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Colfax Corporation (NYSE:CFX)

FY2009 Earnings Outlook Call

January 9, 2009 8:00 am ET

Executives

Mitzi Reynolds - Vice President of Investor Relations

John Young - President and CEO

Scott Faison - Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

John Inch - Merrill Lynch

Shannon O'Callaghan - Barclays Capital

Jeff Hammond - KeyBanc Capital Markets

Jason Feldman – UBS

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Welcome to the Colfax Corporation Outlook 2009 call. At this time for opening remarks I’d like to turn our call over to Ms. Mitzi Reynolds.

Mitzi Reynolds

Welcome to Colfax’s 2009 Outlook Call. My name is Mitzi Reynolds and I’m the Vice President of Investor Relations. On the call today we have John Young, our President and CEO, and Scott Faison, Colfax’s Chief Financial Officer. I’d like to point out that our outlook release is available in the investor’s section of our website www.ColfaxCorp.com.

We will also be using a slide presentation to supplement today’s call which can also be found on the inventor’s section of our website. Both the audio of this call and the slide presentation will be archived on the website later today. In addition, a replay of this call will be available for approximately 2 weeks. The replay number is 888-203-1112 or 719-457-0820 for international participants. The access code is 4979159; this information is also listed in the press release.

I would like also to note that in order to help you understand the Company’s direction, we will be making some forward-looking statements during the call, including statements regarding events, or development that we believe or anticipate will or may occur in the future. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties including those set forth in our SEC filings.

It is possible that actual results might differ materially from any forward-looking statements that we might make today. The forward looking statements speak only as of the date that they were made and we do not assume any obligation or intend to update any forward looking statements except as required by law.

Please also note that all 2008 financial numbers are estimates based on the latest available information. With respect to any non-GAAP financial measures during this call today, the accompanying information required by SEC regulation G relating to those measures can be found in our release under the investor’s section of the Colfax website.

Now, I’d like to turn it over to John.

John Young

I’ll start with some 2008 highlights then turn it over to Scott for our guidance for 2009 which will follow with a review of our end markets. Then we’ll open it up for a question and answer session.

Two thousand eight was a good year for us including record sales and order growth. Sales for the year were approximately $605 million, an increase of 19% over 2007. Organic sales growth was 14% in line with our low double-digit expectations for the year. Fourth quarter sales were about $159 million up 11%, organic growth was 18%.

Orders for 2008 were about $670 million, an increase of 15% or 7% organically. Orders in the fourth quarter were approximately $127 million net of $14 million in marine cancellations, a decline of 19% or 16% organically. We anticipated this decline as we had an abnormally large order rate in the fourth quarter last year. The fourth quarter is typically our seasonally weakest order quarter of the year. Even including fourth quarter 2008 marine cancellations fourth quarter orders were comparable to the fourth quarter 2006.

Our backlog is approximately $331 million as we enter 2009. We also significantly improved our financial position during 2008. With our successful IPO in May we were able to considerably reduce our debt. We are very lowly leveraged with a debt to adjusted EBITDA of just under one at the end of the third quarter. We have about $133 million available on our revolver and a cash balance of about $25 million.

We have a strong balance sheet and believe that our financial flexibility will allow us to take advantage of growth opportunities as they present themselves. Acquisitions continue to play an important role in our growth strategy and we are dedicated to expanding both our product portfolio and our global reach.

While we are pleased with our results and our financial condition we know that we are not immune to the current unprecedented and challenging economic conditions. However, the fundamental long-term drivers in our end markets remain positive including increasing energy demand and advancement of developing countries. We believe we are well positioned because we have a broad portfolio of products serving diverse end markets on a global basis. We believe our performance in critical applications is unmatched.

We are closely monitoring the impact of these challenging economic conditions on our businesses and will adjust accordingly. We can react quickly as demand changes. We believe that our Colfax business system gives us a distinct competitive advantage especially during unsettled market conditions. We continue to plan for the long term and are supporting our strategic growth initiatives. At the same time, we’re being very proactive in our efforts to reduce costs and control spending.

