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Logitech International SA (NASDAQ:LOGI)

Morgan Stanley 2013 Technology, Media & Telecom Conference Transcript

February 25, 2013 4:20 PM ET

Executives

Erik Bardman - SVP, Finance and CFO

Analysts

Unidentified Analyst

(Inaudible) finally, is the question, right. So hello everyone, so we have Logitech now. So where do we start actually, I mean the Windows 8, I think is a bit confusing to me. It looks like we have great cycle, it's not happening so quickly. And that's not really helping Surface RT ships with big phones, it's on keyboards, which in a way is not good for you, but in another way good because you know, it shows that, you know if you want to use --

Erik Bardman

Right.

Unidentified Analyst

-- Windows 8 in a good way you need a keyboard. I don't know about you about the Surface RT, I sold it on eBay because that was -- I got a little bit confused with it.

Erik Bardman

Right.

Unidentified Analyst

So I think it's really a question of some people want a keyboard, some people don't want a keyboard. And it's quite difficult to get what people are going to do. If you want to use Excel, you need one. If you don't use Excel, you don't need one. So maybe you're going to assume -- I don't know my mother's because of (Inaudible) I don't have a keyboard.

Erik Bardman

We've got to get you one.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah, I'd want one. So you know, how is the market research from your side trying to get where the market is going, in three years?

Erik Bardman

Yeah.

Unidentified Analyst

Because I don't know.

Erik Bardman

So a couple of things I would say is that what we've found so far with keyboards for the tablet, right, specifically for the iPad is is that, when you get the right combination and we really think we have that in the Ultrathin. So fantastic battery life, really thin form-factor. But what's equally important is, it looks like it belongs with the iPad. One of things we actually use in our online marketing, which we call The other half of the iPad, because what it does is that it really puts you in a position that almost anything that you want to do and you can do it from that perspective, whether it be text input, whatever it might be.

And I think to your other point, your question about you talked about Windows 8, and what's going on there, this is it, look everything you can see from the industry, Windows 8 has a very slow adoption cycle right now. But it's actually break it into two buckets, let's say enterprise and let's say consumer.

On the enterprise cycle side, it's way too early to tell, because the enterprise adopts it very slowly. I mean I think the stat I saw recently, almost 40% of the worldwide PCs running Windows today are still running XP. That's the version before Vista. So that cycle moves very very slowly on the enterprise side.

On the consumer side, I think the consumer right now, might be a little bit confused about what Windows 8 is, how different it is, what's the Surface RT, what does it do for me.

Unidentified Analyst

(Inaudible) you need it read it on the Windows as well [aren't you -- the first thing?]

Erik Bardman

Oh yeah, not they -- Windows, Microsoft has been aggressive about creating one platform that works on the smartphone, on the tablet and on the PC, and no one's quite done that before and there's a lot of things you've got to do. But I think the piece I'd pull out of what you said there that's important for us, in our research is is that the more people see that -- you can have portable and you have keyboards and covers and things that make your experience better, that's generally good for us from that perspective, because we think we absolutely make the best product. Our brand resonates really well in the space. So whether it's for one type of tablet or another we see that as net opportunity.

Unidentified Analyst

So how does it's working, the product development cycle, because you know there will surely be a new iPad this year, maybe the dimensions of it could be different.

Erik Bardman

Right, right.

Unidentified Analyst

Do they tell you in advance and you can have your products ready on its launch or they don't tell you at all?

Erik Bardman

Apple doesn't tell --

Unidentified Analyst

I'm not asking if you know, I'm just saying in general, how does it work?

Erik Bardman

I mean in general Apple is very secretive about what they develop, right and --

Unidentified Analyst

Even to you?

Erik Bardman

With anyone, really. But I would say this is it, if you have good market intelligence and you really understand you have a sense of what's going to happen from that perspective. And what you do is you actually build that flexibility in. So one of the things that we've done, and this is one of the things that Bracken has really driven in the organization since he's come on board, is we've changed how we do some of our product development, particularly around the tablet, right.

In terms of being able to develop faster, we still have to get faster, we're not as fast as we want to be. But for example the iPad Mini keyboard that we just launched two weeks ago.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay.

