Hubbell CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Hubbell Incorporated ( HUB.B)

Q4 2011 Earnings Conference Call

January 26, 2012 10:00 AM ET

Executives

Jim Farrell – Director, IR

Tim Powers – Chairman, President and CEO

Dave Nord – SVP and CFO

Bill Sperry – VP, Corporate Strategy and Development

Analysts

Christopher Glynn – Oppenheimer

Rich Kwas – Wells Fargo Securities

Steve Tusa – JP Morgan

Scott Davis – Barclays Capital

Jeff Beach – Stifel Nicolaus

Brent Thielman – D.A. Davidson

Mike Wood – Macquarie Capital

Presentation

Operator

Good day, everyone and welcome to the Hubbell Incorporated Fourth Quarter Results Conference Call. As a reminder, today’s call is being recorded. Now for opening remarks and introductions, I would like to turn the call over to Mr. Jim Farrell. Please go ahead, sir.

Jim Farrell

Good morning, everyone and thank you for joining us. I am here today with Tim Powers, our Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer; Dave Nord, our Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; and Bill Sperry, our Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Development.

Hubbell announced its fourth quarter and full year results for 2011 this morning. The press release and earnings slide materials have been posted to the investor section of our website at www.hubbell.com.

Please note that our comments this morning may include statements related to the expected future results of our company and are therefore forward-looking statements as defined by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Therefore, please note the discussion of forward-looking statements in our press release and consider it incorporated by reference into this call.

In addition, comments made here also include some non-GAAP financial measures. Those measures are reconciled to comparable GAAP measures and are included in the press release and the earnings slide materials.

Now, let me turn the call over to Tim.

Tim Powers

Thank you Jim. Welcome everyone and thank you for joining us this morning. As we typically do on these calls, I will provide you with some overview commentary on the results we announced this morning, and then Dave will provide you with a more detailed discussion of our financial performance. I will then share my perspective on the outlook for 2012 and then we will open up the calls for your questions.

I will refer to the presentation materials that you can find on our website, and I will start on page 3. I am very pleased to report that we finished 2011 on a strong note. Our sales increased by 16% with both segments reporting double-digit increases.

We reported operating margins of 14.8% which represents a 60 basis point improvement versus last year’s fourth quarter. Our margin improvement was due primarily to the higher volume and importantly we were successful in offsetting commodity cost increases with pricing actions. We experienced over normal seasonal pattern of incoming orders, where the fourth quarter slows down sequentially after the third, but exhibiting strong growth year-over-year.

The utility market remained strong led by demand for transmission products; the industrial market was also strong lead by our businesses selling into the energy markets. The new construction spending in the US non-residential market was weak, but was offset by demand for renovation and relight projects. That we’re seeing building owner operators make the decision to retrofit their facilities due to the savings in energy and maintenance, and very short paybacks.

On the residential side, single family housing remained soft, while stronger demand for multiple family housing projects has provided some offset. The quarter contained some highlights that are worthy of note. First we were able to overcome the upward pressure from commodity cost increases with price actions to create a tailwind for the quarter. While price cost was a drag on earnings for the entire year, we hope this quarter proves to be a turning point and while commodities have moderated they are volatile, and we are continually monitoring them to determine if and when pricing actions are needed.

Second we had a very successful year in LED lighting. Our business grew at 150% during the year, and we were pleased to see that the adoption rate of LED surpassed 10% of our lighting sales, a great indication of Hubbell’s leadership in this new and exciting technology that offers our customers the opportunity to save money.

Third, our strong financial performance this year has further strengthened our balance sheet, and has allowed us to deploy our cash in several ways. During 2011, we increased the dividend and repurchased over 2 million shares. In addition we closed on two small acquisitions during the fourth quarter. The acquisition pipeline is quite active, and our strong cash position will enable us to continue to pursue additional deals in 2012.

In summary, I am very proud of the results in 2011. Despite half of our businesses being still mired in historic slump, we have managed to exceed our prior year peak in sales and in earnings in just three years. Our focus in driving productivity, carefully managing the cost price equation, and disciplined management of cost have enabled us to achieve these results.

Now let me hand it over to Dave to provide more details on these results. Dave.

Dave Nord

Okay. Thanks Tim. Good morning, everybody. I am just going to start on page 3, and if you follow along in the materials, as Tim mentioned, you know, good fourth quarter results with sales up 16%, double digit in both segments, operating margin of 14.8%. That is up 60 basis points from the fourth quarter of last year, and diluted earnings per share of $1.17, up 22% on an adjusted basis. I would say we don’t normally adjust, but last year had the $0.15 cost of the debt extinguishment. So to be more comparable we have taken that out in the comparison.

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