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Commercial Metals Company Reports $0.55 EPS for Fourth Quarter Including a Record $0.78 EPS LIFO Expense; Operational Results Exceeded Expectations

IRVING, Texas, Oct. 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Commercial Metals Company (NYSE: CMC) today reported net earnings of $232.0 million or $1.97 per diluted share on net sales of $10.4 billion for the year ended August 31, 2008. This compares with net earnings of $355.4 million or $2.92 per diluted share on net sales of $8.3 billion last year. The annual results included after-tax LIFO expense of a record $209 million or $1.78 per diluted share. This compares with after-tax LIFO expense of $33.3 million or $0.27 per diluted share last year. At year end, our LIFO reserve totaled $562 million. LIFO is an inventory costing method that assumes the most recent inventory purchases or goods manufactured are sold first which in periods of rising prices results in an expense that eliminates inflationary profits from net income. Changes in LIFO are not write-downs, write-offs or market adjustments. They are changes in cost components based on an assumption of inventory flows.

Fourth quarter net earnings were $63.5 million or $0.55 per diluted share on net sales of $3.1 billion. This compares with $104.7 million or $0.86 per diluted share on net sales of $2.3 billion for the fourth quarter last year. The current year quarter included a record after-tax LIFO expense of $90.9 million or $0.78 per diluted share compared with after-tax LIFO income of $5.7 million or $0.05 per diluted share in last year's fourth quarter.

Management had projected an earnings range of $0.90 to $1.00 per diluted share assuming no LIFO effect for the quarter. Actual earnings per diluted share were $0.55 with a LIFO expense of $0.78 per diluted share. Operationally, the Company exceeded its projection by a range of $0.33 to $0.43 per diluted share. The LIFO expense arose from fourth quarter surges in scrap purchase costs. These costs were still in scrap inventories and as a component of finished goods at year end. There were also significant inventories in transit for our domestic steel marketing business.

Selling, general and administrative expenses in the fourth quarter included $10.6 million of costs associated with the investment in the global deployment of SAP software compared to $9.4 million in last year's fourth quarter. For the year ended August 31, 2008, the amount expensed was $53.7 million as compared to $33.8 million last year; project to date we have expensed $88.7 million. Other SAP costs of $83.1 million have been capitalized since inception of the project, of which $49.9 million has been capitalized in the current year and $13.9 million in the current quarter.

The effective tax rate for the quarter was 22.8% compared with last year's 26.6%, and for the whole year was 31.1% compared with fiscal 2007 at 31.9%. The lower rate was due to a geographic shift in earnings (higher profits in Poland which has a lower tax rate).

General Conditions

Murray R. McClean, Chairman, President and CEO, said, "The quarter continued the upward volatility in ferrous scrap pricing, and steel finished goods pricing outpaced ferrous scrap pricing resulting in metal margin expansion. Management had anticipated a softening of ferrous scrap prices which did occur, but not until the end of the quarter. The increased prices plus in-transit inventories led to yet another enormous LIFO charge. The record LIFO expense of $0.78 per diluted share was the third quarterly record in succession. Though the LIFO charge affords the Company a significant tax deferral, it does mask the underlying strong markets. The continued upward trend in metal pricing propelled our Americas Recycling segment to an all-time quarterly earnings record. For the second quarter in succession, the Americas Mills segment had increases in tons melted, rolled, and shipped. Continually escalating prices waylaid the Americas Fabrication and Distribution operations with a staggering LIFO charge and further margin compression. In the International Mills segment, our mill in Poland was the star performer while we continued the turnaround in Croatia. Our International Fabrication and Distribution segment set an all-time fourth quarter earnings record."

Americas Recycling

According to McClean, "Adjusted operating profit of $52.9 million represented the second consecutive time the segment set an all-time quarterly earnings record. It was aided by a small pre-tax LIFO income of $5.1 million compared to LIFO income of $9.3 million in last year's fourth quarter. Ferrous scrap prices advanced during the quarter, peaking in July and beginning to tail by quarter end. Pricing was supported by continued strong international demand, record iron ore prices, and reduced prime scrap availability due to a slowdown in U.S. manufacturing. Ferrous operations accounted for almost 90% of the segment's profitability. The average ferrous scrap sales price for the fourth quarter compared to last year's fourth quarter increased $233 per short ton to $450 per short ton, while shipments (including the units that formerly were reported under the old Domestic Mills segment) increased 11% to 782 thousand tons. Nonferrous pricing advanced a more modest 7% compared to the prior year fourth quarter, but was dropping as the quarter ended. Chinese demand weakened during the quarter and, combined with a rebounding U.S. dollar, drove nonferrous shipments down 14% to 79 thousand tons versus last year's fourth quarter. We exported 33% of our nonferrous scrap material during the quarter."