Erik Bardman

That went from idea to production in 10 weeks. We have to get faster than that but that's a big improvement over versus what we were.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah.

Erik Bardman

And we've collocated some of our development teams in China to be even closer to our suppliers and done a few other things so the -- you just get the graphic cycle a little bit more.

Unidentified Analyst

So you've got friends in there -- that looked like there was basically -- okay.

Erik Bardman

We are moving as fast as we can.

Unidentified Analyst

That's one topic, so obviously there's the tablet market, is expanding quite fast. Where do you think that's one (Inaudible) is today?

Erik Bardman

Well it's interesting, I'll give you two senses of that -- from this is that -- when you look at, what do people spend, what's the dollar value opportunity around an iPad.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah.

Erik Bardman

Everything that we see, and it's too early days is that -- there's a real dollar opportunity there, because people are buying some form of protection.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah.

Erik Bardman

It could be some kind of cover at a big price, and whatever I think at healthy prices and also too, so when I look at it is if, in the future there's a tablet sold that has a certain dollar value attached opportunity versus what might have been a notebook in the past, I see enough opportunity there, that that doesn't necessarily mean that that's a problem for my business, we're going to be expanding what we offer around the iPad. So today, we've lead into the market with keyboard covers.

Unidentified Analyst

Sure.

Erik Bardman

But over the next 60 days you're actually going to see a couple of new products come from us. That start to expand that foot print a little bit, and I can't do anymore than that right now.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah, but you get everyone excited now.

Erik Bardman

If they want to go out and buy one of these products that would be fantastic.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay.

Erik Bardman

But my point is is that, when you look at how fast the platform is growing and where we come out with an element of strength and also this comes back to the brand too is is that. Because I've been asked the question a little bit as well. Now how well are we able to sell in Apple and things like that. This product sells extremely well at Apple retail, this is Apple in store, this is apple.com. And what we're finding is is very much so, because the brand resonates well with consumers. They think there's a -- while they've kind of solved the problem well.

Unidentified Analyst

I think both the Logitech mouse [before] something.

Erik Bardman

They, yeah. I mean--

Unidentified Analyst

So they know how you're going to bet -- it's true there is a lot of competition, there are loads of [knock-up] for that -- you know, a lot of price -- and work as well.

Erik Bardman

You know, what though, not in -- that doesn't bother us that much. We are very willing to compete on product, that's what we've done for the last 30 years.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah.

Erik Bardman

And so from that perspective, we feel that we're well placed to do that. And when it comes out now too is that making sure that as the tablet world changes, you keep moving with the best with the speed comes back into it as well.

Unidentified Analyst

So to some extent its better that Apple continues to dominate the tablet market, because you know you have to develop fewer products. It's -- because of the -- the good thing with a PC product, you can make a keyboard for any PC.

Erik Bardman

Bluetooth will connect it to anything right.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah, whatever. But here you need to have things [conflict a little].

Erik Bardman

Right.

Unidentified Analyst

So you know, you can't make basically a keyboard for every tablet.

Erik Bardman

Yeah. I mean you pointed out for anything that's form-fitting?

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah.

Erik Bardman

Yes. You have challenge. But there are products for example, the Bluetooth wireless speakers, that we've entered market with and some of them are doing very well, that's indifferent us to form factor. And that simply could work with a smartphone, it could work with a tablet, it could work with a PC. But yeah, on the form-fitting you need to do that and - right now today is yes, we are focused on the iPad and the iPad Mini.

If and the -- as you know, I think Apple's probably about 50% market share. Maybe a little bit more little bit less, yeah. The rest of the market is very fragmented.

Unidentified Analyst

And very (Inaudible)?

Erik Bardman

Right. So now, if a Galaxy Tab or someone like that could start to get the double-digit share, then you'll probably of a size where we could look at it. Say okay, now I have a spec of platform, I can develop for, we're watching it really closely. But that's -- we'll watch how that markets stays and how fragmented it is in the future.

