Benchmark Electronics, Inc. ( BHE)

Q4 2010 Earnings Conference Call

February 3, 2011 11:00 AM ET


Donald Francis Adam – CFO

Cary Follow-up – CEO

Gayla Delly – President


Sherri Scribner – Deutsche Bank

Brian White – Ticonderoga

Samuel Meehan – Citi

Alexander Blanton – Clear Harbor Asset Management

William Stein – Credit Suisse

Brian Peterson – Raymond James

Dave Fondrie – Heartland Funds

Ryan Jones – RBC Capital Market

Wamsi Mohan – Bank of America Merrill Lynch



Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the Benchmark Electronics’ Fourth Quarter 2010 Earnings Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session. Instructions will be given at that time. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I’d now like to turn the conference over to our host, Mr. Don Adams. Please go ahead, sir.

Donald Francis Adam

Good morning. Welcome to the Benchmark Electronics’ conference call to discuss our financial results for the full year and fourth quarter of 2010. I am Don Adam, CFO of Benchmark Electronics. Today, Cary Fu, our CEO, will begin our call talking about the year 2010 for Benchmark. Gayla Delly, our President, will then discuss our activities and our performance for Q4 and our outlook into 2011. I will then follow with a review of our financial metrics for the year 2010 and for Q4. After our prepared remarks, Gayla, Cary and I will take time for your questions in our Q&A session. We will hold this call to one hour.

During this call, we may make projections or other forward-looking statements regarding future events or the future financial performance of the Company. We’d like to caution you that those statements reflect our current expectations and that actual events or results may differ materially. We also like to refer you to Benchmark’s periodic reports that are filed from time-to-time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the Company’s 8-K and S4 filings, quarterly filings and Form 10-Q and our annual report on Form 10-K. These documents contain cautionary language and identify important risk factors which could cause actual results to differ materially from our projections or forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update those projections or forward-looking statements in the future.

Now, I will turn the call over to Cary.

Cary Fu

Thank you, Don. Good morning. Thank you for joining us on our call today. We are very pleased to share with you our results for the year 2010. Overall, 2010 was a very good year for Benchmark. We accomplished a revenue growth of about 15% when compared year 2010 to 2009. Along with the revenue growth, came earnings per shares growth about 52% on a year-over-year basis.

We finished 2010 with a strong Q4. As you can recall through the last conference call, we expect some weakness from our computing customers in fourth quarter. However, the sales to the computing sector pick up late in the quarters were stronger than was originally anticipated. Along with these financial results for the year, Benchmark completed two of our strategic goals.

Number one, medical Class III device capability in Asia. In November, we announced that our Thailand facility had been approved by FDA to manufacture Class III finished device on behalf of our large Tier one medical customers. This is a significant accomplishment that give us medical customers this capability everywhere around the globe.

Number two, expansion of precision technology capability. Through the fourth quarter, we signed an agreement to acquire increased precision technology capability in Asia. This acquisition of a local precision machining company had a book value in Malaysia strengthening our offerings in the Asia region for our customers.

Looking forward, our Q4 guidance reflects both a traditional slower Q1 for Benchmark, specifically in the computing sectors, as well as the impact of the conclusion of our production for Sun Micro during 2010. We are slightly more positive in our outlook compared to Q4, but we believe there remains a healthy level of cautious from our customer when providing the forecast.

We expect a bounce back in our revenue in second half of year with our new product ramp. For the year 2011, we anticipate a modest revenue growth, but also the continued diversification of our revenue base providing a stronger margin opportunity to where our near-term operation margin goal of 4.5% and a solid EPS growth.

Related to supply chain, the supply chain environment continue to improve in Q4, and component constraint that impact us during the first half of 2010 has been largely abated, although the long lead times still exist in some cases. Improvements are being seen due to the stabilization of demand at the OEM and the EMS level according to our suppliers.

Now I’ll take the call – turn the call over to Gayla. Gayla?

Gayla Delly

Thank you, Cary. As Cary noted, the fourth quarter was a strong finish to a good year for Benchmark. We delivered some key improvements in our operating metrics for the last quarter of the year with increased revenues, EPS at the high end of our guidance, reduced inventory levels and improved operating margins.

For the fourth quarter, we had year-over-year, as well as quarter-over-quarter, revenue and EPS growth and improved operating margins.

We did have two items not forecasted that impacted us, a lower tax rate due to a change in the mix between taxing jurisdictions as well as a negative impact from FX fluctuations. We continue to focus on and drive improvements in our use of working capital. With our focus on inventory management and a somewhat improved component market environment, we were able to reduce our inventory levels by $18 million during the quarter.

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