Charles River Laboratories' CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Call Start: 08:32

Call End: 09:46

Charles River Laboratories International, Inc. (CRL)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 14, 2012 08:30 am ET

Executives

Jim Foster – Chairman, President and CEO

Tom Ackerman – EVP and CFO

Susan Hardy – Corporate VP, Investor Relations

Analysts

Robbie Fatta - William Blair & Company

Eric Coldwell - Robert W. Baird & Co

Sandy Draper - Raymond James

David Windley - Jefferies & Company

Tycho Peterson - JP Morgan Chase & Co

John Sullivan - Leerink Swann, LLC

Robert Jones - Goldman Sachs Group, Inc

Greg Bolan - Sterne Agee & Leach, Inc

Timothy Evans - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC

Garen Sarafian - Citigroup Global Markets, Inc

Andy Schenker - Morgan Stanley

Todd Van Fleet - First Analysis

James Kumpel - BB&T Capital Markets

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the Charles River Laboratories’ Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2011 Earnings Call. At this time, all lines are in a listen-only mode. Later there will be an opportunity for your questions and instructions will be given at that time. (Operator Instructions). And as a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I’ll now turn the conference over to Susan Hardy, Corporate Vice President, Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Susan Hardy

Thank you. Good morning and welcome to Charles River Laboratories’ fourth quarter and full-year 2011 conference call and webcast. This morning, Jim Foster, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Tom Ackerman, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer will comment on our fourth quarter and full-year 2011 results and review guidance for 2012. Following the presentation, we will respond to questions.

There is a slide presentation associated with today’s remarks, which is posted on the Investor Relations section of our website at ir.criver.com. A taped replay of this call will be available beginning at noon today and can be accessed by calling 800-475-6701. The international access number is 320-365-3844. The access code in either case is 231980. The replay will be available through February 28th. You may also access an archived version of the webcast on our Investor Relations website.

I’d like to remind you of our Safe Harbor. Any remarks that we may make about future expectations, plans and prospects for the company constitute forward-looking statements for purposes of the Safe Harbor Provisions under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by any forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including but not limited to those discussed in our annual report on Form 10-K, which was filed on February 23 rd, 2011, as well as other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

During this call we will be primarily discussing results from continuing operations and non-GAAP financial measures. We believe that these non-GAAP financial measures help investors to gain a meaningful understanding of our core operating results and future prospects, consistent with the manner in which management measures and forecasts the company's performance. The non-GAAP financial measures are not meant to be considered superior to or a substitute for results of operations prepared in accordance with GAAP. In accordance with Regulation G, you can find the comparable GAAP measures and reconciliations to those GAAP measures on the Investor Relations section of our website through the financial reconciliation link.

Now, I’ll turn the call over to Jim Foster.

Jim Foster

Good morning. I’d like to begin by providing a summary of our fourth quarter results, before providing commentary on our business prospects. We reported sales of $291 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, an increase of 3.3% from the same period in 2010. 53rd week added approximately 4.5% to sales growth and the benefit from foreign exchange was negligible.

PCS business finished the year inline with our expectations. The RMS business delivered a very strong performance in the fourth quarter. The RMS even when adjusting for the 53rd week, most businesses in the segment reported higher year-over-year sales on a constant currency basis driving the best quarterly results since the end of 2008 and sequentially higher than the third quarter.

The majority of these businesses also reported higher operating margins, driven primarily by the increased sales volume. The operating margin declined 10 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2010, but it improved 90 basis points sequentially to 17.1%. The increase was due primarily to the PCS margins, which improved on both the year-over-year and a sequential basis with 13% cost savings actions implemented in the fourth quarter with a primary driver of the improvement.

Earnings per diluted share were $0.69 in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to $0.60 in the fourth quarter of 2010, a 15% increase. The increase in earnings per share was driven primarily by the lower number of shares outstanding. We continued to return value to shareholders in the fourth quarter through our share repurchase plan with the purchase of approximately 844,000 shares for $25 million. This brings our cumulative total repurchases from August 2010 through the end of 2011 to approximately 18.2 million shares or more than 27% of our outstanding shares.

As you know we’re reaffirming our sales and EPS guidance for 2012. We believe that demand for regulated safety assessment will remain relatively stable, as it did in the second half of last year and that the growth drivers we discussed on our guidance call. Discovery Services, GEMS, Insourcing Solutions, and In Vitro will enable us to generate higher sales. Based on the sales increase combined with our ongoing efforts to improve operating efficiency and the benefit of our stock repurchases, we maintain confidence in the guidance we gave on December 14th.

I’d like to provide some details on the segment performance. In the fourth quarter, RMS sales were $182.4 million, 7.9% higher in constant currency in the fourth quarter of 2010 and nearly 4% higher when adjusting for the 53rd week. The largest sales contribution came from our Avian business, which had a weak fourth quarter in 2010 due to reduced product availability.

The services businesses also contributed to the sales gain, as they did for most of 2011. In combination Discovery Services, GEMS, RADS, and Insourcing Solutions gained nearly 10% and as the volume of these services increased, the operating margin also improved. The growth of these businesses adds validity to our thesis that biopharmaceutical companies are increasingly choosing to outsource services which they no longer consider core to their drug discovery and development process. And that they’re choosing to do so with Charles River, the recognized expert in Vivo Biology.

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