The Hain Celestial Group's CEO Presents at UBS Global Consumer Conference (Transcript)

| About: The Hain (HAIN)

The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAIN)

UBS Global Consumer Conference

March 13, 2013 1:30 pm ET


John Carroll - Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Hain Celestial United States

James R. Meiers - Chief Supply Chain Officer of Grocery & Personal Care, President of Hain Celestial Personal Care and Chief Operating Officer of Hain Celestial Personal Care & Refrigerated


David Palmer - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

David Palmer - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Okay. Guys, I think we'll get started. Good afternoon. I'm David Palmer, UBS food and restaurant analyst. We're honored to once again have Hain Celestial join us at the UBS Global Consumer Conference. Hain Celestial has been one of the best-performing stocks in the consumer staples area in the last 3 and 5 years and continues to have a bright future, as Americans scrutinize ingredients in their food and their brands.

With us today are John Carroll, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Hain Celestial United States; Jim Meiers, President of Hain Celestial Personal Care and Chief Supply Chain Officer for Groceries, Snacks and Personal Care; and Mary Anthes, Senior VP of Corporate Relations.

John Carroll has been the CEO of Hain Celestial U.S. at the Hain Celestial Group since May 2008 and serves as its Executive Vice President. John served as the President of Grocery and Snacks division since 2006 and, before that, was in various leadership positions at the company. John joined Hain in 2003. From 1995 to 2003, John served in various roles at Heinz, including Managing Director of Heinz Frozen Foods.

Jim Meiers has been President, Hain Celestial Personal Care and Chief Supply Chain Officer, Grocery, Snacks and Personal Care since 2009. Jim has overseen the company's 12 manufacturing plants, along with numerous co-packer and distribution facilities, and led the company's purchasing and procurement and productivity. These initiatives have increased year-over-year and resulted in savings of $25 million last year. Before joining Hain Celestial, Jim served in various operational roles at Heinz and Kraft. Thank you again for joining us, John, Jim and Mary.

And over to you, John.

John Carroll

Good afternoon. I'm very excited to talk to you about the Hain Celestial Group and our growth opportunities for the future. Of course, there's going to be forward-looking statements here. Look, at Hain Celestial, we always talk about this, right. Being natural and organic is at the heart of our company, right. We want to be the best marketer, manufacturer and supplier of natural and organic products, and we wanted -- we want to be the best by anticipating our consumers' needs and requirements and over delivering against them. Additionally, look, we want to do this in a way that is environmentally sound in terms of our business practices, as well as our manufacturing processes that Jim will talk about.

Hain Celestial U.S. in the FY '12 pro forma is a $1.7-billion company, not including the 2 joint ventures we're involved in: Hain Pure Protein, as well as our Asian joint venture, which is about $200 million in total there between the 2 of them. If you look at the Hain portfolio, 58% of it is -- comes from the U.S. About 30% of it comes from the U.K., and that's been a pretty major strategic shift for us, and we'll talk about that. I'm quite excited about where that can go, and the balance is in the rest of the world, Canada and Europe.

Look at the Hain global footprint, all right. We start first with North America. Our headquarters is in Melville, New York, about to move as of April 12 to Lake Success, New York, both of which are in Long Island. We have a regional headquarters up in Toronto for our Canadian unit. When you move to Europe, we have 2 headquarters. We have 1 for the U.K., which is in Leeds, as well as our European headquarters, which is in Brussels. And then we have an office out in Asia to support our joint venture there. All told, Hain Celestial U.S. has 5,000 employees and 24 manufacturing facilities.

In talking about key brands, and often a misconception about Hain is you've got too many brands. No, no. Let's focus here. We've got -- if you look at the U.S., we have 18 brands that support a $1-billion-plus business, and these 18 brands account for 80-plus-percent of the sales and even a greater percentage of the contribution. Importantly, several of these brands, brands like Celestial, Terra, Dream, these are brands that have become international brands for Hain Celestial. And you can see as I go through the rest of the brands of the company. Take a look at Canada, you see Dream, you see Terra, you see Celestial, you see MaraNatha, but you also seeing 2 brands that are -- that grew up in the Canadian market in Yves, as well as Europe's Best. So they complement the brands that we've transported from the U.S.

