Pall Earnings Call Insights: Orders & Outlook, BioPharm

On Thursday, Pall Corporation (NYSE:PLL) reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Here’s what the C-suite shared.

Orders & Outlook

Richard Eastman – Robert W. Baird: Larry, just in the context of the systems business and the orders number that we saw in the quarter, the orders declined 42% on a consolidated basis between segments. Can I just ask, within that orders number and within your outlook for ’13, is there any self-inflicted – are we passing on any business in the systems area and are we attempting to maybe win ourselves off of the low profit sales growth that systems has contributed over the last couple of years?

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Lawrence D. Kingsley – President and CEO: Rick, there is a little bit of that but when you look at the performance and you’re thinking about organic orders as it relates to systems as referenced in the quarter, it’s a fairly small contribution to that delta. We are making decisions around which unprofitable frankly and non-consumables generating systems opportunities, particularly on the Industrial side that no longer makes sense for us to entertain. Against the numbers that we posted in the quarter, it’s a fairly small contributor. I think there is a lot of noise in the numbers as we can all see. There is another self-inflected element of this in terms of frankly sales folks holding customers’ hands through a go-live process and I think some of the orders number that you see in the quarter really reflects some of the distraction. That’s not loss; it’s business that I think again we’ll see placed over the fourth quarter here and into the first. In fact, in May, we saw some of those systems projects come in already during the last month.

Richard Eastman – Robert W. Baird: So against total low single-digit maybe thought process assumption for fiscal ’13, is this growth rate still going to be skewed around that consolidated number as systems which still be the bigger opportunity? And I think (indiscernible) in the context of systems?

Lawrence D. Kingsley – President and CEO: Well, look, I think that you got to take the perturbations of systems performance quarter-to-quarter out and talk about so called base of Consumables. As we head into next year – and again, we’re pre-planning process, but we’ve spent a fair amount of time given the nature of the situation at hand that still supports a base growth opportunity next year in Asia of high-single-digit if not double-digit. The Americas I think indicative of what we saw exiting the third quarter, nice acceleration in some of the segments and as I mentioned in the prepared remarks, we’re seeing MicroE tick up pretty nicely on a sequential basis and forward-looking indicators there are quite strong. The good news is when you think about mix as we hit in the next year are – frankly our two strongest and highest margin businesses. That being MicroE and BioPharm, basically have pretty decent forward-looking indicators at this point. So it is a very dynamic time, Rick, and I wouldn’t want to steer specifically to modeling systems organic orders performance as we head into 2013, but family there is some sanity and how we’ve done our analysis and looking both base and systems that still provides a fair amount of I think comfort in at least a low-single-digit organic opportunity next year.

Richard Eastman – Robert W. Baird: Just a real quick characterization, $100 million of our restructuring and unless multi-year, would it be safe to apply the stranded overhead Blood percent of that $100 million savings, dollar amount to the Life Sciences business, and then consequently the balance is your more of a targeted effort on the Industrial P&L?

Lawrence D. Kingsley – President and CEO: The answer is the Blood overhead savings are assumed within the $100 million and we’re still working this in terms of how we deal with the fixed cost absorption, it will be applied to both segments because a good chuck of this is the corporate fixed costs that should be reconciled against both going forward and will provide you with clear modeling as we give you the fiscal year ’13 guidance by segment.

BioPharm

Jon Groberg – Macquarie: So, one, if I can just clarify a little bit on the comments you’re making about the BioPharm outlook. I know in Europe in particular that’s where you’re struck and I’m just trying to understand the comments around Europe and your comments around that business, so can you maybe just talk about – I recognized that these products go around the world but can you maybe talk about the BioPharm business in Europe and what happened in the quarter and what you’re expecting for the year?

Lawrence D. Kingsley – President and CEO: Sure. Again, I wouldn’t try and draw too much of a trend line for the quarter given the noise that I just spoke to. If you look at BioPharm in Europe, it was actually more influenced by a particular customer year-over-year comp that represented essentially kind of all the delta between what has been fairly typical strong European BioPharm both orders and sales performance versus what we witnessed in the quarter. So, one customer who (was divesting) kind of their demand rates; I don’t want to get too more specific than that, but it’s a very large global customer that we do quite a bit of business with. We haven’t lost any share with them by any means. It’s just a matter of how they’re thinking about adjusting their needs. When you level that out or when you smooth that out, your comments just to emphasize them, because they’re important that all of these, European or American BioPharm customers are global. So, regional macro issues, they have some impact on any of these folks, but it’s really a global market that our customers are selling it to, and frankly, some of their fastest growth will continue to be in the emerging countries around the world, for obviously reason. So, I think that, without speaking specifically to what we think Q3, Q4 and next year look like for BioPharm, you get to a consumables assumption that’s still pretty much in line with what we performed over the last couple of years, which is a very, very strong, high-single, if not double-digit organic kind of pattern.

