Colgate-Palmolive Company Earnings Call Insights: Latin American Margins and Emerging Markets

Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE:CL) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Latin American Margins

Alice Longley – Buckingham Research: My question is about the impact of the devaluation of the bolivar on Latin American margins and then overall on your bottom line. So, if you could just tell us how many cents you took off the bottom line, aside from the one-time charges? We know what those are, but the effect on the bottom line aside from that in terms of cents, and then also margins in Latin America?

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Ian M. Cook – Chairman, President and CEO: I think we framed early on the impact of the devaluation. As you say, there is the one-time charge from the remeasurement of the balance sheet, and then we have said that the ongoing quarterly impact of devaluation on the impact on EPS would be $0.05 and $0.07 a quarter, and that has been the impact in the first quarter. Now, when we focus on gross margin, why don’t I perhaps take this opportunity to run through our gross profit reconciliation and put it in the context of the full year. So for the first quarter prior year gross profit of 58.2% and we benefited this year from 60 basis points of pricing. No benefit from restructuring thus far, you will remember we expect the restructuring benefits this year to come in the second half. Funding the growth continued to be very, very strong; 140 basis points of benefit at the beginning of exactly the same curve that we enjoyed last year in 2012 and a material price negative of 180 basis points. Now if you break down that material price negative within that there is 120 basis points of negative that has to do with the impact of the devaluation in Venezuela. You pick up 20 basis points essentially of mix and we end up with the 58.6% gross margin that we have this quarter up 40 basis points. To put that in a year context we came in the year saying that we thought our gross margin might expand between 50 and 100 basis points. But we said very clearly in CAGNY after the devaluation of the Venezuelan currency that we now expected in 2013, our gross margin to expand between 30 and 70 basis points, since so that 40 basis points gain benefit in the first quarter is exactly within that range.

Emerging Markets

Dara Mohsenian – Morgan Stanley: Ian, your emerging markets business has held up well despite comments from a number of companies that emerging markets are slowing not just in household products, but across CPG in general. Are you seeing any consumer spending pressure in emerging markets and particularly in Latin America, given concerns seem to be cropping up there over a Brazil slowdown, and issues spreading potentially out of Venezuela and Argentina, can you talk about Latin America specifically? And then why do you think your business has held up better than peers in emerging market so far?

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Ian M. Cook – Chairman, President and CEO: Dara, we continue to be quite pleased and bullish on the emerging markets. And in our categories, the data we have seen in the first quarter would support that. If one focuses on Latin America, category growth rates continue to be in the high single digits. If you talk about Brazil, our business in Brazil was up 17% on an organic sales basis. If you go around the other emerging markets, the category growth rates are increasing very, very nicely and we see in the Greater China region, our organic sales up just under 10%. In Russia, you see us low double-digits in terms of growth. The Latin American number that you have already seen, and I have mentioned Brazil and even South Africa was up double digits on an organic basis. The sentiment, I’m just back from Southeast Asia, and when you look at the data and you talk to consumers, one gets the same optimism and confidence in the future that I got the last time I was in that part of the world. Our market shares likewise in these emerging markets continue to be quite strong. Brazil, our toothpaste share now up, just under 72%, our market share in Russia approaching 33%, nearest competitor is flat at 15%. That 33% is up 1 point. China, we’re at about 35% market share and our nearest competitor is down under 18%, we’re up 1 point, they’re down 2.5 points. So, I think both in terms of the consumer, their consumption and our ability to grow and then on top of that, our continued share progress, we feel good about those emerging markets.

A Closer Look: Colgate-Palmolive Company Earnings Cheat Sheet>>