Go to the U.K. So again, you see Terra, you see -- and in this case, we have Dream here, but -- and Celestial as well. But in the U.K., you've got 2 new sets of brands, you've got the brands that came from the Daniels acquisition, brands like New Covent Gardens, the leading refrigerated soup; Farmhouse Fare, a leading refrigerated dessert; Johnson's Juice, a leading fresh juice brand, coupled with the brands we just picked up from Premier, brands like Hartley's, Sun-Pat, Gale's, Robertson's. Then last, in the Europe -- in the balance of Europe, you see, again some of the key brands from the U.S., Terra, Celestial, Dream, complements brands that we have in that area -- that geography, specifically brands like, Natumi, Danival, Lima.

Key customers. Now this has been a pretty interesting evolution. When I first came to the company, you could have stopped with Whole Foods, UNFI and KeHE, and that would have pretty much covered a great part of our sales. Now what you see about our customer list is 2 things: One, it's international. Clearly, with the U.K. and Europe and also with Loblaws coming in from Canada, we've gotten a much stronger international piece to our business. But the second piece -- and this is just as important. It's multichannel, right. It's not just natural and independents, it's conventional grocery, whether it be someplace like Tesco or Sainsbury or, in the U.S., Safeway, Kroger, Publix, it's also mass: Target, Walmart. It's also club. Costco and Sam's are part of our mix. And also e-tailers. Amazon is a top 10 customer for us. And let's not forget places -- specialty chains, for lack of a better term, places like Trader Joe's, places like Fairway, places like that. So what we've really seen is a broadening of our customer base, both geographically, as well as from a channel perspective.

Let's talk about the Hain Daniels U.K. strategic rationale. If you go back 2 years ago, Hain really did not have a footprint in the U.K. We had about a GBP 50-million business. We did not have the scale or the brands to really drive a business there. So over the last 2 years, we've made 2 strategic acquisitions. We bought the Daniels Group, which put us into leading categories within the chilled segment, which as you know in the U.K. is a very large segment. And the other thing we did was we bought Premier, because that put us into the ambient segment or what we probably call the shelf-stable segment.

By doing that, we now have enough scale. I think we're in the top 40 of food manufacturers in the U.K. now. But also, when we get done integrating these businesses, we will have a platform that will resemble, in some ways, the U.S. And importantly, with that platform, we will be able to: one, focus on the brands that we've acquired and drive them organically because organic growth is the underpinning of the company; and then second, look for bolt-on acquisitions like we have in the U.S. and add those to this platform and drive accelerated growth beyond the organic growth of the existing brands. And so what do we have? So we talk about -- you've got -- we've got a business focused on health, convenience and taste. In the U.K., it's not always about organic, it's about health and wellness. Second thing is we talked about the ambient and chilled brands, we bought category captains. We got 7 brands that are #1 in their category, 3 that are #2.

Talk about the wellness platform, but all including free-from so for example, gluten free is going to be a big initiative for us, taking from our U.S. learnings and driving that forward. We're going to -- Jim Meiers is going to talk to you about how we're going to leverage synergies from his global productivity task force, and we're going to export and import the best of each geography. In the U.K., they've now launched Greek Gods into Sainsbury. In the U.S., we launched the New Covent Gardens into a test market in Whole Foods. But I think the important piece here is, we've built a platform that has scale enough that it can compete. We bought brands that can -- that are leaders in their category. And now, we've got a platform that we can go forward with and look for bolt-on acquisitions to really accelerate growth.

And as you look here, basically, the U.K. portfolio now spans all meal parts. And whether it's our jams and jellies, whether it's our soups at lunch or our Linda McCartney products for dinner, every daypart can include the Hain Daniels U.K. business.

A quick look at where we are from a financial perspective. When you look at FY '12, we had record net sales, net income and earnings per diluted share. Net sales were up 24% to about $1.4 billion, the $1.7 billion I showed you was a pro forma. That ties back to the full year sales of the 2 acquisitions.

GAAP net income is up 44%, adjusted income up 34.7%. Importantly, I always look and say, "Are we getting leverage in the middle of the P&L?" So if the sales are up 24%, are we driving more into profit? And you can see in the income, we are doing that. Our diluted EPS is $1.73. Our adjusted EPS is $1.86, which is up 30-plus-percent. EBITDA increased 32% to $186 million, and our operating free cash flow reached $101.5 million, increasing by 115%.

