Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers reports strong growth for 2008



    COMPANY ACHIEVES RECORD RESULTS IN THE FACE OF ECONOMIC TURMOIL

    VANCOUVER, Feb. 26 /CNW/ - Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Incorporated (NYSE:  
RBA; TSX: RBA) announces record net earnings for the year ended December 31,
2008 of $101.4 million, or $0.96 per diluted share, and adjusted net earnings
of $85.5 million, or $0.81 per diluted share. This compares to adjusted net
earnings of $71.9 million, or $0.68 per diluted share for 2007, representing
year-over-year growth of 19%. Financial statement net earnings in 2007 were
$76.0 million, or $0.72 per diluted share. The Company conducted 193
industrial auctions in 13 countries throughout North America, Europe, the
Middle East, Asia and Australia, and set 12 regional gross auction proceeds
records during the year. The Company also opened five new or replacement
auction facilities in 2008 as it continued its global expansion program.
    The Company defines adjusted net earnings as financial statement net
earnings excluding the after-tax effects of excess property sales and
significant foreign exchange gains or losses resulting from financing
activities that are not expected to recur, and has provided a reconciliation
below. Adjusted net earnings is a non-GAAP financial measure that does not
have a standardized meaning, and is therefore unlikely to be comparable to
similar measures presented by other companies. All dollar amounts in this
release are presented in United States dollars and all share and per share
information reflects the three-for-one split of the Company's common shares
that occurred at the close of business on April 24, 2008.
    Gross auction proceeds for 2008 were a record $3.57 billion, 12% higher
than in 2007, and auction revenues increased 14% to $354.8 million. The
Company's auction revenue rate (auction revenues as a percentage of gross
auction proceeds) was 9.95% in 2008, compared to 9.79% in 2007. Adjusted net
earnings in 2008 increased 19% over 2007 adjusted net earnings primarily as a
result of higher gross auction proceeds and a stronger auction revenue rate,
partially offset by higher operating costs.
    During the fourth quarter of 2008, the Company achieved gross auction
proceeds of $853.9 million and auction revenues of $81.7 million. The auction
revenue rate was 9.57%, compared to 9.40% in the fourth quarter of 2007. Net
earnings for the fourth quarter of 2008 were $27.1 million, or $0.26 per
diluted share. Adjusted net earnings for the fourth quarter of 2008 were $19.2
million, or $0.18 per diluted share.
    The Company had a record of more than 277,000 bidder registrations at its
unreserved industrial auctions in 2008, of which approximately 84,000 were
successful buyers. In 2007, the Company had more than 254,000 bidder
registrations, of which approximately 80,000 were buyers.
    Ritchie Bros. worked with a record number of truck, equipment and other
asset sellers in 2008, selling in excess of 252,000 lots on behalf of over
36,000 consignors. In 2007, Ritchie Bros. sold approximately 265,000 lots for
almost 35,000 consignors.
    The Company's auctions varied greatly in size in 2008, but the average
Ritchie Bros. industrial auction attracted over 1,400 bidders who competed for
over 1,300 lots consigned by 189 consignors. The average gross auction
proceeds per industrial auction for 2008 was approximately $17.7 million (2007
- $16.7 million).
    Over $700 million worth of trucks, equipment, and other assets were sold
using the Company's rbauctionBid-Live internet bidding service during 2008,
representing a 17% increase in online gross auction proceeds compared to 2007.
More than 99,000 customers from almost 180 countries have now registered and
received approval to use rbauctionBid-Live. Internet bidders represented
approximately 27% of the total registered bidders at Ritchie Bros. industrial
auctions in 2008, and they were the buyer or runner up bidder on 30% of the
lots offered online at these auctions. Since launching its internet bidding
service in 2002, the Company has now sold over $2.5 billion of trucks,
equipment, and other assets over the internet.
    Peter Blake, the Company's CEO, commented: "We are very proud of our
people and what we achieved in 2008. We delivered strong growth in all of our
markets in 2008, and made great strides in our ongoing strategic initiatives.
We appreciate that many companies are experiencing financial difficulties in
today's economy, yet, in spite of these uncertainties, our fourth quarter
performance was solid. Our unique business model has allowed our company to
grow in both good and challenging times during our first 50 years, and we are
confident that we will continue to grow into the future as we increase our
sales force and expand our network of auction sites." Mr. Blake added: "We
were also able to increase significantly our available credit facilities in
the latter part of 2008 even as credit markets tightened dramatically. We
believe this continues to affirm the confidence the market has in Ritchie
Bros. We believe this increased capital availability will give us added
flexibility as we continue in 2009 and beyond to execute our long-term growth
strategy."
    The Company believes that comparing adjusted net earnings as defined
above for different financial periods provides more useful information about
the growth or decline of its net earnings for the relevant financial period
and isolates the impact of items which the Company does not consider to be
part of its normal operating results.
    In 2008, the Company made certain reclassifications in its Statement of
Operations that affected its reported auction revenue rate, auction revenues,
direct expenses, general and administrative expenses, and other income. These
changes were made to improve the presentation in its financial statements and
had no impact on the Company's net earnings. 2007 comparative figures have
been reclassified to conform with the presentation adopted in 2008.
    Gross auction proceeds represent the total proceeds from all items sold
at Ritchie Bros. auctions. The Company's definition of gross auction proceeds
may differ from those used by other participants in its industry. Gross
auction proceeds is an important measure the Company uses in comparing and
assessing its operating performance. It is not a measure of the Company's
financial performance, liquidity or revenue and is not presented in its
consolidated financial statements. The Company believes that auction revenues,
which is the most directly comparable measure in its Statements of Operations,
and certain other line items, are best understood by considering their
relationship to gross auction proceeds. Auction revenues represent the
revenues earned by Ritchie Bros. in the course of conducting its auctions, and
consist primarily of commissions earned on consigned equipment and net profit
on the sale of equipment purchased by the Company and sold in the same manner
as consigned equipment.

