Schweitzer-Mauduit International Inc. (SWM)

Q1 2010 Earnings Call

May 6, 2010; 10:30 am ET


Fredric Villoutreix - Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

Pete Thompson - Executive Vice President of Finance and Strategy

Mark Spears - Corporate Controller


Ian Zaffino - Oppenheimer & Co



Good morning. My name is Tracey, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Schweitzer-Mauduit, first quarter 2010 earnings conference call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers remarks there will be a question-and-answer session. (Operator instructions)

Mark Spears, you may begin your conference.

Mark Spears

Thank you Tracy. Good morning. I am Mark Spears, Corporate Controller at Schweitzer-Mauduit International. Thank you for joining us today to discuss Schweitzer Mauduit’s first quarter 2010 earnings results.

Participating on today’s call are Fredric Villoutreix, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; and Pete Thompson, our Executive Vice President of Finance and Strategy. Frederic will discuss the key factors impacting our business. Pete will then provide additional details related to our first quarter results and outlook. We will then take your questions.

Before we begin I would like you remind you that the comments included in today’s conference call constitute forward-looking statements. Actual results may differ materially from the results suggested by these comments for a number of reasons which are discussed in more detail in the company’s Security and Exchange Commission filings, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Certain financial measures discussed during this call exclude restructuring expenses, and are therefore non-GAAP financial measures. As slide presentation accompanies our formal remarks. A copy of which can be found under the Investor Relations portion of our website or you can follow along on the webcast.

With that I will turn the call over to Frederic.

Frederic Villoutreix

Thank you Mark, and good morning everyone. On today’s call I would say some high level comments about our first quarter performance. I would also comment on the working agenda for 2010, and our priorities moving forward; including comments of our recently announced LIP plans in Europe and an update on the progress with [Inaudible] expansion in Asia.

Due to current litigation, our comments about LIP pattern actions would be limited. Except to say the suit against our competitors, emerging LIP patent infringement in the U.S. is proceeding for the normal legal process. Pete will then take you through a more detailed review of our financial results and guidance.

Slide four summarizes our financial results of the quarter. We did have good performance across the board, with substantial year on year increases in revenue, net income and earnings per share. Cash generation was strong, and we now have a positive net cash which Pete will discuss.

Our first quarter results demonstrate the continuous strength of our high value product strategy. Base paper operations maintained a possible level, albeit below 2009 levels, despite higher pulp prices and somewhat lower selling prices that became effective in January 2010. We achieved solid earnings per share of $1.19 in the period, which equates to restructuring and internal expenses.

Adjusted for an $0.18 per share dilution impact of November 2009 secondary equity offering, the first quarter adjusted EPS would have been a closed second best quarter in our 15 year public company history. Of course the proceeds of the secondary operating are now being put to work to grow our high margin, highly return, optimal business, which in turn will see further earnings growth beginning in 2012.

Moving to slide five; growth of our high value products, LIP paper and RTL products was impressive at nearly 18% of the prior year period, driven by the full conversion to LIP cigarette paper in the U.S. and new sales to Australia and Finland. Meanwhile, sales for off-year products remained robust and benefited from improved efficiencies.

We announced on Monday all plans to establish capacity in Europe to produce cigarette paper for Lower Ignition Propensity or LIP cigarettes, which I will cover in the next slide. We continued to the pleased by the performance of our paper joint venture in China in spite weak seasonal demand. We now expect to nearly double earnings from last years levels.

We continue to benefit on cost reduction initiatives and generally more efficient operations across Schweitzer-Mauduit business units, contributing over $7 million to the bottom line in the quarter.

We completed the planned shutdown of the paper machine of the Spotswood, New Jersey mill and our now seeing all our base paper for proprietary Alginex LIP cigarette paper from Brazil and France. This move marks an important step in preparing the mill to concentrate on the online LIP technology we operate for U.S.A., with expectation to be essentially complete by media.

Moving to slide six; we continue to execute a key strategic initiative during the quarter. The construction of our new 30,000-ton reconstituted tobacco production facility in the Philippines is progressing according to plans, inline with objective to stop operations in late 2011. We reiterate our expectation to reach full year profitability during 2012.

Negotiations continued during the quarter to finalizing agreement by midyear 2010 for an RTL joint venture in China.

We announced on Monday, our capacity expansion plan for supplying LIP cigarette paper to the European markets. In addition to the already established third party manufacturing facility in Belgium, we are investing some $25 million in our very own operation in Lodz, Poland. Lodz to be pronounced [Luj] in polish, is the third largest city in Poland, and located about 84 miles southwest of Warsaw.

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