MeadWestvaco's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

MeadWestvaco (MWV)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

January 25, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

E. Mark Rajkowski - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President

John A. Luke - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Executive Committee

James A. Buzzard - President

Jason Thompson - Director of Investor Relations

Analysts

George L. Staphos - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

James Armstrong - Vertical Research Partners Inc.

Mark W. Connelly - Credit Agricole Securities (USA) Inc., Research Division

Alex Ovshey - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Gail S. Glazerman - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Mark Wilde - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Ghansham Panjabi - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division

Phil M. Gresh - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the MWV Fourth Quarter and Year-End Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, today's call is being recorded. Starting off today, we have Director, Investor Relations, Jason Thompson. Please go ahead, sir.

Jason Thompson

Thanks, Kevin, and good morning, everyone. This morning, we announced our results before the market opened. The notification of this morning's call was broadly disclosed. And further, this morning's call is being webcast at mwv.com, and slides that accompany this call are available there as well.

I'll briefly remind you that certain statements we make are forward-looking and are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties described in our public filings. Furthermore, contents contain time-sensitive information that, although correct today, may change with the passage of time.

All the results we share this morning are presented on a continuing operations basis. For the fourth quarter, the company's loss from continuing operations was $9 million. Excluding special items, adjusted net income from continuing operations was $44 million or $0.26 per share.

Now here to tell you more about the results for the fourth quarter are John Luke, Chairman and CEO; Jim Buzzard, our President; and Mark Rajkowski, CFO.

I'll now turn the call over to John.

John A. Luke

Jason, thanks very much and good morning. MWV delivered another strong performance in 2011 even with the weaker fourth quarter due to the economic challenges primarily in North America and Europe. We had record adjusted income from continuing operations in 2011 of $335 million or $1.92 per share as we benefited from our market focus strategies and improved business model.

We strengthened our growth profile, implementing plans in each of our global markets to win new business with our most strategic customers, with our most innovative solutions and in the world's fastest-growing geographies. And we generated significant cash flow that we used to make growth investments and provide a strong return to our shareholders.

I'd also mention that we announced the spinoff of our Consumer & Office Products division, which will also create significant value for our shareholders when the transaction is closed in the first half of this year. These financial results during the past year came directly from the plans we're pursuing for profitable growth and value creation.

Across our packaging markets, we are focused on commercial excellence, innovation, growth in emerging markets and expanded participation with new materials and capabilities. As we discussed at our December Investor Meeting, we aim to generate $1 billion in profitable revenue from this plan over the next 3 to 5 years.

In Specialty Chemicals, we are aligning our capabilities and value proposition with global mega trends including emissions reductions, infrastructure investment and energy exploration. We'll look to extend the record earnings we generated in this business in 2011.

In Land Management, we're implementing a strategy to generate additional value from our landholdings by improving and selling small rural tracts and making infrastructure improvements on select properties to enhance development potential, especially in the Charleston, South Carolina region. We made great progress putting these strategies into action throughout the year, including during the fourth quarter. You'll hear more detail from Jim and Mark in just a moment, but the following are just a few highlights that demonstrate our momentum.

We won new beverage packaging business from Dr Pepper Snapple during the fourth quarter after demonstrating a new set of innovation capabilities that will help enhance their brands in the marketplace.

In the food market, similar commercial excellence efforts led to share gains for our MWare paperboard for coffee cups in 2 of the largest quick serve and convenience store chains in the country. We had market share gains in beverage multipack and skin care dispensers in Asia, which helped pace 10% growth in emerging markets during 2011.

Lastly, at the end of the fourth quarter, we acquired Polytop, a highly respected and innovative maker of caps and closures, that will significantly extend our presence in the food, beauty and personal care, and home and garden markets. This is an example of expanded participation into the most technologically advanced closure systems in the packaging industry, and we expect the addition of Polytop to have a modest positive contribution to our earnings this year.

Despite these highlights and others, the fourth quarter was weaker than we had anticipated due to the economic factors we've already cited. Against that backdrop, we continued to implement our strategies, generating profitable growth that not only contributed meaningfully to our results but also strengthened our market position compared to the competition. But like the competition, we were not immune to the impact of macroeconomic developments. Despite the present softness mostly attributable to the crisis in Europe and economic challenges in North America, the packaging markets that we have targeted still have very attractive long-term growth rates.

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