It looks like the way forward for the company will remain rocky for some time and management may need to give up a fair bit of control to balance the books.
That could be at odds with the company’s plan to get out of the drilling services game and instead become a data provider to the industry.
Boart Longyear’s profit improvement came despite revenue being down $93 million – driven by lower volumes and unfavourable conditions. It shows the restructuring efforts the company has taken have had some effect.
Net cashflows from operating activities also improved but there was still a net cash outflow of $50 million for the year.
The company shed 388 employees over the year too.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation was $2 million for 2016 – a marginal improvement on the zero it recorded in 2015.
However, revenues fell 13% to $642 million year on year.
Net debt grew 17% to $676 million.
Boart Longyear CEO Jeff Olsen said 2016 had been another challenging year for the resources sector but he was seeing some green shoots.
“Exploration activity was low throughout the year, which is evident in our revenue dropping 13% versus the prior year,” Olsen said.
“That said, we continue to make clear and steady progress on our productivity and cost control initiatives.
“Comparing full-year 2016 to full-year 2015, adjusted EBITDA was up $32 million and cash from operating activities was up $5 million despite revenues being down 13%.
“We also continue to see positive signs in the market, including the recovery of prices for gold, copper and other key commodities.
“Through continued improvements in our operating performance combined with better volumes from an improving market, our goal is to be cash positive in 2017.”
Olsen said the financial restructuring process the company began in August was ongoing.
For that to happen it Boart Longyear’s debt holders will likely need to convert that debt to equity.
“We continue to work with our lenders and advisors to create a sustainable capital structure.
“While the process in incomplete and its outcome remains uncertain, we have made significant progress.
“Our primary objectives include reducing our financial debt, securing additional liquidity to sustain the company and extending maturities on our debt to facilitate an eventual refinancing.
“Achieving these objectives will likely require existing debt holders to convert all or part of their debt to equity, which will be highly dilutive to existing shareholders.
“We will also likely need to give our lenders significant governance rights and control post-restructuring.”
What that will mean for the company’s technology development going forward will remain to be seen.
Boart Longyear has been a key player in the Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre program, commercialising several of the DETCRC’s developments.
“We have already started rolling out at site drilling data tools –survey geophysics, logging, core orientation and assay – and expect this to accelerate in 2017,” Olsen said.
“As this is happening Boart Longyear will transition from being a drilling company to the leading provider of a full suite of industry-leading data.”