Jon Groberg – Macquarie: That was going to kind of be my question, because historically – I know that the long-term trend is good, but historically, we’ve seen periods of time where there has been pretty big build-out, and you see really good growth in this business for a few years, and then actually it’s going to be weak for like a year, and then it can be a bit more cyclical. So, I was just curious of what you’re seeing out there. I was just trying to put in context what we’re saying about Europe versus your outlook for the year. So you’re not seeing anything currently in terms of the customers that you deal with that would suggest that we’re in kind of a broader slowdown for that – for investment in that space right now?

Lawrence D. Kingsley – President and CEO: Well, there is a couple of things to think about. So, the majority of our business is in the actual processing; the manufacturing of the various drugs and what we tend to derive most of our revenue from is the ongoing consumables associated with producing them. So that doesn’t cycle so heavily. What can cycle and is proving to cycle right now to a much larger degree is the lab instrumentation purchases, and you’ve seen and heard about some of that from some of the others that have reported on a calendar fiscal year basis as to how they’re seeing, either by way of federal subsidy funding declines and/or research spending declines, the relatively slow sales right now from instrumentation purchases associated with research. We spoke to that a minute in our prepared remarks ago, with respect to our instrumentation sales also, we’re relatively slow in the quarter. Now, again, we’re seeing evidence of that improving as we look at May, but if I had to draw a comment relative to cyclicality in the Life Science space, and where the more pronounced impact will be, it’s likely to be a research versus the production.

Jon Groberg – Macquarie: And then if I can, I think there is a lot of expectation going into the quarter around that restructuring and obviously there wasn’t much in the press release – nothing in the press release, you kind of talked about on the call, can you maybe just provide more detail where that restructuring is occurring in that $50 million for ’13? I mean can we assume that a full year number so that we can just tax adjust that and get at EPS kind of impact for the year? I’m just trying to understand how – kind of where that’s currently and how we should think about it?

Lawrence D. Kingsley – President and CEO: Yeah, there is a couple of things, so I’ll repeat what I said first, and that is, we have a plan that has line of sight to $100 million of structural cost reduction, so this is not temporary T&E spend reduction or things of this sort. This is structural actions that we’ll be taking over a multi-year period, and we have line of sight to more than half of that, so more than $50 million of P&L help that comes out pro forma in 2013. And again, we’re already getting started with that. In terms of how it breaks out over the multi-year period, it’s roughly 30% in operations. That’s a footprint associated and about 70% SG&A where we think we’ve got plenty of opportunity, and that comes down to combination the back office, IT, Finance, HR, et cetera. But also other support functions where I think as we properly structure the Company for the future, we can lean it out, we can delayer it, we’re already doing so, and we think that that kind of a restructuring opportunity is very realistic and very achievable.

Jon Groberg – Macquarie: If I could, just one clarification Lisa and then we can talk about this offline as well, but trying to make sense of all the FX comments. Can you just distinctly kind of say again on a year-over-year basis what you expect the total FX impact to be in the fourth quarter? It was just kind of unclear to me.

Lawrence D. Kingsley – President and CEO: I’m not sure I can’t say it distinctly. You have to work through the components, but…

Lisa McDermott – CFO and Treasurer: In the fourth quarter…

Jon Groberg – Macquarie: I mean just given where rates are today, what reason?

Lisa McDermott – CFO and Treasurer: In the fourth quarter where rates are today year-over-year combined, so this is what we call transactional which is kind of the above the line P&L hit, as well as the translational piece which results from consolidating our euro-denominated subsidiaries into our financial statements, year-over-year about $0.11.

Jon Groberg – Macquarie: I thought I heard a lower number, but that makes sense.

Lawrence D. Kingsley – President and CEO: Yeah. So, it’s $0.11 or better. Let me just make one more comment with respect to FX, because it’s not as though we’re just rolling over and taken a beating here on FX. There is a number of things that we are looking at strategically, structurally and within our fiscal tool capability set here to make sure that we don’t expose ourselves further and that comes down to how we think about supply chain and how our cost of goods is denominated. Frankly, there is no reason long-term why we need to have the dislocation issue that is the pound versus the euro in terms of how it impacts our cost of goods, so that’s underway and we’ll – it’s not an easy fix, but we’ll get it fixed I think a good chunk of it in 2013. We are looking at various things, Lisa spoke to them briefly, around how we can basically hedge forecasted transactions, but also in some cases we’ve got just the transactions themselves denominated in currencies, i.e., we’ve got customer contracts in British pounds for customers that don’t need to be sold in British pounds. So, that’s the stuff that we can fix either way to make sure that we end up with a more balanced and appropriately hedged exposure to the currency if it does continue to dislocate.