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Ecolab (ECL)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

July 31, 2012 1:00 pm ET


Michael Monahan - Senior Vice President of External Relations

Douglas M. Baker - Chairman of The Board and Chief Executive Officer


David L. Begleiter - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Nathan Brochmann - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division

John P. McNulty - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Edward H. Yang - Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., Research Division

Gary E. Bisbee - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Dmitry Silversteyn - Longbow Research LLC

David Ridley-Lane - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Laurence Alexander - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

Shlomo Rosenbaum - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Andrew J. Wittmann - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division

Michael J. Harrison - First Analysis Securities Corporation, Research Division

Rosemarie J. Morbelli - Gabelli & Company, Inc.

Jeffrey J. Zekauskas - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division



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Welcome to the Ecolab Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Release Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] This call is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time. Now I would like to turn the call over to Mr. Michael Monahan, Senior Vice President, External Relations. Sir, you may begin.

Michael Monahan

Thank you. Hello, everyone, and welcome to Ecolab's second quarter conference call. With me today is Doug Baker, Ecolab's Chairman and CEO. A copy of our earnings release and the accompanying slides referenced in this teleconference are available on Ecolab's website at

Please take a moment to read the cautionary statements on Slide 12 -- or Slide 2, stating that this teleconference and the slides include estimates of future performance. These are forward-looking statements, and actual results could differ materially from those projected. Factors that could cause actual results to differ are described in the section of our most recent Form 10-K under Item 1A, Risk Factors, and our second quarter earnings release and on Slide 2. We also refer you to supplemental diluted earnings per share information in the release.

Also, please note that in order to provide a meaningful comparison of the results of operations where applicable, actual results for the second quarter of 2012 are compared against pro forma results for the second quarter of 2011. The pro forma results are based on the historical consolidated financial statements of Ecolab and Nalco and were prepared to illustrate the benefits or the effects of our merger with Nalco. Those -- these pro forma statements are available on our website at, as well as our Form 8-K filed April 27, 2012, and selected portions are contained in the slides and press release.

Starting with an overview on Slide 3. We delivered strong results at the top end of our earnings forecast in the second quarter despite currency and economic headwinds. We leveraged our sales and volume growth, pricing, as well as our synergy and cost efficiency work to offset significantly higher delivered product cost and produced yet another strong double-digit increase in our adjusted earnings per share.

Looking ahead, we expect to continue to outperform our markets and show good earnings gains in the third quarter and for the full year as solid sales growth, appropriate pricing, innovation, synergies and margin leverage more than offset expected moderating increases in delivered product costs, as well as offset the impact of higher depreciation and amortization charges from the merger. Further, we expect 2012 will be our 10th year of double-digit adjusted EPS growth in the last '11, and we will do so while setting up strong growth for the years ahead.

Moving to some highlights from the quarter and as discussed in our press release. Reported second quarter earnings per share were $0.62. On an adjusted basis, excluding special gains and charges and discrete tax items from both years, second quarter 2012 earnings per share increased 13% to $0.72. The adjusted earnings per share growth was driven by volume and pricing gains, new products and new accounts, which along with synergies and cost savings actions, more than offset higher delivered product costs.

We enjoyed very strong sales growth in our Global Energy and Latin American operations, as well as solid growth from Kay and Healthcare. We continue to be aggressive, focusing on top line growth. We are emphasizing our innovative product and service strengths to help customers get better results and lower cost and, through these, drive increased market share in our core businesses, as well as new account acquisition across all of our customer segments. We also continue to implement appropriate price increases to help offset higher delivered product costs. We remain focused on expanding our margins, emphasizing productivity and efficiency improvements to help increase profitability, as well as drive merger synergies. We also continue to make investments in key growth businesses, as well as bolt-on acquisitions to build future growth. Our work to integrate Ecolab and Nalco is going very well, and we are delivering on our cost and growth synergies. We continue to be focused on growing our business and excited by the opportunities the combined company offers our customers, as well as our position as the leader in additional high-growth markets that leverage our mutual core strengths in product technology and sales and service execution.

While economic trends and currencies present increasing challenges, we continue to look for the second half to show solid sales growth and further margin improvement. This strong business performance will continue to be impacted by the much higher depreciation and amortization expense from our merger. Third quarter adjusted EPS is expected to increase 11% to 16% to the $0.83 to $0.87 range and compared with adjusted EPS of $0.75 earned by legacy Ecolab in the third quarter 2011 as business growth, the increasing benefits from synergies and cost reductions and seasonally higher revenues more than offset the higher fixed depreciation and amortization interest expense from the merger. We narrowed our forecast range for 2012, recognizing exchange has cost us $0.05 per share since the last forecast while our efforts to gain share and improve efficiency will be used to offset weakening economies. We expect full year 2012 earnings per share to rise 16% to 19% to $2.95 to $3.02 range.

In summary, we expect 2012 to reflect another strong performance by Ecolab as we show accelerating quarterly earnings gains to once again deliver very attractive growth and shareholder returns this year and set the stage for improved results in the years ahead.

Slide 4 shows our second quarter results, both as reported and pro forma, with adjustments for special gains and charges, while Slide 5 shows our sales growth detail. Ecolab's reported consolidated sales for the second quarter increased 74%. When compared with second quarter 2011 pro forma sales, which include the impact of Nalco in both years, fixed currency sales rose at strong 6%. Looking at the pro forma fixed currency growth component, volume and mix increased 3%, pricing rose 2%, acquisitions and divestitures did not have a significant impact, and currency decreased sales by 3%, rounding accounts for the difference in the total.

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