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

In terms of base business sales, our Blue business was up 10%, while our Green business was up 7.8%, a nice recovery in the Green business after very strong headwinds for several years. The best 2 performing major Blue markets for us in 2011 were Texas and Arizona, with 15.7% and 14.3% growth, respectively. These 2 markets benefit in part from an extended season. On the other hand, California did not have favorable weather, as we only increased sales by 6.4% in that market. Florida and all other markets were both up 9.6% in 2011.

For 2012, we anticipate that industry sales will be up similarly to 2011, but we are more modest in our expectations of the factor by which we exceed industry performance. Although we do expect to increase share, as we do every year, by continuously investing in our people, tools and resources to further differentiate our value proposition in the marketplace.

With respect to market share growth, we have always focused on earning our customers' business instead of renting it month-to-month or year-to-year with lower prices. We are a value-added distributor and we, for many years, have invested to further our value proposition. A great majority of our customers understand and appreciate our value and reward us with their business.

2011 was further testament of our success in this regard as our gross margin increased by 40 basis points, coupled with strong market share growth. Base business expenses were well controlled, with the main increase being incentive expense, and these are primarily the result of our operating performance. Throughout the company, there are objective performance measurements captured every day that serve to reinforce performance expectations for all of management, sales, operations, credit and inventory management individuals. There are also extensive training and support resources available to enable everyone's success. The bottom line is when operating performance exceeds expectations, there is a strong sharing of the results with the individual responsible. It is truly a very transparent pay-for-performance structure for every professional and management individual in the company.

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