Chiquita Brands International's CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Chiquita Brands International Inc. (CQB)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

August 7, 2012 4:30 pm ET

Executives

Steve Himes – Investor Relations

Fernando G. Aguirre – Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

Brian W. Kocher – Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice President

Analysts

Scott A. Mushkin – Jefferies & Co., Inc.

Heather L. Jones – BB&T Capital Markets

Reza Vahabzadeh – Barclays Capital, Inc.

Carla Casella – JPMorgan Securities LLC

Bryan Hunt – Wells Fargo Securities

Mary Gilbert – Imperial Capital, LLC

Presentation

Operator

Good day and welcome to the Chiquita Brands Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Call. As a reminder today's conference is being recorded. (Operator Instructions) At this time, for opening remarks and introductions, I'll like to turn the conference over to Mr. Steve Himes, Director of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, Sir.

Steve Himes

Thank you, Kevin. Welcome everyone to Chiquita Brands International's Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. On the call today are Fernando Aguirre, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and Brian Kocher, Chief Financial Officer. After today's prepared remarks we will take questions as time allows. A copy of today's press release is available on the Company's website at www.chiquita.com, and you may also contact Chiquita's Investor Relations department at 980-636-5637 to receive a copy. Our press release includes reconciliation's to U.S. GAAP of any non-GAAP financial measures that we mention today.

This call contains forward-looking statements, regarding operating performance or industry developments, and any such statements are intended to fall within the Safe Harbor provided under the security laws. Factors that could cause the results to differ materially are described in the forward-looking statements section of today's press release and in Chiquita's SEC filings, including its annual report on Form 10-K, and quarterly reports on Form10-Q.

And now, I'll turn the call over to Fernando.

Fernando G. Aguirre

Thank you, Steve, and good afternoon and thank you for joining us today. We several items which we would like to cover this afternoon. First, we will review, Chiquita's second quarter performance. Second, formally launch our transformation strategy, which we began laying out on the year-end call in February and is intended to increase shareholder value by singularly focusing on driving profitability in our core businesses of bananas and salads. Third, we will frame the earnings power of Chiquita going forward, quantify our long-term financial goals, and provide additional detail on the actions we are taking to support the achievement of these long-term financial goals. Last, I will also discuss my future plans with the company.

To put this in context, the actions we are announcing today are a series of initiatives, which began with the move to Charlotte, and the decision to expand our salads business by offering, private-label salads, and will result in a continued restructuring of our current organization. The move together with the changes we are announcing will lower our fixed cost base and are expected to increase Chiquita’s profitability in the next six months by reducing expenses and allowing also focus in our core businesses bananas and salads. I’m going to ask Brian to take us through our second quarter results and expand on the plans to improve our profitability short term. Brian?

Brian W. Kocher

Thank you, Fernando. Now regarding second quarter, you’ll remember that on the last couple of calls we indicated that 2012 would be a challenging year for Chiquita. Although manning of the external factors impacting our business have not changed, our results reflect improvements and in some instances even exceed our expectations particularly with regard to many of the controllable aspects of our business.

The second quarter 2012 net income on a comparable basis was $12 million or $0.27 per diluted share, versus $34 million or $0.73 per diluted share in 2011. U.S. GAAP results for Q2, 2012 were net income of $6 million or $0.12 per diluted share versus net income of $78 million or $1.68 per diluted share in 2011. The adjustments between comparable results and GAAP results are included in the table in the press release.

Looking at bananas, sales were 4% lower at $533 million, comparable operating income was $29 million or 5.5% of sales and was impacted by the absence of a product supply surcharge in North America, the weakening euro in European markets and slightly higher delivered fruit cost. Local pricing gains in Europe partially offset these impact.

Our North American banana business faced difficult comparisons the last year because of the product supply surcharge that was in affect through the end of the second quarter 2011. Banana pricing was 8% lower on essentially the same unit volumes.

In Europe, other local prices were 5% higher than in 2011. The increase was not enough to offset the large and rapid decline in the value of the euro. The euro decline alone negatively impacted our year-over-year quarterly comparisons by $26 million. In fact, excluding the impact of currency, our European operating income approximately doubled year-over-year.

In our core European market, dollar equivalent pricing – prices were 6% lower and volumes were 5% lower as we rationalized volume in areas where we could not generate a profit. Despite difficult market conditions in some of variables that we could not control, our banana business underlying performance exceeded our internal forecasts, as we effectively managed the parts of the business that we could control.

Without the unprecedented move in the euro, which we just discussed, comparable income in bananas was essentially flat. It's not for the 2011 surcharge in North America, comparable income for bananas would have increased year-over-year. Disciplined marketing spends, shipping savings, maximizing utilization of our fix infrastructure and the allocation of banana volume for the most efficient markets help drive the underlying business performance.

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