In summary, we’re confident that our long-term strategy and solid financial condition have us well positioned to perform in a challenging economic environment. With that introduction let me turn it over to Scott to comment on our 2009 outlook.

Scott Faison

For 2009 we’re expecting organic revenue growth in the range of 1% to 3% which reflects the broad and diverse nature of our end markets. We expect commercial marine will continue to be our largest end market based upon our current backlog and delivery schedule. We believe that we’ll continue to see strength in power gen and navy. Our visibility remains at about six months out for markets other than commercial marine. This allows us to identify and address issues months in advance. We are cautious about the second half of 2009.

We expect total revenues for 2009 to be in the range of $570 to $585 million and reflect the negative impact of the stronger US dollar relative to 2008. For our forecast we’ve used the December 31, Euro spot rate of $1.41 while the weighted average exchange rate and puts it in our 2008 revenue is approximately $1.47.

I’d like to remind you about 50% of our business is Euro based and I’d also like to point out that we generally manufacturer and sell in the same currency. Our currency exposure is primarily translation and not transaction driven.

For 2009 we expect adjusted EPS to be in the range of $1.10 to $1.17 and EPS to be in the range of $0.80 to $0.87. Adjusted EPS excludes the impact of asbestos related items. For 2009 we have budgeted $12 million for asbestos coverage litigation costs and have budgeted $7 million for asbestos liability and defense costs.

Regarding the coverage litigation pre-trial hearings began in late 2008 but delays have pushed the start of the trail into this year. We expect the trail to re-start shortly with a new judge. We’ll be more specific about the expected timing of the coverage litigation in the fourth quarter earnings call.

As John mentioned, our debt level is low. We entered into a new credit facility in May upon the closing of the IPO which expires in 2013. A term loan has a balance of $96 million and is priced at Libor plus 225. Principal payments for 2009 are $5 million and we are projecting interest expense of about $8 million. Our revolver has an available balance of approximately $133 million. For 2009 the incremental expense and public company costs are expected to be about $2.5 million over 2008. Also, we expect our tax rate to be about 32% for the year.

In November we announced a stock repurchase program. As of year-end we have repurchased 795,000 shares at an average price of $7.18. As a result we’ve assumed 43.3 million shares outstanding for 2009

I’d like to reiterate what John said about controlling costs. We’re approaching the second half of the year with caution and therefore remain very focused on minimizing or eliminating expenses while continuing to fully fund our growth initiative. I think it’s important to note that we’re able to grow our business over the past couple of years without adding additional square footage. We believe that we can be just as flexible if our business slows.

Now I’ll turn it back over to John for a more detailed look at our end markets.

John Young

We’ll begin with commercial marine which represents about 24% of our sales. We’ve seen tremendous growth in commercial marine over the past several years. This growth has been driven by growth in international trade and demand for bulk commodities and oil. Also an aging fleet and environmental regulations required owners to upgrade or replace ships. Based on the number of new ships put in service during this time period we expect orders to decline beginning in 2009.

In 2008 we had cancellations totaling $15 million primarily in the container ship market. These cancellations were due both to a lack of financing as well as delivery date extensions. The most recent cancellations were for container ships and bulk carriers in the Chinese market.

We are monitoring our projects very closely and understand that some orders could be delayed or cancelled due to our customers inability to obtain financing as well as fears over supply in the market. We expect commercial marine after market sales to be up due to the increased number of vessels on the water running on Colfax pumps. We will continue to focus on growing our market share as well as introducing new after market replacement products such as the IMO ACE and ACG Opti Line.

Moving to oil and gas which represents about 15% of our sales, we expect activity in the oil and gas market to remain steady as capacity constraints and global demand drive development of heavy oil fields. We also believe that demand will increase for our highly efficient products as customers focus on their total cost of ownership.

Our products in the oil and gas market as used for crude oil gathering, pipeline services, unloading and loading, rotating equipment lubrication and lube oil purification. Our backlog in this market is mainly related to heavy oil exploration. Our customers include multi national oil companies as well as national oil companies.

