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Carriage Services Announces Fourth Quarter 2008 Results

HOUSTON, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Carriage Services, Inc. (NYSE: CSV) today announced results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2008. Highlights from continuing operations for the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the fourth quarter of 2007 were as follows:

    Fourth Quarter Selected Financial Results
    (amounts in millions, except per share amounts)

                                               Q4        Q4            Change
                                              2007      2008
     Total Revenues                           $43.0    $43.8            $0.8
     Adjusted Consolidated EBITDA             $10.7     $8.9(a)        $(1.8)
     GAAP Diluted Earnings (Loss) per Share   $0.09   $(0.09)         $(0.18)
     Adjusted Diluted Earnings per Share      $0.09     $0.04(a)(b)   $(0.05)

    (a)  excludes a one-time $3.3 million charge related to a tentative
         class action settlement and $0.2 million in related legal fees,
         equal to $0.10 per diluted share.
    (b)  excludes the $0.5 million increase in income taxes due to a higher
         effective tax rate for the first nine months of 2008, equal to
         $0.03 per diluted share.


Melvin C. Payne, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "Adjusted diluted earnings per share in the fourth quarter of 2008, which excludes a one-time charge for a litigation settlement and an increase in our effective tax rate for 2008, both of which were recorded in the fourth quarter, was $0.04 per diluted share. Adjusted Consolidated EBITDA Margin was 20.2% in the four quarter of 2008 compared to 24.9% in the fourth quarter of 2007 and 22.1% for the year 2008 compared to 24.8% for the year 2007, largely due to weak results in our cemetery segment. We have continued our focus to lower our costs company-wide and improve the leadership and sales staff at several of our larger cemeteries to drive good quality sales and profit margins.

"This past year and especially the last quarter were challenging to say the least, but we finished with a strong December primarily because of our funeral operations. We have positioned our company for improved performance in 2009 on the strength of our funeral operations and the repositioning of our trust fund portfolio during the fourth quarter and early 2009. We do not expect to repeat the large amount of special charges that impacted our 2008 performance, and notwithstanding the extraordinarily difficult economic environment, we expect modestly improved cemetery performance in 2009. All in all, we believe we are in position to not only survive this unusual period, but to thrive and exploit any opportunities that come our way."

                              Period Ended December 31, 2008

                                         Actual    Actual     Actual   Actual
                                         Qtr 4     Qtr 4       YTD      YTD
                                          2007      2008       2007     2008
                                        ------      ----       ----     ----

    Same Store Contracts
      Atneed Contracts                    4,211     4,144     16,367   16,881
      Preneed Contracts                   1,047       964      4,395    4,019
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
        Total Same Store
         Funeral Contracts                5,258     5,108     20,762   20,900
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
    Acquisition Contracts
      Atneed Contracts                      561       664      1,439    2,858
      Preneed Contracts                     237       247        643      903
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
        Total Acquisition
         Funeral Contracts                  798       911      2,082    3,761
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
      New Store Openings                    144       238        522      870
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------

    Total Funeral Contracts               6,200     6,257     23,366   25,531
                                        =======    ======    =======  =======

    Same Store Revenue
      Funeral Operations Revenue        $28,024   $28,349   $111,092 $113,034
      Preneed Commission and
       Other Revenue                        444       617      2,198    2,670
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
          Total Funeral Same
           Store Revenue                 28,468    28,966    113,290  115,704

      Cemetery Operations Revenue         7,764     8,138     34,299   32,726
      Cemetery Financial Revenue          1,543       695      4,526    3,723
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
          Total Cemetery Same
           Store Revenue                  9,307     8,833     38,825   36,449
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
          Total Same Store Revenue       37,775    37,799    152,115  152,153

    Acquisition Revenue
      Funeral Operations Revenue          3,745     4,516     10,549   18,542
      Cemetery Operations Revenue         1,296     1,447      3,875    5,971
      Cemetery Financial Revenue            161        72        317      262
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------