    About Ritchie Bros.

    Established in 1958, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (NYSE and TSX: RBA) is the
world's largest industrial auctioneer, selling more equipment to on-site and
online bidders than any other company in the world. The Company has over 110
locations in more than 25 countries, including 38 auction sites worldwide.
Ritchie Bros. sells, through unreserved public auctions, a broad range of used
and unused industrial assets, including equipment, trucks and other assets
utilized in the construction, transportation, agricultural, material handling,
mining, forestry, petroleum and marine industries. The Company maintains a web
site at www.rbauction.com and sponsors an equipment wiki at
www.RitchieWiki.com.

    Earnings Conference Call

    Ritchie Bros. is hosting a conference call to discuss its 2008 financial
results at 8:00am Pacific Time (11:00am Eastern Time) on February 26, 2009. To
access a live broadcast of the conference call, please go to the Ritchie Bros.
website http://www.rbauction.com, click on 'About Ritchie Bros.' then click on
'Investor Information'. Please go to the website at least fifteen minutes
early to download and install any necessary audio software. A replay will be
available on the website shortly after the call.

    Forward-looking Statements

    The discussion in this press release relating to future events or
operating periods contains forward-looking statements (as defined in Section
21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended) that involve risks and
uncertainties, including, in particular, statements regarding anticipated
results for future periods; future growth opportunities and strategy; growth
during challenging economic times, sales force increases; and auction site
network expansion. These risks and uncertainties include: the numerous factors
that influence the supply of and demand for used equipment; fluctuations in
the market values of used equipment; seasonal and periodic variations in
operating results; actions of competitors; the success of the Company's
internet initiatives; economic and other conditions in local, regional and
global markets; ongoing access to capital; our ability to attract and retain
key employees, develop additional auction sites and successfully execute our
strategic initiatives; and other risks and uncertainties as detailed from time
to time in the Company's SEC and Canadian securities filings, including the
Company's Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and
Results of Operations for the year ended December 31, 2008, available on the
SEC, SEDAR and Company's websites. Actual results may differ materially from
those forward-looking statements. The Company does not undertake any
obligation to update the information contained herein, which speaks only as of
this date.

