The Clorox's CEO Discusses Q3 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

The Clorox (CLX)

Q3 2012 Earnings Call

May 02, 2012 1:30 pm ET


Steve Austenfeld - Former Vice President of Investor Relations

Lawrence S. Peiros - Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President

Stephen M. Robb - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President

Donald R. Knauss - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Executive Committee


Wendy Nicholson - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Timothy A. Conder - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Christopher Ferrara - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Ali Dibadj - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division

Javier Escalante - Consumer Edge Research, LLC

Constance Marie Maneaty - BMO Capital Markets U.S.

Lauren R. Lieberman - Barclays Capital, Research Division

William Schmitz - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

John A. Faucher - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division



Good day, everyone, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to The Clorox Company Third Quarter Fiscal Year 2012 Earnings Release Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this call is being recorded.

I would now like to introduce your host for today's conference, Mr. Steve Austenfeld, Vice President of Investor Relations for The Clorox Company. Mr. Austenfeld, you may begin your conference.

Steve Austenfeld

Thank you. Welcome, everyone, and thank you for joining Clorox's Third Quarter Conference Call. On the call with me today are Don Knauss, Clorox's Chairman and CEO; Larry Peiros, our Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; and Steve Robb, our Chief Financial Officer. We're broadcasting this call over the Internet, and a replay of the call will be available for 7 days on our website,

Let me remind you that on today's call, we will refer to certain non-GAAP financial measures including, but not limited to, free cash flow, EBIT margin and debt-to-EBITDA. Management believes that providing insights on these measures enables investors to better understand and analyze our ongoing results of operations.

Reconciliation with the most directly comparable financial measures determined in accordance with GAAP can be found in today’s press release, this webcast's prepared remarks or supplemental information available in the Financial Results area of our website, as well as in our filings with the SEC. In particular, it may be helpful to refer to tables located at the end of today's earnings release.

Please recognize that today's discussion contains forward-looking statements. Actual results or outcomes could differ materially from management's expectations and plans. Please review our most recent 10-K filing with the SEC and our other SEC filings for a description of important factors that could cause results or outcomes to differ materially from management's expectations and plans. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements.

Today, Larry will start with a discussion of our volume and sales results. Steve will then follow with a review of our financial performance in the quarter, our updated outlook for fiscal year '12, as well as our initial outlook for fiscal year '13. Finally, before turning to Q&A, Don will close, noting a few key focus areas for the company as we head into the next fiscal year.

With that, let me turn it over to Larry.

Lawrence S. Peiros

Thanks, and hello to everybody on the call. As Steve said, I'm going to focus my comments on market share, volume and sales and provide perspective on what drove our top line results.

Overall, our third quarter top line performance was very strong, benefiting from strong organic sales, as well as the impact of our recent acquisitions. We delivered volume growth of 4% and sales growth of 7%. Even without the acquisitions, volume was up a solid 2% and sales grew a very strong 6%, with sales outpacing volume due to price increases across most of the portfolio.

We saw sales growth in all 4 business segments and almost every individual business unit. Our new product innovation program continues to have record levels, and our integrated marketing plans continue to deliver. In particular, strong merchandising activity contributed to our top line results this quarter as several key retailers chose Clorox brands to drive store traffic in their overall sales. We feel great about the quarter and the progress we are making in driving top line growth in what remains a challenging environment.

In our U.S. business, our all-outlet market share reached a record high. We're up about 0.5 a share point over the past 52 weeks to a 28% share. Moreover, we gained or helped share in every one of our reported U.S. categories. This share results reinforced the strength of our brands, especially given the large number of recent price increases.

The other good news is that our U.S. categories are getting healthier as pricing takes hold and the economy recovers. Overall category consumption on an all-outlet basis was flat for the past 52 weeks versus a decline of about 2% just a year ago.

Our Cleaning segment, which includes our Home Care, Laundry and Away From Home businesses, delivered a very strong quarter, with volume up 7% and sales up 10%. Excluding the 2 recent acquisitions in our Away From Home business, segment sales were up 5%. All 3 business units in this segment saw sales growth in the quarter, driven by price increases and innovation.

Home Care grew sales and share behind a double-digit volume increase on Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, gains in several other Home Care brands, as well as innovations like our Clorox Bleach Foamer spray and Liquid-Plumr Double Impact drain cleaner.

On our Laundry business, we grew sales and increased our 52-week all-outlet market share for the second straight quarter. Our focus on attracting new users with our new Bleachable Moments marketing plan appears to be getting some early traction. We also saw growth behind the launch of new Clorox Bleach Gel, a thicker formula and a precision pour spout bottle for use in high-efficiency washing machines.

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