Oil-Dri of America (ODC)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

October 13, 2011 11:00 am ET

Executives

Jeffrey M. Libert - Chief Financial Officer, Vice President and Treasurer

Daniel S. Jaffee - Chief Executive Officer, President, Director and Member of Executive Committee

Ronda Williams - IR

Analysts

Robert Smith - The Center for Performance

Ethan Starr - Private Investor

David Zelman - Zelman & Associates, LLC

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen , and welcome to the Fourth Quarter 2011 Oil-Dri Corporation of America Earnings Conference Call. My name is Ann, and I will be your coordinator for today's call. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn the presentation over to Mr. Dan Jaffee, President and CEO. Please proceed, sir.

Daniel S. Jaffee

Thank you, Ann, and welcome, everybody to the fourth quarter and fiscal year-end teleconference. I hope you all have had a chance to review the news release. I guess before I do my pre-comments, let me introduce who's here with me: Jeff Libert, our CFO; Doug Graham, our General Counsel; and Ronda Williams, our Director of Investor Relations, who will do the Safe Harbor.

Ronda Williams

Yes, I will. Thanks, Dan. Welcome, everyone. 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.

Daniel S. Jaffee

Thank you. And before I turn it over to Jeff for a detailed review of the quarter and the year, now let me just say from a 50,000-foot standpoint, quantitatively, not the kind of year we would have liked to deliver, although a lot of reasons why we were even, I'd say, somewhat happy with the financial results, and we can get into that, as those of you that have been following us for a while know, given what could've happened with our largest account a couple of years ago, the numbers really weren't so bad, but qualitatively, very, very positive. We believe that fiscal 2011, a lot of strategic moves were made that are going to add value to your investment over the long term. And so we'll certainly be talking about those in the rest of the call. Jeff, why don't you cover…

Jeffrey M. Libert

Thanks, Dan. For the quarter and the year, sales were up 6% for the quarter and up 4% for the year. Sales were a little under $58 million for the quarter and $227 million for the year. For the EPS, the bottom line was a mixed bag. EPS was $0.40 a share, up 21% versus a year ago. However, for the year, EPS was $1.26 a share, which was down 3% versus a year ago. And the story was that the top line increased due to a higher value mix of products, and I'll talk about that in a moment.

For EPS, we had a strong fourth quarter, primarily due to lower health care costs in the quarter, and as some of you may know, we're self-insured, and we see some volatility in healthcare cost, and we just saw a very good experience this quarter. And we had lower effective tax rate in the quarter as we assessed our tax position at year-end. For the year, EPS was lower due to, as we've talked about in previous teleconferences, increased costs, primarily oil commodity driven things and energy driven things. Oil is a major factor in our freight costs and in our packaging costs, and as a result, our gross profit margins declined from 22.7% to 22.1%.

On the SG&A side, we spent significant amount of dollars preparing for our Fresh & Light launch, but in offsetting those costs were lower discretionary bonuses which reflected our reduced earnings.

Getting into the business units. On Business to Business, sales increased 3% for the year, but income was down 2% for the year. We saw really strong sales in animal health, bleaching earth and agricultural carriers during the quarter, however, co-pack and international sales declined. We saw incremental sales that went into our ag carrier business of Verge engineered granules, and co-pack and international declined due to industry trends of declining coarse cat litter sales, of which we have a large share.

On the retail and wholesale side, sales were up 4% for the quarter, but income was down 11%. Slow sales of coarse cat litter, as I mentioned earlier, and higher commodity costs have grossly affected our consumer business. However, higher sales of scoopable with the return of Cat's Pride Scoop to Wal-Mart helped drove sales higher. And as mentioned a minute ago, we spent significant dollars during the year to develop the Fresh & Light product that affected adversely our income for the quarter.

Our balance sheet remains strong as it has in previous quarters. Our cash and investment balance is now $33.7 million. During the year, we borrowed $18.5 million at very attractive rates. However, our net debt, that is our borrowings less our cash investment, is virtually 0 at year-end. So our balance sheet has really never been stronger.

During the year, we spent $13.8 million on capital, a little over half of that amount related to the Fresh & Light launch. And we really spent that money to produce a product that has unsurpassed quality and to have configurations that are standard within our industry. So we can sell on any of the formats that our customers want.

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