DENTSPLY International Earnings Call Nuggets: Europe Outlook and Dental Implant Business

DENTSPLY International (NASDAQ:XRAY) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Europe Outlook

Glen Santangelo – Credit Suisse: Just a couple of quick questions if I could. Essentially, Bret, if I heard you correctly, it kind of sounds like maybe Europe took one step backwards this quarter and it’s not that inconsistent with what we’ve heard from other vendors. I’m just sort of curious if you have any sort of anecdotal data points or anything that would put that in a little bit more perspective. Is it just macroeconomic or is there something else that we should be thinking about? And now that we’re also almost into mid-May, I mean, what have you seen thus far in the second quarter, anything worth calling out?

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Bret W. Wise – Chairman and CEO: Certainly, Northern Europe differs from country-to-country, but it was slightly weaker this quarter. If I had to talk about specific countries, I’d say France in particular seem to be weaker, Germany seem to be about the same, and of course several other countries. But generally, just a slightly weaker Northern Europe and it wasn’t as strong as it had been to allow it to offset weakness in the Southern part of Europe. In our guidance – or the adjustment to our guidance that we made today we’re reflecting that we’re don’t see indications that that will turn around as we move through the back half of the year here, although we are encouraged by some recent reports about manufacturing in Germany, for instance, that seem to be rather strong in April. I think it’s hard to translate that into the dental market without some specific data points. But from a very high level, Europe just seems to be a little bit weaker than we had experienced last year.

Glen Santangelo – Credit Suisse: And maybe if I could just follow up on that related to margins, you know you said in the press release that, obviously, the slower revenue growth may have impacted margins to some extent but you also called out specifically some important investments made by the Company during the quarter, which maybe depressed margins a little bit and I’m not sure if you were referring to what we talked about with respect to Germany and the implant business or if there were some other investments, and I’m trying to get a sense if those investments were kind of one-time or are they going to be ongoing within the cost structure, any additional details?

Bret W. Wise – Chairman and CEO: Sure. The investments we were referring to, the primary one was the integration in Germany that Jim discussed in more detail. That certainly is a one-time event, and we believe we’ve got that behind us now. It’s important to get that done but it did depress margin somewhat in the quarter. The other investment was the International Dental Show in March. We’ve made commitments for those expenses far in advance. We kept those commitments. We had a great show at IDS, but we weren’t able to, — even though we brought SG&A down by 50 basis points with lower growth and with the IDS expenses, the fact those expenses were in the plan for the quarter constrained us a little bit towards bringing expenses down further. So, those were the two primary items.

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Dental Implant Business

Jeffrey Johnson – Robert W. Baird: Bret, I wondered if I could just focus on the dental implant business for a second, first, I don’t think I heard a U.S. number or if you didn’t get it, maybe you can give just some qualitative comments around U.S? Then in Germany, hearing especially the January and February impact of taking the sales force out for a few weeks there, wondering if you could maybe talk about March, April, May trends there just it sounds likes it’s bounced back, but the other thing we’re hearing in Germany is that the dental implant market itself may have slowed. You had the number two player there in Germany introduce kind of a lower priced prepackaged system here recently. Just wondering kind of how you think of the German dental implant market here over the next few quarters?

Bret W. Wise – Chairman and CEO: I’ll try to do that and Jim, if you have any further insights, you can add them. Our results ex-Germany were positive for the quarter, even though we had two less selling days. We view that as certainly compared to the announcements we’ve seen from other people we view that as a pretty strong performance. We did take the hit in Germany by taking the reps out of the field early in the quarter. We saw that reflected in our sales per selling day, particularly, over the first two months of the quarter where there was some recovery late in the quarter of that and I’m not sure about April, I haven’t seen the April numbers yet. But as far as we can tell this looks like a company-specific event early in the quarter and to us doesn’t really provide evidence that the market there in total has changed in any way. Jim, do you have anything that you would add to that?

James G. Mosch – EVP and COO: Yeah. Jeff, from a standpoint of Germany, I would say that we don’t feel that there was an underlying softness in the market. There was a lot of noise. Obviously, for us there was some particular noise regarding the integration. But in addition to that, I think the two less selling days and the fact that there was an additional week of Easter versus the prior year in Q1 it just created some noise in the market that didn’t lead us to believe that there was anything other than that and the overall market was okay. You also asked a question about Camlog’s introduction and obviously, this was a pretty big announcement for them at IDS. From our perspective, we look at this as somewhat of an effort on their part. It’s a fairly standard implant system with some fairly standard but limited applications. As you probably know, Camlog is generally priced a little bit below the premium players in the German market, but not at the level the value players. So, from our perspective, and I can’t say that we totally understand their strategy, but we believe that this is an effort on their part to retain some of their customers that maybe reaching into the value segment and also, obviously maybe participate in the value segment on some level as well. I think long-term average sale price stability I think could be a challenge, but we don’t see this as a direct impact to the premium market in Germany.

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Jeffrey Johnson – Robert W. Baird: Bret, not to push you here, but I don’t know if you’ll be (indiscernible) or just not given us the U.S. number and that’s fine, but qualitatively anything on U.S. specifically and is it fair to kind of quantify the impact of pulling these guys out in Germany for the few weeks at maybe $0.02 to $0.03 that’s kind of backing into the model what I’m seeing anyway?

Bret W. Wise – Chairman and CEO: Sorry, Jeff, I forgot that you had asked about the regional assessment. Actually, Jim, you have those numbers; you’re close to those numbers than I am. What’s your bet?

James G. Mosch – EVP and COO: Yeah, Jeff, one of things – what’s interesting about that, we feel that in the U.S. that we grew at or above the market in North America. One of the interesting dynamics for us was that as I mentioned early on, we went live May 1 in the last year. And obviously, just from that standpoint, we had some activities leading up to that that kind of clouded the picture in Q1. So, it’s kind of difficult for us to make a true year-on-year comparison from that perspective. But I would say overall we are very pleased with our growth in North America.