Mead Johnson Nutrition's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 26, 2012 9:30 am ET


Kathy Ann MacDonald - Acting Corporate Controller and Vice President of Investor Relations

Stephen W. Golsby - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Peter Kasper Jakobsen - President of Americas Operations

Peter G. Leemputte - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President


Matthew C. Grainger - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Edward Aaron - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Varun Gokarn - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

John Baumgartner

Timothy S. Ramey - D.A. Davidson & Co., Research Division

Jon Andersen - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division

Leigh Ferst - Wellington Shields & Co., LLC, Research Division

Robert Moskow - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Alexis Borden - Citigroup Inc, Research Division



Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Mead Johnson Nutrition First Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. My name is Shikwana, and I will be your coordinator for today. [Operator Instructions] I would Now like to turn the presentation over to Kathy MacDonald, Vice President, Investor Relations. Please proceed, Kathy.

Kathy Ann MacDonald

Thank you, and good morning. Welcome to Mead Johnson's first quarter conference call. Speaking today will be Steve Golsby, our Chief Executive Officer; Pete Leemputte, our Chief Financial Officer; and Kasper Jakobsen, our recently appointed Chief Operating Officer.

Before we get started, let me remind you that our comments will include forward-looking statements about our future results, including statements about our financial prospects and projections, new product launches and market conditions, that constitute forward-looking statements for purposes of the Safe Harbor provision under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

Keep in mind that our actual results may differ materially from expectations as of today due to various factors, including those listed in our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K, in each case as filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission and our earnings release issued this morning, all of which are available upon request or on our website at

In addition, any forward-looking statements represent our estimates only as of today and should not be relied upon as representing our estimates as of any subsequent date. While we may elect to update forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we specifically disclaim any obligation to do so even if our estimates change.

Given that we are in the midst of the earnings reporting season, we will be respectful of your time. And I will now turn the call over to Steve.

Stephen W. Golsby

Thank you, Kathy, and good morning, everyone. As noted in our press release issued earlier today, we delivered strong first quarter results. Constant dollar sales growth of 9% was in line with our expectations. The continued excellent performance in both Asia and Latin America was partially offset by an anticipated decline in the North America/Europe segment.

Non-GAAP earnings of $0.82 per share were up 8% from $0.76 per share in the first quarter of 2011. Earnings increased due to sales growth, a favorable foreign exchange comparison and a lower effective tax rate, partially offset by lower gross margins and higher demand generation investments.

In the first quarter, we completed the acquisition of an 80% equity interest in the SanCor Bebé infant formula and children's nutrition business. This joint venture gives us the leading market share position in Argentina, the third largest market in Latin America, and a strong platform for growth throughout the Southern Cone of South America.

As stated in the past, that after we completed the SAP implementation and the actions to achieve full standalone status, we would have more resources available to consider business development growth opportunities to complement our compelling organic growth strategies. Our business development focus will be on tuck-in deals like this one that allows to further strengthen growth with a primary focus on emerging markets.

Since Kasper will share our operating segment results shortly, let me provide an update on our full-year guidance. We continue to be very positive about our outlook for the year and expect our annual constant dollar sales growth to be in the range of 9% to 11%, up from our previous guidance of 7% to 9%. About 1.5 points of this increase is driven by the acquisition in Argentina with the remainder from modestly higher expectations to growth in our emerging markets.

We currently estimate that the non-GAAP EBIT margin, as a percentage of sales, will be at or slightly above the 23.6% level seen in 2011 with demand generation investments accelerating for the balance of the year.

For the full year, non-GAAP EPS is expected to be in the range of $3.04 to $3.14, up $0.04 from our prior guidance.

I will now turn the call over to Kasper, who assumed the role of chief operating officer for the company earlier this year. I will return at the conclusion of our prepared remarks to wrap up and address your questions.

Peter Kasper Jakobsen

Thank you, Steve, and good morning, everyone. I'll focus my comments on the operating performance and the expectations of our 2 segments.

Starting with Asia and Latin America, first quarter sales for this segment grew 21% on a constant dollar basis versus the prior year with just over $700 million and now accounts for 71% of our global sales. Absent the 2-week contribution from the Argentine joint venture following the closing in mid-March, sales increased 20%. Higher volumes were the key driver of our first quarter results, adding 16% to our top line with pricing accounting for the remaining 5% of growth. We will not talk in any detail about our specific plans in Asia and Latin America, but we expect pricing will make a bigger contribution to sales growth in the near future when compared to that seen in recent quarters.

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