Johnson Controls Earnings Call Insights: Automotive Electronics and Interiors Opportunities

Johnson Controls (NYSE:JCI) recently reported its second quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Automotive Electronics

Ravi Shanker – Morgan Stanley & Co.: Steve or Alex, can you elaborate a little more on the decision to divest or potentially explore the divestiture of Automotive Electronics. I thought you actually sounded pretty enthusiastic about the opportunities in that business at your Analyst Day in December. So what changes there and also what does that mean for some of the other businesses that you have that you may potentially consider non-core?

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Stephen A. Roell – Chairman, President and CEO: I think we will leave our discussion specifically Ravi to Electronics. I think we had meaning in the September timeframe, where we talked about looking at our – we just completed our strategic reviews of our businesses with the Board and we had included that two things. One is if you recall at the – even at the Management meeting or the Analyst meeting that we had in December. I think it was pretty well recognized that we’re a niche player in the industry in that, in order to participate in a bigger way, to sustain that business we were going to have to make investments in navigation, other types of technologies. We just had to make a decision whether or not that was the business we wanted to allocate capital to. We concluded that point in time that that there were other opportunities for us in other businesses that we thought were better long-term bets, where we had leadership positions. So really the decision was to pursue that divestiture for purposes of being able to use that capital for other business growth opportunities and really a decision that we would not (miss) Electronics and maintain a niche position. So really that’s straightforward Ravi.


Interiors Opportunities

Brian Johnson – Barclays Capital: So sort of continuing on that theme. Are there other areas of Automotive, in particular, the Interiors business looked like the market reacted very positively when there was a mistaken leak that that would be for sale or would be upper and then sort of retreated when it looked like Electronics. I understand you’re thinking on Electronics, but Interiors doesn’t seem like particularly business that has a lot of scale advantages, doesn’t seem to have any interesting technologies, doesn’t tie to your broader themes of energy efficiency in your other business units. So do you have any kind of thinking on that?

Alex A. Molinaroli – Vice Chairman: I think if I remember that day that the market responded Interiors retreated and responded positively to Electronics, if I recall, and I think that it’s a fair observation. The best thing that we can say at this point is what we talked about Electronics is that we’re looking at everything, but the decision for Electronics I think the way Steve described that, is we can’t afford to invest in everything to be a winner in everything and Electronics decision was made based off of that. So I don’t think we really want to comment on anything we’re going to do in the future, but just to let you know that as we’ve talked about it, we recognize that we have strong positions and lots of opportunity and we need to make sure we invest in those opportunities.

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Brian Johnson – Barclays Capital: And in terms of the proceeds, would you see that going into organic, acquisitions, or dividends or share repurchases?

Stephen A. Roell – Chairman, President and CEO: From my standpoint, I guess we’ve targeted some potential acquisitions, but it’s still long ways to be determined yet, okay. So initially we probably would use it to pay down some of our debt, but we probably would then look to augment some of the investments we’re going to make in other businesses, okay. If I can just go back to the Interiors’ comment, two things happened, Brian, to be honest with you. One was the fact that the information that was out there was really inaccurate regarding the amount of proceeds and the market reaction. It just was – I wouldn’t put a lot of credence on how the market reacted based on proceeds, people thought we could get from that business or anything else. But that business has a lot of opportunity for us too in terms of our – we’ve seen there – our ability to engage with customers and what we can do in total Interiors with them, some of their interiors designs. There’s some real value in that business in terms of customer relations. So I wouldn’t speculate that that’s on our list right now.

A Closer Look: Johnson Controls Earnings Cheat Sheet>>