          Total Acquisition Revenue       5,202     6,035     14,741   24,775
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
    Total Revenue from
     Continuing Operations              $42,977   $43,834   $166,856 $176,928
                                        =======    ======    =======  =======
                                         26,401    29,510     77,303   87,210
    Field EBITDA from
     Continuing Operations
      Same Store Funeral Field
       EBITDA                           $11,382   $11,001    $43,183  $42,587
      Same Store Funeral Field
       EBITDA Margin                      40.0%     38.0%      38.1%    36.8%

      Same Store Cemetery Field
       EBITDA                             3,133     1,786     13,405    8,966
      Same Store Cemetery Field
       EBITDA Margin                      33.7%     20.2%      34.5%    24.6%
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
          Total Same Store Field
           EBITDA                        14,515    12,787     56,588   51,553
          Total Same Store Field
           EBITDA Margin                  38.4%     33.8%      37.2%    33.9%

      Acquisition Funeral Field
       EBITDA                             1,173     1,383      3,617    5,736
      Acquisition Funeral Field
       EBITDA Margin                      31.3%     30.6%      34.3%    30.9%

      Acquisition Cemetery Field
       EBITDA                               452       461      1,053    1,994
      Acquisition Cemetery Field
       EBITDA Margin                      31.0%     30.3%      25.1%    32.0%
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------

          Total Acquisition Field
           EBITDA                         1,625     1,844      4,670    7,730
          Total Acquisition Field
           EBITDA Margin                  31.2%     30.6%      31.7%    31.2%
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------

    Total Field EBITDA from
     Continuing Operations               16,140    14,631     61,258   59,283
    Total Field EBITDA Margin from
     Continuing Operations                37.6%     33.4%      36.7%    33.5%
      Total Variable Overhead             1,408     1,449      3,406    3,403
      Total Regional Fixed Overhead         731       916      3,122    3,413
      Total Corporate Fixed Overhead      3,287     3,413     13,408   13,311
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
    Total Overhead                        5,426     5,778     19,936   20,127
                                          12.6%     13.2%      11.9%    11.4%
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
    Adjusted Consolidated EBITDA
     from Continuing Operations         $10,714    $8,853    $41,322  $39,156
                                        =======    ======    =======  =======
    Adjusted Consolidated EBITDA
     Margin from Continuing Operations    24.9%     20.2%      24.8%    22.1%

    Special Charges
    Litigation Settlement                     -     3,300          -    3,300
    Litigation Related Legal Costs          337       241        861    1,638
    Termination Expenses                      -         -          -      977
    Other Special Charges                   165         -        739      246
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
    Sum of Special Charges                  502     3,541      1,600    6,161
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
    Consolidated EBITDA from
     Continuing Operations              $10,212    $5,312    $39,722  $32,995
                                          23.8%     12.1%      23.8%    18.6%
    Property Depreciation &
     Amortization                         2,336     2,624      9,488   10,368
    Restricted Stock Amortization           222       246        723      996
    Interest, Net                         4,474     4,624     17,193   18,102

                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
    Pretax Income                        $3,180   $(2,182)   $12,318   $3,529

    Income tax                            1,352      (531)     4,960    1,725
                                        -------   -------   -------- --------
    Net income from Continuing
     Operations                          $1,828   $(1,651)    $7,358   $1,804
                                        =======    ======    =======  =======
                                           4.3%     (3.8)%      4.4%     1.0%

    Diluted EPS-from continuing
     operations                           $0.09    $(0.09)     $0.38    $0.09
    Net income (Loss) from Discontinued
     Operations                            $383     $(156)      $921  $(1,546)
    Diluted EPS-from discontinued
     operations                           $0.02    $(0.01)     $0.05   $(0.08)


Management monitors consolidated same store and acquisition field operating and financial results both on a year over year and most recent rolling four quarters ("Trend Reports") basis to reflect long term and short term trends and seasonality. "Acquisition" is defined as businesses acquired since January 2005 (date of refinancing our Senior Notes). The Trend Reports highlight trends in volumes, revenues, Field EBITDA (controllable profit), Field EBITDA Margin (controllable profit margin) and the components of our overhead. Trend reporting allows us to focus on the key operational and financial drivers relevant to the longer term performance and valuation of our portfolio of deathcare businesses. Please go to the Investor Relations homepage of Carriage's web site at for a link to our consolidated Annual and Quarterly Trend Reports.