Unidentified Analyst

So one thing I was wondering actually on the iPad product, I'm sorry to keep on the -- I've seen the keyboard for the Surface RT and it's true that, as you can connect with the tablet, it's -- then you can save the battery and you can [readjust] something which is in fact a -- are you working with the OEMs and general equipment (Inaudible) to get something going.

Erik Bardman

I mean we work with all the manufacturers, in that perspective, but also to is, we actually don't see battery life as a challenge. So for example our Ultrathin that we've been talking about offer full charge, that can last four, sometimes even six months on daily use. So battery power has not been a challenge and we even have some of our keyboard products, we haven't yet put them into, we had one that we actually put out, to the iPad, it was solar powered, that's why it's never needed to charge. So that power is not the issue, really when it comes down to it. It comes down to that combination of things and in terms of how it fits with your product and what you're using it for.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay. Now in terms of -- in terms of margin. I guess those products are doing okay in terms of margin, one thing I've always wondered is you like to go into speakers and stuff like that. Is it - is that good for margin actually to the speakers?

Erik Bardman

So nutshell, I'll touch on both. So on the -- any time we launch a newer product it takes a little while for the margin to improve. Once you get a little more scale, yeah. Right and your supply chain you get a little more leverage.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay.

Erik Bardman

And we're going to see that over time. I fully anticipate that my margins for everything that's tablets for a (Inaudible) related will improve over time. When it comes specifically to music, is is that we've always had in our portfolio, so if we had let's say a historical gross margin that's somewhere between 33% and 35%, right. Is we've always had things that were above the company average, and we had things that were below the company average, right.

Now, some of our audio products in the past have been a little bit below the company average. But one of the things that we're seeing as an opportunity is is that we see that there's nothing that we do in Bluetooth speakers or on our speakers business overall that we think structurally changes that company average. Because we continue to look at it and also within categories we have products that can be above and below. So it's one thing today we see over time as I mentioned both for there and tablets that scale, we'll see margins improve over time. And we don't see this as a detriment, in terms of mix overall and what does it do to where we are to total company.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay. What's happening with the life cycle? It's kind of a tough decision to take and then -

Erik Bardman

No actually you know, I'll give you exact frame and I think Bracken talked about this little bit when we had our earnings call, is and I'll use the analogy of the process we've just went through with the core businesses. We really looked at three outcomes for every single part of the business. One is it a business part that we want to invest in, and moved faster and we see great growth opportunity. Is it a business part or part of our business that we look at and we say, look it can be profitable, maybe not growing today, but it's business I want to stand, or third is it a business that I look at today and I say look, given my strategic choices and focus it shouldn't be part of my portfolio.

All three of those options are [possible] like as we're going through that process right now. And we fully anticipate updating people when we get to our earnings release in April. So taking the same approach, Bracken's been very --

Unidentified Analyst

(Inaudible)

Erik Bardman

Every product, every product line, we applied it to the core business, now we're going to that process with LifeSize and we'll update people when we're done with that process.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay. So basically a more rational approach to -- shall we run it as a cash cow, shut it down or you know to keeping the (Inaudible)?

Erik Bardman

Yeah I mean like I said as it --

Unidentified Analyst

It's like a, you know, it's like school textbook basically.

Erik Bardman

We're a Swiss company right? We're very thorough, so -- but yeah that's our approach in our thought and we will be updating people when we get to our release in April.

Unidentified Analyst

So if you think about your company long-term, shall I see it as a consumer (Inaudible) company 5% margins or should it be a bit more like a smartphone company really.

Erik Bardman

No, I mean I think the best way to think about us and we're going to do a couple of things, as one, we have an Analyst Day coming up, I think it's May 23rd.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay.

Erik Bardman

And we're going to be talking a lot more about long-term Model, the result of all these strategic changes because we'll have not only gone through what we've just talked about. We'll be done with the LifeSize work and everything else, and we'll lay that out for folks. But I think to your broader question is is that, first and foremost is we fundamentally are driving hard to improve our profitability in the short term.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay.

Erik Bardman

So it's definitely going to improve over time combination of things investing in the right places and we'll continue to take cost out of if necessary. You know, Bracken talked about that on our call, and look where the weak PC markets -- there's no denying it.