Americas Mills

McClean said, "With demand strong and scrap prices rising, our Americas Mills segment's tons melted, rolled, and shipped all exceeded last year's fourth quarter. Prices increased each month of the quarter (softening only in late August) leading to a pre-tax LIFO expense of $40.2 million compared to income of $135 thousand in the prior year fourth quarter.

"Our steel mills adjusted operating profit of $45.1 million was down 14.7% compared to the prior year fourth quarter on the heels of a $41.5 million pre- tax LIFO expense compared to a negligible amount last year. Metal margins were 11% higher at $390 per ton, necessary to keep pace with higher costs for utilities, freight, and alloys. The price of ferrous scrap consumed rose a stunning 87% compared to last year. Our average selling price was up $247 per ton to $838 per ton while the average selling price for finished goods was up $227 per ton to $866 per ton. Margins were affected by a 131% increase in alloys and an 86% increase in energy. Combined, these two additional costs accounted for another $29.8 million in costs this quarter compared to the fourth quarter of last year. Sales volumes increased 15.1% to 631 thousand tons. Rebar shipments rose 29%, and merchant tonnage rose 6%. Included in the sales volumes were 120 thousand tons of billets of which 22 thousand tons were exported. Total export tonnage was 33 thousand tons. The price premium of merchant bar over reinforcing bar averaged $158 per ton. On a quarter-to- quarter basis, tonnage melted for the fourth quarter was up 34% to 618 thousand tons while tonnage rolled was 546 thousand tons, an increase of 45%. During the quarter we received the last required environmental permits that allowed us to begin construction of our micro mill project in Arizona and to date have invested $63 million of the expected $165 million total cost. Hot commissioning is expected in September 2009.

"Our copper tube mill reported an adjusted operating profit of $4.1 million, substantially below last year's $11.1 million as slowing demand and sliding prices took their toll. The mill recorded a pre-tax LIFO income of $1.3 million compared to a pre-tax expense of $636 thousand in last year's fourth quarter. Pounds shipped fell 8% to 12.8 million pounds. The average copper selling price decreased 12 cents to $4.53 per pound and metal spreads fell 69 cents per pound. The cost of copper scrap decreased 57 cents to $3.67 per pound. Copper tube production decreased 35% to 9.7 million pounds compared to last year's fourth quarter."

Americas Fabrication & Distribution

McClean added, "The segment continued to suffer the negative consequences of rapid upward price escalation -- titanic LIFO charges and margin compression. Adjusted operating loss was $68 million compared to $36.1 million income in last year's fourth quarter. Pre-tax LIFO expense was $100.9 million, a quarterly charge for one segment larger than any consolidated year's expense in CMC's history, sinking the profitability for the quarter. The comparable LIFO number last year was income of $0.4 million. The composite average fab selling price (excluding stock and buyouts) increased 7% to $1,146 a ton, not enough to match the increase in steel finished goods prices compared to the backlog pricing as we entered the quarter. When considering operations absent the enormous LIFO charge, our construction services, structural fabrication, and post plants had improved earnings over last year's fourth quarter; rebar fabrication profitability fell slightly, but joist and deck were off substantially. The bright spot for the segment was our domestic steel import and distribution operations that saw a significant increase in profitability compared to last year on the strength of strong contributions from pipe, SBQ, and flat rolled. During the quarter, we completed the acquisitions of ABC Coating and Reinforcing Post-Tensioning Services which added 300 thousand tons annually to our rebar fabrication capacity."

International Mills

McClean said, "This segment was our star performer for the quarter. Adjusted operating profit of $57.1 million was an all-time quarterly record and dwarfed last year's fourth quarter profit of $21.7 million. CMCZ (Poland) benefited from strong domestic and regional markets that allowed it to maximize profits with substantial billet export sales without significant finished goods import competition. CMCZ achieved a fourth quarter (and all- time quarterly record) adjusted operating profit of $63.0 million. For the fourth quarter, tons melted were 395 thousand, 20% above last year's 330 thousand; rolled tons equaled 266 thousand against 240 thousand last year; and shipments totaled 424 thousand tons (an all-time quarterly record) including 177 thousand tons of billets versus 58 thousand tons last year. Average selling prices increased 29% to PLN 2,091 per ton (including 42% billets) from PLN 1,620 per ton (including 18% billets). The cost of purchased scrap entering production increased 51%. The average metal margin increased by PLN 13 from PLN 727.

