Crown Holding's CEO Discusses Q3 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Crown Holdings Inc. ( CCK)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 19, 2011 9:00 AM ET

Executives

John W. Conway - Chairman, President and CEO

Timothy J. Donahue - EVP and CFO

Analysts

Tim Thein - Citigroup.

George Staphos - Merrill Lynch.

Ghansham Panjabi - Robert W. Baird

Alex Ovshey - Goldman Sachs

Alton Stump - Longbow Research

Phil Gresh - JPMC

Philip Ng - Jefferies

Chris Manuel – Wells Fargo

Chip Dillon - Vertical Research Partners

Presentation

Operator

Good morning, and welcome to the Crown Holdings' Third Quarter 2011 Earnings Conference Call. Your lines have been placed on a listen-only mode until the question-and-answer session. Please be advised that this conference is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the call over to Mr. Timothy Donahue, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Donahue, you may begin.

Timothy Donahue

Thank you, Shirley and Good morning to everybody. Welcome to Crown Holdings' third quarter 2011 conference call. With me on the call today are John Conway, our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; and Tom Kelly, Senior Vice President, Finance.

Before we begin, I would like to point out that on this call, as in the earnings release, we will be making a number of forward-looking statements. Actual results could vary materially from such statements. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to vary is contained in the press release and in our SEC filings, including comments in the section titled Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in Form 10-K for 2010 and in subsequent filings.

A reconciliation of generally accepted accounting principles to non-GAAP earnings can be found in our earnings release. And if you do not already have the earnings release, it is available on the Company's website at crowncork.com. You will also find a reconciliation from net income to EBITDA, credit ratio computations, and supplemental cash flow data on the Company's website.

I'll first review the quarter, update guidance, and then pass on to John for his comments.

Comparable diluted earnings per share were up 19% to $1.01 versus a $0.85 in last year's third quarter. For the nine months, comparable diluted EPS was $2.32 compared to $1.81 last year, an increase of 28%.

Despite the recent strength in the U.S. dollar, currency translation has had a positive impact in the quarter, and if current rates hold will be positive for the full year.

Net sales in the quarter increased 10% over the prior year due to global unit volume growth in beverage, the pass-through of higher raw material costs, and $92 million of currency translation, off-setting softness in Global food can volumes.

In addition to weakening macro factors, adverse weather in both North America and Europe had an impact on volumes in those regions. Additionally and as an example of how severe regional weather conditions have been, Ireland is currently experiencing its worst flooding in over 50 years. Conditions there are very bad in many areas and while not disrupting our plant operating activities, certainly have impacted food and beverage cans demand there. However, continued strong volume growth across the balance of Asia and also in Brazil resulted in global beverage volumes being up 3% in the quarter, while food cans with only little emerging market exposure were down 4% in the quarter

America’s Beverage revenue increased 9% in the quarter, due mainly to the pass-through of higher aluminum cost and $7 million of currency translation. Segment income was up 4% in the quarter, reflecting positive mix and improvements to ongoing productivity on the three new Brazilian lines commercialized in the first half of this year.

Volume in the segment was up marginally in the third quarter reflecting strong gains in Brazil offset by a 3 ½ % decline in the much larger North American market.

Incremental pricing actions by some of our CSD customers and adverse weather both impacted North American volumes in the quarter. Importantly, our new two line plant in Ponta Grossa, Brazil and the second line in Estancia, Brazil are running extremely well and we are looking forward to a strong summer selling season in the southern hemisphere in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of next year.

Third quarter revenues in the North American Food business were essentially flat, reflecting the pass-through of higher steel cost, which offset a 4 1/2% decline in unit sales. Poor weather conditions in the mid-west impacted yields across many products notably corn this harder season. However, as has been the case throughout 2011, we continue to benefit from lower costs primarily resulting from the closure of Canadian plants last year and also from the ongoing positive mix effect of increased vacuum closure sales with segment income increasing $7 million over the prior year.

Reported European Beverage revenues were up $50 million or 10% due to 3% sales unit volume increase, a pass-through of higher raw material costs and $14 million from currency translations.

The segment's income was down $9 million from the prior year, and reflects lower production activity than planned as we adjust to weaker consumer demand.

In our European Food business, revenues increased $65 million or 12% primarily due to $42 million in foreign currency translation and the pass-through of higher steel costs which offset a 4 ½ % volume decline. A result of the weakening economic conditionals and cool and damp weather across much of Northern Europe which depressed yields.

Segment income was up 5% as ongoing cost reduction efforts and currency offsets the lower volume levels. Excluding the impact of currency translation and the pass-through of higher steel cost, specialty packaging had another solid quarter with results essentially in line to the prior year.

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