Cooper Industries' CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Cooper Industries (CBE)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

May 02, 2012 11:00 am ET


Kyle McClure - Director of Treasury and Investor Relations

Kirk S. Hachigian - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of Executive Committee

David A. Barta - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President


Nicholas P. Heymann - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division

Jeffrey T. Sprague - Vertical Research Partners Inc.

Richard M. Kwas - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Deane M. Dray - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Nigel Coe - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Carter B. Shoop - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Ahmar M. Zaman - Piper Jaffray Companies, Research Division

Shannon O'Callaghan - Nomura Securities Co. Ltd., Research Division

Jonathan Shaffer



Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Q1 2012 Cooper Industries plc Earnings Conference Call. My name is Andrea, and I will be your operator for today. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this call is being recorded for replay purposes. I'd like to turn the call over to Kyle McClure, Director of Treasury and Investor Relations. Please proceed, sir.

Kyle McClure

Thanks, Andrea, and good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Q1 2012 Cooper Industries Earnings Call. With me today is Kirk Hachigian, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; and Dave Barta, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

We have posted a presentation on our website that we will refer to throughout this call. If you'd like to view this presentation, please go to the Investors section of our website at

As a reminder, comments made during this call may include forward-looking statements under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties, many of which are outside the control of the company, and therefore, actual results may differ materially from those anticipated by Cooper. A discussion of these factors may be found in the company's annual report on Form 10-K and other recent SEC filings.

In addition, comments made here today may include non-GAAP financial measures. To the extent they have been anticipated, reconciliations of those measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures are included in today's press release.

That being out of the way, let me turn the call over to Kirk.

Kirk S. Hachigian

Great. Good morning. We're very pleased this morning to report that our team's got off to a very solid start to the new year, delivering record first quarter revenues, earnings and solid operating leverage. We were certainly well aware of investor's concerns in the fall of last year where our execution was less than expected, having issues around work transfers, price/material economics and increased SG&A spending on core growth initiatives. As you can see from today's release, we've put those issues behind us and are again able to deliver a nice balance of growth and operating leverage.

If you turn to Page 2 of the web pages, let me give you a little bit more details on the quarter specifically. Our total revenues were up 10% to $1.4 billion, with our core up 7%, which is a terrific performance considering last year were up 16% to core. The ESS group revenue was up 10% core and EPG was up 4% core. Our earnings per share were up 8% to $1 a share, and that's inclusive of this $12 million -- $11.7 million legacy environmental liability that dates back to the '50s. If you exclude that from an operating performance, it turns in about $1.06 per share, up 14%.

When you look down below on the adjusted again for the environmental cost and the acquisitions, our operating margins for the quarter were 16.4%, up 90 basis points from last year. ESS operating margins were 18.6%, up 180 basis points and EPG margins 15%, up 20 basis points. So a very, very nice performance on the operating side.

The tools equity earnings were $14.3 million or $0.07 a share, about flat with last year, and we had a terrific bookings with our backlog now up 15% year-over-year and all of our businesses up over 100% in the quarter on a book-to-bill. So again a nice start to a terrific -- what we expect to be a terrific year.

Turning to Page 3 of the handout, I'll give you some comments now on the end-market conditions. Obviously, continue to be very volatile and unpredictable. The U.S., as you know, slowed in the third quarter of last year, gained momentum in the fourth quarter, and we saw that momentum continue into the first quarter. Total Cooper was up about 8% on the core in the first quarter for North America -- for the U.S., excuse me.

The Western Europe and Canada. In Europe, we were able to offset overall negative economic activity, with great performance on energy and overall industrial to produce flat core growth across the company. Canada was a nice performance, up mid-single-digits. And in the developing markets, roughly 21% of our sales, we're in again another real mixed bag. We saw China and South America slow to single digits, while Australia, Southeast Asia, Russia and the Middle East were all up nicely, netting to an overall performance in the developing markets for the company up 8% at the core.

If you turn to Page 4, I'll give you some commentary now on the end markets. The industrial continued the momentum that we had seen throughout 2011, with very solid activity in the energy markets, strong overall ISM numbers and a stable North American factory utilization. Utility markets continued solid investment, trends in T&D, with emphasis on replacement of aged infrastructure. Commercial construction still remains in stall mode, reflecting broad global economic uncertainty and high unemployment, with the national office vacancy rate still stuck at over 17%, well above the 12.5% we saw in 2007.

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