National oil companies which are restricted by their boundaries continue to explore their resources as oil prices change. For example, Ecopetrol, Columbia State Oil Company, announced last month that it plans to boost spending by 35% to $6.2 billion in 2009. The majority of the funds will be spent on the expansion and development of their heavy crude and mature fields. However, some customers before booking new projects have taken a wait and see approach based on the current price of oil.

Important to note that we have not had any cancellation in the oil and gas market. We believe our current backlog is solid given the long lead times for these projects. We are continuing to expand in the Middle East. We are planning to open a sales and engineering office in Bahrain during the first quarter and are excited about growing our presence in that region.

Our next market, power generation, represents about 13% of our total revenue. In the power gen market we expect activity in Asia and the Middle East to continue to be positive as economic growth and fundamental under supply continues to drive significant investment in energy infrastructure projects. In the developed economies we expect efficiency improvements to drive demand.

Our primary applications in power generation include fuel injection and lube oil for turbans. Our power gen business is very OEM centric and we supply many of the world’s turban manufacturers directly or through systems builders. One item of note is that the Iraqi government is now moving forward with its plans to develop the countries energy infrastructure and enhance power generation. Two of our customers GE and Siemens have both announced multi billion dollar contracts to supply turbans to the Iraqi market.

Our global navy business is about 6% of our revenues. A significant percentage of this business is with the US Navy. We have a long history with the Navy dating back to the 1900s; they’ve been on every Navy vessel since 1932. We are currently working on several new ship building contracts including a submarine and aircraft carrier the first two DDG-1000 Destroyers and the LHD.

In December the Navy signed a five-year $14 billion contract with Northwood Grumman and General Dynamics Electric Boat for eight Virginia Class Submarines to be built in the 2009 to 2019 time period. Also, the Navy recommended that Congress approve the funding for eight new DDG 51-Class Destroyers to be built between 2010 and 2015.

We’ve also seen strong organic growth at Fairmont Automation which we acquired a year ago. This business develops innovative control solutions for mission and safety critical process and machinery in harsh environments, principally for the global navy market. We also believe that demand will increase for integrated fuel handling systems such as our Smart Valve system that reduced operating costs and improves efficiency. In addition, we expect nations outside the United States to continue to expand fleets to address their own national security concerns.

We believe continued infrastructure development throughout the world will drive capital expenditures and sales in the general industrial market. General industrial sales make up about 42% of our business. While this end market is called general industrial it is not a GDB based business. This end market includes distribution, chemical processing, building products, machinery support, wastewater, and diesel engines to name a few sub-segments.

Building products which is our elevator pump business and diesel engines are our shortest cycle markets and we anticipate slowing in these markets during the back half of 2009. Distribution which is about 15% of our total sales is holding up. We don’t expect channel inventory reductions to have a material impact as our distributors don’t stock an excessive amount of inventory.

In the chemicals segment we operate in niche markets throughout the world. We do expect some softening as projects are postponed due to a decline in demand in some of our markets such as the automotive sector.

That wraps up our review of our end markets. I’d like to conclude with a summary of our priorities for 2009. While we feel good about our current backlog we are cautious about the back half of the year. We understand and we face new challenges this year given the uncertainty in the market and we’re taking steps to address these challenges.

However, our first priority is to invest in our growth initiatives. We believe funding our strategic investments for our breakthrough initiatives is critical to a long-term future growth and success. These investments are what will enable us to grow faster than the market long term.

Our second priority is to grow through acquisitions. As I mentioned earlier acquisition are a key part of our overall growth strategy. We are interested in broadening our products, markets, and geographies. This includes both bolt on as well as larger adjacent handling acquisitions. While we’re looking at a number of potential acquisitions, deal flow has slowed in the past few months in conjunction with the global financial crisis and resulting valuation declines.

We believe activity could pick up in 2009 and we are well positioned to take advantage of those opportunities. We have the liquidity and financial flexibility to act quickly on various types of deals.

