FMC (FMC) Q2 2012 Earnings Call August 01, 2012 10:00 am ET Executives Andrew D. Sandifer - Vice President of Corporate Planning and Development Pierre R. Brondeau - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of Executive Committee D. Michael Wilson - President of Specialty Chemicals Group W. Kim Foster - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Mark A. Douglas - President of Industrial Chemicals Group Milton Steele - President of the Agricultural Products Group Analysts John P. McNulty - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division Kevin W. McCarthy - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division Michael J. Harrison - First Analysis Securities Corporation, Research Division Peter Butler Laurence Alexander - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division Michael J. Sison - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division Dmitry Silversteyn - Longbow Research LLC Presentation Operator
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Let me remind everyone that our discussion today will include certain statements that are forward-looking and subject to various risks and uncertainties concerning specific factors that are summarized in FMC's 2011 Form 10-K, our most recent Form 10-Q and other SEC filings. This information represents our best judgment based on today's information. Actual results may vary based upon these risks and uncertainties.Our discussion today will focus on adjusted earnings for all income statement and EPS references. The definition of adjusted earnings and certain other non-GAAP financial terms that we may refer to during today's conference call are available along -- under the heading of Glossary of Financial Terms on our website, www.fmc.com. Also, on our website, we posted our current 2012 outlook statement, which provides our guidance for the full year and third quarter 2012, as well as a reconciliation to GAAP for the GAAP -- non-GAAP figures we'll use today. And finally, share and per share financial data discussed today reflects the 2-for-1 split of FMC's common stock that was completed on May 24, 2012. It's now my pleasure to turn the call over to Pierre Brondeau. Pierre? Pierre R. Brondeau Thank you, Andrew, and good morning, everyone. As you saw in our earnings release last night, we delivered another strong quarter, with earnings per share up 20% versus the prior year period, continuing a trajectory to deliver another record year for FMC. Let me walk you through the company's overall results for the quarter. We delivered adjusted earnings of $0.92 per diluted share, an increase of 20% versus the year-ago quarter. Total company sales of $905 million increased $93 million, or 11%, versus last year. The strong performance was led by continued robust performance in our Agricultural Products segment and with sales growth in all businesses. Sales grew most rapidly in Latin America, up 32%; followed by Asia, up 13%; and North America, up 9%.
Sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, or EMEA, decreased slightly less than 4%, reflecting principally the impact of a weaker euro. Gross margin of $341 million increased by $42 million or 14% versus last year.Gross margin percent of 37.7% improved by 88 basis points over last year, driven by higher selling prices, higher volumes and improved mix, only partially offset by higher cost. SG&A and R&D of $148 million increased $18 million, or 14%, largely due to increased spending on targeted growth initiatives. Adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of $127 million increased $16 million, or 15%, compared to last year. Let's now take a more detailed look at the performance of each of our operating segments in the quarter. First, in Agricultural Products. Second quarter sales of $394 million increased 19% versus the prior year quarter, with substantial sales gain in Latin America and North America. Latin America sales growth was driven by continued strength in sugarcane, growth in soybeans and sales from a new market access joint venture in Argentina. North America showed strong demand for proprietary herbicides and higher insecticide sales due to strong test pressure and growth in the corn segment. Asia and EMEA sales were marginally down versus the prior year period. Segment earnings for Agricultural Products of $111 million increased 18% versus the year-ago quarter, driven by strong volume growth, partially offset by higher spending on targeted growth initiatives. Another development of note for Agricultural Products Group in the quarter was the reapproval of bifenthrin for use in the European Union by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health. Bifenthrin has long been recognized as a valuable and effective crop protection product by growers around the world. It is a unique, versatile insecticide that works quickly on a range of destructive insects. It will once again be available to growers in the EU, where it will be registered for oilseed rape, cereals, vegetables, ornamental and other uses. FMC will also continue to develop new and innovative formulations for this product, which should lead to increased sales and market shares in key EU markets. Though we are very excited about this news, due to the time line to register bifenthrin across target countries in the EU, we do not expect any sales or EBIT impact until 2014. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com