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MeadWestvaco's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

In Specialty Chemicals, we are aligning our capabilities and value proposition with global mega trends including emissions reductions, infrastructure investment and energy exploration. We'll look to extend the record earnings we generated in this business in 2011.

In Land Management, we're implementing a strategy to generate additional value from our landholdings by improving and selling small rural tracts and making infrastructure improvements on select properties to enhance development potential, especially in the Charleston, South Carolina region. We made great progress putting these strategies into action throughout the year, including during the fourth quarter. You'll hear more detail from Jim and Mark in just a moment, but the following are just a few highlights that demonstrate our momentum.

We won new beverage packaging business from Dr Pepper Snapple during the fourth quarter after demonstrating a new set of innovation capabilities that will help enhance their brands in the marketplace.

In the food market, similar commercial excellence efforts led to share gains for our MWare paperboard for coffee cups in 2 of the largest quick serve and convenience store chains in the country. We had market share gains in beverage multipack and skin care dispensers in Asia, which helped pace 10% growth in emerging markets during 2011.

Lastly, at the end of the fourth quarter, we acquired Polytop, a highly respected and innovative maker of caps and closures, that will significantly extend our presence in the food, beauty and personal care, and home and garden markets. This is an example of expanded participation into the most technologically advanced closure systems in the packaging industry, and we expect the addition of Polytop to have a modest positive contribution to our earnings this year.

Despite these highlights and others, the fourth quarter was weaker than we had anticipated due to the economic factors we've already cited. Against that backdrop, we continued to implement our strategies, generating profitable growth that not only contributed meaningfully to our results but also strengthened our market position compared to the competition. But like the competition, we were not immune to the impact of macroeconomic developments. Despite the present softness mostly attributable to the crisis in Europe and economic challenges in North America, the packaging markets that we have targeted still have very attractive long-term growth rates.

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