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Carriage Services Announces Third Quarter 2009 Results

Thursday, October 29, 2009 General News J E 4
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HOUSTON, Oct. 28 Carriage Services, Inc. (NYSE: CSV) today announced results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2009. Financial highlights from continuing operations for the third quarter of 2009 compared to the third quarter of 2008 were as follows:

HIGHLIGHTS

Melvin C. Payne, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "Given a weak revenue environment, third quarter results were satisfactory primarily because we achieved EPS of $0.05 versus $0.03 on a comparable basis and $0.01 on a GAAP basis last year. Despite the lower funeral volumes and challenging economic conditions, our expense management across all areas of our business has continued to be excellent. The cost control theme was evident in the third quarter of 2009 as we reduced field level expenses by $1.4 million, more than offsetting the $1.0 million reduction in revenue and resulting in an increase of 160 basis points in Total Field EBITDA Margin to 32.2% in the quarter compared to 30.6% last year. As we enter the more seasonably high revenue period, we are well positioned to finish strong in the fourth quarter and to get off to a good start in 2010," concluded Payne.

TREND REPORTING

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

CONSOLIDATED RESULTS

Total revenue for the third quarter of 2009 was $42.2 million compared to $43.2 million in last year's third quarter. Carriage earned $0.05 for the third quarter compared to $0.01 per diluted share on a GAAP basis in the same period last year. Consolidated EBITDA in the third quarter increased 4.3% to $8.7 million versus adjusted consolidated EBITDA of $8.4 million in last year's third quarter. Consolidated EBITDA Margin increased in the third quarter of this year by 130 basis points to 20.7% compared to adjusted Consolidated EBITDA Margin of 19.4% in the third quarter last year. Adjusted 2008 Consolidated EBITDA excludes litigation costs, termination charges, and other costs that were nonrecurring.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2009, total revenue was essentially flat at $132.5 million compared to $133.0 million. First nine months 2009 diluted earnings per share was $0.29 compared to diluted earnings per share from continuing operations of $0.18 on a GAAP basis in the same period last year. Excluding special charges in the first nine months of 2008, adjusted diluted earnings per share from continuing operations was $0.26. First nine months 2009 Consolidated EBITDA was $31.1 million and Consolidated EBITDA Margin was 23.5% compared to 2008 adjusted Consolidated EBITDA of $30.3 million and adjusted Consolidated EBITDA Margin of 22.8%.

FUNERAL OPERATIONS

Third quarter Funeral Revenue decreased $1.0 million, or 3.2%, to $30.6 million as the number of contracts declined 3.9% and the average revenue per contract increased 1.1%. The cremation rate for the third quarter of 2009 increased by 2.8 percentage points to 42.6% compared to 39.8% for the third quarter last year. A recent initiative implemented in the third quarter of 2008 to increase the average revenue per cremation contract, largely by converting direct cremations to cremations with services, continues to gain traction and helped not only the cremation average but also customer satisfaction levels with cremation families. As a result of this continuing initiative, which includes new training and new merchandise options for client families, the average revenue per cremation contract in the current quarter increased 6.0% from the third quarter of 2008. Cremations with services have risen from 35% of total cremation contracts in the third quarter of 2008 to 42% for the third quarter of 2009.

Funeral Field EBITDA increased 3.2% to $10.4 million compared to the third quarter of 2008, while the related Field EBITDA Margin increased 210 basis points to 34.0% from 31.9%. The year over year improvement in Funeral Field EBITDA and Funeral Field EBITDA Margin was substantially due to the ability of our Managing Partners to reduce operating costs across almost all expense categories in the current weak revenue environment.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2009, total funeral revenue was $97.2 million, just slightly lower year over year. The number of contracts has decreased by 1,163, or 6% compared to the first nine months of 2008, while total Funeral Field EBITDA declined by only 1.8% to $35.3 million and total Funeral Field EBITDA Margin increased 60 basis points to 36.3% because of excellent cost management.

CEMETERY OPERATIONS

Cemetery Revenue totaled $11.6 million in the third quarter of 2009, essentially unchanged compared to the prior year quarter. Cemetery Field EBITDA increased 1.9% to $3.2 million, as Cemetery Field EBITDA Margin increased slightly to 27.6% from 27.0% in the prior year.

Total Cemetery Financial Revenue from trust funds and finance charges increased by approximately $0.1 million compared to the third quarter a year ago. Financial income from the perpetual care trust funds, where current earnings are recognized, increased by $0.2 million. Financial income from merchandise and services trust funds, where cumulative realized earnings are recognized at the point when the merchandise and services are provided, was essentially unchanged from the prior year.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2009 total cemetery revenue increased $3.0 million or 9.2% to $35.3 million compared to the prior year period, driven by an increase in preneed property sales of $3.6 million or 29.2%. Total Cemetery Field EBITDA increased by $1.7 million or 19.5%, as Total Cemetery Field EBITDA Margin increased 250 basis points to 29.5% from 27.0% on the strength of the increase in preneed property sales.

