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Willis Lease Finance Reports 2015 Pretax Profit Up 19.4% to $14.1 Million

NOVATO, Calif., March 07, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Willis Lease Finance Corporation (NASDAQ:WLFC), the premier independent jet engine lessor in the commercial finance sector, today reported pretax earnings for 2015 of $14.1 million, up 19.4% from $11.8 million in 2014. Net income for 2015 was $7.4 million, or $0.92 cents per diluted share, compared to $7.2 million, or $0.89 per diluted share the prior year. Fourth quarter 2015 net income increased to $3.0 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, compared to a loss of $0.3 million, or $0.03 per diluted share, in the same quarter a year ago. The year ago quarter was impacted by a $2.7 million non-cash engines write-down and the expensing of a $3.5 million engine repair.

“I am pleased to report that on a pretax basis our financial performance in 2015 was the best since 2011,” said Charles F. Willis, Chairman and CEO. “Our fourth quarter and full year results reflect a combination of improvements in utilization, greater trading activity and growth in the lease portfolio—all contributing to record total revenues of $200 million. I believe we have a lot of momentum going into 2016. Many of our customers are having record years as well, due in large part to the low cost of fuel. Demand for our engines remains strong. Our product and service offerings are expanding and should present opportunities for revenue growth in the future—this includes our end of life solutions business, Willis Aero, which is registering impressive growth. Our joint ventures in China and Ireland are also continuing to grow and develop. The market remains favorable for leasing and trading assets, and we are optimistic about the opportunities we see for the coming year.”

“In 2015, we achieved record levels of lease rent and maintenance reserve revenue, mainly due to higher utilization,” said Donald A. Nunemaker, President. “We placed a lot of focus on utilization improvement last year and the hard work paid off. Our average utilization for 2015 reached 87%, which was the highest level achieved since 2009. Utilization for the fourth quarter of 2015 averaged 91%. We have said before that our utilization is subject to upward and downward swings from quarter to quarter due to a variety of different factors, and it remains to be seen how long it can be held at historically high levels like the last two quarters of 2015.”

2015 Highlights (at or for the periods ended December 31, 2015, compared to December 31, 2014, and September 30, 2015):

  • Total revenues grew 14.5% to $199.6 million in 2015, fueled by higher portfolio utilization, the growing lease portfolio and higher spare parts and equipment sales. In the fourth quarter of 2015, revenues increased 32.8% to $55.2 million from $41.6 million in the year ago quarter.
  • Average utilization in the fourth quarter of 2015 was sustained at 91%, equaling our performance in the previous quarter and a significant improvement from 82% reported in the year ago period. For 2015, average utilization improved to 87% from 83% in 2014. Utilization at year-end was 90% compared to 79% a year ago.
  • Total engines and aircraft owned and managed have grown to nearly $1.5 billion. The owned lease portfolio grew 5.3% in 2015 to $1.123 billion from $1.066 billion a year ago, with $171 million in acquisitions compared to $112 million acquired in 2014. In the fourth quarter of 2015, one aircraft and seven engines were purchased for $48 million.
  • Fourth quarter lease rent revenue of $28.9 million increased 16.0% year-over-year and grew 2.8% from the prior quarter.
  • Maintenance reserve revenue was $14.3 million in 4Q15 compared to $16.1 million in 3Q15 and $11.7 million in the fourth quarter a year ago.
  • Willis Aero parts sales increased 75% to $15.6 million in 2015 from $8.9 million a year ago, and margin improved 143% to $3.5 million from $1.4 million in 2014.
  • Tangible book value per share increased 7.2% to $27.86 at December 31, 2015, compared to $25.99 a year ago.
  • A total of 60,567 shares of common stock were repurchased in the quarter for $1.0 million under the Company’s five-year repurchase plan reapproved in April 2015. In addition, the successful Dutch Auction completed in December 2015 facilitated the repurchase of an additional 643,821 shares for $11.9 million. For the full year, share repurchases totaled 912,247 shares for $16.5 million.
  • Liquidity available from the revolving credit facility was $151 million, down from $270 million a year ago when liquidity was positively impacted by the upsizing of our revolving credit facility in the second quarter of 2014.
  • Cash provided by operating activities increased during 2015 to $109.1 million or 74.0% from $62.7 million during 2014.

