Hubbell's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Hubbell Incorporated (HUB.B)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 19, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

James M. Farrell – Director of Investor Relations.

Timothy H. Powers – Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

David G. Nord – Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Brent Thielman – D. A. Davidson & Co.

Scott Davis – Barclays Capital

Christopher Glynn – Oppenheimer

C. Stephen Tusa Jr. – J.P. Morgan

Jeffrey Sprague – Vertical Research Partners

Jeffery Beach – Stifel Nicolaus

Deepa Raghavan – Wells Fargo Securities

Presentation

Operator

Good day, everyone. Welcome to the Hubbell Incorporated first quarter 2012 earnings conference call. As a reminder, today's call is being recorded. For opening remarks and introductions, I would like to turn the call over to Mr. Jim Farrell. Please go ahead sir.

James M. 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 first quarter results for 2012 this morning. The press release and earnings slide materials have been posted to the Investor site of our, 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 considered incorporated by reference into this call. In addition, comments made here also include some non-GAAP financial measures. Those measures are reconciled to the comparable GAAP measures, and are included in the press release in the earnings slide materials. Now let me turn the call over to Tim.

Timothy H. Powers

Thank you, Jim. Welcome everyone and thank you for joining us this morning. I’m very pleased to report our strong first quarter results. Our sales, operating profits and earnings per share, all showed healthy increases compared to the first quarter of 2011.

Now let me turn it over to Dave for more color on the quarter, and our outlook for the remainder of 2012. Dave?

David G. Nord

All right. Thanks, Tim. Good morning, everybody. Thanks for joining us. I'm going to start on page 3 on the accompanying materials. From the quarter, we’re very pleased with the strong start to the year with net sales up 10%, really with some broad-based growth across our businesses. Particularly higher demand in our utility business led by transmission projects, industrial market, strong led by higher industrial production and increased activity in the energy markets, a little weakness on the new construction spending, but offset by higher demand on the renovation market. So, all in all very good growth there, and within our growth was also the benefit of our price and acquisition, so quarter growth up 7%.

Operating margin of 14.1% was up 140 basis points, big contributor to that was not only the volume increase and the incrementals, but what we are pleased has continued favorable price in excess commodity costs that we first saw in the fourth quarter. So all that’s giving us a very nice earnings per share of $1.05 of 28% from the first quarter of last year.

Let me get into more specifics on individual alliance. First, let's talk about the sales side, sales of $723.8 million up 10% as I said; we’ve got a lot of positives in our end markets even in the non-residential renovation and relight.

New construction side, still slow to recover and certainly being negatively impacted by the lower spending in the public sector. The industrial side, industrial production or extractive industries all very positive, the one market that’s down for us that we anticipated was our high voltage test equipment in the quarter.

Utility side, good growth across the board, transmission, distribution as well as international and even on the residential side, good market growth there, largely attributable to the very strong increases that the market has seen on multi-family housing. So, all in all, very good, very good performance on the sales side.

Let's turn and I turn the page to page five and so we’ll look at the gross margin, certainly that volume is help to contribute to a gross margin improvement of 110 basis points, but we’ve also had good performance on the price side with price in excess of commodity costs in the quarter nearly offsetting the negative that we experienced in all of 2011. But there is more to go along with that and I’ll talk to that in a bit.

On the selling and administrative side, continue to focus on the S&A side working the volume leverage. But of course, this is the area that is most impacted by some of the cost headwinds that we noted last quarter and in our investor meeting particularly around pension and benefits, which ends up costing us probably 30 or 40 basis points on that line, but otherwise we think very good performance on the selling and administrative side. So all of that leading to our operating profit of $101.7 million up 22% and up a 140 basis points both from the gross margin improvement as well as the S&A improvement.

If I turn to some of the other P&L line items on page seven. Our other expense of $7.1 million down about $2.5 million from the first quarter of last year it’s largely attributable to the FX losses that we experienced in the first quarter of last year are not repeating in the first quarter of this year, and net interest expense running comparable to last year.

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