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Kid Brands, Inc. (NYSE:KID)

Q1 2013 Earnings Conference Call

May 21, 2013 2:00 pm ET

Executives

Raphael Benaroya - President and Chief Executive Officer

Guy Paglinco - Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Jennifer Milan - Investor Relations, FTI Consulting

Analysts

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

James Fronda - Sidoti & Company

Arnold Brief - Goldsmith and Harris

Operator

Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Kid Brands, Inc. Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question and answer session and instructions will follow at that time. Any reproduction of this call in whole or in part is not permitted without prior express written authorization of the Company. As a reminder, ladies and gentlemen, this conference is being recorded.

I would now like to introduce your host for today’s conference, Ms. Jennifer Milan of FTI Consulting. Please go ahead.

Jennifer Milan

Thank you, operator. Good morning everyone and welcome to Kid Brands, Inc. first quarter 2013 conference call. If you have not viewed the related press release and would like to receive one by email, please call FTI Consulting at 212-850-5600 and someone will send one to you immediately. Additionally, the earnings release and this webcast can be accessed on the Company’s website at kidbrands.com. The webcast of the call will be archived online shortly after the conference call for 90 days.

We will begin the call with comments from management and then we will open up the line for questions. Before we begin, we would like to remind everyone of the cautionary language regarding forward-looking statements contained in the press release. That same language applies to comments made on this morning’s conference call.

Now, I would like to turn the call over to Raphael Benaroya, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company. Raphael, go ahead please.

Raphael Benaroya

Thank you, Jen, and good afternoon everybody. I'm pleased to join you all today to discuss our first quarter 2013 results as well as our priorities for the remainder of the year. We will keep our comments relatively brief today as we had a lengthy discussion on our status and plans just a few weeks ago during our year-end call. Following my remarks, I will turn the call over to Guy Paglinco, our CFO, who will provide financial details as well as some additional color on the numbers. Kerry Carr, our COO, is here with me today and will be available to answer any questions you may have.

Let us start. On our previous calls, I spoke of the transformation we've been undertaking. Very briefly, I spoke of the meaningful reduction of expenses and headcount, a reduction of inventory, discontinuation of low-volume non-performing products and underperforming brands, as well as discontinuation of the money-losing operations in the U.K. I also spoke of leveraging and indeed reinventing our operational platform to achieve efficiencies and cost cutting.

We have also started the repositioning of our sales organization in accordance with our plan to develop a more diversified customer base to reduce our dependency on a few large customers. I also reported on a talent buildup we have undertaken recently as well as our work to secure a credit line to replace an existent facility and improve our financial flexibility. Building on these initiatives, our first quarter results indicate an improvement in several areas over the same period last year and we continue to make progress in transforming and improving the business.

Our net sales for the quarter were $51.4 million versus $55 million or so last year, while our three largest accounts, BRU, Walmart and Target, held their sales during the first quarter. Compared to the same period last year, there was a decline in other accounts including specialty and web, primarily at the soft home business units where we have gone through a reorganization of the rep team.

Further, we anticipated to some degree Q1 sales to be lower than last year, due in part to certain discontinued brands of product lines and the closure of the U.K. operation in the end of 2012, and expected sales of excess inventory. However, we are optimistic that our efforts at rationalizing our product offering and our focus on innovating core products and penetrating underdeveloped customers and channels will gain traction.

For Q1, our blended cost of product as a percent of sales also improved relative to last year coming in better than we expected and 130 basis points better than the first quarter of last year. This led to gross margin improvement with our gross profit percentage 50 basis points better than the first quarter of last year.

Expenses were further reduced as a percentage of net sales. SG&A was 180 basis points lower than the first quarter of last year. This resulted in income from operation of $0.6 million for the first quarter of 2013 compared to a loss from operations of $0.7 million for the first quarter of 2012. I anticipate that we'll have further expense reduction in 2013.