“We have stepped up our trading activity in the last year to capitalize on solid opportunities in the market,” said Brian Hole, Chief Investment Officer and incoming President. “We’ve been managing our own portfolio more effectively, and at the same time seeking opportunities to leverage our creativity and our experience with engines, either for trade, lease or for surplus material, in order to deliver value-added solutions for our customers. Whether this results in us financing, buying or selling aircraft or engines, or simply providing technical and asset management services, we’re looking forward to developing even deeper relationships with our many customers around the world.”

“After 19 years on our management team, we are bidding farewell to Don Nunemaker who is retiring, and welcoming Brian Hole as our incoming President,” said Willis. “In addition, we have initiated a search for a new Chief Financial Officer, following Brad Forsyth’s recent resignation for personal reasons. Our business continues to evolve, and we are building our senior management team to be fully prepared for the opportunities and challenges of the future.”

Balance Sheet

As of December 31, 2015, Willis Lease had 201 commercial aircraft engines, 10 aircraft and 5 aircraft parts packages and other engine-related equipment in its lease portfolio, with a net book value of $1.123 billion, compared to 207 commercial aircraft engines, 5 aircraft and 5 aircraft parts packages and other engine-related equipment in its lease portfolio, with a net book value of $1.066 billion, a year ago. The Company’s funded debt-to-equity ratio was 4.18 to 1 at year end, compared to 3.88 to 1 a year ago.

Willis Lease Finance

Willis Lease Finance Corporation leases large and regional spare commercial aircraft engines, auxiliary power units and aircraft to airlines, aircraft engine manufacturers and maintenance, repair and overhaul providers in 120 countries. These leasing activities are integrated with engine and aircraft trading, engine lease pools supported by cutting edge technology, as well as various end-of-life solutions for aircraft, engines and aviation materials provided through its subsidiary, Willis Aeronautical Services, Inc.

Except for historical information, the matters discussed in this press release contain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Do not unduly rely on forward-looking statements, which give only expectations about the future and are not guarantees. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we undertake no obligation to update them. Our actual results may differ materially from the results discussed in forward-looking statements. Factors that might cause such a difference include, but are not limited to: the effects on the airline industry and the global economy of events such as terrorist activity, changes in oil prices and other disruptions to the world markets; trends in the airline industry and our ability to capitalize on those trends, including growth rates of markets and other economic factors; risks associated with owning and leasing jet engines and aircraft; our ability to successfully negotiate equipment purchases, sales and leases, to collect outstanding amounts due and to control costs and expenses; changes in interest rates and availability of capital, both to us and our customers; our ability to continue to meet the changing customer demands; regulatory changes affecting airline operations, aircraft maintenance, accounting standards and taxes; the market value of engines and other assets in our portfolio; and risks detailed in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K/A and other continuing reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Consolidated Statements of Income (Loss)
(In thousands, except per share data)Three Months Ended Years Ended
December 31, % December 31, %
2015 2014 Change 2015 2014 Change
REVENUE
Lease rent revenue$ 28,873 $ 24,883 16.0% $ 107,866 $ 101,748 6.0%
Maintenance reserve revenue 14,320 11,706 22.3% 55,064 53,363 3.2%
Spare parts and equipment sales 10,608 2,227 376.4% 25,608 8,917 187.2%
Gain on sale of leased equipment 654 2,040 (67.9)% 8,354 5,753 45.2%
Other revenue 740 706 4.8% 2,718 4,506 (39.7)%
Total revenue 55,195 41,562 32.8% 199,610 174,287 14.5%
EXPENSES
Depreciation and amortization expense 17,124 17,282 (0.9)% 69,586 65,441 6.3%
Cost of spare parts and equipment sales 7,647 1,301 487.9% 17,866 7,474 139.0%
Write-down of equipment 601 2,674 (77.5)% 9,181 5,602 63.9%
General and administrative 11,918 7,804 52.7% 42,744 35,859 19.2%
Technical expense 1,567 4,593 (65.9)% 9,403 12,336 (23.8)%
Net finance costs
Interest expense 9,780 9,127 7.2% 39,012 37,062 5.3%
Gain on extinguishment of debt - - 0.0% (1,151) - 100.0%
Total net finance costs 9,780 9,127 7.2% 37,861 37,062 2.2%
Total expenses 48,637 42,781 13.7% 186,641 163,774 14.0%
Earnings (loss) from operations 6,558 (1,219) n/a 12,969 10,513 23.4%
Earnings from joint ventures 48 510 (90.6)% 1,175 1,329 (11.6)%
Income (loss) before income taxes 6,606 (709) n/a 14,144 11,842 19.4%
Income tax expense (benefit) 3,633 (431) n/a 6,788 4,595 47.7%
Net income (loss)$ 2,973 $ (278) n/a $ 7,356 $ 7,247 1.5%
Basic earnings (loss) per common share$ 0.38 $ (0.04) $ 0.94 $ 0.92
Diluted earnings (loss) per common share$ 0.38 $ (0.03) $ 0.92 $ 0.89
Average common shares outstanding 7,733 7,839 7,811 7,917
Diluted average common shares outstanding 7,865 8,037 7,982 8,141