Fourth quarter Same Store Funeral Operations Revenue increased 1.2% as the average revenue per contract increased 4.1% while the number of contracts declined 2.9%. Revenue from the Acquisition portfolio increased $0.8 million primarily because of a full quarter of revenue from two large businesses acquired in the fourth quarter of 2007. The overall cremation rate for the fourth quarter of 2008 was 39.2%, which represents a slight decline from the third quarter. A recent initiative to increase the average revenue per cremation contract largely by converting direct cremations to cremations with services is getting traction and helping not only our cremation average, but customer satisfaction levels with our cremation families. As a result of this initiative, which includes new training and presentation options for client families, the average revenue per cremation contract increased 3.4% from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2008 and the proportion of cremations with services increased in each of our three regions.

Same Store Funeral Field EBITDA declined by $0.4 million, equal to 3.3%, compared to the fourth quarter of 2007, while the related EBITDA Margin declined to 38% from 40%, primarily the result of higher labor costs. Our funeral Acquisitions portfolio contributed an additional $0.2 million of Field EBITDA compared to the prior year quarter.

For the full year, Same Store Funeral Revenue increased $2.4 million, equal to 2.1%, to $115.7 million. Total Same Store Funeral contract volume increased 0.7% and the atneed contract volume increased 3.1% compared to 2007. Growing market share is the highest weighted performance standard in our Standards Operating Model and serves as an incentive motivator for the local managing partners to grow their contract volumes. This was the first year we have grown Same Store Funeral Contracts since rolling out the Standards Operating Model in 2004 and is an indication that this model combined with strong, operating leadership with 4E Leadership skills is proving effective at growing local market share. Same Store Funeral Field EBITDA decreased $0.6 million, equal to 1.4%, from $43.2 million for the year 2007 to $42.6 million for the year 2008 primarily as a result of higher labor costs. Our Acquisition portfolio provided an additional $8.0 million in revenue and $2.1 million in Field EBITDA in 2008 compared to 2007.


Same Store Cemetery Operations Revenue increased $0.4 million, equal to 4.8%, to $8.1 million in the fourth quarter. However, because Cemetery Same Store Financial Revenue from trust funds declined by $0.8 million, Total Cemetery Same Store Revenue declined almost $0.5 million, equal to 5.1% quarter over quarter. The decline in Same Store Cemetery Financial Revenue was due to financial market conditions and repositioning of the trust fund portfolio in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Company recognized losses on a substantial number of investments within its cemetery trust fund portfolio in order to reinvest the proceeds in high quality, income oriented securities that are and will continue to yield much higher earnings and cash flow for the intermediate and long-term.

Same Store Cemetery Field EBITDA declined by $1.3 million for the fourth quarter, in part because of the $0.8 million decline in financial revenue, as previously discussed. Additionally, because of the weakening economy we are increasing our bad debt reserves against our portfolio of cemetery receivables.

For the full year Cemetery Same Store Operations Revenue declined by $1.6 million to $32.7 million and Cemetery Same Store Field EBITDA declined by $4.4 million. A large portion of the underperformance occurred at Rolling Hills Memorial Park where a new sales manager has been busy rebuilding a sales organization that can execute our product sales program more effectively. Our Acquisition Cemetery portfolio provided an incremental $2.1 million in revenues and $0.9 million in Field EBITDA in 2008 compared to 2007.