And if you take a look at this chart here, look, this is consistent with the performance we've done since '10, right. You see 20-plus-percent growth in the top line, and you see almost 30-plus-percent growth in the adjusted EPS. And if you look at the first half, again, it's consistent with what we've been doing here. Net sales up 25.1%, GAAP income up 51%, adjusted net income up 38.7%. So again, getting leverage in the middle of the P&L. Basically, our adjusted diluted EPS is $1.12, adjusted EBITDA up 31% and operating income – I mean operating free cash flow up 47-plus-percent.

So let me now take this time to give you more insight into the business that Jim and I work on, which is the U.S., because we continue to believe that the U.S -- we're excited about what's going on in the U.K., we're excited what's going on in the rest of the geographies that we're in. But, boy, we think the U.S. has just gotten started and can really go further there.

We've worked on 5 core strategies since we got here: The first one is always about driving profitable top line growth, and I always say this same comment, right. If you're in the natural organic category in the U.S., anybody can drive top line growth. Anybody with a dream and a garage can drive top line growth here. Because you know what? The customers here are happy to take your money to drive sales, but it's got to be profitable. And to us, we -- our target is to drive mid- to high-single digit profitable top line growth.

Then the next piece is, look, we've got to be expanding our margin and improving our SG&A efficiency, so we're driving 100 -- we're driving 50 to 100 bps of margin improvement year-on-year. We look to increase our operating free cash flow. Look, in the last year, the U.S. paid -- worked with the rest of the company and paid off over $100 million in debt.

And then last but not least, we are always looking for the next accretive bolt-on acquisition. In our time, we've seen -- we've acquired brands like Imagine, like Spectrum, like MaraNatha, like Avalon natural products gave us Avalon and Alba, Greek Gods, Sensible Portions, all of which, if you look at the pro forma before we got it and the pro forma 18 months to 2 years afterwards, market improvement and good top line drivers as well.

Look at the Hain Celestial U.S., which now is even more apparent now as we do segment breakout. Net sales, 9%. The question is, "what's your organic growth rate?" In the U.S., it's 9% because there were no acquisitions in the year 2012 versus the previous year. So that's straight organic growth. Operating income at $150 million, up 15.1%. Operating income margin up 80 bps. So what are we talking about, mid- to high-single digit topline growth, working the middle of the P&L to find 50 to 100 bps, double-digit operating income and double-digit-plus cash flow.

Look at the first half of '13. Again, net sales up 9.4%, operating income up 14%, driven the leverage there because we drove 90 bps of margin improvement. So if you look at this, you say it's good momentum, what's the outlook for the future? Why should you say, look, I believe that this business can continue to perform as it's performing. And I guess that -- usually, they ask, "Are you still bullish about your business?" And the answer is, "Yes, we're really bullish about our business, all right?" And of course, we have [indiscernible] reinforce that point.

Why are we bullish? First, we're in a non-trend category. Look, I -- the Fresh Market had this and we hear this about this, look, at the end of the day, the consumers want more natural and organic products. Retailers want more natural and organic products because even with a blip here or there, they still see those Whole Foods comps, and they want to figure out how they get there. Second thing is, and I'll give you more data on this one, our U.S. consumption trend. They continue to be very strong and they're a function of our strong innovation pipeline and what we call our distribution whitespace progress.

Third thing is we made an -- after that -- sorry, the fourth thing and fifth thing is our blueprint acquisition, which I'll talk about. And then, I'll turn the room over to Jim Meiers, who will give you a sense of our productivity function, which has been very effective in expanding our margin. Our consumption trends. Last 12 weeks -- don't ask me 4 weeks, but the 4 weeks were actually better. But at the end of the day, you should focus on 12 because that's a better review of your business. We're up 8, the channel's up 1.7.