Consolidated Balance Sheets
(In thousands, except per share data) December 31,
2015
September 30,
2015
December 31,
2014
ASSETS
Cash and cash equivalents $ 9,732 $ 9,245 $ 13,493
Restricted cash 33,026 26,883 51,258
Equipment held for operating lease, less accumulated depreciation 1,122,859 1,097,815 1,066,448
Equipment held for sale 23,454 21,054 18,114
Spare parts inventory 20,526 22,811 18,593
Operating lease related receivable, net of allowances 14,072 16,576 8,912
Investments 41,295 41,740 41,590
Property, equipment & furnishings, less accumulated depreciation 20,247 20,475 17,955
Intangible assets, net 932 990 1,164
Other assets 22,434 27,516 24,099
Total assets $ 1,308,577 $ 1,285,105 $ 1,261,626
LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY
Liabilities:
Accounts payable and accrued expenses $ 21,665 $ 18,883 $ 21,614
Deferred income taxes 96,742 93,341 90,510
Notes payable 878,684 852,156 840,956
Maintenance reserves 71,054 69,789 66,474
Security deposits 25,010 25,973 20,869
Unearned lease revenue 5,090 5,115 4,342
Total liabilities 1,098,245 1,065,257 1,044,765
Shareholders' equity:
Common stock ($0.01 par value) $ 75 $ 83 $ 83
Paid-in capital in excess of par 28,720 40,880 42,076
Retained earnings 182,058 179,085 174,702
Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss), net of tax (521) (200) -
Total shareholders' equity 210,332 219,848 216,861
Total liabilities and shareholders' equity $ 1,308,577 $ 1,285,105 $ 1,261,626


Consolidated Statements of Income
(In thousands, except per share data)Years Ended
December 31,
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
REVENUE
Lease rent revenue$ 107,866 $ 101,748 $ 101,737 $ 94,591 $ 104,663
Maintenance reserve revenue 55,064 53,363 46,694 41,387 39,161
Spare parts and equipment sales 25,608 8,917 - - -
Gain on sale of leased equipment 8,354 5,753 5,675 5,499 11,110
Other revenue 2,718 4,506 4,306 6,613 1,719
Total revenue 199,610 174,287 158,412 148,090 156,653
EXPENSES
Depreciation and amortization expense 69,586 65,441 58,727 52,591 51,250
Cost of spare parts and equipment sales 17,866 7,474 - - -
Write-down of equipment 9,181 5,602 6,461 5,874 3,341
General and administrative 42,744 35,859 33,868 34,551 35,701
Technical expense 9,403 12,336 12,863 7,006 8,394
Net finance costs
Interest expense 39,012 37,062 38,719 31,669 35,034
Loss (Gain) on extinguishment of debt and derivatives termination (1,151) - - 15,462 343
Total net finance costs 37,861 37,062 38,719 47,131 35,377
Total expenses 186,641 163,774 150,638 147,153 134,063
Earnings from operations 12,969 10,513 7,774 937 22,590
Earnings from joint ventures 1,175 1,329 3,526 1,759 1,295
Income before income taxes 14,144 11,842 11,300 2,696 23,885
Income tax expense (benefit) 6,788 4,595 (4,326) 1,161 9,377
Net income 7,356 7,247 15,626 1,535 14,508
Preferred stock dividends - - - 2,493 3,128
Preferred stock redemption costs - - - 2,835 -
Net income (loss) attributable to common shareholders$ 7,356 $ 7,247 $ 15,626 $ (3,793) $ 11,380
Basic earnings (loss) per common share$ 0.94 $ 0.92 $ 1.95 $ (0.45) $ 1.35
Diluted earnings (loss) per common share$ 0.92 $ 0.89 $ 1.89 $ (0.43) $ 1.28
Average common shares outstanding 7,811 7,917 8,029 8,490 8,423
Diluted average common shares outstanding 7,982 8,141 8,289 8,791 8,876

CONTACT: Charles F. Willis Chairman & CEO (415) 408-4700 The Cereghino Group IR CONTACT: 206-388-5785

Source:Willis Lease Finance Corp.