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USU > SEC Filings for USU > Form 10-Q on 6-Aug-2013All Recent SEC Filings

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Form 10-Q for USEC INC


6-Aug-2013

Quarterly Report


Item 2. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

The following discussion should be read in conjunction with, and is qualified in its entirety by reference to, the consolidated condensed financial statements and related notes set forth in Part I, Item 1 of this report as well as the risks and uncertainties presented in Part II, Item 1A of this report and Part I, Item 1A of the annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2012.

Overview

USEC, a global energy company, is a leading supplier of low enriched uranium ("LEU") for commercial nuclear power plants. LEU is a critical component in the production of nuclear fuel for reactors to produce electricity. We supply LEU to both domestic and international utilities for use in nuclear reactors worldwide.

We have historically produced or acquired LEU from two principal sources. We produced about half of our supply of LEU at the Paducah gaseous diffusion plant ("GDP") in Paducah, Kentucky that we lease from the U.S. Department of Energy ("DOE"), and we acquired the other portion under a contract with Russia (the "Russian Contract") under the 20-year Megatons to Megawatts program that ends in 2013. Under the Russian Contract, we purchase the SWU component of LEU derived from dismantled nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union for use as fuel in commercial nuclear power plants. We began ceasing enrichment at the Paducah GDP at the end of May 2013 after the one-year arrangement under which we were continuing enrichment at the Paducah GDP expired and are working to transition the site back to DOE. Our purchases under the Megatons to Megawatts program will also end in 2013 and will be replaced by purchases under a new 10-year commercial agreement with Russia (the "Russian Supply Agreement"). Purchase quantities under the Russian Supply Agreement will be about half the level under the Megatons to Megawatts program unless the parties exercise a mutual option to increase such purchases.

Our business is in a state of significant transition as we seek to re-position our enrichment business for long term success. We will be a significantly smaller company with lower revenues as we transition from having two sources of supply that provided approximately 10 to 12 million separative work units ("SWU") per year to making sales from our existing inventory, from future purchases of LEU from Russia at lower quantities and from other potential sources of supply. We continue to pursue commercialization of the American Centrifuge technology, which we believe is the best path to remaining a competitive producer of LEU in the long-term. We are confirming the technical readiness of the American Centrifuge technology through a cooperative cost-sharing research, development and demonstration ("RD&D") program with DOE. We are also in parallel working to position USEC financially to move forward as a stronger sponsor of the American Centrifuge project. However, current enrichment market conditions and the challenges these conditions present for obtaining the capital needed for the commercialization of the American Centrifuge project are causing us to evaluate the alternatives and actions needed for the deployment of the project, as discussed below under "Our View of the Business Today."

LEU consists of two components: SWU and uranium. SWU is a standard unit of measurement that represents the effort required to transform a given amount of natural uranium into two components: enriched uranium having a higher percentage of U235 and depleted uranium having a lower percentage of U235. The SWU contained in LEU is calculated using an industry standard formula based on the physics of enrichment. The amount of enrichment deemed to be contained in LEU under this formula is commonly referred to as its SWU component and the quantity of natural uranium used in the production of LEU under this formula is referred to as its uranium component.


Our View of the Business Today

Our business is in a state of significant transition from the gaseous diffusion technology employed for more than 60 years to a modern, cost-effective gas centrifuge technology. Managing this transition has been made more challenging by the prolonged outage of approximately 50 reactors in Japan. In March 2011, a tsunami resulting from a major earthquake caused irreparable damage to four reactors in Japan and subsequently resulted in more than 50 reactors in Japan and Germany being off-line in the aftermath of the tsunami. The majority of the Japanese reactors will remain off-line for an undetermined period of time until federal and local approval is obtained for re-start. In July, four Japanese utilities applied to nuclear regulators for permission to restart ten of the idled reactors. Germany has announced a national policy to phase out nuclear power by 2022. Together, these shutdowns have significantly affected the global supply and demand for LEU. An oversupply of nuclear fuel available for sale has increased over time and has resulted in significant downward pressure on market prices for LEU. In particular, based on current market conditions, we see limited uncommitted demand for LEU relative to supply prior to the end of the decade, and therefore fewer opportunities to make additional sales for delivery during that period. In addition, low prices for competing fuels such as natural gas in the United States could slow the need for new base load nuclear power capacity or hasten the retirement of some older nuclear plants in the United States.