Lastly, our ongoing effort in inventory management yielded positive results, inventory of $32:8 million at quarter end versus $43.8 million at the end of the first quarter of 2012. Here, our new inventory management process that we discussed in other calls help ensure adherence to fairly rigid targets that we set for ourselves and we believe will continue to help us to better manage our working capital as we go forward.

As I look to our individual businesses, we continue to have mix results in my view. We will remain focus on innovating product design as well as pursuing selling targets in web, specialty, clubs, international and other underperforming distribution channels. Let me cover each one of them separately.

Our Sassy business had a significant increase in net sales over last year, chiefly driven by gains with our three largest accounts. Importantly, new Sassy products have been doing well under both the Sassy brand as well as under our licensed Carter's and Disney brands. For instance, new products such as Playmate's Sippy Cups and bath products, all showing promise and giving these early indications, we remain encouraged about Sassy's results for the remainder of the year.

At LaJobi, sales for the first quarter were lower than the first quarter of 2012, primarily due to lost business at certain key retailers, BRU and Target, which were only partially offset by gains in others. We continue to place great emphasis here on the lower priced product in the right proportion to high end ones in order to better align the product offering with overall customer demand.

Lastly as I turn to soft home, sales for the first quarter were down to the first quarter of 2012, with modest growth at certain key customers and the Internet offset by decline at smaller retailers including the specialty store channel. I spoke before about the reorganization that was necessary to position the rep team serving the specialty channel. This has just been completed, taken place very recently. The soft home is also building up their in-house sales team to extend their reach to mostly still underdeveloped customers beyond the traditional top few customers they've had.

For the remainder of 2013, we are focusing on the following areas. As I said before, number one is sales, top line. We intend to continue to build and motivate our sales organization and focus on diversifying our distribution channels and broadening business into both new and existing customers. Secondly, margins. We intend to continue the work on reducing product cost, I believe there is some more room there, wherever possible, while working to improve other elements affecting margin such as inbound shipping and cost of sales. Next, product. We'll continue to strengthen our creative talent throughout the Company, there is more to do there in order to achieve superior product development and more frequently introduce innovation in products.

Next comes operations. We've discussed at length in the prior calls that we have many efforts underway to focus on the areas of cost reduction, improving operating process, margin discipline, speed to market, leveraging economies of scales, and we've been driving towards more robust and standardised processes across the business units as well as working to strengthen even more operational controls while bringing greater visibility into financial and operating metrics. In this regard, I'm pleased to report that we completed the implementation of the unified information technology platform as well as the reporting platform during the first quarter and that gives us a much greater insight into many aspects of the business.

And finally, talent. We continue to have I said development of skills and talent to improve our collective capability. I mentioned in our last call, we've addressed numerous issues, skills and talent throughout the business. Bolstering our teams with a number of new hires and internal promotions, we believe we've already made good strides and we'll continue to build to create an A team.

As we work to leverage operational capabilities across the business units, we continue to execute and make progress on enterprise-wide plan to unify discipline and capability of the platform where we deem advantageous. The primary objective is to create operating platforms that are cost-effective and efficient operationally and moreover scalable for long-term growth. While there is still a lot of work to be done, I'm pleased with the substantial amount of progress that have been made so far, and over time, we hope to achieve better sales, strong margin, and lower expenses.

Now, I'd like to also add a word about our bank amendment, Guy will talk about it in more detail, and refer you also to the 10-Q where it is described in detail. Reported in our press release, we've modifies our credit agreement to what I believe on more favorable terms including a more favorable financial covenant level for most of the remainder of 2013, and maybe I should wait and let Guy to give more details in this regard.

I would like to turn the call over to Guy, our CFO, for a detailed review of our first quarter financials, and then of course, everybody here, and as I said to you Kerry is here as well, our COO, as well as Marc, our Counsel, that we all will be available to answer any questions you may have. Guy, please.

Guy Paglinco

Thanks, Raphael. Details of our results are available on our first quarter 10-Q which was filed last night, and our press release which was issued before the market opened this morning. I encourage you to review these documents for more detail.