I would do is look at HP and Dell's result last week, right. So look, I can't control that but we're going to work like hell in the things we can control and we're going to improve our profitability and we think over time is we'll position ourselves to also grow. But we first got to deal with the profitability piece, and then go after growth overtime.

Unidentified Analyst

So actually you feel better to have a smaller company, but more profitable than.

Erik Bardman

Yeah. In the short term we are going to be a slightly smaller company, what we think positioned in the right places with the right focus.

Unidentified Analyst

Makes sense, a complete sense. How is the company then reacting to that plan because, it looked like a change of a -- you know,

Erik Bardman

Yeah, yeah. Well I would say this is a -- I mean Bracken has -- for those of you that have met him I know, some of you haven't had the chance yet, absolutely has brought tremendous energy and passion to what he bring to the role and no, I think the reception in side has been very good. Because what we're laying out is where we're going strategic rationale, and we're also very honest to say is that look that's the view today, this market changes quickly and what's really important for us is that we adapt and we keep moving. So I think it's been received very well inside the company. And particularly the focus because -- look we have more opportunities than we can pursue. But what's really important to see you fully resource that -- what you have in front of you and you put it in the best position to be successful. And that's really the end result of these strategic choices we're making.

Unidentified Analyst

So in terms of the thoughts you visualized they're coming but -- like (Inaudible) is, we in Europe we call the [arm] on these type of companies and we are very bullish on tablets and everything. You know, for the tablet market, could be like a four-five times the size of -- in terms of units, in terms of laptop and PC market in four-five years. So I think these -- attachment rates questions very important and the link we [orient] is also very important, so I understand you're trying to react faster to how the market is changing, but you know, how can you drive -- the adoption rate to be higher and then --

Erik Bardman

Maybe two things I'd actually say, the first though is is that, look the PC market is weak today, but there's a couple of aspects about that I think sometimes people overlook and that is, a massive installed base. Last statistics I saw was there's 1.2 billion PCs worldwide.

Unidentified Analyst

You don't break your keyboard every day.

Erik Bardman

I understand that.

Unidentified Analyst

Unless you're in a real bad mood, because your mother doesn't [approve] something, it happens to me.

Erik Bardman

But my point is this is that -- it's a very large business and even when there's a bad shipment year.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah.

Erik Bardman

PCs globally, is you'll see 200 million to 400 million shipments each year. And when you break the market down a little bit more, and this is really important for us, as when you look at geographies and you look at emerging markets, where you see growth in China, you see growth in Southeast Asia, and South America, so one of the things we try to not do is paint a broad brush across the whole PC market and say, PC is dead. The PC is weak right now from a new shipment standpoint in developed markets. But there are real opportunities when you look at emerging markets and also longer term catalyst, whether it'd be touch or better innovation, one of the things that I think is the best thing about Windows 8 unrelated to how successful it is for Microsoft financially, is is that you're starting to see some better innovation from the manufacturers, right.

So the Surface is one example but look at Dell, Acer, Lenovo have done with some of their hybrid devices and other things, that actually is good for us over the long-term, because the more innovation there is there then people are going to go out they're going to like accessorize it. And given our brand, our reach, and our overall product portfolio we certainly don't seen the PC business as something that can't grow again. It's not going to grow at 20% for us, but we certainly see that if I get a stable PC market and I execute well against what I have today that's an important opportunity for us.

So, I mean that's one of the things I think is really important is look, we're going to move as fast as we can to get tablets to your point. We're going to look to influence attach rates, we're going to took to influence used cases and what people do, but it's really important that we stay focused on what is the biggest part of our business as well. And we see a long-term future there even if there is a tough market today.

Unidentified Analyst

We've seen a I mean -- you're the CFO, so I cannot question but the currency which is a big thing this year. We're seeing quite substantial moves in most currencies, so far this year what are remaining types for -

Erik Bardman

I mean, when you look over the last two plus years, yeah there's been especially between the euro and the dollar. There's been almost unprecedented volatility in terms of short-term movements. The good thing over the last I would say quarter, quarter and a half you've seen some stability between the dollar and the euro for the first time in a while.

