Viasystems Group's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Viasystems Group (VIAS)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 14, 2012 3:30 pm ET

Executives

Kelly Wetzler - Vice President of Corporate Development and Communications

David M. Sindelar - Chief Executive Officer, Director and Member of Executive Committee

Gerald G. Sax - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President

Analysts

Matthew Sheerin - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Jiwon Lee - Sidoti & Company, LLC

Unknown Analyst

Nick Farwell

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Viasystems Group's Fourth Quarter 2011 Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] And as a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. I would now like to introduce Kelly Wetzler. Ms. Wetzler, you may begin.

Kelly Wetzler

Thank you, Matthew. I'd like to welcome everyone to Viasystems' Investor Conference Call for the fourth quarter of 2011. If you need a copy of today's earnings press release, you'll find it at viasystems.com. We have also prepared some slides, which you will find on our website. Our presenters today are Viasystems' Chief Executive Officer, Dave Sindelar; and our Chief Financial Officer, Jerry Sax.

In the course of our discussion, we are likely to make forward-looking statements. I wish to remind you that any forward-looking information we provide is given in reliance upon the Safe Harbor provision of the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The comments we will make today are management's best judgment based on information currently available. Our actual results could differ materially from any forward-looking statements that we might make. The company does not intend to update this information to reflect developments after today and disclaims any legal obligation to do so.

Please review today's press release and recent SEC filings for a more complete discussion of factors that could have an impact on the company's actual results. Some of our discussions today will include non-GAAP measures, in particular, adjusted EBITDA and adjusted earnings per share. These non-GAAP measures are reconciled with our GAAP results in today's press release and in our slide presentation. Management believes these measures are useful for analytical purposes and to assist in comparing results over time and across companies. But I remind you that adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EPS exclude certain material items and are not a replacement for the reported results under generally accepted accounting principles.

I'll now turn the call over to our CEO, Dave Sindelar.

David M. Sindelar

Thanks, Kelly. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining our call. I will begin by referring to Slide 4 of the presentation material. We're very pleased with the strong finish of 2011. The finish was the result of solid performance with the benefits of premium sales to meet unexpected demand. Throughout our presentation, you will hear references to premium-priced opportunities that bolstered our profitability in the fourth quarter. Those opportunities primarily came from 2 sources: customers that lost PCB sources as a result of the Thailand floods and higher-than-normal premium sales from our existing customer base.

Our consolidated fourth quarter sales of $269 million grew 10.3% year-over-year, while seasonally declined 3.5% sequentially. Our PCB segment sales increased 13.9% compared to the final quarter of 2011, while our expected seasonal sequential decline in this segment was essentially offset by the premium-priced opportunities we captured. Our assembly segment sales declined 4.5% year-over-year and 17.2% sequentially. Fourth quarter bookings increased approximately 3.9% compared to the third quarter. As a result, we returned to a slightly positive book-to-bill for the quarter, which also resulted in a full-year 2011 bookings on par with sales.

In the fourth quarter, we achieved a 210 point basis -- excuse me, 210 basis point sequential improvement in our gross profit as a percent of our net sales, resulting in a gross margin percentage of 23.5%. The improvement resulted from a combination of PCB premium pricing, the overall higher mix of PCB versus E-M Solutions, the reduction in the PRC energy rationing limitations on our capacity and higher cost absorption from build ahead inventory to compensate for Chinese New Year factory shutdowns scheduled in January.

Our adjusted EBITDA was $44.1 million for the quarter or 16.4% of net sales. On adjusted EPS basis, we had $0.97 per share for the quarter. Jerry will provide more color commentary on the adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EPS in his comments.

Turning to Slide 5. I want to review our revenue performance by end markets. The automotive market continues to be the largest of our end markets, representing 40% of our fourth quarter net sales. Automotive sales increased 23% year-over-year compared to the fourth quarter last year. And while we saw a 5% decline in sales compared to the immediately preceding quarter, I want to note that our fourth quarter automotive bookings were up both sequentially and year-over-year. I think we have some momentum as we enter 2012 and customer forecasts seem to support a relatively optimistic outlook for the year.

Industrial and Instrumentation remains our second-largest end market at 23% of the fourth quarter net sales. And as a reminder, I&I is a catchall category for us and includes wind and solar energy, medical, locomotion and others. As I highlighted on our call 3 months ago, the seasonally -- seasonality of demand in this market was exaggerated by customer inventory corrections after a buying spike follow the Japanese -- following the Japanese issues in early 2011. We're seeing particular strength in demand for the wind energy product prior to the scheduled end to the domestic tax credits.

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