Nordson Earnings Call Nuggets: ATS Side Outlook and Global GDP Growth

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

ATS Side Outlook

Liam Burke – Janney Capital Markets: Mike, you talked about the tests on the ATS side being a little weaker year-over-year. If you could flip over to the end markets, could you just give us some sense as to how the mobile and medical markets are looking for you on the ATS side?

Michael F. Hilton – President and CEO: Sure. So the medical piece, the medical markets has continued to be strong for us across both the dispensed platform and the components platform. Good progress year-to-date and we are driving growth going forward with broadening product line and new application. So that’s been pretty solid. I’d say on the mobile side of things, the mobile part of the business is also been pretty strong. We’re up against some really tough comparisons relative to last year. So as we got further through the quarter, our order rates didn’t quite keep pace with last year, but I’d say, very strong year in the mobile business. Some different application is driving growth there than what we might have seen last year. And we’re still looking for some additional growth to come from changes in features and form factor. I’d say what hasn’t come back at all really and this is a fact that the test and inspection piece is the more traditional desktop server kind of applications that if you went back in the beginning of the year most of the industry forecast is expected in the second half of the year to pick up. We’ve really not seen that pickup at all and that’s really been the main thing that’s affected test and inspection.

Liam Burke – Janney Capital Markets: And you touched on emerging markets as they shift from infrastructure export to more internal consumer consumption. That should fit in well for adhesive systems where a lot of the systems that you sell into are for consumer applications, are you seeing a lag there as that transition occurs or you seeing any pickup or anything over the next few months or quarters?

Michael F. Hilton – President and CEO: I’d say we are not seeing the pickup as strongly as we would have anticipated. And part of that is a function of certain end markets like food and beverage consumption which is really been globally pretty flat this year. But I’d say we are not seeing quite the pickup that we would have anticipated particularly in China where there is a strong focus there. So I think we are looking to see is when that demand comes back and we will see the growth there and I think in the transition I think you have seen some things recently for example where the Chinese consumer is savings more money than spending more money, we are feeling that a little bit.

Global GDP Growth

Kevin Maczka – BB&T Capital Markets: First question from me on margins, it looks like based on your guidance for the year now EBIT margins are going to come in 300 basis points or more lower than they were last year. And I’m just wondering – I don’t think that was the expectation entering the year and I know we had some margin dilutive M&A and some mix and some increased tax spending. I’m just wondering, can you kind of give a little color on those major buckets that impacted that, particularly the M&A side and where I’m going with this is, trying to get a sense for next year in terms of what will be better or not recurring such as the M&A or the tax spend?

Michael F. Hilton – President and CEO: I’ll make a couple of comments and then I’ll let Greg kind of take you through the specifics there, Kevin. I think last most other people in the beginning of the year we were hopeful that the second half of the year was going to see global GDP growth in that 3-plus, 3.5% range. We’re not seeing that. We haven’t seen the U.S. step up. In our mind, the U.S. is struggling between 1.5% and maybe 2% and China, in particular, is softening and nowhere near in this past quarter the sort of 7.5%, 8% kind of numbers they are targeting. So, that in itself has impacted what we’ve seen in our volume growth and your see it in our guidance going forward. So, we’re not getting in one respect the volume leverage that we would have anticipated if the second half of the year had come back the way most people had expected. Now, most people are still optimistic that maybe we’re delayed a quarter or two but it’s coming back. But we haven’t seen that yet. So, that’s an overarching backdrop. And I’ll let Greg talk about the specifics here…

Gregory A. Thaxton – SVP and CFO: I think that’s certainly one important aspect of the story and the detail of that is, we need to see the top line growth to help offset what you’re going to see on the spend side with an increasing compensation and other costs from year-to-year. So, if you don’t get that revenue growth, you might see some margin compression. The other two aspects; so Kevin, for example, if you looked at our nine-month year-to-date or even within the third quarter, the 3 percentage point change from the prior year, it’s really an element of that volume story, but it’s also two other affects, which is the dilutive effect of acquisitions from year-to-year and then the step-up in these two Advanced Tech initiatives. So, if you kind of factor those out through the nine-months, as well as in the quarter, you’d be about neutral to the prior year’s margin performance.

Kevin Maczka – BB&T Capital Markets: Was mix a factor at all Greg?

Gregory A. Thaxton – SVP and CFO: Mix is an aspect to that as well. As I called out both within Industrial Coating and Advanced Technology, mix was an aspect of overall operating margin and it wouldn’t impact gross margin as well.

Kevin Maczka – BB&T Capital Markets: In terms of the Q4 revenue guidance, can you just maybe touch on that again. Your orders in the quarter were flat, same thing flattish year-to-date. Usually orders become sales fairly quickly here. I’m just wondering why – down 6% to 10% volume in Q4 doesn’t seem to jive with flat orders. Can you just comment on that?

Gregory A. Thaxton – SVP and CFO: Yes, Kevin, it really comes back to the starting backlog. So the starting backlog, most, maybe not all of those orders there in the starting backlog get converted to revenue, and that’s really where we’re down sort of 20% relative to a very strong last year. And if you look at it sort of partway through the quarter where – orders last year were continuing to rise basically driven by Technology and Industrial Coatings. They really flattened for four, five, six weeks during the quarter here and naturally translated into a lower backlog. So, it’s really – the lower backlog that’s really driving the estimates on the revenue for the fourth quarter. I think it’s encouraging that the order rates are now sort of at where they were last year which is as recalled very strong orders rates up 15%-ish points from the previous year. But it’s really been that period of time where the backlog didn’t build at the rate equivalent to last year that is impacting our guidance for the fourth quarter.

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