Look at our 2-year stacks, we're up 20, channel is up 5.4. So look, the business continues to grow nicely. Why is it growing? Because we've got a very strong innovation pipeline. If you look at our growth, and you say, "What part comes from what?" We believe about 40% of our growth comes from distribution gains, 40% comes from innovation and the balance comes from velocity and rate. So if you look here, this innovation pipeline that we've got continues to be strong. We look at Celestial, Celestial tea Snooz shots, Sleepytime Snooz shots. How better could you fit with the Sleepytime equity, which is the leading equity in the herbal tea business? Snooz, which is in every Walmart across the country right now. Also, Sleepytime Echinacea Complete Care, so taking the great Sleepytime equity and bringing it into Wellness Teas, where you look and you say, "This is a product you take before you go to bed at night."

Greek Gods, been a great success for us, on a run rate this year to do $100 million. We're now bringing it into a drinkable kefir. And again, we're going to remain true to the keys about Greek Gods, which are Greek Gods is going to always have an indulgent profile. We are not a 10 for 10 strained yogurt. We are an indulgent delicious product, and so you'll get an indulgent kefir. Personal Care. We've got a good and clean product launch that's going against teens with our Alba line, and then also a hair mask. These are items that are big in conventional, but not having a presence right now in natural that our group is bringing over.

I'll click through the rest pretty quickly, but give you a couple of highlights here, right. So on MaraNatha -- on grocery, our MaraNatha business has been on fire. Coconut's been on fire. So you got almond and coconut, 2 very hot trends, put them together, coconut almond butter. Also, you see here super fruits coming into EB, Earth's Best, in our new pouch packaging. Dream latte, okay. Listen, at the end of the day, Dream latte in a single-serve container is probably the most exciting news we've seen on the Dream side in a really long time. And then lastly, our Snacks business. There's a bunch of different products that are coming out, but the one I want to point out to you is Chia is red hot. Our Garden of Eatin' business is growing double digits since we restaged it 2 years ago. Put Chia and Garden of Eatin' together and come out with a Chia Tortilla, and that's what's coming out. So we feel pretty good that we have a very strong innovation queue to keep growing the top line.

The other piece we feel very good about is our sales re-arc, which is, look, we're in year 2. And we put together 8 key accountings and you can see the accounts from Whole Foods to mass customers to grocery customers and to specialty customers, like a Toys 'R' Us, Babies 'R' Us. We know this is working too. Our key account teams account for 60% of our sales. The consumption index on these counts is up 11. The distribution index on these accounts is up 7. Before we put these teams together and reorganized our sales force, we were not making headway against the key customers.

So 2 things happened here: One, we figured out the customers we want to bet on, and the second thing is we reorganized so we could meet those customers' needs. And as a result, it's lifting the overall business. Our consumption index last 52 weeks is up 9, and we're seeing a 5% increase in distribution. And there's still room for us to go. When you look at this and you say, "Hey, how much more can this business grow?" Look, right now, and I always say this, our top 100 SKUs average 32% ACV in the AOC channel. A year ago, that was 28%, 29%. Every -- if we get this business up to 35% ACV, that drives $70 million in incremental retail sales. Go all the way up to 50%, it drives $270 million in incremental retail sales. That's our focus is to drive our business, our core SKUs and our best innovation to 50% ACV for the top 100 and then continue to drive beyond that. We do that, it will strongly drive the top line.

Now that's all about organic growth. Then there's a way, what are you going to do to accelerate the top line. And what we want to find are strategic acquisitions. And we always -- listen, we've always found good acquisitions. I listed for you 6 of them before, and we've executed against them. We deliver what we promise in terms of top line, as well as expanding margin, driving the bottom line. So our latest one is a line called BluePrint. BluePrint, it's on trend, it's high growth, it's a bolt-on acquisition. There's a real trend going on here about cold-pressed -- fresh cold-pressed juice, and BluePrint, we believe, can be a terrific vehicle for this, a premium vehicle. Because first of all, BluePrint is rooted in cleanse. That's where it came from. It's a direct-to-consumer business where people order 1 day and 3 day cleanses. But in addition, these juices can be -- we have a line of juices that can be drank every day.

