Q4 2012 Earnings Call
September 13, 2012 8:30 am ET
Lawrence D. Kingsley - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director
Lisa McDermott - Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer
Richard C. Eastman - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division
Hamzah Mazari - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division
Brian Drab - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division
Jonathan P. Groberg - Macquarie Research
Jon Davis Wood - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division
Tracy Marshbanks - First Analysis Securities Corporation, Research Division
Welcome to Pall Corporation's Conference Call and Webcast for the Fourth Quarter of Fiscal 2012. Today's call is being recorded and simultaneously webcast. [Operator Instructions] We'd like to remind you that the company's fourth quarter and full year press release is available at www.pall.com.
Management's remarks this morning will include forward-looking statements. Please refer to Slide 2 or request a copy of the specific wording of this qualification of the company's remarks. Management also uses certain non-GAAP measures to assess the company's performance. Reconciliations of these measures to their GAAP counterparts are included in slides at the end of the presentation.
At this time, I will turn the call over to Mr. Larry Kingsley, Pall Corporation's President and CEO. Please go ahead, sir.
Lawrence D. Kingsley
Good morning, and thank you for joining us. I'm here today with Lisa McDermott, our CFO; and Brent Jones, our VP of Finance.
Our remarks this morning will be on a continuing operations basis, which excludes the results of the Blood product line, which we divested on August 1. I know that most of you have read our release and know the key headline. We executed a strong fourth quarter and turned in very solid results for the full year. Our pro forma EPS was a record $0.99 or $0.86 excluding Blood, and our full year results met the midpoint of our original guidance at the beginning of the year, and that's despite second half economic and FX headwinds. While the sales result for the quarter was strong, our cost to serve, essentially the cost to catch up from Q3, remained high.
But before I jump in to our results, I want to take a few -- make a few preparatory comments about what we've accomplished over the last year and what we anticipate for the year in front of us. I first spoke to you as Pall's CEO in December. At that time, I said that I viewed Pall as a huge long-term value-creation opportunity. I believe that statement even more so today. We talked about foundational work that we had to do, particularly with respect to people, process and technology, and I'm happy to report that we've made significant progress but with much more to do. With regard to people, as you know, there have been a number of changes to the executive management team. I'm incredibly pleased with the talent that we now have, as well as the developing bench strength behind them. In the fourth quarter, we added business development capability, which is critical to our growth strategy.
With regard to process, in the quarter, we focused almost exclusively on restoring customer service levels to pre-SAP implementation levels and are now working toward best-in-industry metrics. And with regard to technology, we're increasing R&D spend. We're also taking a much more focused approach as to where we invest. We've added significant talents in R&D to accomplish this.
Last year, I articulated the strategy which highlighted our move toward more emphasis on strategic acquisitions to enable core growth. We will do so on a disciplined manner. This may include enhancing our current offerings but also moving into adjacent product markets where our applications expertise and our global channel are a natural fit.
We closed the transaction with Haemonetics on August 1 as planned, and there are no other planned divestitures. In short, we believe that we can more actively organically manage the portfolio to position ourselves well for future growth.
We're building an acquisition pipeline and expect that we will begin to more consistently acquire about a year from now. Our team has done a solid job integrating ForteBio, and we anticipate that it will exceed our preacquisition model for both growth and return.
I'll now move to our outlook generally. The global economy is concerning with a large dose of uncertainty. We assume that Europe will worsen, particularly for our Industrial business, China will grow but only significantly in about 1/3 of our vertical markets and the Microelectronics global end markets will not recover as previously assumed. However, all in, I think we have gotten ahead of the concerns, and we have a plan to deliver reasonable results in the face of a choppy environment.
Consistent with these, as you know, we've committed to $100 million instructional cost improvement over the next 3 years. We are targeting that half of that will be accomplished in fiscal year 2013, this year. This program is well underway, and I'm confident that we will achieve our target. It's critical that we rightsize our fixed cost structure at the same time that we reposition SG&A to take advantage of where growth can be achieved.
So let's move to the quarter discussion. We executed a strong recovery from our ERP-induced challenges in Q3. Nearly all of the shipments that were deferred into Q4 shift in Q4, bringing down our past dues significantly in the quarter. To be clear, again, we have a long way to go to claim best practice, but the team should be congratulated for how well they worked across function and with our external supply chain to restore confidence. Very solid execution.
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