OVERHEAD

Total Overhead of $4.9 million in the third quarter of 2009 was roughly flat compared to the third quarter of 2008 when excluding $0.8 million in nonrecurring special charges in the 2008 period. No special or nonrecurring costs have been incurred in 2009.

SHARE REPURCHASE PROGRAM

During 2008 the Board of Directors approved plans for common stock repurchases totaling $10 million. During the third quarter of 2009 the Company repurchased 108,544 shares of common stock at an average cost per share of $3.77. Through September 30, 2009, we have repurchased a cumulative total of 2,861,897 shares at an average cost of $3.14 per share. Compared to the third quarter of 2008, $0.01 of the improvement in diluted earnings per share for the third quarter of 2009 was due to the lower share count. As of September 30, 2009, the amount available to spend in the future for share repurchases is $1.0 million.

TRUST FUND PERFORMANCE

Over the last year, Carriage has successfully repositioned the investments in its discretionary trust fund accounts by exploiting credit and illiquidity opportunities during the recent capital markets crisis. The Company believes it is well positioned to produce higher amounts of both income and capital gains from trust funds over the next few years in support of its field operations. Shown below are consolidated performance metrics for the combined trust fund portfolios (preneed funeral, cemetery merchandise and services and cemetery perpetual care) at key dates.

Management believes the financial revenue to be derived from its cemetery perpetual care trusts and the maturing contracts in its preneed funeral and cemetery trusts will increase earnings compared to prior periods, and will have an increasingly positive earnings impact in future years from maturing contracts with higher levels of accumulated income.

CASH FLOW

Carriage Services generated negative Free Cash Flow (defined as cash flow from operations less maintenance capital expenditures) of $0.7 million during the third quarter of 2009, compared to negative Free Cash Flow of $0.8 million in the third quarter of 2008. It is common for Free Cash Flow to be low in the third quarter because we pay the semiannual cash interest payment of $5.1 million on the Senior Notes in the third quarter and because seasonally the third quarter is the lowest revenue period of the year. The sources and uses of cash for the first nine months of 2009 consist of the following (in millions):

BANK CREDIT FACILITY

The Company is in the process of amending and extending its bank credit facility with its lenders, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo. The Company's current credit facility in the amount of $20 million expires in April 2010 and as of September 30, 2009 had no borrowings outstanding. The new credit facility is contemplated to be in the amount of $40 million with an accordion provision in the amount of $20 million and is expected to have a maturity date in the fourth quarter of 2012. The primary purpose of the new bank credit facility is to provide acquisition financing.

OUTLOOK

The Four Quarter Outlook ranges for the rolling four quarter period ending September 30, 2010 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 its three models are effectively executed. Performance drivers include funeral contract volumes, cremation mix, preneed sales, preneed maturities and deliveries, average revenue per service and overhead items. Other variables include the effective tax rate, which is currently estimated to be in the range of 39% to 41% and the estimated number of diluted shares outstanding which is currently estimated to be approximately 17.5 million and is subject to change based on changes in the share price and activity in the share repurchase plan. Though we expect to acquire businesses in the future, we have not forecast any acquisitions in the Four Quarter Outlook ending September 30, 2010, because of the uncertainty as to the timing and size of acquisitions.

Earnings for this period are expected to increase relative to 12 months ended September 30, 2009 for the following reasons:

CONFERENCE CALL

Carriage Services has scheduled a conference call for tomorrow, Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 10:30 a.m. eastern time. To participate in the call, please dial 480-629-9869 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 November 5, 2009 and may be accessed by dialing 303-590-3030 and using pass code 4173929#. An audio archive will also be available on the company's website at www.carriageservices.com 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 kcroan@drg-e.com.

Carriage Services is a leading provider of death care services and products. Carriage operates 134 funeral homes in 25 states and 32 cemeteries in 11 states.

USE OF NON-GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURES

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 and legal expense unrelated to day to day operations. Regional fixed overhead and corporate fixed overhead represent the cost and expenses of 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.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

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, 2008, 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 www.carriageservices.com.

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 Non-GAAP Financial Measures, Continued:

Third Quarter Selected Financial Results (amounts in millions, except per share amounts) Change ----------------- Q3 2008(1) Q3 2009 Amount Percent ---------- ------- ------- ------- Total Revenues $43.2 $42.2 ($1.0) (2.4%) Consolidated EBITDA $8.4 $8.7 $0.3 4.3% Consolidated EBITDA Margin 19.4% 20.7% 130bp 6.7% Net Income $0.6 $0.9 $0.3 50% Diluted Earnings per Share $0.03 $0.05 $0.02 67% (1) For comparability purposes, Q3 2008 is adjusted to exclude special charges totaling $0.8 million

SOURCE Carriage Services, Inc.
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