Anixter International's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Anixter International (AXE)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 24, 2012 10:30 am ET

Executives

Chris Kettmann - Senior Vice President

Theodore A. Dosch - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Finance

Robert J. Eck - Chief Executive Officer, President, Director, Chief Executive Officer of Anixter Inc. and President of Anixter Inc

Analysts

David J. Manthey - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division

Steven B. Fox - Cross Research LLC

Shawn M. Harrison - Longbow Research LLC

Ryan Merkel - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division

Matthew S. McCall - BB&T Capital Markets, Research Division

Jeffrey L. Beach - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Anthony C. Kure - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Ted Wheeler

Presentation

Operator

Good day, and welcome to the Anixter First Quarter Earnings Call. Today's conference is being recorded. At this time, I would like to turn the program over to Mr. Chris Kettmann for opening remarks and comments. Please go ahead, sir.

Chris Kettmann

Thanks, operator. Good morning and thank you all for joining us today to discuss Anixter's first quarter 2012 results. By now, everyone should have received a copy of the press release, which was sent out earlier this morning. If anyone still needs a copy, you can go to Anixter's website or call Chris Kettmann at (312) 553-6716, and I can resend the information.

On the line today from the Anixter's management team are Bob Eck, President and CEO; and Ted Dosch, Executive Vice President and Finance. After mentioning complete their opening remarks, we'll open the line for a Q&A session.

Before we begin, I want to remind everyone that statements in this conference call, including words such as believe, expect, intend, anticipate, contemplate, estimate, plan, project, should, may, will or similar expressions, are forward-looking statements. They are subject to a number of factors that could cause the company's actual results to differ materially from what is indicated here.

These factors include general economic conditions, including the severity of current economic and financial market conditions; the level of customer demand, particularly for capital projects in the markets we serve; changes in supplier sales strategies or financial viability; political, economic or currency risks related to foreign operations; inventory obsolescence; copper price fluctuations; customer viability; risks associated with accounts receivable; the impact of regulation and regulatory, investigative and legal proceedings and legal compliance risks; political or potential impairment of goodwill; and risks associated with the integration of acquired companies. These uncertainties may cause our actual results to be materially different than those expressed in any forward-looking statements. We do not undertake to update any forward-looking statements. Please see the company's SEC filings for more information.

At this point, I'll turn the call over to Ted.

Theodore A. Dosch

Thank you, Chris. Good morning, and thank you, everyone, for joining us. As you read in this morning's release, we reported our ninth consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth for the first quarter. However, as we discussed on our Q4 2011 earnings call, there was some softness in our 2 cabling business which started in December and continued through the month of January. We described an environment where we were seeing project delays in both the Enterprise and Wire & Cable businesses, but it was difficult at that time to tell how long the softness would persist. Every indication was that these delays would be temporary, especially since we were still seeing strong bidding activity and an encouraging pipeline. As the first quarter progressed, February proved to be very similar to January. But in the month of March, both cabling businesses began to strengthen. We also said in late January that our OEM Supply business continues to perform very well at the end of the fourth quarter, and through the start of the first quarter. By the end of the recent quarter, all 3 of our end markets were performing much better with the exception of our European Enterprise end market, as this region continues to experience a very weak economic environment.

I would also like to comment on the tax benefit that flows through the tax line this quarter, along with some additional expense on the other net line. During the quarter, we recorded a $9.7 million tax benefit primarily due to lower valuation allowances for certain foreign countries. This positive adjustment is a result of an improvement in projected foreign profitability that resulted in a $0.28 per share increase in diluted earnings per share. This was partially offset by a $0.03 charge for interest and penalties associated with prior year tax liabilities. Excluding these 2 items, we reported $1.37 earnings per diluted share. The balance of my comments will exclude these 2 items from the most recent quarter, as well as the $5.3 million European restructuring charge in the first quarter of the prior year.

With that, we are pleased to report another quarter of improved performance in which the company delivered a 10 basis point operating margin improvement compared to a very strong sales growth and operating margin period in the first quarter of 2011. I think, it is important to note the headwinds from both currency and copper in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the strong tailwind from both currency and copper in 2011. While currency and copper each contributed a positive 2% to revenue in the first quarter of 2011, currency and copper each contributed unfavorable 1% in the current quarter. In addition to the impact on revenue, the 13% drop in copper price year-on-year for the quarter reduced gross profit by $3.3 million and earnings per diluted share by $0.06. Despite these factors, we were still able to deliver a solid 7% incremental operating profit on increased sales.

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