In order to increase revenues from preneed property sales, Carriage began an initiative in the third quarter of 2008 to increase both the quantity and quality of the cemetery sales counselors at our major parks. Management believes that this hiring initiative was approximately 80% complete at year end and continued hiring emphasis should achieve appropriate staffing by the end of the first quarter of 2009. General economic weakness continued in some of the Company's key markets and is having a negative impact on revenues, particularly preneed property sales.


Carriage has reached a tentative settlement in a class action matter alleging violations of state and federal wage and hour laws. As a result of the settlement, there was a $3.5 million charge, including related legal fees, in the fourth quarter of 2008.


Total Overhead, excluding special charges, increased to $5.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 from $5.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2007. For the full year, Total Overhead increased $0.2 million, equal to 1.0%, to $20.1 million, but declined as a percent of total revenue by 50 basis points to 11.4%. The year over year increases in overhead were primarily related to upgrading of regional operating leadership during the last two years. In order to effectively manage our largest cost during the current economic crisis, the Company froze the salaries and wages of all employees during December 2008.


During the fourth quarter Carriage revised its effective tax rate for the year 2008 from approximately 39.5% to 48.8%. This change in estimate was due to the lower taxable income compared to that estimated earlier in the year. The lower taxable income was due primarily to the litigation charge previously discussed. A portion ($0.5 million) of the income tax expense recorded in the fourth quarter represents the additional amount that would have been recorded during the first three quarters of 2008 had the revised rate been used.


Carriage produced Free Cash Flow (defined as cash flow from continuing operations less maintenance capital expenditures) of $5.6 million during the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to $8.0 million for the corresponding 2007 period. The sources and uses of cash for 2008 consisted of the following (in millions):

    Cash flow from continuing operations                       $19.5
    Cash used for maintenance capital expenditures              (6.0)
    Free Cash Flow for 2008                                     13.5
    Cash and liquid investments at beginning of year             3.4
    Cash flow from discontinued operations                       0.2
    Proceeds from sales of businesses                            1.0
    Cash used for growth capital expenditures - funeral homes   (3.5)
    Cash used for growth capital expenditures - cemeteries      (3.4)
    Financing activities, primarily share repurchases
     and debt reduction                                         (6.2)
    Cash at December 31, 2008                                   $5.0


During June 2008, the Board of Directors approved the repurchase of $5.0 million of the Company's common stock. During October 2008 Carriage completed the $5.0 million repurchase program for which it acquired a total of 1,347,469 shares of common stock and an average cost per share of $3.71.

During November 2008 the Board of Directors approved an additional $5.0 million share repurchase plan. Through January 2009, Carriage had repurchased a total of 522,190 shares of common stock at an average cost per share of $2.05 under the new plan.


Joe R. Davis and Gary L. Forbes resigned their positions as Class I and Class II directors, respectively, effective February 25, 2009, in order to focus their time and energy on other matters during the current environment. The Board of Directors accepted the recommendation of the Corporate Governance Committee and appointed Richard W. Scott as a Class I director of the Company and L. William Heiligbrodt as a Class II director of the Company, effective as of February 25, 2009.

Mr. Scott is a seasoned financial services executive with over thirty years of capital markets experience. He is currently Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of Loews Corporation and formerly Chief Investment Officer, Insurance Portfolio Management, with AIG Investments.

Mr. Heiligbrodt is a private investor and managing partner in a family business, and also serves on the Board of Directors of BJ Services. He served in various management positions with Service Corporation International ("SCI") beginning in February 1990, including President and Chief Operating Officer until February 1999. Prior to joining SCI, Mr. Heiligbrodt served as Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wedge Group, Inc. for five years, which he joined in 1983 after a long career in banking with Texas Commerce Bank including as President and Chief Credit Officer.

"I want to thank Joe Davis and Gary Forbes for their service on Carriage's Board of Directors and welcome Richard Scott and Bill Heiligbrodt, who bring substantial deathcare operational and financial experience and expertise to our board as we expect to be faced with substantial opportunity over the next five years," added Payne.