The places where you've seen lot of volatility is Japanese yen, which is a smaller market price, but that's been very volatile in one direction. I mean we've also seen some changes in the others as well. The Indian rupee has moved quite a bit. I mean, now those ones that have moved a lot recently are pretty small to us, have a pretty deminimis impact. On the primary one for us is how do the dollar and the euro move.

We do a number of things in terms of how we do some short-term hedging as well. So it's not an issue right now, but I would say in terms of the volatility it's something that we watch pretty closely, because as you said over the last two years we have seen a lot of swings that were not unprecedented but pretty large?

Unidentified Analyst

Okay. In terms of balance sheet, obviously you should take some decisions or some business lines, we have a cost -- let go in that way. How flexible are you with your balance sheet to date?

Erik Bardman

Actually I would say flexible is the primary thing that I keep in mind when I am talking about capital structure.

Unidentified Analyst

Well, you're the CFO, you need to [make it very flexible].

Erik Bardman

Exactly, but still a couple of things is that we continue to generate strong cash flow overall and we even in the last, it's a little over a year, we've returned a little over $200 million to our shareholders. I think it's about $220 million through the one time dividend that we did back in September, as well as share buyback.

And so the way I think about it is look I am targeting to keep 15% to 20% of trailing 12 months sales on my balance sheet as appropriate working capital.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay.

Erik Bardman

There'll be sometimes where I'm a little bit below, that I was a little bit below that after I paid the dividend, there'll be sometimes I'm a little bit above that, but that's the right range to give us to your word flexibility, right. Whether it be things that I want to do in terms of funding projects in the business, some acquisitions $10 million, and $20 million and $30 million deals. I want to be able to do those quickly, that allows me to do it. When I'm above that 20% range on a consistent basis then I am going to evaluate whether or not it makes sense for me to consider dividends or share buyback and both of those are levers are available to us. Right now we're rebuilding our cash balance a little bit after the dividend we paid in the fall.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay. Very good. Any question in the room? Yes. There's (Inaudible)

Question-and-Answer Session

Unidentified Analyst

Sorry, could you make us an update on the headset business and the Ultimate Ears brand and where you stand and my feeling, but just very personally -- but it just takes time to ramp so what are the first thing that -- what you need to do?

Erik Bardman

No, so it's a very good question. So we launched a new line up of products in the music space back in – it was like September early October. And I would say this as we had some things that worked well and some things that didn't work to expectations. The things that worked well is our Mobile Boombox product priced at $99 has done very, very well globally. It's a product that Bluetooth connectivity, great battery life, got very good reception and we actually see some opportunities to add one or two SKUs to the Bluetooth category, Bluetooth speakers, I am very happy with that, we think that's going to grow fast.

At the high-end of Ultimate Ears this is I believe it's a UE900, we have a couple of and products the $200 and $300 price point at the in-ear, our products those have done well have been received well. The place where we weren't quite as happy as we came out with a couple of new SKUs in the on-ear and over the ear category, that fundamentally weren't, we didn't get quite the traction we wanted. So one of the things that we're doing is you're going to see us bifurcate our strategy there a little bit in terms of - probably not going to see us invest much more in to the on-year and into the over year where we haven't seen quite the traction, but the other two places you'll see us invest and we see some good growth opportunity.

In terms of the brands Ultimate Ears resonates well. So you'll continue to see us use that in marketing, in go-to-market and how we really try and get that value prop across to consumers.

Unidentified Analyst

[Are you] ready to focus on the Boombox that a devices and the small average but not the big assets like?

Erik Bardman

I mean we have products in the market today and what we're trying to do is we think we need to optimize that a little bit. It did not perform to the expectations we had. So we're going to keep trying to learn there and evaluate what we need to do next.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah, not sure but the current competition towards the biggest headphones…

Erik Bardman

Okay, you don't want to look like you are landing an aircraft carrier or something like that so.

