Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN) Q2 2012 Earnings Call July 26, 2012 9:30 am ET Executives Kathy Ann MacDonald - Vice President of Investor Relations and Acting Corporate Controller Stephen W. Golsby - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director Peter Kasper Jakobsen - Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President and Director Peter G. Leemputte - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Analysts Kenneth Goldman - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division Edward Aaron - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division Matthew C. Grainger - Morgan Stanley, Research Division Eric R. Katzman - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division Jason English - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division David Driscoll - Citigroup Inc, Research Division Bryan D. Spillane - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division Presentation Operator
Keep in mind that our actual results may differ materially from expectations as of today, due to various factors, including those listed in our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q and Current Report on Form 8-K, in each case, as filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission and our earnings release issued this morning, all of which are available upon request on our website at meadjohnson.com.In addition, any forward-looking statements represent our estimates only as of today and should not be relied upon as representing our estimates as of any subsequent date. While we may elect to update forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we specifically disclaim any obligation to do so even if our estimates change. To be respectful of your time, I will now turn the call over to Steve. Stephen W. Golsby Thank you, Kathy, and good morning, everyone. As you've likely read in our press release, Mead Johnson delivered sales growth of 11% on a constant dollar basis in the second quarter. This was delivered by continued strong performance from the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America, the benefit from our Argentine acquisition completed late in the first quarter and the improving comparison in our North America/Europe segment with soft, flat sales versus the prior year excluding the impact of foreign exchange. Our recovery from the impact of the misleading U.S. media report of alleged product contamination last December is quite evident, and we're confident that progress will continue in the second half of the year. Non-GAAP earnings of $0.83 per share were up 15% from the $0.72 per share reported in the second quarter of 2011. Earnings increased due to strong sales growth, a favorable foreign exchange comparison, lower administrative costs and a reduced tax rate.
These were partially offset by a lower gross margin due in large part to higher dairy cost in North America, increased investments in advertising and promotion and the timing of pension settlement expenses.While we are justifiably pleased with our past 2012 results, we expect lower growth in the second half of the year, due in part to a weak global economy. With several European countries now in recession and the continued weak performance of the U.S. economy, economic growth and consumer spending in key exporting market, most notably China, have slowed. Consequently, we're experiencing a reduction in the rate of category growth in China. Despite this near-term softness, we have continued high confidence for longer-term category growth in China, supported by a rapidly growing middle class. Kasper will go into more detail on market share trends in China, but it's also clear we gave back some market share in the second quarter after exceptional gains over the last few years. We believe this is a temporary phenomenon, and our clear intent is to rebuild share growth in the second half of the year. As we stated previously, the market in China is highly competitive and we will inevitably see share fluctuations from time to time. We have operated in China for almost 20 years and have seen and overcome bumps in the road in the past. We're confident in our business model, strategies and investments, and we intend to continue to deliver compelling growth in China over the medium and longer term. We currently anticipate full year global sales growth of 8% to 9% on a constant dollar basis, down from the 9% to 11% guidance in our last call. While our growth in China has slowed, we continue to see strong performance across markets in Southeast Asia and Latin America and an improving position in the United States. In absolute terms, our projected sales growth in 2012 remains very strong. We continue to expect non-GAAP earnings on a full year basis to range from $3.04 to $3.14 per share. There are always a number of moving parts at work, and 2012 is no exception. A sustainable and lower tax rate coupled with favorable foreign exchange gain is expected to offset the impact of lower sales growth. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com