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

Lear (LEA)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

May 03, 2012 9:00 am ET

Executives

Ed Lowenfeld -

Matthew J. Simoncini - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Jeffrey H. Vanneste - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President

Analysts

H. Peter Nesvold - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

Brian Arthur Johnson - Barclays Capital, Research Division

John Murphy - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Rod Lache - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Christopher J. Ceraso - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Itay Michaeli - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Emmanuel Rosner - Credit Agricole Securities (USA) Inc., Research Division

Brett D. Hoselton - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Colin Langan - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Matthew T. Stover - Guggenheim Securities, LLC, Research Division

Joseph Spak - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Adam Brooks - Sidoti & Company, LLC

Aditya Oberoi - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Ravi Shanker - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good morning. My name is Steve, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Lear Corporation First Quarter 2012 Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions] Thank you. I'll now turn the call over to Ed Lowenfeld, Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Ed Lowenfeld

Thank you, Steve. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us for our first quarter 2012 earnings call. Our earnings press release was filed this morning with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and materials for our earnings call are posted on our website, lear.com, through the Investor Relations link.

Today's presentors our Matt Simoncini, President and CEO; and Jeff Vanneste, Chief Financial Officer. Also participating on the call are several other members of Lear's leadership team. Before we begin, I'd like to remind you that during the call, we will be making forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Some of the factors that could impact our future results are described in the last slide of the presentation materials and also in our SEC filings. In addition, we will be referring to certain non-GAAP financial measures. Additional information regarding these measures can be found in the slides labeled Non-GAAP Financial Information, also at the end of the presentation materials.

Slide #2 shows the agenda for today's review. First, Matt Simoncini will provide a company overview. Next, Jeff Vanneste will review our first quarter financial results and 2012 outlook. Then Matt will have some wrap-up comments. Following the formal presentation, we will be happy to take your questions. Now please turn to Slide #3, and I'll hand it over to Matt.

Matthew J. Simoncini

Thanks, Ed. We're off to a good start in 2012 with another quarter of solid financial performance. We continue to receive customer and industry recognition and we recently announced an acquisition that we believe will further strengthen our Seating business. Sales increased 4% to $3.6 billion in the first quarter. Excluding the impact of foreign exchange, sales were up 6% in line with global production. Core operating earnings were $195 million, down 5% from a year ago, but still one of our strongest quarters in the recent years.

Our Electrical business continued to benefit from greater scale and previous restructuring actions with sales up 6% and earnings up 21%. We were honored last month to be named "Corporation of the Year" by General Motors and the Supplier of the Year for the 14th time. Additionally last week, we received an Automotive News PACE Award for our Solid State Smart Junction Box recognizing our industry-leading technology in this critical component. In April, we sign an agreement to acquire Guilford Mills, a leading global provider of automobile and specialty fabrics. I'll cover this acquisition in more detail in the next few slides. We continue to return cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. During the quarter, we announced an increase in both of these program.

Slide #4 highlights the strategic benefits of our pending acquisition of Guilford Mills. This acquisition is consistent with our strategy of selective vertical integration and expansion of our component capabilities. Guilford is a leading global provider of fabric for seats, headliners and other interior applications. We believe Guilford will strengthen our existing industry-leading seat cover business by providing synergies through increased design and manufacturing expertise, which will improve quality and enhance value to our customers. We believe this acquisition will offer both Lear and Guilford strong customer relationships to increase sales across both businesses. Guilford has a competitive footprint with manufacturing locations in the U.S. and Europe, as well as a joint venture in China. They completed a major restructuring in their operations to improve efficiency and reduce their cost. Lastly, Guilford has small specialty fabric business that produces multiple products for nonautomotive applications, such as water filtration systems for Dow Chemical and General Electric.

Please turn to Slide #5. We expect the Guilford transaction will close during the second quarter. Last week, we received regulatory approval for a transaction in the U.S. and we're waiting to hear from European authorities. The net purchase price is approximately $260 million, subject to normal post-closing adjustments. We will utilize cash on our balance sheet to fund the transaction. Guilford has annual sales of approximately $400 million and its margins and other key financial metrics are consistent with our existing seat business.

With that, I'll turn over, I'll turn it over to Jeff Vanneste. Jeff returns to Lear after 5 years as the CFO of International Automotive Components. Prior to IAC, Jeff spent majority of his carrier at Lear in senior finance roles in U.S. and in Europe, and we are very pleased to have him back. I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank Jason Cardew, who's also with us today, and who did an excellent job as our interim CFO. I'll turn it over to Jeff who will take you through the financial results and financial outlook.

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