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

Autoliv Inc. ( ALV)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 1, 2012 9:00 am ET

Executives

Jan Carlson - President and CEO

Mats Wallin - CFO

Mats Odman - VP, Corporate Communication

Analysts

Himanshu Patel - JPMorgan

Rod Lache - Deutsche Bank

Stefan Burgstaller - Goldman Sachs

Brett Hoselton - KeyBanc

David Leiker - Robert W. Baird

Peter Nesvold - Jefferies

Thomas Besson - Bank of America-Merrill Lynch

Hampus Engellau - Handelsbanken

Philip Watkins - Citi

Björn Enarson - Danske Bank

Agnieszka Vilela - Carnegie.

Richard Hilgert - Morningstar

Johan Dahl - Erik Penser Bank

Philippe Barrier - Société Générale

Anders Trapp - SEB

Presentation

Operator

Good day and welcome to the Q4 results conference call. Today's conference is being recorded. At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Jan Carlson, CEO.

Jan Carlson

Welcome, everyone, to this earnings presentation. Here in Stockholm, we have our CFO, Mats Wallin; and our VP Corporate Communication, Mats Odman; and myself, Jan Carlson, President and CEO.

We will open with a review of our fourth quarter results, including an overview of general business conditions. Then we will discuss our guidance for the first quarter and our full year indication for 2012. At the conclusion of this presentation, we will remain available to respond to your questions. And as usual, the slide deck is available through a link on the front page of our corporate website.

Turning the page, we have the Safe Harbor statement, which as you know is an integrated part of this presentation. During the presentation, we may reference some non-U.S. GAAP measures. The reconciliations to U.S. GAAP are disclosed in our quarterly press release and in the 10-K.

Moving on to the next slide, we continue to execute on our operational and growth strategies. We outperformed the global light vehicle production for the ninth consecutive quarter. Consequently, our full year sales exceeded $8 billion for the first time ever. We also continued to deliver double-digit margins for the eighth consecutive quarter and achieved our margin guidance for both the fourth quarter and full year 2011.

Our growth in active safety continues at a strong pace and we remain on track to achieve a 30% market share by 2015. For full year 2012, we expect more than 1 percentage points of our company's total outperformance versus global light vehicle production to come from growth in active safety.

In China, we grew almost four times more than light vehicle production and reached close to 35% market share in airbags and seatbelts. For full year 2012, we expect to grow more than two times the light vehicle production in China.

As to the antitrust investigations, I can only say that they are still ongoing and we therefore cannot provide any additional information at this time. Overall, we continue to balance our margin and cash flow performance with long-term growth.

Turning the page, we have our fastest growing product line, active safety. Over the last four years, we have completed three radar acquisitions and now have one of the most comprehensive product portfolios in the automotive industry. In 2012, we expect to almost double our radar sensor production from last year. This is partially due to more standard equipment on model such as the Mercedes B-Class. Consequently, our investments in RD&E and acquisitions in active safety are paying off.

Moving on to the next page, we achieved record sales and gross profit for the fourth quarter. Our organic sales growth was 2 percentage points below our expectation mainly due to the flooding in Thailand and some softening of production in Europe. However, our organic sales of 7% was 6 percentage points better than the global light vehicle production.

Despite the lower-than-anticipated organic sales growth, we achieved an EBIT margin of 11%, including $6 million of expenses related to the ongoing antitrust investigations.

And lastly, for the fourth quarter, our earnings per share, return on capital employed, return on equity, operating cash flow and EBIT margin were all second best ever.

Turning the page, we achieved record sales, gross profit, EBIT and earnings per share for the full year. This was despite significant commodity headwinds and/or RD&E investments for active safety growth along with the negative effects of two natural disasters and ongoing antitrust investigations.

Our organic sales growth of 9% was almost three times better than global light vehicle production. In addition, we had a 2% sales benefit from the acquisitions during 2011. Return on capital employed, return on equity, operating cash flow along with EBIT margin were all the second best in the history of our company for a full year.

Turning the page, our cash flow from operations was $293 million in the quarter and $758 million for full year 2011. This strong cash flow has allowed us to reduce our debt and create shareholder value by investing in future growth initiatives while increasing the dividend to record levels. During the year, we more than doubled our dividend payment to $154 million from $58 million in 2010.

Capital expenditures were $100 million for the fourth quarter and $357 million for the full year. $135 million of these capital expenditures or close to 40% were used to support our growth initiatives. Looking ahead, we anticipate CapEx to be approximately 4.5% of sales in 2012.

The working capital percentage remained very low at 6.2% of sales despite increase in our operating working capital to support sales growth. Our strong cash flow performance over the last several years has resulted in our strongest balance sheet ever as illustrated if we turn to page.

We have managed to reduce our gross debt to $666 million and achieved a net cash position of $92 million at the yearend 2011. We believe it's prudent to maintain a strong and flexible balance sheet due to reasons such as uncertain macroenvironment and our investments for growth and acquisitions.

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