I'd like to provide some additional financial insight to a few specific areas of our results for the first quarter 2013. Despite a continued challenging environment, we realized some successes, as Raphael mentioned, in the first quarter of 2013 as compared to the same period the last year. While the net sales for the first quarter of 2013 declined by $3.8 million, sales of our top line three customers stabilized for the quarter ended March 31, 2013 compared to the prior year. Net sales for each of these top three customers were approximately the same in absolute dollars for this quarter as they were in Q1 2012 and increased to 61.2% of net sales as compared to the 56.8% in the prior year period. Overall, encouraged by these results.

As Raphael noted, our gross profit margin for the quarter ended March 31, 2013 was 28.0%, up 50 basis points from Q1 2012 and up on a sequential basis from the gross profit margin of 24.8% recorded in the fourth quarter of 2012. This 320 basis point improvement in gross margin reflect the impact of various programs and initiatives that we've been discussing on prior calls combined with lower customer allowances as noted earlier for Q1 of 2013.

SG&A expense for Q1 2013 totaled $13.8 million or 26.9% of net sales as compared to $15.9 million or 28.7% of net sales for Q1 2012, notwithstanding the fact that this line item continues to contain certain and special charges the impact of which are excluded to derive non-GAAP adjusted net income which is detailed in our press release. Our SG&A expenses are being tightly managed and the initiatives that we have been discussing on prior calls are starting to have an impact, resulting in a decrease in SG&A expenses both in absolute terms and as a percentage of net sales.

We delivered operating income from operations of $0.6 million in the March 2013 quarter as compared to a loss from operations of $0.6 million in the March 2012 quarter or a $1.2 million improvement as a result of the items noted above. Other expense of $1.5 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2013 on a year-over-year basis are up by $0.9 million from the prior year, primarily due to higher interest cost and an unfavorable variance in foreign currency exchange. As a result of our margin improvements and control over expenses, adjusted net income as noted in our press release was $0.02 per diluted share for both the March 2013 and 2012 quarters, notwithstanding the decrease in sales during Q1 2013.

Turning briefly to the balance sheet, as noted on prior calls, we've been aggressively managing our inventory and continue to make progress in this area. During the quarter ended March 31, 2013, we were successful in reducing our inventory levels by $11 million, or a decrease of 25.1% reduction, to $32.8 million from the March 31, 2012 levels, and a reduction of $7.1 million or 17.8% from December 31, 2012 levels. We're encouraged by these positive results and remain internally focused on inventory management and have started to see the fruits of these efforts. Over time, we anticipate that our new initiatives in this area will help us improve inventory turns and reduce the need for reserves and markdowns, all of which are intended to help improve margins and working capital over time.

Turning to cash and liquidity, we ended the first quarter of 2013 with outstanding bank debt of $52.1 million which represents a $5.4 million decrease of bank debt during the quarter. As of March 31, 2013, our loan availability was $10.7 million and we were in compliance with the financial covenants under our credit agreement. However, as described in detail in our Q1 2013 10-Q, the Company believes that it will be unlikely to remain in compliance with this adjusted EBITDA covenant for the month ended April 30, 2013 and potentially certain future months.

As a result, our credit agreement was amended on May 16, 2013 to alter the requirements from monthly testing to quarterly testing of this covenant unless and until specific trigger events occur and to reduce the minimum adjusted EBITDA levels required for all but the last trailing twelve-month period ended December 31, 2013. Additionally, this amendment increased the amount of certain permissible add-backs to net income in the calculation of this measure. We believe that this amendment provides us with additional flexibility in 2013 as we continue to work to improve the business.

In closing, while the first quarter remained challenging and we recognize there's a lot more work to be done, we continue to make progress on our initiatives aimed at improving and building our business. We remain optimistic that the benefits of our actions will gain traction and look forward to building on this progress throughout the remainder of 2013.

Now, I'd like to turn the call back to Raphael. Rafael?

Raphael Benaroya

Thank you, Guy. I think we should open the floor to questions and then I'll make some concluding remarks. Jen, please.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions) First question will come from Sean McGowan with Needham and Company.