The market conditions have affected our business plans, including our ability to continue enrichment at the Paducah GDP and increased challenges to the economics of our plan to deploy the American Centrifuge technology, as described below. The one-year arrangement with Energy Northwest to enrich depleted uranium supplied to Energy Northwest by DOE expired on May 31, 2013. USEC pursued possible opportunities for continuing enrichment at Paducah but the U.S. Department of Energy ("DOE") concluded that there were not sufficient benefits to the taxpayers to extend enrichment beyond May 31. During June and July 2013, we took steps to cease enrichment at the plant and prepare facilities for eventual return to DOE. We expect to continue operations at the site into 2014 in order to manage inventory, continue to meet customer orders and to meet the turnover requirements of our lease with DOE.

We have already made regulatory submittals to the NRC to support the de-lease of a portion of the Paducah GDP and return to DOE certain areas currently leased from DOE and expect to be taking additional actions over the next several months as our planning continues. For a limited period of time, we still need to lease certain areas used for ongoing operations such as shipping and handling, inventory management and site services. All 1,034 Paducah employees (except guards) were provided a WARN notice on May 31, 2013, and we expect initial layoffs of approximately 160 employees by August 19, 2013. Additional layoffs are expected to occur in stages into 2014 depending on business needs. We are currently in discussions with DOE regarding the timing of our de-lease and are seeking to minimize our transition costs related to lease turnover, which could be substantial. On August 1, 2013, we provided notice to DOE that we have exercised our rights to terminate the lease with respect to the Paducah GDP. We anticipate being able to complete the return of leased premises and terminate the Paducah GDP lease as early as July 2014. In the event that we and DOE are unable to agree on a schedule for termination prior to two years, we plan to retain a small portion of the leased premises until August 1, 2015, at which time the Paducah GDP lease will terminate and any remaining portion of the leased premises will be returned to DOE. In such an event, during this period we plan to return portions of the leased premises no longer required to meet our business needs. Under our lease, DOE has the obligation for decontamination and decommissioning of the Paducah GDP. For a discussion of potential transition costs, see below under "LEU Segment - Paducah GDP Transition."

We are also seeking to manage the impacts of the Paducah transition on our existing business. Now that we have ceased enrichment at the Paducah GDP, there will be a transition period of at least several years until the American Centrifuge Plant ("ACP") could be in commercial operations. During this period we will no longer be enriching uranium but making sales from our existing inventory, from our future purchases from Russia and from other potential sources of supply. We have an objective of minimizing the period of transition until we have a new source of domestic U.S. enrichment production. We expect to continue discussions with customers regarding our existing backlog, including revisions to contracts to reflect our anticipated sources of supply and anticipated timing for the financing and commercial production from the ACP. For a discussion of the potential implications of the transition of the Paducah GDP, see Part II, Item 1A, Risk Factors.


We continued to make progress in demonstrating the American Centrifuge technology in the first half of 2013. In April 2013, we announced that we had completed construction of our American Centrifuge commercial demonstration cascade in Piketon, Ohio. Construction activities included preparing the cascade for machine installation, making physical improvements to the facilities, removing existing cascade support equipment and installing new infrastructure systems. During cascade construction the program added more than 300 workers and at that time the RD&D program as a whole supported more than 1,100 jobs at more than 160 companies from 28 states.

In the subsequent months we have completed formal integrated systems testing of plant infrastructure and control systems and recently began the process of conditioning plant equipment and the 120 centrifuge machines in the commercial plant demonstration cascade with uranium gas in preparation for the demonstration of full cascade operations in the fourth quarter. The 120-machine cascade is the centerpiece of a cooperative research, development and demonstration ("RD&D") program with DOE. The objectives of the RD&D program are to demonstrate the American Centrifuge technology through the construction and operation of a commercial demonstration cascade and sustain the domestic U.S. centrifuge technical and industrial base for national security purposes and potential commercialization of the American Centrifuge technology. This includes activities to reduce the technical risks and improve the future prospects of deployment of the American Centrifuge technology.