So we think we're going to drive great top line growth opportunities. Right now, the only place you can find BluePrint is in some stores in New York City area, 7 of 11 Whole Foods regions and just a couple other places. Right now, what we want – Fresh Direct being one of them. What we want to do is let's fill out the Whole Foods distribution, let's get into the key independent naturals and let's drive grocery distribution against the strategic grocery customers that make sense for an item like this. The other thing is Jim Meiers's going to take -- he's already taken over the supply chain there, and we're going to drive margin expansion like we've done on all the other lines, and he'll talk to you about how we've done that in the past.

So I'm going to turn this over to Jim, and he'll take you through our productivity function.

James R. Meiers

Thank you, John. Good afternoon, everybody. What I'm going to take you through is I'm going to take you through the Hain Celestial supply chain and what we're doing to drive margin improvement. Something that's very key to what we're doing is productivity, okay. And let me tell you, we -- at Hain, we have a very structured productivity process. Basically, what we have is on an annual basis, we have 50 to 60 people that get together, that meet, identify key projects to help reduce cost. And look, this isn't just some operations people and quality people, this is cross-functional. We have sales, marketing, R&D, tech services. And the key is they spend 2 to 3 days identifying key projects. And then from there, it doesn't end. It's all about handing those projects off to smaller teams. And those smaller teams basically see that through implementation.

So when you look at our productivity, we're going to deliver over $24 million in productivity this year. I can tell you, my -- from an operating standpoint, my objective every year is to reduce COGS by 3% to 4%, okay. So since 2010, we're up 27%. Let me tell you, to deliver over $24 million in productivity, basically, you got to have a pipeline much greater than that. You got to have $35 million or plus because you're always going to have projects that you're going to add on and projects that are going to fall off the chart. So let me take you through some of the things that we're working on in terms of the productivity for this year. And let me tell you, I think our outlook for the future years, we still have a lot of runway to go.

In terms of manufacturing, when we look at manufacturing, a couple of key projects. The first one that we did is basically bringing our Earth's Best cereal to a domestic supplier, which drove a huge number of savings. Second is our EB pouch, okay. EB pouches, we basically brought into self-manufacture. Our strategy at Hain, as it relates to capital investment, is basically, we invest capital behind the sales curve, not ahead of it. So in other words, when we launch pouches, we basically -- we didn't know how big the price was. So what we did is we went to co-pack first. And now, we've gone to self-manufacturing. We've installed a pouch line in our West Chester, Pennsylvania facility. And we're only producing just under 50% of our pouches there. So when we talk about future opportunity, we definitely have runway there.

Another area within manufacturing is value engineering, and value engineering basically is looking at alternate, whether it's ingredients or processes, that can reduce our overall cost. I'll give you a good example of that. Our Imagine soups basically are made with fresh vegetables that are precut, and there we pay a premium to have them precut. We basically take them, and we purée them into soups. So we sat down with our supplier and went through it and basically, came up with a random cut that we were able to take out a very substantial amount of cost as it relates to that. And by the way, not affecting the quality in terms of cheapening the quality. Value engineering is not cheapening the product, it's adding value and lowering cost.

The other area we look at is plant utilization or our -- how we can maximize our assets. Two key areas: In terms of our Snacks business, on our Terra brand, basically, our sweet potato product was on fire. We needed more capacity. We were looking at West Coast. We have a facility in Moonachie, New Jersey. And what we did is we basically took them to a 6- and 7-day operation. The other one is our Ashland, where we produce our MaraNatha nut butters. Our consumption is indexing in the high 120s, and we were basically -- we had some stock issues. What we did is we took that facility to a 24/7 operation. That basically drove 30% more volume through that facility with adding very little fixed cost.

The other area we look at is logistics, and I basically have a saying that you need to constantly optimize your network. Just when you get done with optimizing, it's time to start over again. A couple of the key projects that we worked on is, in the Northwest, we had 4 distribution centers that were distributing our Spectrum, our Imagine and our MaraNatha brands. We've consolidated down to 2, and the plan is, in the next year, we'll consolidate to 1. In terms of our Earth's Best jar and pouch distribution, basically our pouches were all being produced in Canada and we were shipping them to our multiple DCs. Our jars are produced in Pittsburgh. And now, what we do is we reproduce our pouches, send them all to Pittsburgh, and we're consolidating with our jar business.