    
    Consolidated Statements of Operations
    (Amounts in table and related                  Year ended     Year ended
     footnotes are in USD thousands,              December 31,   December 31,
     except share and per share amounts)                 2008           2007
                                                -----------------------------

    Gross auction proceeds                       $  3,567,160   $  3,186,463
                                                -------------- --------------
                                                -------------- --------------

    Auction revenues(1)                          $    354,818   $    311,906
    Direct expenses(1)                                 49,750         46,481
                                                -------------- --------------
                                                      305,068        265,425
    Expenses
      Depreciation and amortization                    24,764         19,417
      General and administrative(1)                   164,556        144,816
                                                -------------- --------------

    Earnings from operations                          115,748        101,192

    Other income (expense)
      Interest expense                                   (859)        (1,206)
      Interest income(1)                                4,994          7,393
      Foreign exchange gain(1)(2)                      11,656          2,802
      Gain on disposition of capital assets(3)          6,370            243
      Other income                                      1,375          1,471
                                                -------------- --------------

    Earnings before income taxes                      139,284        111,895

    Income taxes                                       37,884         35,912
                                                -------------- --------------

    Net earnings(2)(3)                           $    101,400   $     75,983
                                                -------------- --------------
                                                -------------- --------------

    Net earnings per share(4)                    $       0.97   $       0.73
    Net earnings per share - diluted(4)          $       0.96   $       0.72

    Weighted average shares outstanding(4)        104,713,375    104,266,113
    Diluted weighted average shares
     outstanding(4)                               105,773,944    105,262,296

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Net earnings in accordance with Canadian
     GAAP                                        $    101,400   $     75,983
    Less: after-tax foreign exchange impact of
     financing transactions(2)                         (8,626)        (4,093)
    Less: after-tax gain on sale of excess
     property(3)                                       (7,295)             -
                                                -------------- --------------
    Adjusted net earnings                              85,479   $     71,890
                                                -------------- --------------
                                                -------------- --------------

    Adjusted net earnings per share(4)           $       0.82   $       0.69
    Adjusted net earnings per share
     - diluted(4)                                $       0.81   $       0.68

    (1) Figures have been reclassified to conform with presentation adopted
        in the current period.

    (2) Net earnings for the year ended December 31, 2008 included the
        reclassification to net earnings of foreign currency translation
        gains of $15,023 ($13,615 after tax, or $0.13 per diluted share).
        These gains were formerly recorded in the cumulative translation
        adjustment account and arose in 2008 as a result of the settlement of
        a number of foreign currency denominated intercompany loans that were
        considered long-term in nature. In addition, in 2008 the Company
        recorded a foreign exchange loss of $5,835 ($4,989 after tax, or
        $0.05 per diluted share) on U.S. dollar denominated bank debt held by
        a subsidiary that has the Canadian dollar as its functional currency.
        The equivalent amount in 2007 was a foreign exchange gain of $4,789
        ($4,093 after tax, or $0.04 per diluted share). This debt was
        assigned after year end to a U.S. dollar denominated subsidiary to
        eliminate this foreign exchange exposure. The Company has highlighted
        these amounts because it does not expect such foreign exchange gains
        or losses relating to financial transactions to recur in future
        periods.

    (3) Net earnings for the year ended December 31, 2008 included total
        gains of $8,304 ($7,295 after tax, or $0.07 per diluted share)
        recorded on the sale of excess property. The Company has highlighted
        these amounts because it does not consider these gains to be part of
        its normal operations.

    (4) Share and per share amounts have been adjusted on a retroactive basis
        to reflect the three-for-one stock split that occurred on April 24,
        2008.



