Avnet Earnings Call Nuggets: Third Quarter Outlook and Margins Details

Avnet Inc (NYSE:AVT) recently reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Third Quarter Outlook

Sherri Scribner – Deutsche Bank: I just wanted to get a sense of the seasonality and the expectations for the September quarter. It looks like for EM, you’re expecting seasonality to be at the low end of the range. I assume that’s primarily related to the upside this quarter. Then looking at TS, it looks like the expectation is for seasonality to be at the higher end of the range. Can you give us some detail on what you’re expecting there; and if I’m right, in terms of the EM business?

Rick Hamada – Chairman and CEO: So Sherri, this is Rick. I think we said that for TS, it’d normally down 5% to 10% and Kevin reported that if you adjust this, all the moving parts, they are about down 8.4%, I think, at the midpoint. So, actually TS might be a little below that midpoint whereas EM was closer to it overall. So basically, the general outlook for our business is pretty much in line with ‘normal seasonality’ and we’ve had certainly some – you talked about the mixed signals. There have been some encouraging ones along the way, the positive book-to-bill which we closed at EM, the fact that this geographic was balanced across all three regions. The fact we now have three normal sequential seasonal performances on a growth basis for TS. These are all encouraging signs but at the same time, as you know, and have heard from many of our – not only competitors, but also some of our partners in the overall tech world, there’s been a – some mixed signals regarding the health of the IT spending, the recovery in the broad industrial markets we serve, et cetera. So, all of that is factored into what we’ve put together for you there. So, Phil and Harley, if you want to add any particular color for components or computers, we’ll go from there, but hopefully, that gives you a little more color commentary of what we’re trying to do.

Philip Gallagher – SVP and President, Technology Solutions Global: Rick, I’ll jump in. This is Phil. This is at a really high level when we look at the quarter out. We’re feeling pretty confident in Asia-Pac with definitely normal seasonality. The Americas is going well. So we feel pretty good there in addition. And I want to – we’re just – we’re pleased with the progress we’re making – very pleased, as a matter of fact with the progress we’re making in Europe. We’re still just bit cautiously optimistic with some of the (indiscernible) in Europe. So if there’s any issue with TS is being off a bit, it’s more around Europe than anything else…

Sherri Scribner – Deutsche Bank: Just quickly on the operating margins, we’re not really in the targeted range yet. I know that we need to see some growth to get those operating margins back, but do you anticipate that we’ll see that in fiscal ’14?

Rick Hamada – Chairman and CEO: So, Sherri, if you look at the two businesses here, so short-term goal for TS was to get back on the year-on-year margin by the June quarter which they were able to achieve. Now we’ve got to get back to the long-range goals in that range of 3.4 to 3.9. With our EM team, we were trying to get back to at least 5% by the June quarter; came up a little short. But obviously, we’re looking to continue to set our sights on getting back in that range. Growth would help; so on a down quarter heading into Q1, flattish to slightly down or up, but a little bit of leverage challenge there, but I believe we are looking for the second half of FY ’14 for EM to get back into the minimum 5% range.


Margins Details

Mark Delaney – Goldman Sachs: I know one of the goals that you articulated at the Analyst Day was to focus more on margins. And so I am trying to just get a better sense of some of the steps the Company can take to improve margins given that gross margins for a June quarter are one at the lowest levels in quite a long time. So maybe as a scenario, I mean if you just assumed seasonal growth rates across the entire business from here would you expect to eventually get back to your target operating margin levels or are there further steps that you need to take either in terms of design and work or cost cutting or something else that will get you back to your target at margin levels?

Rick Hamada – Chairman and CEO: Mark, I’ll add some sense and maybe ask Kevin to jump in. But I will tell you if we even have normal seasonal patterns from here, we feel good about the trajectory back doors, those ranges we’ve spoken about. There are still wild cards, what’s going on with the gross margin, what’s going on with the lead times. What goes on with the year-end IT spend and the budget flow (since thereof) and so lots of moving parts but the growth will certainly help. We don’t rely exclusively on that. I think at this point what we’re seeing is that the contributions from the expense reductions that we’ve talked about in previous quarter. We had expense management always ongoing, we are getting resources, trying to align resources to grow trying to move on the design win mix of our business all those issues are normal course of business expense management. But there is at this particular front, we’re not anticipating further specific expense reduction as part of the equation, but that level if needed will always be there. I know Kevin you want to talk about the rest of the world…

Kevin Moriarty – SVP, CFO, Controller and Assistant Secretary: Yes, thanks Rick. I would just amplify Mark that obviously we continued to improve SG&A efficiency, (or you see) dollars faster than expenses and continue to optimize from our acquisitions. Obviously, M&A focus on higher margin opportunities, effective portfolio management with constant evaluation of the appropriate actions taken. There’s a point brought up earlier about the sustained economic recovery in growth is also important. But I think that’s going to be our key tenet as we look at how we get back to the targeted goals.

Mark Delaney – Goldman Sachs: Then from my follow-up, I’m hoping you can be a little bit more specific on some of the mixed signals that you’re seeing in terms of bookings and customer conversations. So I understand that the book-to-bill was positive across all three regions within your EM segment this past quarter. When you think about your guidance for next quarter with any EM, are you actually seeing anything impacts your actual order rates that gives you pause and maybe there has been a decline in actual orders? Or are you just trying to factor in some general hesitancy when you speak with your customers.

Harley Feldberg – Corporate VP and President, Avnet Electronics Marketing Global: Yeah, Mark, this is Harley Feldberg. Let me comment a little bit as well as you kind of took us a little bit back to, I think on to Sherri’s question as well. When we gave our revenue guidance for Q1 of – I believe, down (0.9 to 1%), our intent was to send a message that we view it as normal seasonality. So our records suggest normal seasonality minus 1%, – excuse me, plus 1% and minus 3%. So the intent of that number was to suggest normal seasonality. I just want to be clear on that. You may have different view of the numbers, but that was our intent. There is really nothing that I can give you that has changed our view for the long-term as reflected by the positive book-to-bill in all regions. But I was reading an example that might be a good one to depict mixed signals this morning. Many of you may have seen the release out of Europe on the PMI numbers for Germany, and I haven’t read in that in detail. It just came out this morning but if you look through it, what you’ll see there is an interesting (element) that the overall number looks encouraging, but when they dissect it with a (indiscernible) that the majority of the growth in this case was for domestic spending, and their export-related data was mixed, specifically out of a concern for slowdown in China, and obviously the balance of Europe (is nothing). So for me that’s an example, when we say mixed signals. There is a positive in the PMI, but one level down you see a mixture of what the (data is).

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