The Four Quarter Outlook ranges for the period ending December 31, 2009 are intended to approximate what the Company believes will be the sustainable earning power of its portfolio of deathcare assets over the next four quarters as our three models are effectively executed. Performance drivers include funeral contract volumes, cremation mix, preneed sales, preneed maturities and deliveries, average revenue per service and sale, Field EBITDA Margins and overhead items. The Company has assumed no additional acquisitions. Other variables include the effective tax rate, which is currently estimated to be in the range of 39% to 42% and the estimated number of diluted shares outstanding which is currently estimated to be in the range of 16.5 to 17 million and is subject to changes in the share price and activity in the share repurchase plan.

    ROLLING FOUR QUARTER OUTLOOK - Period Ending December 31, 2009
    (amounts in millions, except per share amounts)

    Revenues                      $175.0 - $180.0
    Field EBITDA                    $59.5 - $63.0
    Field EBITDA Margin              34.0% - 35.0%
    Total Overhead                  $22.0 - $23.0

    Consolidated EBITDA             $37.0 - $41.0
    Consolidated EBITDA Margin       21.1% - 22.8%

    Interest                            $18.1
    Depreciation & Amortization         $11.0
    Cash Taxes                           $1.0
    Net Income                        $6.4 - $7.1
    Diluted Earnings Per Share       $0.36 - $0.40
    Free Cash Flow                   $13.0 - $15.0

Consolidated EBITDA in 2009 is expected to increase from 2008 for the following reasons:

  • Increase in Funeral Field EBITDA with better execution of the Standards Operating Model
  • Increase in Same Store Cemetery EBITDA with higher preneed sales and less bad debt expense.
  • Higher cemetery financial revenue
  • Tighter Management of overhead expenses
  • Lower special charges due primarily to elimination of most litigation.

                Long Term Outlook - Through 2013 (Base Year 2008)

         Revenue growth of 6-8% annually, including acquisitions

         Consolidated EBITDA growth of 9-11% annually, including acquisitions

         Consolidated EBITDA Margin range of 23-26%

         Growth internally funded without new debt or equity


Carriage Services has scheduled a conference call for tomorrow, Friday, February 27, 2009 at 10:30 a.m. eastern time. To participate in the call, dial 303-262-2130 at least ten minutes before the conference call begins and ask for the Carriage Services conference call. A telephonic replay of the conference call will be available through March 6, 2009 and may be accessed by dialing 303-590-3000 and using pass code 11126225#. An audio archive will also be available on the company's website at shortly after the call and will be accessible for approximately 90 days. For more information, please contact Karen Roan at DRG&E at 713-529-6600 or email

Carriage Services is a leading provider of death care services and products. Carriage operates 136 funeral homes in 25 states and 32 cemeteries in 11 states.


This press release uses the following Non-GAAP financial measures "free cash flow and EBITDA". Both free cash flow and EBITDA are used by investors to value common stock. The Company considers free cash flow to be an important indicator of its ability to generate cash for acquisitions and other strategic investments. The Company has included EBITDA in this press release because it is widely used by investors to compare the Company's financial performance with the performance of other deathcare companies. The Company also uses Field EBITDA and Field EBITDA Margin to monitor and compare the financial performance of the individual funeral and cemetery field businesses. EBITDA does not give effect to the cash the Company must use to service its debt or pay its income taxes and thus does not reflect the funds actually available for capital expenditures. In addition, the Company's presentation of EBITDA may not be comparable to similarly titled measures other companies report. Non-GAAP financial measures should be viewed in addition to, and not as an alternative for, the Company's reported operating results or cash flow from operations or any other measure of performance as determined in accordance with GAAP.