    Consolidated Statements of Operations        Three months   Three months
    (Amounts in table and related                       ended          ended
     footnotes are in USD thousands,              December 31,   December 31,
     except share and per share amounts)                 2008           2007
                                                -----------------------------
                                                   (unaudited)    (unaudited)

    Gross auction proceeds                       $    853,927   $    873,306
                                                -------------- --------------
                                                -------------- --------------

    Auction revenues(1)                          $     81,693   $     82,129
    Direct expenses(1)                                 13,014         14,446
                                                -------------- --------------
                                                       68,679         67,683
    Expenses
      Depreciation and amortization                     6,541          5,516
      General and administrative(1)                    38,335         41,705
                                                -------------- --------------

    Earnings from operations                           23,803         20,462

    Other income (expense)
      Interest expense                                   (116)          (308)
      Interest income                                   1,376          2,184
      Foreign exchange gain (loss)(1)(2)               11,133           (318)
      Gain (loss) on disposition of capital
       assets                                            (443)            29
      Other income                                        383            423
                                                -------------- --------------

    Earnings before income taxes                       36,136         22,472

    Income taxes                                        8,996          5,506
                                                -------------- --------------

    Net earnings(2)                              $     27,140   $     16,966
                                                -------------- --------------
                                                -------------- --------------

    Net earnings per share(3)                    $       0.26   $       0.16
    Net earnings per share - diluted(3)          $       0.26   $       0.16

    Weighted average shares outstanding(3)        104,822,499    104,428,014

    Diluted weighted average shares
     outstanding(3)                               105,558,129    105,636,546

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Net earnings in accordance with Canadian
     GAAP                                        $     27,140   $     16,966
    Less: after-tax foreign exchange impact of
     financing transactions(2)                         (7,918)           (21)
                                                -------------- --------------
    Adjusted net earnings                        $     19,222   $     16,945
                                                -------------- --------------
                                                -------------- --------------

    Adjusted net earnings per share(3)           $       0.18   $       0.16
    Adjusted net earnings per share
     - diluted(3)                                $       0.18   $       0.16

    (1) Figures have been reclassified to conform with presentation adopted
        in the current period.

    (2) Net earnings for the quarter ended December 31, 2008 included the
        reclassification to net earnings of foreign currency translation
        gains of $12,254 ($11,148 after tax, or $0.11 per diluted share).
        These gains were formerly recorded in the accumulated translation
        adjustment account and arose in 2008 as a result of the settlement of
        a number of foreign currency denominated intercompany loans that were
        considered long-term in nature. In addition, in 2008 the Company
        recorded a foreign exchange loss of $3,778 ($3,230 after tax, or
        $0.03 per diluted share) on U.S. dollar denominated bank debt held by
        a subsidiary that has the Canadian dollar as its functional currency.
        The equivalent amount in 2007 was a foreign exchange gain of $24
        ($21 after tax, or less than $0.01 per diluted share). This debt was
        assigned after year end to a U.S. dollar denominated subsidiary to
        eliminate this foreign exchange exposure. The Company has highlighted
        these amounts because it does not expect such foreign exchange gains
        or losses relating to internal financial transactions to recur in
        future periods.

    (3) Share and per share amounts have been adjusted on a retroactive basis
        to reflect the three-for-one stock split that occurred on April 24,
        2008.



    Selected Balance Sheet Data                   December 31,   December 31,
    (USD thousands)                                      2008           2007
                                                -----------------------------
    Current assets                               $    193,940   $    237,185
    Current liabilities                               146,831        178,978
                                                -------------- --------------
    Working capital                              $     47,109   $     58,207

    Total assets                                      689,488        672,887
    Long-term debt                                     67,411         44,844
    Total shareholders' equity                        465,162        435,116



                                                   Year ended     Year ended
                                                  December 31,   December 31,
    Selected Operating Data (unaudited)                  2008           2007
                                                -----------------------------
    Auction revenues as percentage of gross
     auction proceeds                                    9.95%          9.79%
    Number of consignors at industrial auctions        36,595         34,931
    Number of bidders at industrial auctions          277,560        254,259
    Number of buyers at industrial auctions            84,005         80,340
    Number of permanent auction sites                      30             28
    Number of regional auction units                        8              9
    

    %SEDAR: 00010198E




For further information:

For further information: Jeremy Black, Vice President, Business
Development, Corporate Secretary, Phone: (604) 273-7564, Fax: (604) 273-2405,
Email: ir@rbauction.com


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