The June 2012 cooperative agreement with DOE, as amended, includes nine technical milestones for the RD&D program. As of June 30, 2013, five of the milestones have been completed and certified by DOE; one milestone has been completed and documentation has been submitted for certification by DOE; and the final three milestones are targeted for completion at the end of the RD&D program on December 31, 2013. DOE has the right to terminate the cooperative agreement if any of the remaining technical milestones are not met. DOE also has the right to terminate the cooperative agreement if we materially fail to comply with the other terms and conditions of the cooperative agreement. Failure to meet the technical milestones under the cooperative agreement could provide a basis for DOE to exercise its remedies under the 2002 DOE-USEC Agreement. In addition, the cooperative agreement contains non-binding performance indicators that are designed to be achieved throughout the RD&D program and ensure that the RD&D program is on track to achieve the milestones and other program objectives. Although the performance indicators are non-binding, the failure to achieve a performance indicator could cause DOE to take actions that are adverse to us. By manufacturing the 120 AC100 centrifuges required for the demonstration cascade, the program has met the third out of five performance indicators. Documentation of completion of the fourth performance indicator has been submitted to DOE for certification. Progress on the remaining performance indicator is in line with expectations to achieve the target dates for the performance indicator.

The cooperative agreement between USEC and DOE defines the scope, funding and technical goals for the RD&D program. The program schedule runs from June 1, 2012 through December 31, 2013. The total investment in the program will be up to $350 million, with DOE providing 80%, and USEC providing 20% of the total. DOE's total contribution would be up to $280 million and our contribution would be up to $70 million. The cooperative agreement is being incrementally funded, and $227.7 million of DOE funding has been provided. The amount of federal funding made available to date is expected to fund RD&D program activities through September 30, 2013. We have adjusted our program spending to accommodate changes to the timing and amount of federal funding, and we remain on schedule and budget to complete the RD&D program by the end of 2013. We will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to fund the RD&D program through December 2013 and achieve the remaining program milestones. The Administration has included a request for transfer authority of $48 million in the President's Government Fiscal Year 2014 budget to fund the RD&D program, and the same level of funding is in the FY 2014 Energy and Water Appropriations bill approved by the House of Representatives on July 10, 2013 and in the Senate version of the bill reported to the Senate by the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 27, 2013. We believe that this level of funding, if provided, would be sufficient to complete the program. However, there is no assurance that this additional funding will be made available.


We plan to incorporate the 120-machine cascade in the full commercial plant of 96 identical cascades. USEC is in the process of developing an updated plan for the financing and commercialization of the American Centrifuge project. Factors that can affect this plan include key variables related to project cost, schedule, market demand and market prices for low enriched uranium, financing costs and other financing terms. USEC has experienced cost pressures due to delays in deployment of the project. The economics of the project are also being increasingly challenged by the current supply/demand imbalance in the market for low enriched uranium and related downward pressure on market prices, which have continued to decline during 2013. USEC does not currently have the remaining government cost-share funding in place for the last three months of the calendar year needed to complete the RD&D program or any financing in place for the project following completion of the RD&D program and will need significant additional financing in order to complete the American Centrifuge Plant.

We expect to need at least $4 billion of capital in order to complete the ACP.
While a portion of that capital could include cash generated by the project during startup and additional capital contributions from USEC, the majority of the capital will need to come from third parties. We believe a loan guarantee under the DOE Loan Guarantee Program, which was established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, or other government support is critical to obtaining the funding needed to complete the ACP. In July 2008, we applied under the DOE Loan Guarantee Program for $2 billion in U.S. government guaranteed debt financing for the ACP. We have also had discussions with Japanese export credit agencies regarding financing up to $1 billion of the cost of completing the ACP, with such potential financing predicated on our receiving a DOE loan guarantee. As part of the commercialization effort, we expect to need additional investors in the project which would reduce our ownership in the project. In order to successfully raise this capital, we need to develop and validate a viable business plan that supports loan repayment and provides potential investors with an attractive return on investment based on the project's risk profile. The economics of the American Centrifuge project are increasingly challenged under current enrichment market conditions, as described above, which have continued to decline during 2013. We have no assurances that we will be successful in obtaining this financing and that market conditions and the delays and cost increases we have experienced will not adversely affect these efforts.