"The turnaround at CMCS (Croatia) continues with improvements in quality and productivity. Average sales prices were higher in the fourth quarter versus the third quarter of this year, and tonnage was up slightly. Sales of seamless tube continue to improve and our backlog is building. We rolled 21 thousand tons and sold 20 thousand tons for the quarter. Our adjusted operating loss was $5.9 million."

International Fabrication & Distribution

"Following its all-time quarterly record earnings in the third quarter, the International Fabrication and Distribution segment set a fourth quarter adjusted operating profit record of $35.7 million, a 47% increase compared to the prior year fourth quarter," according to McClean. "With global supply of certain raw materials tight, our ores and minerals division set a fourth quarter record for sales and operating profit, finishing its best year ever. Both our Australian import business and our service center and warehouse operations had strong quarters. Other geographies started the quarter strong, but tailed by the end; Europe began the quarter with bullish business as prices climbed toward record levels. But during the quarter, sudden drops in scrap prices, an extended summer end holiday period, and the beginning of Ramadan adversely affected operations. Niche product offerings in Germany and the UK did perform well. Asian demand weakened on the combined effects of a strengthening U.S. dollar, declining oil prices, tight liquidity, and the Beijing Olympics. Our fab shops in Poland and Germany were profitable led by our newly acquired wire mesh operation, P.H.P. Nike, which added annual capacity of 100 thousand tons."

Financial Condition

McClean said, "Our financial position remains strong. In August, we issued $500 million of ten year notes due in 2018. The notes have a coupon rate of 7.35%; the effective interest rate is 7.29% after netting interest rate hedges. We had a current ratio of 1.9, contractual borrowing capacity of $372 million under our revolver, and $200 million unused capacity under our domestic accounts receivable securitization program at August 31, 2008. Our coverage ratios remain strong, both on domestic borrowings as well as the separate borrowings of CMCZ. Long-term debt as a percentage of total capitalization was 41.5% without consideration of cash or cash equivalents."

Outlook

McClean continued, "The turmoil in global financial markets, the uncertainty of the effects of government intervention, the imminent change in the U.S. administration and a loss of confidence by both consumers and investors clouds our outlook. In the short-term we will face headwinds until such time as confidence and credit/liquidity issues are stabilized. Long-term we continue to see strong demand for steel and related products as the emerging economies urbanize/industrialize. Global infrastructure projects should continue to be a key driver of demand.

"Fiscal 2009 will be a challenge to many businesses, including CMC; it is a call to execution; execute our capital plan to lay the groundwork for future growth; execute our cash flow plan; execute our contracts and demand our counterparties do likewise. CMC is organized to withstand the downturns well and to emerge a stronger company able to take advantage of the inevitable opportunities such volatile times provide."

McClean added, "Four major projects already underway will comprise most of our capital spending for fiscal 2009. Our micro mill in Arizona will be substantially completed this fiscal year; we will continue the development of our new flexible rolling mill in Poland scheduled for completion in January 2010; we will upgrade our melt shop and caster in Croatia; and we will continue the rollout of SAP. These projects, combined with normal maintenance capital expenditures, should total less than $450 million for the fiscal year.

"We anticipate first quarter LIFO diluted net earnings per share between $0.35 to $0.45. We foresee substantial LIFO income as prices dramatically decrease, a minimum of $50 million pre-tax income effect for the quarter. In periods of declining prices, customers typically withhold orders waiting to see signals that the market has bottomed. This will translate into lower volumes in most segments. We will adjust our production to meet demand, manage inventories, and maintain metal margins; downtime will be devoted to maintenance and upgrades. There are bright spots -- fabrication operations will benefit from lower finished goods prices, easing their margin compression. Forward order books for certain Distribution operations should result in good profitability. Overall, our dedicated employees, vertical integration, and geographic dispersion will see us through this difficult time."

Conference Call

CMC invites you to listen to a live broadcast of its fourth quarter/year- end 2008 conference call on Thursday, October 30, 2008, at 11:00 a.m. ET. The call will be hosted by Murray McClean, Chairman, President and CEO; and Bill Larson, Senior Vice President and CFO, and can be accessed via our website at www.cmc.com or at www.streetevents.com. In the event you are unable to listen to the live broadcast, the call will be archived and available for replay within two hours of the webcast. Financial and statistical information presented in the broadcast can be found on CMC's website under "Investor Relations."

