MeadWestvaco Earnings Call Nuggets: Corporate Strategy, Specialty Chemicals Business

On Tuesday, MeadWestvaco Corporation (NYSE:MWV) reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Corporate Strategy

Mark Wilde – Deutsche Bank: Just a question John about this announcement around Ruby Macons last week, for years it seems like the company was moving away from mill center business into more kind of packaging converting businesses, things like the pumps and dispensers businesses and other things. It seems like with this acquisition and also the expansion of the mill down at Brazil that maybe the pendulum is swinging back the other way from a corporate strategy standpoint. Can you address that?

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John A. Luke, Jr. – Chairman and CEO: We’d be happy to Mark and its good question. I think one of the things we’ve really worked very hard to emphasize is we have targeted the end markets we have, that our strategy is to pursue and drive economically profitable growth through solutions in those targeted markets and doing so in ways that really leverage our knowledge and our capabilities both in the marketplace and from a technology standpoint. To your point, the expansion – the investment in the expansion of paperboard in Brazil, and this most recent investment in containerboard in India, are very good examples of that, but we’re also very keen on continuing to move downstream closer to the market as well with solutions just as Jim described and reinforced with Polytop and Spray Plast. So, it’s going to be a both end all driven by the pursuit of good strong solutions-driven positions in markets where we can generate economically – sustainable economic profitability.

Specialty Chemicals Business

Ghansham Panjabi – Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated: Hey on the Specialty Chemicals business, I’m not sure if you mentioned this, but what was the volume growth during the quarter and if you can kind of parse that out by the various sub-segments, pine chemicals, carbon filters, etc. that would be helpful?

James A. Buzzard – President: We saw growth across all of the elements of that business in double digit range. Clearly we have seen gains in automobiles in China, the North American automobile business, so that’s driving our carbon business up nicely. And then as I reported I think certainly oilfields, asphalt and adhesives key target markets for us, all showing good growth all around the world.

Ghansham Panjabi – Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated: Average double-digits up across the board?

James A. Buzzard – President: Yes.

Ghansham Panjabi – Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated: Okay. And then the lower pricing on standard products that you referred to for this segment, can you expand on this?

James A. Buzzard – President: Sure. We play across a broad portfolio of both end-markets and products, some of whom are more standardized products, and as we have seen declines in competing raw materials like gum rosin, certain of those product categories have come under little bit of pressure. But if you look at the broad base of the portfolio and where our emphasis is, the price-mix continues to be very good for us.

Ghansham Panjabi – Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated: Okay. And just maybe one last question for Mark. Mark, how should we think about the adjusted EPS number for 4Q of 2011, just to make sure that we’re all on the same page here?

Mark Rajkowski – SVP and CFO: Ghansham, frankly I don’t have that one off the top of my head. Jason, what is it?

Jason Thompson – Director, IR: Low single digits. I mean you guys have the segment profitability for C&OP and (indiscernible) and come up with a relatively close adjusted number.

Ghansham Panjabi – Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated: Five cents, is that what I heard?

Mark Rajkowski – SVP and CFO: In the neighborhood.

A Closer Look: MeadWestvaco Earnings Cheat Sheet>>