Another priority for us is obviously controlling costs. As Scott and I both mentioned, we will continue to pursue cost reductions vigorously throughout 2009. We believe we are well positioned for the long term with our divers end markets, broad product portfolio and strong balance sheet. We hope the economic environment improves later this year but if it doesn’t we believe we are well situated to weather it.

With that I’ll open up the floor for Q&A.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Your first question comes from John Inch - Merrill Lynch

John Inch - Merrill Lynch

Just so I understand your forecast outlook for ’09 are you assuming that the economy gets a little bit better or are you assuming that the current business conditions that you’ve seen in the fourth quarter prevail and if that’s the assumption then I’m assuming that organic growth is going to go negative in the second half. Could you give us a little bit of flavor of how you see the year playing out and what your assumptions are again?

John Young

I don’t think we assume any improvement in the overall economic condition. I think we’re taking a very cautious approach and with that the second half of the year could very well be flat to down.

John Inch - Merrill Lynch

Could you put this in the context of other downturns? Is what you’re seeing unprecedented or is it comparable to what you’ve seen historically? The other concern is your orders are down 16% are you trying to suggest that that was somewhat expected. That almost suggests that there is a lot more order cancellations on the come would that be true and where would you be seeing that.

John Young

No, somewhat different perspective on that. We had a tremendous fourth quarter with order bookings in 2007. It was an abnormally large quarter for us. Typically we seasonally tend to book less in the fourth quarter. It’s our largest shipment quarter, but our lowest booking quarter so we tend to run backlog down. In the last 12 years in the fourth quarter of 2007 was only fourth quarter that we didn’t run down backlog because of the very high, particularly commercial marine bookings.

We had anticipated going into the fourth quarter this year that we would have a down quarter. That was not the fact that we anticipate more marine cancellations. In fact, I think we’re certainly monitoring it very closely. I don’t think we’re sitting back and anticipating that there’s going to be widespread cancellation in that particular market.

John Inch - Merrill Lynch

Is that because your products go in toward the end of the project so in many respect those projects are firm. Is that what gives you that confidence? We’re sitting here watching all of these different data points, there’s a lot of consternation that things are just going to get progressively much worse. I here you that you’re monitoring it but what’s coming out of your customers, how are you?

John Young

It’s a good point. What our customers are telling us, they’re obviously very cautious as they head into the year. At this point in time there are over 5,000 ships under contract in the global marine market around the world. There have been a total of 199 firm cancellations of orders. There is a relatively small amount of outright cancellations.

The majority of what we’ve seen from our customers is not outright cancellations but a push out that they’ve come back to us said we’d like to push this order out. Our response is well we’re going to take it out of our backlog at its point despite the fact the customer hasn’t outright cancelled it because if they want to go out two or three years to us that’s not prudent to keep that booking in backlog.

John Inch - Merrill Lynch

What are your gross margin and operating profit margin assumptions that go into your EPS for ’09?

Scott Faison

I think we’ve given the level of guidance that we’d like to at this point.

John Inch - Merrill Lynch

Do margins hold flattish or are you anticipating margins to go down?

Scott Faison

I don’t think we expect any significant changes.

Operator

Your next question comes from Shannon O'Callaghan - Barclays Capital

Shannon O'Callaghan - Barclays Capital

Can you talk about how the quarter flowed a little bit? A lot of other industrial companies we saw in November and December really drop off progressively I know commercial marine I think last time you had seen some stabilization in the cancellations and then obviously towards the end of the quarter you must have seen some more. Across your different end markets can you just give us a feel of how the quarter progressed?

John Young

Given the nature of our business our orders tend to be pretty lumpy month to month so there’s no specific monthly pattern. We really try to look at in quarterly buckets because its hard to draw concrete conclusions on a monthly basis because we really don’t, flow business is a relatively small part of our overall business. That said the year-end booking pattern was pretty consistent month to month in the fourth quarter. We really didn’t see any material change during the course of the quarter.

Shannon O'Callaghan - Barclays Capital

You mentioned the point about the strong balance sheet where do you see this leverage going? You have the point about the 3.25 covenant in here but obviously a lot of companies are sort of sitting on their liquidity. What kind of leverage would you anticipate and anything about that in terms of share repurchase and acquisitions right now.