So as we look at '14 and beyond, I'm very confident that we're going to be able to continue to drive 3% to 4% COGS savings based on the projects now that we have in the pipeline. When you look at manufacturing, as I said, we've gone to self-manufacturing. We started up our line in October. Phase 2 of that is really looking at putting another line in. We're only -- we're producing less than 50%, that's a no-brainer. We're getting ready to write the CapEx on that. The other one is just how the pouches are formed and bought today. We're looking at potentially just buying roll stock and internalizing that process right in line.

In terms of our Terra business and our snack business, currently, all of our Terra products are produced in Moonachie, New Jersey. So everything going out west -- we're shipping everything out west. We're looking at -- we're working on a deal right now in terms of West Coast manufacturing.

And also, when you look at utilization, one of the acquisitions we had 2 years ago was the Sensible Portions, and that facility is located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We have just gone through a process in terms of -- let me just back up a second, with every acquisition -- and I'll talk about BluePrint in a minute. But with every acquisition, there's some basic fundamentals that we run into that. They're basically running 7 days a week. Their throughputs and efficiencies are very low, too many SKUs. And what we do is we go in and basically get all those things in line, get them to a 5-day, increase the throughputs and then we start to invest the capital. That's what we've done with Lancaster and we plan to expand from there. We're going to look at plant consolidation. Are there a combination of factories that we can consolidate into 1? And given our demand on nut butters, we need to look at -- we need more capacity on nut butters. We're looking at an East Coast option there.

In terms of logistics, the big one is our California distribution center, where the majority of our products are distributed from. Very costly to operate out of California. We're looking at a -- some alternate options there. And then sourcing in terms of the ingredients that we're buying. Value engineering continues to be a key lever for us. And then also, as we look at the acquisitions -- I mean, BluePrint, basically we took that over in December. There's a lot of opportunity in terms of taking cost out there, in terms of the fruits and vegetables that we buy as well as packaging material.

So, good. I'll turn it back to John.

John Carroll

Okay. I'm going to close this up. And I'm going to just ask the questions you're asking. So why should I buy Hain today, right? Okay. First, we've got a good brand portfolio that's well-positioned in natural and organic and wellness. Okay. Top 20 brands, account for 70% of our sales, those are brands we focus on. And we've got strong number 1s or number 2s in our respective categories. Second thing is, look, it's geographically diversified now. At this point you got 60% in the U.S. and roughly 40%, whether it be Canada, U.K. or Europe.

All right. Let's talk about the U.K. We really believe the U.K. is poised for growth now. We weren't going to grow the way we used to be. We didn't have the scale, didn't have the brands, we weren't ready to do it. And now, you've got scale in 2 key categories, you've got leading brands. And as Irwin has said previously, we're going to invest in those brands because previous owners, especially Premier, did not invest to drive those brands. We're going to build a strong innovation queue. That's what Hain has been always about since Irwin started the company. And as I said to you, 40% of our growth is coming straight from innovation. So we think that we're going to see same thing in the U.K. Jim's going to bring his productivity function over there to really start driving some productivity savings, and then what I don't have listed here, once we've got that platform, it's time to bolt on some acquisitions.

And then, last but not least, the U.S. and here. I always say the U.S. alone can support the stock price where it is today. Especially now that you look at the segment. Here's what you got in the U.S. You continue to see strong consumption trends, you saw we have a strong pipeline. We introduced 70 new products at Expo West last week. We've got distribution white space. But more importantly, we're executing against it, we're actually driving distribution gains.

BluePrint, that fits the type of acquisition we look for. It's got a strong natural piece. We can drive it to the rest of natural, we can drive it through grocery and strategic customers. And along the way, Jim's group is going to drive costs out of that. And then last but not least, look, you're always going to have cost challenges in this industry because you're buying natural and organic ingredients with the supply challenges and things like that. Look, that's why you need a strong productivity function, that's one thing that differentiates Hain Celestial from most of the other players in the category.

So with that, David, I'll turn it over to you.

David Palmer - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

We will handle this as a fireside chat, if you don't mind, and perhaps, invite Jim up to sit up with us. We already got one question from the audience. If you see these cards, please do write your questions on them. I'd be happy to ask the questions of John and Jim.

Question-and-Answer Session

David Palmer - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

First question is how does Hain deal with keeping both Walmart

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