Nordson Earnings Call Insights: Core Business Softness and Advanced Technology Business

Nordson Corporation (NASDAQ:NDSN) recently reported its second quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Core Business Softness

Kevin Maczka – BB&T Capital Markets: Mike, I guess, first question – and I appreciate the color you just gave on the 2012 acquisitions, but if you go back to the two big ones, EDI and Xaloy, I thought originally, we were thinking in terms of fiscal ’13 that we’d see maybe $0.25 or even $0.30 of accretion from those deals and it looks like earnings are pretty flat, as you look at the first three quarters of the year. So, can you just comment a little bit more about, relative to your own internal expectations, how they’re doing or is it just some softness elsewhere against very difficult comps that’s in the core business, that’s kind of driving these flatter earnings?

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Michael F. Hilton – President and CEO: Yeah, I’d say in the short-term, most of what we’re seeing is really some softness in the core business, combined with conscious decisions to step up spending in certain areas. So, I’d say most of what you’re seeing here in the short-term is a little bit of softness in the core business. I’d say, as it relates to the acquisitions, we made some comments, the last quarter we were a bit behind in terms of a couple of specific end markets and I’d say we’re still a little bit behind where we’d like to be, probably a couple of quarters behind where we’d like to be in particular, specific end markets. We are encouraged by new applications, particularly in the dies business that we’re getting some traction on, but we’re probably a couple of quarters behind. In the long run, consumption is still strong even in this little softer short-term environment we’re looking at 6%, 7% plastics growth. So, in the long run when supply and demand are balanced out, we feel pretty good about where those businesses are going and we’re working on new product development opportunities to continue to drive growth beyond that. So, we’re encouraged. I’d say in the short-term though it’s more of the softer macro affecting our core business.

Kevin Maczka – BB&T Capital Markets: Then maybe one for Greg, you mentioned the strong sequential incremental margins in the quarter and again what you’re expecting next quarter. When we get out into Q4 and beyond and we’ve anniversaried these big deals and you’ve got some planned higher spending in Tech. I’m just wondering if you can kind of frame what we ought to be thinking about in terms of incrementals on a year-over-year basis, once things normalize here, and we’ve anniversaried the deals.

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Gregory A. Thaxton – SVP and CFO: Yes. I think to a large extent Kevin some of that depends on what kind of growth we expect to see in those out periods. If you exclude the acquisitions as we have shown historically, if we are driving that top line growth more at a higher rate than what you might expect the inflationary impact on your spending to be, those incremental margins are very strong. The same will be true in these acquired properties as well, if we are looking at sequential growth over what they are delivering, although the leverage is not as strong, there is still – on a full year basis pretty strong performing businesses. So, same concept there for generating incremental revenue, that is going to translate into pretty strong incremental margins. Again some of that – the response is a bit of – it depends what – to a certain extent what that macroeconomic view or outlook is going to be in that out quarter…

Kevin Maczka – BB&T Capital Markets: I understand that Greg and I know it’s hard to call this because you have had some variables like mix and macro and other things that are maybe beyond your control. But again we just saw 59 and you are calling 56 next quarter. This is sequential. But with the current mix of business including these lower margin acquisitions we ought not be thinking about that as a sustainable year-over-year basis, right?

Gregory A. Thaxton – SVP and CFO: On a sequential basis, yes. For seeing this kind of – for seeing growth sequentially I think that’s the kind of mx we could see. On a year-over-year…

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Michael F. Hilton – President and CEO: The incremental growth was about 8% and you delivered those kinds of margins. I think what Greg is trying to say if you see something in that range it’s not unusual to expect that kind of margin. If it’s more like 2%, you’re not likely necessarily to see that, because we have some – in the short-term, some conscious step up in strategic spending.

Kevin Maczka – BB&T Capital Markets: Again, the tech strategic spending continues throughout the back half at an incremental $2 million rate?

Gregory A. Thaxton – SVP and CFO: Yes.

Kevin Maczka – BB&T Capital Markets: Got it. Thank you.

Gregory A. Thaxton – SVP and CFO: Yeah, just to be clear, when you say incremental, it’s about $2 million per quarter.

Advanced Technology Business

Liam Burke – Janney Capital Markets: Mike, on the traditional electronics piece of the Advanced Technology business, you mentioned that there was some potential life in that part of the business last quarter. Has there been any follow through there? Are you seeing any additional activity?

Michael F. Hilton – President and CEO: I’d say, minor additional activity there. Not, a step up in recovery that the industry guys are projecting. So, I’d say we’re seeing continued activity but not the kind of level of step up that you would anticipate with a sort of more robust growth in the more traditional packaging, and test and inspection. The industry analysts are still forecasting that to start to pick up in the second half of year and be pretty solid into next year, but I’d say, we had some orders then, we have some orders now, but not a trend that we’re ready to call yet.

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Liam Burke – Janney Capital Markets: So, even with that piece of the business sort of mowing along, the rest of the segments, mobile, the special electronics and medical are all humming along okay?

Michael F. Hilton – President and CEO: Yeah, mobile is still continuing to be strong, MEMS still strong, the medical stuff is going very nicely. It’s more the traditional back-end kind of stuff is really not doing much yet.

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