Johnson Controls Earnings Call Insights: BE & GWS, Power Margins

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


Ravi Shanker – Morgan Stanley: So I had a question regarding the re-segmenting within BE, you did a similar line of business type reporting structure in Auto three or four quarters ago, and then you announced the Electronics business up for sale, any read across to what’s going on in BE an GWS being classified as separate business?

Alex A. Molinaroli – Vice Chairman: This is Alex, Ravi. We expected this question. The reason we did this is exactly from what we’ve stated. We think that both of those businesses are important to us and we think that there’s opportunity and in order for us to capitalize not only on the GWS opportunity, but as important the BE opportunity is really to separate the two. So, I wouldn’t draw the analogy between the two. It’s an obvious analogy, but I think as we start changing the way we manage our business. We’re not trying to signal one thing or another. But we do expect, we do expect GWS to improve its performance and they know that there are some high expectations and we need to make sure that we have a business that can compete and win.

Stephen A. Roell – Chairman, President and CEO: Ravi, this is Steve. Just two other comments, I guess. When we actually did the separation with Automotive, it was not our intent. We did the separation to divest Electronics at that time. So, that wasn’t part of the premise of what we did there. The other thing I guess, I would add would be if you remember what Alex talked about, Dave’s got a fair amount on his plate relative to the focus on this reorganization. And we also want to look for ways to grow BE and look for different growth platforms. And so that combination is really why we’re trying to take some pressure of him and get the focus on that business, while we’re also growing and improving the GWS business. John Murphy is going to be heading up that Group for us. He is one of our strong managers. He is coming over and had been involved – had been part of this business before, having managing the service business or the systems business in North America most recently along with Middle East. So, John is coming over to head that up. He will be (meeting) to the corporation next week. So we are putting some of our best talents to GWS as well…

Alex A. Molinaroli – Vice Chairman: The last thing, I leave you with Ravi is, don’t try to read things into anything, but we have been pretty clearly that we are looking at our portfolio to make sure that it all makes sense. So, just don’t over read anything, but it hasn’t changed our message that capital allocation is important, making sure that we have businesses that can be successful is important, but I wouldn’t over pivot on this.

Ravi Shanker – Morgan Stanley: Understood, thanks for the detail. Glen’s was that was my good question. My follow-up is can you give us any additional detail or numbers behind the additional restructuring actions that you put in place in the third quarter?

Stephen A. Roell – Chairman, President and CEO: Let’s go through that, we’ll take that as a follow-up with you Ravi. I mean kind of touched on where they were and focused, it’s really focused on downsizing in Europe and we’ve talked in the last quarter about as we have changed our outlook in terms of the pace that we see that business, that market improving. We are deemphasizing that from a capital allocation point of view. We’ve got heavy restructuring demands to turn around our Interiors business. So, that’s where the money’s gone in terms of Auto. If you think about Building Efficiency is the other piece and there it’s really been we took a charge to get it started integrating the North American businesses. So, we have three or four separate businesses we’re going to be combining the branches. We’ve got management changes and things like that. So, we’ve taken a charge to get started with that.

Power Margins

Richard Kwas – Wells Fargo: On the Power margins they were a little bit lighter than we were looking for and I think you explained about the led cores and whatnot, you’re increasing pricing, but as you think about the fiscal fourth quarter, should we get a pretty steady uptick on a year-over-year basis, when you’re looking at the segment margin?

R. Bruce McDonald – EVP and CFO: I think the margins will continue to uptick. What I would tell you is that we’re positioned for volume and since the volume didn’t happen, it’s a capital intensive business and high fixed costs, and so even without the volume, we got some margin improvement. If and when the volume does come through, because we haven’t lost any share, what we’ll see is those margins not only the cost part of the margins, but we’ll get the absorption that we haven’t seen yet.

Stephen A. Roell – Chairman, President and CEO: Well this is type of price increase Alex, okay, on the aftermarket…

Alex A. Molinaroli – Vice Chairman: We have a price increase and the other thing, just a note, I was looking at my notes earlier that our AGM volumes were up 40% in the quarter. So, we’ll continue to see that grow. So it’s all tailwinds, volume would be our best friend that we could have right now…

R. Bruce McDonald – EVP and CFO: I would just comment, Rich, I saw your note in terms of where you were at versus us. If you look at the quarter, we were down a couple of million units versus what we thought from the aftermarket in the quarter, and if you look and sort of did the math in terms of the contribution that we make, the high fixed costs capital cost as Alex talked about, that’s really the reconciling item.

Richard Kwas – Wells Fargo: Then just a follow up on BE with pricing, you said that is a driver of the margin performance this quarter and I know that had some increasing benefit, is there a timeframe where you start to comp that or should pricing initiative continue to have benefits on the BE margins as you into 14?

R. Bruce McDonald – EVP and CFO: I think we’re going to continue see benefits. The pricing opportunities – there’s different kinds of opportunity. One is as it relates to very broad based recovery and then the other is understanding the elasticity of some of our products and how they’re going to market. So I think we found plenty of opportunities, plus I would tell you – there’s just things like this initiative, the North America initiative, that’s going to uncover, not only – not as much as pricing opportunities, but we’re going to get a lot more leverage opportunities and the customer — share of wallet with the customer and that’s going to give us a lower cost to serve. So, that would give you – that will also show up in the margin line.

R. Bruce McDonald – EVP and CFO: The other thing I can mention that Alex is the – lot of the pricing actions are in our solutions business and that’s just flowing into our backlog right now. So, that will flow into revenues later, okay into ’14.