Pall (PLL) Q4 2012 Earnings Call September 13, 2012 8:30 am ET Executives Lawrence D. Kingsley - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director Lisa McDermott - Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Analysts Richard C. Eastman - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division Hamzah Mazari - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division Brian Drab - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division Jonathan P. Groberg - Macquarie Research Rafael Tejada Jon Davis Wood - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division Tracy Marshbanks - First Analysis Securities Corporation, Research Division Presentation Operator
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But before I jump in to our results, I want to take a few -- make a few preparatory comments about what we've accomplished over the last year and what we anticipate for the year in front of us. I first spoke to you as Pall's CEO in December. At that time, I said that I viewed Pall as a huge long-term value-creation opportunity. I believe that statement even more so today. We talked about foundational work that we had to do, particularly with respect to people, process and technology, and I'm happy to report that we've made significant progress but with much more to do. With regard to people, as you know, there have been a number of changes to the executive management team. I'm incredibly pleased with the talent that we now have, as well as the developing bench strength behind them. In the fourth quarter, we added business development capability, which is critical to our growth strategy.With regard to process, in the quarter, we focused almost exclusively on restoring customer service levels to pre-SAP implementation levels and are now working toward best-in-industry metrics. And with regard to technology, we're increasing R&D spend. We're also taking a much more focused approach as to where we invest. We've added significant talents in R&D to accomplish this. Last year, I articulated the strategy which highlighted our move toward more emphasis on strategic acquisitions to enable core growth. We will do so in a disciplined manner. This may include enhancing our current offerings but also moving into adjacent product markets where our applications expertise and our global channel are a natural fit. We closed the transaction with Haemonetics on August 1 as planned, and there are no other planned divestitures. In short, we believe that we can more actively organically manage the portfolio to position ourselves well for future growth.
We're building an acquisition pipeline and expect that we will begin to more consistently acquire about a year from now. Our team has done a solid job integrating ForteBio, and we anticipate that it will exceed our preacquisition model for both growth and return.I'll now move to our outlook generally. The global economy is concerning with a large dose of uncertainty. We assume that Europe will worsen, particularly for our Industrial business, China will grow but only significantly in about 1/3 of our vertical markets and the Microelectronics global end markets will not recover as previously assumed. However, all in, I think we have gotten ahead of the concerns, and we have a plan to deliver reasonable results in the face of a choppy environment. Consistent with this, as you know, we've committed to $100 million in structural cost improvement over the next 3 years. We are targeting that half of that will be accomplished in fiscal year 2013, this year. This program is well underway, and I'm confident that we will achieve our target. It's critical that we rightsize our fixed cost structure at the same time that we reposition SG&A to take advantage of where growth can be achieved. So let's move to the quarter discussion. We executed a strong recovery from our ERP-induced challenges in Q3. Nearly all of the shipments that were deferred into Q4 shipped in Q4, bringing down our past dues significantly in the quarter. To be clear, again, we have a long way to go to claim best practice, but the team should be congratulated for how well they worked across function and with our external supply chain to restore confidence. Very solid execution. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com