AVX's CEO Discusses F4Q 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

AVX Corporation (AVX)

F4Q 2012 Earnings Conference Call

April 25, 2012 10:00 ET

Executives

John Gilbertson – President and Chief Executive Officer

Kurt Cummings – Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Matt Sheerin – Stifel Nicolaus

Jim Suva – Citi

Joe Wittine – Longbow Research

Presentation

Operator

Good morning. My name is (Chris), and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Fourth Quarter and Full Year Earnings Conference Call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers’ remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions) Thank you.

I’ll now turn the call over to CEO and President, John Gilbertson. Please go ahead, sir.

John Gilbertson – President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Chris. Good morning. I like to thank you for attending the AVX conference call regarding the results for our fourth fiscal year quarter and the full year that ended in March. I am John Gilbertson, and with me today is Kurt Cummings, AVX’s Chief Financial Officer. I hope you had a chance to review our earnings release that was issued this morning.

The first quarter was an improving quarter. The global economic uncertainty, which led to an inventory level correction up and down the supply chain during the past several quarters, continues to affect the recent order and sales pattern, but the inventory situation, particularly in the distribution channel eased somewhat in the March quarter, as our sales to their customers increased in the quarter leading to a higher sales for AVX.

The worldwide distribution, POS or point of sales, was up 6.5% from quarter three actually up 10% in units. We saw an acceleration of POS through the quarter, with the March POS up 16% from the February number, and the highest since May 2011. Our shipments to distribution increased 7.3% from quarter three with the same acceleration in February and March. We are seeing improvements in the inventory correction in the channel, and to some degree, a level of restocking that has limited effect on inventory due to the strong POS. But further improvements, as we said in the last conference call, is anticipated to occur late in the June quarter. We expect them to see more bookings from the distribution channel as a result of their need to restock inventory.

In this quarter, the distribution channel represented approximately 35% of our overall shipments. The distributors appear to be seeing increasing activity with our customers and a continuing reduction in their months of inventory on the shelf. Overall, visibility concerns remain as many customers continue to be reluctant to order beyond the immediate demand, and that kept the gross book-to-bill for the quarter essentially flat.

Automotive for AVX, especially in Europe continues to be strong and continues to be driven by the Asian market. Normally, the first calendar quarter tends to be weaker than the quarter actually was. Apparently, the demand for all new smartphones helped this quarter as well as automotive, but we continue to see weakness in feature phones, which many of our customers are deemphasizing. The sales in the quarter were $363 million.

For a quick review of general market conditions, let me hit the high points. The cellular story, as mentioned earlier, continues to be about the same, fewer and fewer feature phones and much more price competition. Smartphones, where we are much stronger, now have about 30% of the overall handset market as compared to about 21% the previous year. And from where we sit, this will continue to drive up component demand. As smartphones continue to grow more, RF solutions and improved antenna performances are required and we are seeing growth in these segments. The increased data transmission rates associated with these devices put higher demands on telecom infrastructure development to sustain optimum user experience. And this segment is improving albeit slower than would be anticipated.

Demand for more deepwater and horizontal directional drilling exploration is increasing and this is offsetting weakness in military and defense. Aerospace remained strong during the quarter. We are seeing some improvements on solar and traction business once again. And this has helped our power business, which has been under some pressure with reduced government spending. This coupled with the base industrialized business should improve revenue as the year progresses.

In the automotive segment, we are seeing some slowdown in regional customers in France and Southern Europe, while Germany continues to move ahead and appears to be offsetting this weakness. Medical is improving from a slow year while computer remains weak, which is normal this time of year. As a percentage of the overall revenue in the quarter for the region, Europe continued strong with the automotive market continuing to be a player in that region. Other end markets in Europe are less robust. Europe represents 28% of the total. Similar to last quarter, while Asia sales decreased 1 point to 44% and the Americas sales increased to 28% of the total.

As we said last quarter, this first calendar quarter generally sees weaker prices and the commodity products pricing decreased between 2% and 3% during the quarter in line with long-term historical pricing trends. The uncertainty and the visibility of end market demand may continue to put pricing on selling prices going forward. We believe that capacity utilization eased during the quarter. We would estimate that ceramic capacitor industry utilization is near the 75% range depending on the product line. The tantalum capacity utilization is stable now in the 80% to 85% range. Our strong material inventory position and low cost to manufacturing continues to give us an edge in that market.

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