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

Lorillard (LO)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 25, 2012 9:00 am ET


Robert Bannon - Director of Investor Relations

Murray S. Kessler - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President

David H. Taylor - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Finance & Planning


Matthew C. Grainger - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Nik Modi - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Judy E. Hong - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Vivien Azer - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Thilo Wrede - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

Christopher Growe - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Andrew Kieley - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Ann H. Gurkin - Davenport & Company, LLC, Research Division

Christopher Ferrara - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Erik A. Bloomquist - Berenberg Bank, Research Division

David J. Adelman - Morgan Stanley, Research Division



Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Lorillard Inc. First Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. My name is Ashley, and I will be your conference operator for today's call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes.

At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to your host for today's call, Mr. Bob Bannon. You may begin, sir.

Robert Bannon

Thank you, Ashley, and good morning, everyone. I'm Bob Bannon, Lorillard's Director of Investor Relations, and joining me on today's call are Murray Kessler, Lorillard's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer; and David Taylor, its Chief Financial Officer.

By now, you should have received a copy of our first quarter 2012 earnings release. It can be found on the company's website, lorillard.com, under News Releases.

Before we begin, I'd like to remind you that some of the comments on today's call and some of the responses to your questions may contain forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to the risks and uncertainties as described in the company's earnings release and in other filings with the SEC. Also, certain financial information, such as adjusted net income and adjusted earnings per share that will be discussed on today's conference call is presented on a non-GAAP basis. Description of most directly comparable GAAP measure and reconciliation between the non-GAAP and GAAP measures are provided in the company's earnings release, which is available on our website.

I'd now like to turn the call over to Murray Kessler.

Murray S. Kessler

Thank you, Bob. We have a lot to talk about this morning. I'll cover both our business results and then an overview of our acquisition of blu ecigs.

Starting with the business. Our reported results, unfortunately, didn't reflect the continued strength of our underlying fundamentals, which remain intact. This is because the first quarter reported results were masked by a very significant comparative reduction in wholesale inventory. This negative comparison adversely affected our reported volume by over 400 million units or 4.3 percentage points in the quarter. Generally, 400 million full revenue units would have contributed about $34 million in operating profit, which would translate to $0.16 per share, and that would have translated to a level of EPS growth I expect from the business instead of the 1.8% adjusted EPS growth we reported. Absent that inventory comparison, which was primarily a timing issue, our business performance was consistent with the positive trends we saw last year.

If you look at total Lorillard domestic wholesale volume, we reported a 2.5% decline versus year ago. Adjusting for the negative inventory comparison, total Lorillard domestic wholesale volume increased 1.8% versus year ago. Underneath that, the trends were also very consistent with what we had seen. Newport Menthol adjusted shipment volume was up slightly, plus 0.5% just as before and just as we had expected. Maverick adjusted shipment volume was up double digits, plus 12.5% just as before and just as we expected. And Newport Red volume was up slightly, just as we expected now that we have fully lapped the introduction, and we are selling at a higher price.

As retail shipments are unaffected by wholesale inventory reductions, Lorillard's outperformance versus an industry that is estimated to have declined at retail by 2.3% versus year ago in the first quarter once again resulted in significant share gains on all segments of our business.

Lorillard's total market share reached an all-time high of 14.5%, up 40 basis points versus year ago and up 50 basis points sequentially. Total Newport share increased to 12.2%, up 20 basis points versus year ago and up 50 basis points sequentially. Newport Red share was basically stable, up just a little bit. Newport share of total menthol was 36.8%, up 50 basis points versus year ago and up 120 basis points sequentially. And Lorillard share of total menthol was 40%, up 100 basis points versus year ago and 130 basis points sequentially.

Lorillard had no unusual or incremental trade promotions nor any new products during the quarter to drive these additional share gains. So net-net, absent the inventory change, our strong fundamentals were unchanged and our business model remains solid. Accordingly, we expect going forward that the underlying fundamentals will be reflected in the reported results. We believe that our continued strong fundamentals, traits of the strength of brand Newport and the superior execution of our strategic plan, including the expansion of products and promotions into new geographies and the broadening of our product portfolio in the closed-in adjacencies.

Speaking of pursuing closed-in adjacencies, I'm pleased to announced Lorillard's acquisition of blu ecig. For a relatively modest investment, we believe this acquisition can open up a significant avenue of growth for the company long-term. I'd say this because e-cigarettes is a rapidly expanding segment, which is very early in its development, and blu ecigs is the leading brand and innovator in this segment.

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