CH Robinson Worldwide Management Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

CH Robinson Worldwide (CHRW)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

July 24, 2012 5:00 pm ET


Angela K. Freeman - Vice President of Investor Relations and Public Affairs

John P. Wiehoff - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President

Chad M. Lindbloom - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer and Senior Vice President


William J. Greene - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Justin B. Yagerman - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Thomas S. Albrecht - BB&T Capital Markets, Research Division

Thomas R. Wadewitz - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Nathan Brochmann - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division

Ken Hoexter - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Bascome Majors - Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division

Benjamin J. Hartford - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division

Tavio Headley - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division



Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the C.H. Robinson Second Quarter 2012 Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded today, Tuesday, July 24, 2012. I would now like to turn the conference over to Angie Freeman, C.H. Robinson's Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, Ms. Freeman.

Angela K. Freeman

Thank you, Douglas. On our call today will be John Wiehoff, CEO; and Chad Lindbloom, CFO. John and Chad will provide some prepared comments on the highlights of our second quarter performance, and we will follow that with a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions]

Please note that there are presentation slides that accompany our call to facilitate our discussion. The slides can be accessed in the Investor Relations section of our website, which is located at John and Chad will be referring to the slides in their prepared comments.

Finally, I would like to remind you that comments made by John, Chad or others representing C.H. Robinson may contain forward-looking statements which are subject to risk and uncertainties. Our SEC filings contain additional information about factors that could cause actual results to differ from management's expectation.

And with that, I'll turn it over to John.

John P. Wiehoff

Thank you, Angie, and thanks to everybody who's taken the time to listen into our call. So my prepared comments, as Angie said, will start with Slide 3 on our prepared deck that summarize our overall financial results for the second quarter. The key metrics that we focus on, our total revenues grew 9.2% for the quarter. Net revenues grew 1.8%. I'll discuss more about it later, but in general, that margin compression of net revenues growing slower than total revenues is a common theme throughout all of our different services. Our income from operations grew 2.7%, and our EPS grew at 6%. Chad will make some more comments later about our variable business model and our operating expenses. But in general, we were pleased that we were able to grow our EPS faster than our net revenues.

As in the past, I'm going to make a few prepared comments for each of our individual service lines, but before we move off of the enterprise results, I guess I wanted to touch on what I believe is the common theme for our second quarter results across all of our transportation services. And that really is the theme of: our underlying capacity providers looking pretty aggressively to drive price increases, and at the same time, our customer base that we're working with being as focused as ever on supply chain savings and cost reductions, and not very receptive to meaningful price increases based on overall economic conditions and how they're managing their supply chains more aggressively, which resulted in us across all service lines really, some pretty meaningful margin compression that was pretty systemic for us. It's not a new topic. We've talked about it the last couple of quarters, but it was as anticipated, and we talked about the early days of April on our last call that, that margin compression really continued across all service lines. Again, driven largely, we believe, by the overall environment and macro effects. And as I go through each individual service line, I'll try to comment more specifically on kind of what we're seeing and how we think it might be impacting us. But that's clearly kind of the connecting theme that we would mention.

Moving on then to Page 4 and the overall transportation results. There you see the total net revenues being roughly flat for the quarter. The volume growth in almost all service lines that I'll get into more specifically offset by that net revenue margin compression that I referenced. On the bottom half of that slide, our 10-year or historical net revenue margin percentage shows that for the quarter, we had 14.9% net revenue margin for the quarter in transportation. We've talked a lot in the past about how these margins fluctuate and all the various things that could impact them. And while we expected margin compression off of the highs of 2009 and all of the economic circumstances that created that, I think it's fair to say that this margin compression cycle has been longer and more significant than we might have anticipated. So while it's not uncommon for our business model to see supply cost rising faster during periods of time than we're able to pass through to our customers. Again, this has been a fairly significant and fairly long part of the cycle, down to a 10-year low of 14.9% for the quarter.

Moving on to Page 5 then for our truck results. As a reminder, our truck category includes both truckload and less-than-truckload. Net revenue combined for the 2 declined to 0.5% in the second quarter. We were happy with volume increases of 10% in truckload and 17% in LTL. Again, following the theme of cost pressures on the truckload side, the capacity that we rely heavily on, the medium and small carriers, continue to experience a fair amount of cost pressure. And as we disclosed, our net cost for the quarter were up 3% on the truck load compared to second quarter of last year, with customer prices being up about 1%.

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