John Young

The share repurchase program that we have is a $20 million program. We’ve spent a little over $7.5 million so far in that program.

Scott Faison

We have a basket of $10 million in this share.

John Young

We’ll be no more than $10 million in 2009 on share repurchase. From a leverage perspective the only way you would see leverage spike would be if we do a significant acquisition. I think we’ll continue to be very conservative on our leverage and I don’t think we want to get close to covenant levels at this point given the economic conditions.

Shannon O'Callaghan - Barclays Capital

Could you go in a little more about, it sounds like the old maybe have been falling out of the pipeline given valuations are coming down to the point where sellers don’t want to sell. Is that what you meant or is that what you’re saying?

John Young

I think there is always a lag time as valuations change. The M&A market is pretty slow across the board right now. We’ve certainly seen that. It will take some time for that to pick up and I think we’re hopeful that could happen later in 2009. I think the point is we’re certainly poised and ready to go considering our lack of leverage and the historic ability to grow through acquisition and we want to continue that this year and going forward into the future.

Operator

Your next question comes from Jeff Hammond - KeyBanc Capital Markets

Jeff Hammond - KeyBanc Capital Markets

I was just wondering if within your 1% to 3% organic growth assumption if you could just give us a little more granularity about how you’re thinking about the key markets. If you want to use ranges, I just want to get a better sense of what you’re thinking is solid growth, what might be down, etc.

John Young

I’ll give it in generality, we don’t certainly want to give explicit guidance by end market, but I think our thought process is that power gen and navy will be at or above average from a growth perspective. I would say commercial marine will be in the range with general industrial probably below the range and oil and gas probably in the range.

Jeff Hammond - KeyBanc Capital Markets

On the fourth quarter orders, maybe I missed this; if you exclude the commercial marine comp what did the other business do from an order perspective?

John Young

We had a pretty solid order book in the fourth quarter. Oil and gas was particularly strong as well as power gen we had pretty good bookings in the fourth quarter. Obviously commercial marine was down pretty substantially given the comparison in 2007 plus the cancellations.

Scott Faison

If you take those cancellations out actually orders in the fourth quarter ’08 would have exceeded ’06 orders, ’07 we had the really large marine orders. If you pull out the cancellations it does have an impact.

Jeff Hammond - KeyBanc Capital Markets

Can you repeat what FX rate you’re assuming for the Euro within your guidance?

John Young

$1.41 that’s the year-end spot rate.

Operator

Your next question comes from Jason Feldman – UBS

Jason Feldman – UBS

On asbestos so I understand, you gave us two components, is it fair to think of the $7 million in the liability and defense costs as a somewhat normalized number whereas the $12 million is more non-recurring in that it’s related to specific litigation that will eventually go away?

Scott Faison

Yes, that’s accurate. We’ve said with the liability and defense costs we expect that to be $5 to $7 million a year and prudently we budgeted on the high side. The litigation cost is solely related to the coverage litigation then as that ends that cost should end.

Jason Feldman – UBS

When that ends, depending on how it’s resolved that could have a longer-term impact on the liability and defense costs or is that not the way I should be thinking about it? If there is any recovery from the coverage litigation could that have an ability to impact the longer term normalized?

Scott Faison

I’d hate to speculate I can’t see it having a negative impact on that number.

Jason Feldman – UBS

On the cancellation issue, generally how quickly do cancellations have an impact? You talked about having six-month visibility. When cancellations occur do they tend to be last minute or is a cancellation of order that are three, six months out?

John Young

They’re actually more than three to six months out. The cancellations we’ve seen were for scheduled deliveries in the very end of 2009 or beginning of 2010. It’s a situation where the customers have come back to us to push out for the most part those orders. We haven’t had any near term cancellations.

Jason Feldman – UBS

Assuming that that trend holds that would imply that you see a limited risk of substantial negative surprise in the next two quarters?

John Young

From a revenue perspective what we have for scheduled delivery, yes that would be accurate. I think the negative surprise could be that there’s an acceleration in future quarter cancellations but from a revenue perspective it tends to be fairly far out in the distance.

