Oil-Dri Corporation of America (ODC)

Q1 2011 Earnings Call

December 9, 2010 11:00 a.m. ET

Executives

Dan Jaffee - President and CEO

Andy Peterson - CFO

Angela Hatseras - Acting General Counsel

Ronda Williams - Head of Investor Relations

Analysts

Ethan Starr - Private Investor

Robert Smith - Center for Performance Investing

Presentation

Operator

Good day ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the first quarter 2011 Oil-Dri Corporation of America Earnings conference call. My name is (Jennifer) and I’ll be your operator for today. At this time all participants are in listen only mode and later we will conduct a question and answer session. If at any time you require operator assistance please press star followed by 0 and we’ll be happy to assist you. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes. I would now like to turn the conference over to your host for today, Dan Jaffee, President and CEO. Please proceed.

Dan Jaffee

Thank you Jennifer and welcome everyone to our first quarter teleconference for fiscal 2011, our 71st fiscal year, which is pretty exciting. With me here in Chicago, Andy Peterson, our CFO, Angela Hatseras, our acting general counsel and Ronda Williams, head of all our investor relations. And Ronda, if you would cover the Safe Harbor.

Ronda Williams

Thank you Dan. On today's call comments may contain forward-looking statements regarding the company's performance in future periods. Actual results in those periods may materially differ. In our press release and our SEC filings we highlight a number of important risk factors, trends and uncertainties that may affect our future performance. We ask that you review and consider those factors in evaluating the company's comments and in evaluating any investment in Oil-Dri stock. Thank you.

Dan Jaffee

Thank you Ronda. It’s my prerogative as CEO before I turn it over to Andy I’m going to steal all his thunder and crow about whether it’s not just been a good quarter but I was working on my presentation for the annual meeting, which is coming up next week and I hope those of you who can make it will make it.

But part of the presentation will be a retrospective sort of looking back because we’re always encouraging our investors to sort of take the same view of our business that we do, which is long-term. So we don’t give quarterly guidance, we don’t even give annual guidance. And many of the decisions we make have a five to ten year horizon on them, some even longer. I mean as you’ll recall in fiscal 2010 we spent nearly $4 million acquiring a large body of reserves in and around our existing facilities when we already had 40 years of reserves in total.

So clearly that was a look way out beyond even my tenure with Oil-Dri. But it’s that long-term focus that really drives our daily decision making process. So we look back ten years and said okay, how has the decade been? And it’s actually been pretty incredible and I don’t want to use up all of what I’m going to cover in the annual meeting next week but a couple of things that jumped out at me was if you had bought 2000 shares of Oil-Dri stock on 7/31/01 so I’m doing ten fiscal years nine years ago, you would have paid $10,280 for that, so roughly $10,000.

And on 7/31/10 that would have been worth almost $44,000 in stock value but you would have also been paid $8,250 of dividends. So your total value would have been just over $52,000 so your return compounded annually for that period of time is 19.7%, which is pretty powerful given the fact that in that period of time we have been in the teeth of the wind of a very negative global economy and probably the worst economy since the Great Depression and we lost a huge chunk of business with our single largest account.

So if you factor all that into it, I wouldn’t have thought we would have even done that well but we did. But then I have some people who like to keep me humble, which is a failing job but they try. And so they say you know what, you look back ten years, that’s a pretty rosy perspective for you because you weren’t doing so well ten years ago and now you’re doing well but pick a different perspective. So I went back five years because by five years ago the ship clearly was heading in the right direction.

The company was doing very well and so if you just look back five years and you say okay, what’s the total return for the past five years and I grabbed some benchmarks. I said okay, let’s see how Warren Buffet has done. So Berkshire Hathaway total returns five years up 34% and I’m using a Web site so don’t hold me to the exact numbers. If they spit out the wrong numbers we’ll blame them. That’s my Schwab stock screener but I put it in there. And so Berkshire/Buffet up 34%, Bill Gates up only 5-1/2% - Microsoft up only 5-1/2% in the five year period total return, not compounded.

Oil-Dri up 78% so I figure any time you’re two times Buffet or 14 times Gates you’ve got to be doing pretty well. So that’ll be enough of me patting ourselves on the back. I think I pulled a shoulder muscle just now reaching around and giving myself an atta boy. But the reality of it is it’s the team and we really have assembled a great team. And when you get 800 people pulling in the same direction as I’ve always said, you can really do a lot in a game of tug of war. And if you get 400 pulling one way and 400 pulling the other way that ribbon doesn’t move very far.

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