Mettler-Toledo International's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Mettler-Toledo International Inc. ( MTD)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 8, 2012 5:00 pm ET


Mary Finnegan - Treasurer and IR

Olivier Filliol - CEO

Bill Donnelly - CFO


Paul Knight - CLSA

Jon Wood - Jefferies

John Groberg - Macquarie Capital

Tycho Peterson - JPMorgan

Isaac Ro - Goldman Sachs

Richard Eastman - Robert W. Baird

Derik de Bruin - Bank of America-Merrill Lynch

Dan Arias - UBS

Sung Ji Nam - Cantor Fitzgerald

Greg Halter - Great Lakes Review



Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to our fourth quarter 2011 Mettler-Toledo International earnings conference call. (Operator Instructions) I would now like to turn our presentation over to your hostess for today's call, Ms. Mary Finnegan.

Mary Finnegan

Good day, everyone. I'm Mary Finnegan, Treasurer and responsible for Investor Relations at Mettler-Toledo, and I'm happy to welcome you to the call. I am joined by Olivier Filliol, our CEO; and Bill Donnelly, our CFO.

I want to cover just a couple of administrative matters. This call is being webcast and is available for replay on our website at A copy of the press release and the presentation that we will refer to on today's call is also available on our website. Let me summarize the Safe Harbor language, which is outlined on Page 1 of the presentation.

Statements in this presentation, which are not historical facts, constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933 and the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These statements involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by any forward-looking statements.

For a discussion of these risks and uncertainties, please see the discussion in our recent Form 8-K. All of the forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by reference to the factors discussed under the caption "Factors Affecting Our Future Operating Results" and in the "Business" and "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" sections of our Form 10-K.

One other item. On today's call, we may use non-GAAP financial measures. More detailed information with respect to the use of and differences between the non-GAAP financial measure and the most directly comparable GAAP measure is provided in the 8-K.

Let me now turn the call over to Olivier.

Olivier Filliol

Thank you, Mary, and good evening, everyone. I am pleased to welcome you to the call. I will start with a summary of the quarter, and then Bill will provide details on our financial results and our updated guidance. I will then discuss our end-markets and outlook for 2012. As always, we will have time for Q&A at the end.

We are very pleased with the results for the fourth quarter. The highlights for the quarter are on Page 2 of the presentation. Local currency sales growth of 8% was very strong, better than expected in almost all regions. Asia and particularly China, continues to be very robust.

Despite challenging currency headwinds, we achieved a 5% increase in adjusted operating profit. Adjusted EPS was up 13% in the quarter, as the impact of a lower effective tax rate helps to offset negative currency headwind. We are pleased with the lower tax rate, which we will further comment on in a moment.

We are very pleased with our full year results. With local currency sales up 13%, operating profit up 13% and adjusted EPS up 20%. These exceptional results for the full year were driven by healthy end-markets and diligent execution.

The lower tax rate for the full year did not completely offset currency headwinds. While we are cautious for 2012, given the uncertainty in the economy, we believe we can continue to grow and we are well-positioned to grow faster than our underlying markets and capture share.

Let me now turn it to Bill to provide more details on the fourth quarter results as well as guidance.

Bill Donnelly

Thanks, Olivier, and hello, everybody. Let me start with additional details on sales, which were $648.4 million in the quarter, an increase of 8% in local currency, a level as Olivier already said we're very pleased with. On a U.S. dollar basis, sales increased by 9% in the quarter, which included a positive 1% impact from currency.

Turning to Page 3 of the presentation, we outlined sales by geography. In the quarter, local currency sales increased by 6% in Europe, 5% in the Americas, 16% in Asia/Rest of World. Net acquisitions had no impact on our overall sales level, but did add 1% to Europe sales growth in the quarter.

The next slide shows our full year local currency sales growth, which amounted to 13%. For the year sales increased by 11% in Europe, 9% in the Americas and 20% in Asia/Rest of World. Acquisitions contributed 1% to overall sales growth for the year and 1% to Europe's growth.

On Slide 5 of the presentation, we outlined our sales by product area for the quarter. Laboratory sales increased by 5%, industrial sales increased by 14% and food retailing increased by 2%. Acquisitions contributed 3% to industrial growth in the quarter, while divestitures reduced food retailing by 5% in the quarter.

The next slide provides our full year results. Laboratory sales increased by 9%. Industrial was up 19% and food retailing was up 1%. For the year, acquisitions increased industrial sales by 3% and divestitures reduced food retailing sales by 6%.

Now turning to Slide 7 of the presentation, we show the P&L. Let me walk you through the key items. Gross margins, profit margins were 53.4% in the quarter, consistent with the prior year. We benefited from pricing in the quarter; however, offsetting this was higher raw material cost and currency headwinds.

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