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Mead Johnson Nutrition Management Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

These were partially offset by a lower gross margin due in large part to higher dairy cost in North America, increased investments in advertising and promotion and the timing of pension settlement expenses.

While we are justifiably pleased with our past 2012 results, we expect lower growth in the second half of the year, due in part to a weak global economy. With several European countries now in recession and the continued weak performance of the U.S. economy, economic growth and consumer spending in key exporting market, most notably China, have slowed. Consequently, we're experiencing a reduction in the rate of category growth in China. Despite this near-term softness, we have continued high confidence for longer-term category growth in China, supported by a rapidly growing middle class. Kasper will go into more detail on market share trends in China, but it's also clear we gave back some market share in the second quarter after exceptional gains over the last few years.

We believe this is a temporary phenomenon, and our clear intent is to rebuild share growth in the second half of the year. As we stated previously, the market in China is highly competitive and we will inevitably see share fluctuations from time to time. We have operated in China for almost 20 years and have seen and overcome bumps in the road in the past. We're confident in our business model, strategies and investments, and we intend to continue to deliver compelling growth in China over the medium and longer term.

We currently anticipate full year global sales growth of 8% to 9% on a constant dollar basis, down from the 9% to 11% guidance in our last call. While our growth in China has slowed, we continue to see strong performance across markets in Southeast Asia and Latin America and an improving position in the United States. In absolute terms, our projected sales growth in 2012 remains very strong. We continue to expect non-GAAP earnings on a full year basis to range from $3.04 to $3.14 per share. There are always a number of moving parts at work, and 2012 is no exception. A sustainable and lower tax rate coupled with favorable foreign exchange gain is expected to offset the impact of lower sales growth.

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