The Company categorizes its general and administrative expenses into three categories of overhead: (1) variable overhead, (2) regional fixed overhead and (3) corporate fixed overhead. Variable overhead consists of cost and expense such as incentive compensation which will vary with profitability or legal expense unrelated to our day to day operations. Regional fixed overhead and corporate fixed overhead represent the cost and expenses of our regional operations leaders and the home office and will not vary as a result of profitability. Special charges are considered by management to be unusual in nature, unique and not expected to occur in the normal course of business.


Certain statements made herein or elsewhere by, or on behalf of, the Company that are not historical facts are intended to be forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These statements are based on assumptions that the Company believes are reasonable; however, many important factors, as discussed under "Forward-Looking Statements and Cautionary Statements" in the Company's Annual Report and Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007, could cause the Company's results in the future to differ materially from the forward-looking statements made herein and in any other documents or oral presentations made by, or on behalf of, the Company. The Company assumes no obligation to update or publicly release any revisions to forward-looking statements made herein or any other forward-looking statements made by, or on behalf of, the Company. A copy of the Company's Form 10-K, and other Carriage Services information and news releases, are available at

    Contacts:  Terry Sanford, SVP & CFO
               Carriage Services, Inc.
               Ken Dennard /
               Kip Rupp /
               DRG&E / 713-529-6600
                                 - Tables to Follow -

                                           CARRIAGE SERVICES, INC.
                                           Selected Financial Data
                                              December 31, 2008

    Selected Balance Sheet Data:                       12/31/2007 12/31/2008
    Cash and short-term investments                        $3,446     $5,007
    Total Senior Debt (a)                                 138,913    137,732
    Days sales in funeral accounts receivable                22.9       21.3
    Senior Debt to total capitalization                      40.9       41.1
    Senior Debt to EBITDA from continuing
     operations (rolling twelve months)                       3.5        4.3

    a)  Senior debt does not include the convertible junior subordinated

    Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures:

    This press release includes the use of certain financial measures that
    are not GAAP measures.  The non-GAAP financial measures are presented
    for additional information and are reconciled to their most comparable
    GAAP measures below.

    Reconciliation of Net Income from continuing operations to EBITDA from
    continuing operations for the rolling twelve months ended 12/31/2009
    presented at the midpoint of the range identified in the release:

                                                             Twelve months
                                                             12/31/2009 E
     Net income from continuing operations                      $6,800
     Provision for income taxes                                  3,100
     Pre-tax earnings from continuing operations                 9,900
     Net interest expense, including loan cost amortization     18,100
     Depreciation & amortization                                11,000
     EBITDA from continuing operations                         $39,000
     Revenue from continuing operations                       $177,500
     Adjusted EBITDA margin from continuing operations           22.0%

    Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures, Continued:

    Reconciliation of cash provided by operating activities from continuing
    operations to free cash flow (in 000s):

                                                  Three months    Three months
                                                     ended           Ended
                                                   12/31/2007      12/31/2008
                                                   ----------      ----------
     Cash provided by operating activities from
      continuing operations                           $9,960        $7,441
     Less maintenance capital expenditures from
      continuing operations                           (1,930)       (1,794)
     Free cash flow from continuing operations        $8,030        $5,647

                                                Twelve months   Twelve months
                                                    ended           Ended
                                                  12/31/2007      12/31/2008
                                                  ----------      ----------
     Cash provided by operating activities from
      continuing operations                          $19,277         $19,497
     Less maintenance capital expenditures from
      continuing operations                           (7,833)         (5,984)
     Free cash flow from continuing operations       $11,444         $13,513

    Reconciliation of diluted earnings per share to adjusted diluted
    earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2008 (in 000s):

                                         As     Litigation  Tax Rate
                                      Reported    Charges    Change  Adjusted
    Pre-tax income (loss) from
     continuing operations             $(2,182)   $3,541       $--   $1,359
    Income tax (expense) benefit           531    (1,728)      532     (665)
    Net income (loss)                  $(1,651)    $1,813     $532     $694
    Diluted earnings (loss) per share   $(0.09)     $0.10    $0.03    $0.04

SOURCE Carriage Services, Inc.
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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