Sodexo Earnings Call INSIGHTS: Motivation Solutions in Latin America, Cost Pressure

On Tuesday, Sodexo (SW) reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

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Motivation Solutions in Latin America

Vicki Lee – Barclays Capital: I had two questions actually. Just firstly, with regard to Motivation Solutions in Latin America and when I just compare the volume growth – issue volume growth compared with revenue growth, it seemed like there were some slowdown in revenue growth in Q3 that wasn’t seen in issue volume growth. Now, I had your comments on the interest rates not necessarily having so much of an impact. So just curious to know if there was anything else going on there and perhaps around commission rates. Then secondly, just still I’m really wondering how you’re feeling around margins against the backdrop of the increasing macro weakness in Europe. Is there anything in particular you’re looking at doing on the cost base to address offsetting some of those?

Michel Landel – CEO and Executive Committee President: Thanks for your question. I’ll answer the second one and Sian will answer the first one. On the margins, of course, as we’ve said, we’re seeing some pressure not specifically in Europe, but the part of the world because of the obvious economic tension everywhere in the world. What I would say is that, of course, we are working on our cost base. We have action plans all over the world, and as we just said on adjusted, we are maintaining our outlook for this fiscal year of improving our operating profit by around 10%.

Sian Herbert-Jones – Group EVP and CFO: In terms of the first question, Vicki, where I think you were referring to the difference in growth in Motivation Solutions in Latin America between issue volume and revenues, clearly when you look at per quarter you have to take into account the flow in terms of revenues comprising three components, interest income, client commissions and affiliate commissions. So there is some timing effect in terms of the timing of receipt of affiliate commissions, which tracked a little bit on revenue growth. There is also in Brazil some competitive pressure and pressure on commissions.

Cost Pressure

Tim Ramskill – Credit Suisse: It’s Tim Ramskill on Julia’s line. Two questions from me. Firstly, in both your comments and the statement this morning, you talked about – in the last fiscal in Europe, you talked pressure for additional savings by clients. Can you just (talk me really) through whether we see that impact reflected in the revenue numbers you’re reporting this morning or whether we’re likely to see that having more of a profit impact when we get to the full year results? Then just the second question is just around your (10 year) guidance. I know you’ve pointed out obviously the Olympics to come in Q4 and some other kind of one-off effects, but can you just clarify that you’re effectively assuming no further slowdown in trading activity in the fourth quarter relative to what we’ve seen in Q3 which is certainly to my mind what at least needs to happen to hit those soft numbers.

Michel Landel – CEO and Executive Committee President: Well, as I just said in the previous answer, there is cost pressure – I mean and there is pressure from our clients and clearly it affects revenues and profits, both. But as I said before, we’re working to mitigate those effects by working on our SG&A, working on our middle of the page cost and working also on our service offering. So we are, as I said, confident that we’ll be able to continue to improve. Now in terms of Q4, I think Q4 as I mentioned, of course, the economic slowdown will continue to effect but we have three major events. The impact of the school calendar during May, specifically in Europe has been quite important this year. I think it represents close to €40 million, right, in revenue but in the same time as you know we have had some significant win adding some very large accounts like Unilever, Eli Lilly. We have confirmed our contracts with P&G and extended it. So, as I said before, there is pressure on the markets, but there are also tremendous opportunities as we move forward by selling our comprehensive service solution and that will generate growth next year and in the next further year.

Tim Ramskill – Credit Suisse: Can I just comeback on the margins commentary? Just with regards to your longer term target, to what extent does that require a supportive macro environment and to what extent is it more within your own control do you believe?

Michel Landel – CEO and Executive Committee President: No, I think long-term we’ve said many times that we wanted to improve our margins and our objective is to be at 6.3% by the end of 2015, which is an improvement of 100 basis points, we maintain that, right. We are very confident that we can get to this.

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