Commercial Metals Company and subsidiaries manufacture, recycle and market steel and metal products, related materials and services through a network including steel minimills, steel fabrication and processing plants, construction-related product warehouses, a copper tube mill, metal recycling facilities and marketing and distribution offices in the United States and in strategic international markets.

The Outlook section of this news release contains forward-looking statements regarding the outlook for the Company's financial results including net earnings, product pricing and demand, production rates, interest rates, inventory levels, impact of acquisitions and general market conditions. These forward-looking statements generally can be identified by phrases such as the company or its management "expect," "anticipates," "believe," "ought," "should," "likely," "appears," "projected," "forecast," "outlook," "will" or other words or phrases of similar impact. There is inherent risk and uncertainty in any forward-looking statements. Variances will occur and some could be materially different from management's current opinion. Developments that could impact the Company's expectations include solvency of financial institutions and their ability or willingness to lend, extent of government intervention and its effect on capital markets, construction activity, difficulties or delays in the execution of construction contracts resulting in cost overruns or contract disputes, metals pricing over which the Company exerts little influence, interest rate changes, increased capacity and product availability from competing steel minimills and other steel suppliers including import quantities and pricing, court decisions, industry consolidation or changes in production capacity or utilization, the ability to integrate acquisitions into operations; global factors including political and military uncertainties, credit availability, currency fluctuations, energy and supply prices and decisions by governments impacting the level of steel imports and pace of overall economic activity, particularly China.




    (Short Tons in            Three months ended       Fiscal year ended
     Thousands)              8/31/08      8/31/07     8/31/08      8/31/07

    Domestic Steel Mill Rebar
     Shipments                 285          220        1,135          972
    Domestic Steel Mill
     Structural and Other
     Shipments                 346          328        1,393        1,278
    CMCZ Shipments             424          309        1,434        1,366
    Total Mill Tons Shipped  1,055          857        3,962        3,616

    Average FOB Mill Domestic
     Selling Price
     (Total Sales)            $838         $591         $691         $566
    Average Cost Domestic
     Mill Ferrous Scrap
     Utilized                 $448         $239         $350         $233
    Domestic Mill Metal
     Margin                   $390         $352         $341         $333
    Average Domestic Mill
     Ferrous Scrap Purchase
     Price                    $409         $209         $329         $211
    Average FOB Mill CMCZ
     Selling Price
     (Total Sales)            $982         $580         $744         $542
    Average Cost CMCZ
     Ferrous Scrap Utilized   $630         $321         $441         $302
    CMCZ Mill Metal Margin    $352         $259         $303         $240
    Average CMCZ Ferrous
     Scrap Purchase Price     $533         $286         $396         $268

    Fab Plant Rebar Shipments  295          239        1,061        1,014
    Fab Plant Structural,
     Post, Joist and
     Deck Shipments            175          190          665          581
    Total Fabrication Tons
     Shipped                   470          429        1,726        1,595

    Average Fab Selling
     Price (Excluding Stock
     & Buyout Sales)        $1,146       $1,073       $1,064         $982

    Domestic Scrap Metal
     Tons Processed
     and Shipped               871          802        3,391        3,220



    BUSINESS SEGMENTS
    (in thousands)
                            Three months ended       Fiscal year ended
                           8/31/08      8/31/07     8/31/08      8/31/07
    Net Sales:
      Americas Recycling  $657,707     $469,911   $2,189,719   $1,800,647
      Americas Mills       576,118      407,859    1,966,270    1,539,663
      Americas Fabrication
       & Distribution      844,535      721,606    2,874,594    2,586,776
      International Mills  400,133      190,675    1,155,671      777,208
      International
       Fabrication &
       Distribution      1,180,594      774,837    3,780,916    2,762,542
      Corporate,
       Discontinued
       Operations and
       Eliminations       (512,611)    (280,946)  (1,539,792)  (1,137,820)
    Total Net Sales     $3,146,476   $2,283,942  $10,427,378   $8,329,016

    Adjusted Operating
     Profit (Loss):
      Americas Recycling   $52,869      $33,758     $145,751     $113,037
      Americas Mills        49,236       64,002      207,756      259,368
      Americas Fabrication
       & Distribution      (67,978)      36,139      (67,471)     100,032
      International Mills   57,108       21,716       96,838      112,379
      International
       Fabrication &
       Distribution         35,729       24,293      124,338       73,709
      Corporate and
       Eliminations        (24,736)     (24,938)     (99,348)     (79,598)



    COMMERCIAL METALS COMPANY
    Fourth Quarter and Year Operating Results (Unaudited)
    (in thousands except share data)

