability weighted-average discount rate for the defined benefit pension plans is 2.8% as of August 31, 2014, compared with 4.0% as of August 31, 2013. For the other postretirement benefit plan, the rate is 3.8% as of August 31, 2014 and 4.5% as of August 31, 2013. This rate represents the interest rates generally available in the United States, which is the Company’s only country with other postretirement benefit liabilities. Another assumption that affects the Company’s pension expense is the expected long-term rate of return on assets. Some of the Company’s plans are funded. The weighted-average expected long-term rate of return on assets assumption is 5.2% for fiscal 2014. In consultation with its actuaries, the Company estimates its pension expense will increase by $2.5 million in fiscal 2015 compared with fiscal 2014 primarily as a result of a decrease in the weighted-average discount rate assumption.

The Company’s principal objective is to ensure that sufficient funds are available to provide benefits as and when required under the terms of the plans. The Company utilizes investments that provide benefits and maximizes the long-term investment performance of the plans without taking on undue risk while complying with various legal funding requirements. The Company, through its investment advisors, has developed detailed asset and liability models to aid in implementing optimal asset allocation strategies. Equity securities are invested in equity indexed funds, which minimizes concentration risk while offering market returns. The debt securities are invested in a long-term bond indexed fund which provides a stable low risk return. The fixed insurance contracts allow the Company to closely match a portion of the liability to the expected payout of benefit with little risk. The Company, in consultation with its actuaries, analyzes current market trends, the current plan performance and expected market performance of both the equity and bond markets to arrive at the expected return on each asset category over the long term.


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The following table illustrates the sensitivity to a change in the assumed discount rate and expected long-term rate of return on assets for the Company’s pension plans and other postretirement plans as of August 31, 2014
Change in Assumption
Impact on
Fiscal 2014
Benefits Expense
 
Impact on
August 31, 2014
Projected Benefit
Obligation for
Pension Plans
 
Impact on
August 31, 2014
Projected Benefit
Obligation for
Postretirement Plans
 
 
 
(In thousands)
 
 
25 basis point decrease in discount rate
$
489

 
$
8,422

 
$
306

25 basis point increase in discount rate
$
(456
)
 
$
(7,887
)
 
$
(293
)
25 basis point decrease in expected long-term rate of return on assets
$
82

 
$

 
$

25 basis point increase in expected long- term rate of return on assets
$
(82
)
 
$

 
$


Share-based Compensation

The Company grants certain types of equity awards as part of its long-term incentive compensation strategy. All such awards are expensed based on the fair value of the respective award. Fair value for awards that involve service or performance conditions for vesting is determined based on the market price on the grant date, while fair value for awards which include market conditions for vesting requires the use of a valuation model. The concept of modeling is used with such awards because observable market prices for these types of awards are not available. The modeling technique that is generally considered to most appropriately value this type of award is the Monte Carlo valuation model.

The Monte Carlo valuation model requires assumptions based on management’s judgment regarding, among others, the volatility of the Company’s stock, the correlation between the Company’s stock price and that of its peer companies and the expected rate of interest. The Company uses historical data, corresponding to the vesting period, to determine the assumptions to be used in the Monte Carlo valuation model and has no reason to believe that future data is likely to materially differ from historical data. However, changes in the assumptions to reflect future stock price volatility, future correlation experience and future interest rates may result in a material change to the fair value of such awards. While management believes the Company’s assumptions used are appropriate, significant differences in the Company’s actual experience or significant changes in the Company’s assumptions, including the volatility of the Company’s stock, the correlation rate and the interest rate, may materially affect the Company’s future share-based compensation expense.

The awards with a market condition granted prior to fiscal 2013 are accounted for as equity awards given that recipients receive shares of stock upon vesting, and expense for these awards is recognized over the service period regardless of whether the market condition is achieved and the awards ultimately vest. Awards with a market condition granted in fiscal 2014 and 2013 provide recipients an option to receive cash or shares of common stock upon vesting. Consequently, such awards are accounted for as liability awards and the Company remeasures these awards at fair value on a quarterly basis over the service period. Expense for these awards is recognized only to the extent the market conditions are achieved and the awards ultimately vest.

LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL RESOURCES

Net cash provided from operations was $113.1 million, $83.7 million and $99.5 million for the years ended August 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively. The increase of $29.4 million in cash provided by operations was primarily due to the increase in net income in fiscal 2014 as compared with 2013. The Company has generated $296.4 million in net cash from operations in fiscal 2014, 2013 and 2012 combined.

The Company’s cash and cash equivalents increased $1.4 million since August 31, 2013. This increase was driven primarily by cash provided from operations in fiscal 2014, coupled with proceeds from the sale of assets of $6.0 million and increased net borrowings of $142.4 million to fund the fiscal 2014 acquisitions. This was offset by the fiscal 2014 acquisitions for $206.6 million in cash consideration, expenditures for capital projects of $35.1 million and dividend payments of $23.7 million.

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The Company’s approximate working capital days are summarized as follows: 
 
August 31, 2014
 
August 31, 2013
Days in receivables
55
 
53
Days in inventory
50
 
53
Days in payables
48
 
48
Total working capital days
57
 
58

The following table summarizes certain key balances on the Company’s consolidated balance sheets and related metrics: 
 
August 31, 2014
 
August 31, 2013
 
$ Change
 
% Change