Unidentified Analyst

Actually I got a cheeky question from (inaudible). Basically, he is asking you're trying to improve speed to market, but your competitors [brag] are the iPad Mini product that they are still the Mini iPad was launched. That's quite impressive.

Erik Bardman

No. Like I said, I am trying to be really honest is that we are faster than we were.

Unidentified Analyst

But not fast enough?

Erik Bardman

But not fast enough. And like I said if Bracken was sitting next to me here today, he'd say absolutely the same thing. So we have to get faster but the one thing I would add to that though is we have never built our business by being absolutely first to market. We are a very good fast followers, what we've done for 30 years, we didn't invent the webcam, we didn't invent the mouse, we didn't invent the keyboard, right. But we really fundamentally created better value prop.

So we want to be a lot faster. We will get faster, but we don't think the success is fully determined by I've got to be there day one. I've got to be there quick enough that when the product really rolls out and the consumer is going through gee, what kind of cover do I want or what kind of product I want, but I mean that consideration is set and we feel very comfortable that we'll be.

Unidentified Analyst

We've upgraded the figure because it's through the -- there is always a rush at the beginning to get the product when it's out.

Erik Bardman

There are challenges to that. What's interesting though is is that for us look nobody knows keyboards better in the whole world than we do. Part of the reason why we're able to come out much faster with the iPad Mini and go on forward is that we are pushing the envelope in terms of what these products can be and I fundamentally think that we have the best products in the world when it come to this space. So the speed will come, the quality will always be there. There is no doubt about that.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay, so basically the next catalyst is basically to see more actual resonant kind of stuff of [picture] markets and whether you're going to decide to all your product lines basically?

Erik Bardman

Yeah, I think what you'll see from us when we get to or this is our earnings release as an example is we'll talk to you about any additional strategic decisions that we've made right. We'll talk to you about where we see our cost structure now today and where it's going from that perspective. It's like that we have been very honest that if we remain in a weak market or it gets weaker is we will take some cost out and we have an idea of what we would do there right in terms of making the right decisions.

And then when we get to our Analyst Day in may is we're going to talk to your about how do we see the business model when this plays out a little bit as we're transforming the company where do we see a sort of interim steps and where we're going those are the near-term catalysts or touch points.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay, very good. Any other question, yeah, I actually have a good one.

Unidentified Analyst

I was just curious in the past your business momentum was a little bit independent of PC demand, because people didn't buy PCs they would want to upgrade their keyboard or mouse or whatever. So another Windows 8 shipments are so weak the portfolio is picking with the Windows 7 machine. What's fundamentally changed about that [product or formula]?

Erik Bardman

Yeah, I think there is a couple of things I think one is the time period you're referring to. So let me just pick let's say it was 2004, 2005, 2006. Where you had a very fast growing PC market globally from that perspective, and two things were happening; shipments were growing but the installed base was growing very quickly. That played very well for us in terms of not just an upgrade but there was a possibility that you had a fixed work environment at home, especially in a desktop world where you would have one there, you would have one at work, that's too might, that's multiple peripheral those types of things. That world has changed not so much to the health of the industry it's more what are the used cases.

As the PC went, I'll call it ultra-mobile in terms of ultrabooks and very think laptops, long battery life, the amount of peripherals that you buy that's changed the little bit I think that's probably been one of the bigger changes but when we look at the dollar value of what's spent and just talking to someone this morning I think the way I've described is there's four platforms, where we penetrate today to some extent, there's obviously desktop PCs, there's laptops and ultrabooks there are tablets and there are smartphones.

The opportunity for us is when you look at those four together I'll call that consumer computing, is almost everyone say that's not only growing today in aggregate but 5 years 10 years now that's going to continue to grow, the challenge which gets highlighted by this [step], but it's also the opportunity is that I'm over indexed to the first two, I'm over indexed in terms to the desktop PC, I'm over indexed to the laptop and ultrabook what I need to do with and this is where we're focusing on is indexing more towards the tablets and the smartphones. Still making as much money as possible on the first two. That's a little bit of how we think about it in terms of where it is today and then what does that look like it as we go forward.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay. Very good. Thank you very much.

Erik Bardman

All right. Thank you.

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