Airgas' CEO Discusses Q4 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Airgas (ARG)

Q4 2012 Earnings Call

May 03, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

J. Barrett Strzelec - Director of Investor Relations

Peter McCausland - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, President, Founder and Member of Executive Committee

Michael L. Molinini - Chief Operating officer and Executive Vice President

Robert M. McLaughlin - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President

Analysts

Ryan Merkel - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division

Michael J. Harrison - First Analysis Securities Corporation, Research Division

Michael J. Sison - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Vincent Andrews - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

John E. Roberts - The Buckingham Research Group Incorporated

David J. Manthey - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division

Mark R. Gulley - Ticonderoga Securities LLC, Research Division

Kevin W. McCarthy - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Laurence Alexander - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

Brian Maguire

Thomas L. Hayes - Piper Jaffray Companies, Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good morning, and welcome to the Airgas Fourth Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. Today's call is being recorded at the request of Airgas. [Operator Instructions] For opening remarks and introductions, I will now turn the call over to the Director of Investor Relations, Barry Strzelec. Please go ahead.

J. Barrett Strzelec

Thanks, Stephanie. Good morning, and thank you for attending our fourth quarter earnings teleconference. Joining me today are Peter McCausland, Chairman and CEO; Mike Molinini, Executive Vice President and COO; and Bob McLaughlin, Senior Vice President and CFO.

Our earnings press release was made public this morning and is available on our website, as are the teleconference slides. To follow along, please go to airgas.com, click on the Investors shortcut at the top of the screen and go to the Earnings Calls and Events page.

During the course of our presentation, we will make reference to certain non-GAAP financial measures and, unless specified otherwise, metrics referred to in today's discussion will be adjusted for the unusual items identified in our earnings materials. Reconciliations to the most comparable GAAP measures can be found in our earnings release, in the slide presentation and on our website.

This teleconference will contain forward-looking statements based on current expectations regarding important risk factors, which are identified in the earnings release and in our slide presentation. Actual results may differ materially from these statements, so we ask that you please note our Safe Harbor language.

We'll take questions after concluding our prepared remarks, as time permits. and we plan to end the teleconference today by 11:15 Eastern Time. Now I'll turn the call over to Peter to begin our review.

Peter McCausland

Thanks, Barry. Good morning, and thank you all for joining us. Please turn to Slide 2 to begin our discussion of our quarterly and full year results.

However, before reviewing our earnings, I'd like to take a few minutes to discuss with you the leadership transition announced this morning in conjunction with our financial results. Following our 2012 annual meeting of stockholders, which will be held in mid-August, I will assume the role of Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. At that time, I'm pleased that Mike Molinini, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Airgas since 2005, will succeed me as President and Chief Executive Officer.

As part of this leadership transition, our Board has unanimously elected Mike to serve as a Director of the company effective immediately and he will stand for reelection to the Board at the 2012 annual meeting. This transition is a product of extensive leadership succession planning by our Board and is part of an evolutionary process. Consistent with its fiduciary responsibilities, the Board has been very involved in the development of our management team over the course of many years and has kept a close eye on the career path, leadership capabilities and performance of many outstanding individuals. They have watched and encourage, not only Mike's development, but the development of a deep and talented bench that is driving -- that is the driving force behind the growing strength of our business.

Most of you know Mike and are familiar with his outstanding record of accomplishment. Mike joined Airgas in 1997, as Group Vice President of Airgas Direct Industrial, and he led the build out of our hardgoods supply chain including development of the Radnor private label program. He then served as a Senior Vice President of Airgas' hardgoods business with company-wide responsibility for directing sales and marketing, procurement and distribution of center logistics. Most recently, since 2005, Mike has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, responsible for the day-to-day operations of our company. Over the last couple of years, one of his most notable accomplishments has been leading the successful development and rollout of our new SAP system and he's done that while maintaining a sharp operating focus on the business and delivering robust same-store sales and double-digit earnings growth.

The board and I believe that Mike's talents, strategic insight and keen grasp of our business will benefit Airgas as we build on the momentum of our numerous growth initiatives. He is clearly an outstanding fit for the job and we are confident that he will continue to build on our 30-year track record of operational excellence and shareholder value creation.

In my new role as executive chairman, I will continue to oversee some key areas of the business, about which I am very passionate, business strategy development, acquisitions, risk management and governance. In addition, I will continue to serve as chairman of the company's management committee. Mike and I, together with Bob McLaughlin and other key executives will continue to be actively engaged with our shareholders in the investment community at large. Our vision and strategy remain unchanged and we have never been stronger. As I always say, the best time at Airgas is now.

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