Given the current enrichment market conditions and the challenges these conditions present for obtaining the capital necessary for ACP commercialization, we are evaluating and pursuing the feasibility of alternatives and the actions necessary to proceed with the commercial deployment of the American Centrifuge technology including the availability of additional government support. We have no assurance that we will be successful in achieving any of these measures, including obtaining additional government support that may be necessary to successful commercial deployment, or the timing thereof. Therefore, we continue to evaluate our options concerning the American Centrifuge project including our ability to continue the project prior to or upon completion of the RD&D program, further demobilization of or delays in the commercial deployment of the project, and termination of the project. Any such actions may have a material adverse impact on our ability to deploy the American Centrifuge technology, on our liquidity and on the long-term viability of our enrichment business. Additional information is provided in Part II, Item 1A, Risk Factors of this report and "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - The American Centrifuge Plant - Potential Project Demobilization" of the USEC's 2012 annual report on Form 10-K.

We currently estimate that we could incur total employee related severance and benefit costs of approximately $14.5 million for all American Centrifuge workers in the event of a full demobilization of the project. In addition, we currently estimate ongoing contractual commitments at June 30, 2013 of approximately $37.5 million, including contractual termination penalties related to both prepayment and contractual commitment amounts in connection with a demobilization. Depending on the length of the demobilization period, we would also incur significant costs related to the execution of the demobilization in addition to the severance costs, contractual commitments, contractual termination penalties and other related costs described above.


We are in the last year of the 20-year contract implementing the Megatons to Megawatts program. In March 2011, we signed a commercial agreement with Russia that provides continued access to this important source of supply following the conclusion of the Megatons to Megawatts program and in the second quarter deliveries under this commercial agreement commenced. We have also agreed to conduct a feasibility study to explore the possible deployment of an enrichment plant in the United States employing Russian centrifuge technology.

We also must continue to manage events that occur that are outside of our control, including actions that may be taken by vendors, customers, creditors and other third parties in response to our decisions or based on their view of our financial strength and future business prospects. For a discussion of the potential risks and uncertainties facing our business, see Part II, Item 1A, Risk Factors, of this report and Part I, Item 1A, Risk Factors, of the 2012 annual report on Form 10-K.

LEU Segment

Revenue from Sales of SWU and Uranium

Revenue from our LEU segment is derived primarily from:

sales of the SWU component of LEU,

sales of both the SWU and uranium components of LEU, and

sales of uranium.

The majority of our customers are domestic and international utilities that operate nuclear power plants, with international sales constituting 17% of revenue from our LEU segment in 2012. Our agreements with electric utilities are primarily long-term, fixed-commitment contracts under which our customers are obligated to purchase a specified quantity of SWU from us or long-term requirements contracts under which our customers are obligated to purchase a percentage of their SWU requirements from us. Under requirements contracts, a customer only makes purchases when its reactor has requirements for additional fuel. Our agreements for uranium sales are generally shorter-term, fixed-commitment contracts.

Our revenues and operating results can fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year. Revenue is recognized at the time LEU or uranium is delivered under the terms of contracts with domestic and international electric utility customers. Customer demand is affected by, among other things, electricity markets, reactor operations, maintenance and the timing of refueling outages. Utilities typically schedule the shutdown of their reactors for refueling to coincide with the low electricity demand periods of spring and fall. Thus, some reactors are scheduled for annual or two-year refuelings in the spring or fall, or for 18-month cycles alternating between both seasons.

Customer payments for the SWU component of LEU typically average approximately $20 million per order. As a result, a relatively small change in the timing of customer orders for LEU due to a change in a customer's refueling schedule may cause operating results to be substantially above or below expectations. While many contracts require the purchase of fixed quantities of SWU, customer orders that are related to their requirements for enrichment may be delayed due to outages, changes in refueling schedules or delays in the initial startup of a reactor. Customer requirements and orders are more predictable over the longer term. Our revenue could be adversely affected by actions of the NRC or nuclear regulators in foreign countries issuing orders to modify, delay, suspend or shut down nuclear reactor operations within their jurisdictions.

