USG Management Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

USG (USG)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

July 25, 2012 11:00 am ET

Executives

Ken Banas

James S. Metcalf - Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President

Matthew F. Hilzinger - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Analysts

Rodny Nacier - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Robert C. Wetenhall - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Kathryn I. Thompson - Thompson Research Group, LLC.

James Barrett - CL King & Associates, Inc.

Trey Grooms - Stephens Inc., Research Division

Garik S. Shmois - Longbow Research LLC

Neil Frohnapple - Northcoast Research

Joshua Pollard - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Mike Wood - Macquarie Research

Michael Rehaut - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Dennis McGill - Zelman & Associates, Research Division

John A. Baugh - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

L. Todd Vencil - Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., Research Division

Daniel Oppenheim - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Ken Copley

Presentation

Operator

Welcome to the USG Corporation's Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. My name is John, and I'll be your operator for today's call. [Operator Instructions], Please note that this conference is being recorded. I will now turn the call over to Mr. Ken Banas. Mr. Banas, you may begin.

Ken Banas

Good morning, and welcome to USG Corporation's Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call and live webcast. We'll be using a slide presentation in conjunction with our call today. It is available by going to the Investor Information section of our website, www.usg.com and clicking on the link to the webcast.

Before we proceed, let me remind you that certain statements in this conference call may be forward-looking statements under securities laws. These statements are made on the basis of management’s current views and assumptions of our business, market and other conditions, and management undertakes no obligation to update these statements. The statements are also subject to a number of factors, including those listed at the end of the press release, and actual results may be different from our current expectations.

With me today to discuss our results and our outlook are Jim Metcalf, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Matt Hilzinger, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Jim will provide a general overview of the quarter plus additional insight into some of our businesses. Matt will review the financial results for the quarter for the Corporation and the business segments. We'll then open the call for questions and conclude with a few comments from Jim. [Operator Instructions] Jim?

James S. Metcalf

Thank you, Ken, and good morning. I appreciate everyone joining us today. We appreciate your interest in USG, and I'm looking forward with sharing our results with you this morning. After reaching the important milestone of operating profit in the first quarter, we've continued that positive trend with operating profit in the second quarter of 2012. In fact, our sales of $825 million in the second quarter were the highest since 2009. That's an important comparison. The key difference is in 2009, we lost $40 million in that quarter. We believe now that we've turned the corner, and we're focused on achieving net earnings. This is a testament to the innovation and commitment of all of our employees despite the market demand well below historical averages.

Today, I'm going to focus my comments on 2 areas. First, I want to review the highlights of the second quarter, and Matt is going to go into some more details of the numbers. Then I want to discuss a key strategic component in our strategy, and I like to say our plan to win is our new wallboard partnership to support the India market.

So now, let's take a look at the quarter. For U.S. Gypsum, overall wallboard volume, price and cost significantly improved compared to the second quarter of 2011. Compared to the first quarter, our volume was down slightly, but our margin increased with both price and cost improvement. Our new pricing strategy, which we instituted earlier this year, which gives our customers certainty on price levels continues to be very effective. In our Substrates business, we had strong results with our next-generation DUROCK, with margins up over 16% year-on-year, and DUROCK volume was the strongest since 2008.

Now turning to our Ceilings business. Profitability in the quarter remained strong due to the growth of our high-end ceiling tile and solid grid margins. Sales were down slightly versus the first quarter, but we do expect a pickup as we are currently in the school construction season and the seasonality of our big-box business which will happen in the fall.

The next area is our Distribution business, L&W Supply. L&W's wallboard volume and price increased in the second quarter, and we had strong performance in steel and ceilings compared to the first quarter of 2012. Our comp store sales increased 11% year-on-year as we continue to focus on the commercial contractor, where L&W provides value. In fact, sales and margins at L&W improved in all 7 core product categories year-on-year.

Our international units continued to weather various storms in their market. For example, Canadian Gypsum Company's second quarter year-on-year sales are ahead of last year, while operating profit was down. USG Mexico sales also improved year-on-year despite a very challenging market. In order to strengthen our product portfolio in Mexico, we've successfully launched both UltraLight and Mold Tough during the second quarter.

Our results from the first half of this year give us reason to be cautiously optimistic with both top and bottom line improvement. Despite a continued weak market in the United States, we made slow recovery. We continue to focus on our plan to win.

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