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

Just have a couple of questions. First, just to clarify, when you say sales by customer, all of the top three customers were up, I assume you mean in aggregate?

Raphael Benaroya

In the aggregate for all business units. It's for some time that we're not seeing now a decrease to the previous period. And as you've correctly stated, I mean when you aggregate them, they were above, slightly ever so slightly above last year. With me, I'm hoping that it's an arrest of the decline or the loss of their market shares or whatever the case may be.

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

Even if it's just baby stuff (indiscernible)?

Raphael Benaroya

Obviously, I mean if you stop the decline…

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

Yes, that's a win.

Raphael Benaroya

Yes.

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

But in terms of what to expect for the balance of the year from these specialty accounts, do you think there's something that's going to extend well into the balance of the year or is that more like…?

Raphael Benaroya

The nature of our sales is fairly lumpy and that's not only for us but it's typical in this industry, especially when you deal with a very large account. So, in answer to your question and looking at the programs we have ahead of us, I can answer fairly optimistically. But at the same time, I may add a word of caution that it can shift from quarter to quarter or from month to month. I mean a one week difference at the end of the month or the end of the quarter of placing very large orders in quarter X versus quarter Y can actually tip the metrics with the end of any period. But overall, I'm looking forward to a fairly good balance going forward.

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

Okay. Couple of questions for Guy I think. Guy, could you give us an update on the issue of that receivable and how that's reflected in the balance sheet, because it seems like the allowance at the end of March is actually less than the allowance was at the end of December, so I just want to understand where that whole issue stands, what do you expect to happen, how is it showing up, et cetera?

Guy Paglinco

Yes, how are we showing, I assume you're talking about our trade receivables and the allowances that will offset against receivables, is that correct?

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

Yes.

Guy Paglinco

Okay. For the most part, we talked about there was a decrease in the programs during the March quarter and that's basically reflected when you take a look at this $4.3 million, okay, versus the $5.8 million. Now, are we talking about that or are we talking about the issue that we dealt with last quarter in regards to Walmart, Sean?

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

I was taking about that, is that now fully out of the picture, is that all been resolved?

Guy Paglinco

Oh, the Walmart, basically it's still under investigation, we collected a portion of it, and there's additional work that's basically underway. So we believe, to say again as we did prior, we're adequately reserved with it, but again it hasn't been finalized for us right now.

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

So that's what I got from the release but in the balance sheet, when you see the net receivable that's showing there, I'm a little surprised that the allowance is lower given the fact that you've already taken an allowance for this, right, I mean because it's just charged off?

Guy Paglinco

Yes, I mean there's a few things going on, Sean. One is that we talked about – I mean first of all we have lower sales for the first thing on a year-over-year basis and even as compared to the December quarter, okay, so when you take a look at those allowances that are being shown here, the $4.3 million measures against the March period versus the December period because the $5.8 million we had to $57.9 million, so substantially more of receivables. So having said that, if someone align, again we had a portion of it for our return program with Walmart in there and it's adequately reserved right now.

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

So if it gets resolved to your satisfaction and the way you think it should be resolved, how will that show up for us?

Guy Paglinco

It will no impact on the results.

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

Okay, but how will it show up on the balance sheet, will there be any visible change there?

Guy Paglinco

No, because I mean you'll see a reduction maybe about of $400,000 in that allowance.

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

Thank you for that clarity then. And last one for you, Guy, the tax treatment for this year, should we expect no provision in any quarter or is that only for quarter where there's a loss or, help us understand how that's going to play out?

Guy Paglinco

Yes, as you know, last year we took just about a full valuation just about on all of our deferred tax assets. So when you take a look, and to refresh everybody on the call's memory, we have excess tax amortization over book in that $13 million to $15 million range that basically shelters any type of taxes. So as far as we're not going to probably be in a taxpaying position, you also probably can expect total taxes being in that $200,000 to $300,000 range for the full year, Sean, for the full year as far as a provision, yes.

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

Okay. And then you would switch back to showing a provision for taxes at some future period of sustained profitability, is that the way that works?