Jason Feldman – UBS

When I think about the different businesses which ones tend to be more out of backlog where you have that six-month visibility? Is it really general industrial where there is much shorter lead times where you’d actually have?

John Young

Our general industrial business is pretty consistent from a lead-time perspective to both gas and power gen. The longer lead times are in navy and commercial marine.

Operator

Your next question comes from John Inch - Merrill Lynch

John Inch - Merrill Lynch

What were your China revenues in 2008 and what are you anticipating in 2009? Obviously if there’s a lot of consternation about the China market but on the other hand the prospective infrastructure spending in China does that benefit Colfax or your products? Maybe an update I know you got the new plant there just what’s going on?

John Young

We’ve got flash revenues so we don’t have it all pulled together by geography at this point. We did have an up year in 2008 in China. I think our anticipation is that for our market, China will be up again in 2009 particularly since the commercial marine is a fairly significant portion of our Chinese revenue. Your point about the infrastructure build certainly could have a positive impact for us particularly in power gen where I think the government is looking to continue to expand electrical supply capacity as part of their infrastructure program.

I think the other minor point in road construction we do supply a fair amount of pumps for asphalt processing which are obviously required and transfer pumps in particular for the bitumen markets. That’s a pretty minor impact from an infrastructure build perspective but it could have some positive impact.

John Inch - Merrill Lynch

What kind of utilization is that Wuxi plant running and is that on target and is that going to help your margins as I assume that you continue to get more volumes running through that plant?

John Young

It’s still in ramp up phase. We’re certainly not at 100% utilization in that facility. We had some pretty tremendous growth in Wuxi in fact our growth in that particular facility was over 100% year over year in 2008 versus ’07 so it continues to ramp up. We still have capacity available there.

John Inch - Merrill Lynch

The other question is headcount. As part of your cost containment actions could you be a little bit more specific as what you’re really thinking at this juncture. Are you looking to on a net basis reduce your headcount or are these just sort of softer items like travel and that sort of thing?

John Young

Initially from a headcount perspective it’s neutral. We’re definitely not going to add any headcount so in order to support our strategic growth initiatives we will refocus folks within the organization and not backfill. We’re going into the year basically on a net neutral headcount number. Given the amount of backlog that we have to ship and in order to keep our customer base happy we feel at this point that taking headcount actions is not appropriate.

However, as we go into the back half of the year we have the opportunity given that we’ve ramped up production fairly high over the last three years to continue to take out temps over time and any outsourced work before any headcount actions are required.

John Inch - Merrill Lynch

No one has asked the question about raw materials. Obviously we’ve seen a major decline. I’m thinking more from the perspective of your input costs. Could you remind us the lag time and then, I’m talking about from say spot prices to ultimately the production of your pumps, what is the key raw material and effectively if prices stay where they are how does that actually benefit your margins assuming current volumes?

John Young

There is a fair amount of lag time because we typically have some fairly long lead times for raw materials that go into our products. We’ve been fairly conservative on how we’ve approached the impact of lower material costs. I think its going to be a fairly tough pricing year as well and therefore I think as a result any pick up that we might have on the raw material side pricing could offset that. We’ve been fairly conservative on margin assumptions.

John Inch - Merrill Lynch

You’re up 1% to 3% organic would include what kind of price down on that assumption? What’s the price this year and next year?

John Young

Price is going to be fairly negligible in ’09.

John Inch - Merrill Lynch

What was it in ’08?

John Young

In ’08 it certainly was positive for us; it was a couple of points of growth in ’08.

Operator

There are no further questions. Mr. Young I’ll turn it back over to you for any additional or closing remarks.

John Young

Thank you very much for your participation today. As we said, we go into the year with very solid backlog and so we feel that as we enter the year things are relatively positive but we’re certainly very cautious about what the second half of the year is going to bring for us. We appreciate your time this morning and look forward to talking again at the fourth quarter call later in the first quarter.

Operator

That concludes today’s conference we do appreciate your participation. Everyone have a great day and weekend.

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