Ball (BLL) Q1 2012 Earnings Call April 26, 2012 11:00 am ET Executives John A. Hayes - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director Scott C. Morrison - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President Raymond J. Seabrook - Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Global Packaging Operations Analysts George L. Staphos - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division Scott Gaffner - Barclays Capital, Research Division Ghansham Panjabi - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division Philip Ng - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division Phil M. Gresh - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division Philip Terpolilli - Longbow Research LLC Alex Ovshey Ovshey - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division James Armstrong - Vertical Research Partners Inc. Christopher D. Manuel - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division Albert T. Kabili - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division Debbie Jones - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division Adam J. Josephson - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division Andrew Feinman Presentation Operator
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In a moment, Scott will discuss our financial results for the quarter. Ray will follow with details about our Packaging operating performance, and I will close with comments on Aerospace and the outlook for the remainder of 2012. Ball reported improved comparable first quarter 2012 results during the seasonally slow first quarter. Recall that we have mentioned in January that our first half of the year will be relatively flat as compared to 2011, and we performed slightly better than we expected. Maximizing the value and performance of our existing businesses is one of the strategic levers of our Drive for 10 strategy, and our people and our business are executing well in this environment.The other levers of Drive for 10 include broadening our geographic reach, expanding in the new products and capabilities, aligning ourselves with the right customers and markets, and leveraging our technology expertise to create a competitive advantage. We're making good progress in all of these. And several highlights include: completing the construction of our previously announced capital projects in Qingdao, China; Alagoinhas, Brazil; and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, further broadening our geographic reach; increasing the production and sales of our specialty can product portfolio in North America, which grew approximately 20% due to expanding volume in the 7.5 ounce, 16 ounce in Alumi-Tek product categories; leveraging our technological expertise by announcing our ReAl can technology and innovation and sustainability breakthrough in our extruded aluminum impacting business. ReAl enables significant light weighting of aluminum aerosol container, while utilizing aluminum from our beverage can plants in the manufacturing process to add up to 25% recycled content into aluminum aerosol containers. And finally, we've been working hard on our third sustainability report, which will be out at the end of May. Sustainability is an important part of our Drive for 10 and plays a key role in both maximizing the value our existing businesses and leveraging our technology. Our new report will provide detail on our progress since 2010 as well as our future goals and objectives. You'll hear more examples of our Drive for 10 progress from Scott and Ray. There's a lot going on here at Ball. And while it's still early in the year, 2012 is off to a nice start.
I'll turn it over to Scott, and we'll talk about the quarter. And then the Ray will provide color on our operations. And I'll return with comments on our Aerospace business and the outlook for 2012. Scott?Scott C. Morrison Thanks, John. Ball's comparable diluted earnings per share from continuing operations for the first quarter of 2012 were $0.63 versus last year's $0.58, an increase of nearly 9%. For the first quarter, the following factors contributed to these results: higher European and specialty can volumes; solid program performance in our Aerospace business; a lower share count; and a lower tax rate. For a complete summary of the first quarter results on a GAAP and non-GAAP basis, please refer to the notes section of today's earnings release. The key financial metrics for 2012 that I gave you in January are all the same other than the tax rate. Taking into account certain tax benefits achieved in the first quarter and those expected later in the year, the full year effective tax rate will now be approximately 30% for the full year 2012. Other than that one change, everything else looks the same. Interest expense will remain at approximately $175 million. Full year 2012 CapEx is still expected to be in the range of $400 million. And as always, the timing of future projects will impact actual spending, so we'll keep you updated as the year progresses. And we still expect 2012 free cash flow in the range of $450 million. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com