In order to enhance our liquidity and manage our working capital in light of anticipated sales and inventory levels and to respond to customer-driven changes, we have been working with customers regarding the timing of their orders, in particular the advancement of those orders. Rather than selling material into the limited spot market for enrichment, USEC advanced orders from 2012 into 2011 and orders from 2013 into 2012. Based on our anticipated liquidity and working capital needs, we have worked with customers to advance orders from 2014 to 2013. If customers agree to advance orders without delivery, a sale is recorded as deferred revenue. Alternatively, if


customers agree to advance orders and delivery, revenue is recorded in an earlier than originally anticipated period. The advancement of orders has the effect of accelerating our receipt of cash from such advanced sales, although the amount of cash and profit we receive from such sales may be reduced as a result of the terms mutually agreed with customers in connection with advancement.

Backlog is the estimated aggregate dollar amount of SWU and uranium sales that we expect to recognize as revenue in future periods under existing contracts with customers. Due to the current supply/demand imbalance in the market, we have not been able to achieve sufficient new sales to offset reductions in backlog resulting from annual deliveries including as a result of order advancements. We are seeing increased price competition as our competitors lower their prices to sell excess supply created by current market conditions and secondary suppliers liquidate inventories. This has adversely affected our sales efforts, and unless market conditions improve or we lower our prices to compete with this excess supply, we expect to continue to see a reduction to our sales backlog over time. Our ability to make new sales also is constrained by the uncertainty about our future prospects associated with the transition from production at the Paducah GDP to commercial production at the ACP. During the period of transition to commercialization of the ACP, we anticipate a lower level of revenues and sales, aligned with our anticipated sources of LEU from existing inventory and purchases of Russian LEU. We will need to enter into long-term contracts for production from the ACP in order to support the financing of the ACP, which would add to our longer-term backlog.

Our backlog includes sales prices that are in many cases significantly above current market prices. Therefore, customers may seek to limit their obligations under existing contracts or may be unwilling to extend contracts that have termination rights. Our backlog also includes contracts that may need to be revised to reflect our anticipated supply sources during our transition period. Many of our ACP contracts in our backlog were established with ACP-related financing and production milestones that needed to be revised in light of delays in the project. We have waived such milestones where we had the contractual right to do so and agreed with customers to modifications for other contracts. We expect to continue to work with customers regarding the remaining contracts and support for the ACP, however, some customers have indicated they expect to exercise their contract termination rights in light of current market prices. We have no assurance that our customers will agree to revise existing contracts or will not seek to exercise contract termination rights, which could adversely affect the value of our backlog and our prospects.

Our financial performance over time can be significantly affected by changes in prices for SWU and uranium. The long-term SWU price indicator, as published by TradeTech, LLC in Nuclear Market Review, is an indication of base-year prices under new long-term enrichment contracts in our primary markets. Since our backlog includes contracts awarded to us in previous years, the average SWU price billed to customers typically lags behind the current price indicators by several years, which means that prices under most contracts today exceed declining market prices. Following are TradeTech's long-term and spot SWU price indicators, the long-term price for uranium hexafluoride ("UF6"), as calculated by USEC using indicators published in Nuclear Market Review, and TradeTech's spot price indicator for UF6:

                                   June 30,     December 31,      June 30,
                                     2013           2012            2012
SWU:
Long-term price indicator ($/SWU) $  120.00    $       135.00    $  140.00
Spot price indicator ($/SWU)         110.00            120.00       134.00
UF6:
Long-term price composite ($/KgU)    165.68            165.68       176.13
Spot price indicator ($/KgU)         113.50            123.50       139.00

Most of our inventories of uranium available for sale have been sold in prior years, and we are no longer able to acquire uranium through underfeeding at the Paducah GDP. Underfeeding is a mode of operation that uses less uranium feed but requires more SWU in the enrichment process, which requires more electric power. In producing the same amount of LEU, we were able to vary our production process to underfeed uranium based on the


economics of the cost of electric power relative to the prices of uranium and enrichment, resulting in excess uranium that we could sell.

In a number of sales transactions, title to uranium or LEU is transferred to the customer and USEC receives payment under normal credit terms without physically . . .

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