Campbell Soup Earnings Call Nuggets: Inventory Levels and Spending

On Tuesday, Campbell Soup Co (NYSE:CPB) reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Inventory Levels

Andrew Lazar – Barclays Capital: I just wanted to drill down a little bit on some of the commentary, Craig, around the inventory or the accelerated inventory levels. Just want to be clear, was that I guess part of the plan in your first quarter. Obviously, to ship in a little more aggressively maybe than last year such that you’re ready to go for your merchandising plans and I guess, if we were to think about the fiscal first half as opposed to just the first quarter versus the second, how should we think about your expectation for soup sales maybe on that kind of a basis?

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Denise Morrison – President and CEO: I think you’re hitting it right, Andrew by focusing on the first half. The acceleration in inventory coming out of the quarter was due to our holiday selling for November and December. Some retailers are shipped earlier this year than last year. We’re encouraged though by the strong merchandising plans that we have and it’s also been rotated amongst different brands. So coming into the quarter we had a higher level of inventory. We maintained that and so coming out of the quarter we’re still at those levels. So, we just wanted to manage people’s expectations for the half.

B. Craig Owens – SVP, CFO and CAO: Part of it, Andrew, is just that the calendar, right? We have an earlier Thanksgiving this year and so I think retailers have just been a little bit ahead of the curve and maybe a little bit of the storm impact too which fell right at the end of the quarter.

Andrew Lazar – Barclays Capital: Is your hope that through the first half that we’d see soup sales in positive territory or is it just still – I mean, the second quarter is obviously huge from that perspective and from a takeaway standpoint.

B. Craig Owens – SVP, CFO and CAO: Right. We don’t forecast, as you know, soup sales separately, but we’re happy with the start that we are off to.

Spending

Edward Aaron – RBC Capital: So, I want to ask about the A&C spending in the quarter. I guess I didn’t fully appreciate how much it might be down in Q1. Can you tell us if that was fully planned and then as kind of a broader follow-up question to that, some food companies are starting to talk about shifting A&C spending back above the lines just to kind of manage price points lower just given the consumer environment and I’m wondering if that’s a dynamic that you’re expecting on some levels to happen with your business as well over the next few quarters?

Denise Morrison – President and CEO: It’s true, our quarter one A&C expense declined by 15%, primarily due to reduced spending on U.S. Soup and partially offset by an increase of support for new innovations. It is in the range of the plans for the full-year and we did move some money into increased promotion particularly in the bakery and the baked snacks business.

A Closer Look: Campbell Soup Earnings Cheat Sheet>>

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