                           Three months ended        Fiscal year ended
                          8/31/08      8/31/07     8/31/08       8/31/07

    Net Sales           $3,146,476   $2,283,942  $10,427,378   $8,329,016

    Costs and Expenses:
      Cost of goods
       sold              2,836,715    1,975,739    9,325,724    7,167,989
      Selling, general
       and administrative
       expenses            209,494      156,386      707,786      583,810
      Interest expense      15,978       10,331       58,263       36,334
                         3,062,187    2,142,456   10,091,773    7,788,133

    Earnings from
     Continuing
     Operations Before
     Income Taxes and
     Minority Interests     84,289      141,486      335,605      540,883

    Income Taxes            19,626       37,271      103,886      172,769

    Earnings from Continuing
     Operations Before
     Minority Interests     64,663      104,215      231,719      368,114

    Minority Interests
     (Benefit)                  (2)         (76)         538        9,587
    Net Earnings from
     Continuing Operations $64,665     $104,291     $231,181     $358,527

    Earnings (Loss) from
     Discontinued Operations
    Before Taxes            (2,016)       1,126        1,706       (4,827)
    Income Tax (Benefit)      (894)         698          921       (1,731)
    Net Earnings (Loss)
     from Discontinued
     Operations             (1,122)         428          785       (3,096)

    Net Earnings           $63,543     $104,719     $231,966     $355,431

    Basic Earnings (Loss)
     per Share:
    Earnings from Continuing
     Operations              $0.57        $0.88        $2.01        $3.04
    Earnings (Loss) from
     Discontinued
     Operations              (0.01)           -         0.01        (0.03)
    Net Earnings             $0.56        $0.88        $2.02        $3.01

    Diluted Earnings
     (Loss) per Share:
    Earnings from Continuing
     Operations              $0.56        $0.86        $1.96        $2.95
    Earnings (Loss) from
     Discontinued
     Operations              (0.01)           -         0.01        (0.03)
    Net Earnings             $0.55        $0.86        $1.97        $2.92

    Cash Dividends per
     Share                   $0.12        $0.09        $0.45        $0.33
    Average Basic Shares
     Outstanding       113,878,939  118,735,742  115,048,512  118,014,149
    Average Diluted
     Shares
     Outstanding       116,251,800  121,925,891  117,685,753  121,681,730



    COMMERCIAL METALS COMPANY
    Consolidated Condensed Balance Sheets (Unaudited)
    (in thousands)

                                                      Fiscal year ended
                                                      2008           2007
    Assets:
    C

This press release uses financial statement measures not derived in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Reconciliations to the most comparable GAAP measures are provided below.

EBITDA:

Earnings before interest expense, income taxes, depreciation and amortization.

EBITDA is a non-GAAP liquidity measure. It excludes Commercial Metals Company's largest recurring non-cash charge, depreciation and amortization. As a measure of cash flow before interest expense, it is one guideline used to assess the Company's ability to pay its current debt obligations as they mature and a tool to calculate possible future levels of leverage capacity. EBITDA to interest is a covenant test in certain of the Company's note agreements.



                                                   Three Months      Year
                                                      Ended          Ended
                                                     8/31/08        8/31/08

    Net earnings                                     $63,543       $231,966
    Interest expense                                  17,210         59,488
    Income taxes                                      18,732        104,807
    Depreciation and amortization                     38,475        135,069
    EBITDA                                          $137,960       $531,330



    EBITDA to interest coverage
    for the quarter ended             for the year ended
    August 31, 2008:                  August 31, 2008:

     $137,960 / 17,210 = 8.0           $531,330  / 59,488 = 8.9


Total Capitalization:

Total capitalization is the sum of long-term debt, deferred income taxes, and stockholders' equity. The ratio of debt to total capitalization is a measure of current debt leverage. The following reconciles total capitalization at August 31, 2008 to the nearest GAAP measure, stockholders' equity:

    Stockholders' equity         $1,638,383
    Long-term debt                1,197,533
    Deferred income taxes            50,160
    Total capitalization         $2,886,076



    Other Financial Information

    Long-term debt to cap ratio as of August 31, 2008:
    Debt divided by capitalization

      $1,197,533 / 2,886,076 = 41.5%

    Total debt to cap plus short-term debt ratio as of August 31, 2008:

      ($1,197,533 + 106,327) / (2,886,076 + 106,327) = 43.6%

    Current ratio as of August 31, 2008:
    Current assets divided by current liabilities

      $3,217,443 / 1,732,481 = 1.9

SOURCE Commercial Metals Company

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