Guy Paglinco

Yes, you sound like an accountant now. Yes, that is correct. Over the next year definitely as far as – and you're right, if at some point in time we will then take down that valuation allowance which would generate income and then you sort of see them sort of going back to the more conventional way.

Sean McGowan - Needham and Company

So I guess to my last question, you can handle it or let Raphael handle it, does this mean that you don't expect to have a pre-tax profit for the year?

Guy Paglinco

No, I didn't say that, Sean.

Raphael Benaroya

We didn't say that.

Guy Paglinco

Yes, I didn't say that basically, it's just really as far as the treatment I talked about being sheltered from that standpoint as far as the tax amortization excess of book in that $13 million to $15 million range alone, so when I was making that reference about not paying any taxes, that's what I was talking about.

Operator

Our next analyst is James Fronda with Sidoti & Company.

James Fronda - Sidoti & Company

What are you guys doing so well I guess with your Sassy segment that's have performed over the other segments?

Raphael Benaroya

Basically they are better positioned in both products and product development and sales.

James Fronda - Sidoti & Company

Okay, and I guess can you discuss I guess a little more in detail I guess on how much, how you're expecting to improve those other segments other than what you said on the call?

Raphael Benaroya

Basically we are really taking steps in all areas. I believe that the most important ones remaining is really product and sales. I mean I'm not happy yet with the degree of improvements that we've made. The challenges we have there is to continuously [freshen] (ph) up the product line, and as I said before, in soft, we need a larger sales organization in order to hit on a larger number of customers that I believe are going to be at the root of our success going forward. We changed the rep organization to match, cover geographically the country, and do what we have to do in order to address what I believe is an important channel, which is the specialty, and improve our design capabilities at both companies.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Next, we move to Arnold Brief with Goldsmith and Harris.

Arnold Brief - Goldsmith and Harris

You've on a number of occasions expressed some optimism about sales improving in the second half, giving us some reason in terms of adding salespeople. Could you give us some idea how many were added and how the rep business has changed, because you talk about specialty but the factors in the other category, you still have major chains like Buy Buy Baby and Burlington and a couple of others that are fairly large chains that are carrying probably a fairly significant portion of that? More specifically, you had some soft product being tested at Walmart, is that being rolled out, could you give us some idea if you have any new products coming out as opposed to just (inaudible), what effort with new customers…? I mean you referred to the sales in the second half has been better second time but you really haven't given us much color on what's going on there?

Raphael Benaroya

Okay, let's parse this question. Let's start with the product, okay. In LaJobi, we are shipping some new collection to our major customers in the third quarter. We are never going to neglect the top customer, this is not one in lieu of the other, but really expanding what we believe are important customers and important channels. We are shipping new Bonavita collections, which is a better product. We are developing more of the value product in the Graco cribs of two key accounts. We are selling at new opening price point at Graco cribs at several major retailers in Q3. These are just a few examples that we have. We did a couple of totally new product lines which we are hoping to debut in the ABC Show this year. So I'm kind of trying not to kind of lay out competitively more details than that but looking throughout the line and positioning the line numerically to fit demand in terms of good, better, best and at the same time coming up with new products.

At Sassy, each one of the Sassy brands, both Carter's, Disney and of course Sassy, is continuously developing new products. In the Sassy toy, the play mat is doing absolutely terrific, with their new concept which also launched, called Non-sters, is doing well. The comp sales for Sassy and Disney continue to grow due to distribution and new product introduction. We have some special promotions for the several holidays in the fourth quarter. We have very positive comments we can make on design and development of gear products including seat positioners, and also feeding and bath business, we're building them as we go forward. So I'd say that we have a fairly positive outlook. By the way, Sassy is growing handsomely in the key players and key retailers.

I'll cover soft home, the [private] (ph) license, the product is performing well, we have some new introductions coming up in this regard that – two key accounts and we have some new products of Disney that are doing absolutely terrific and showing a great promise which I splitted out in the (indiscernible) and that's absolutely terrific. I cannot share the number but there's a very large number of bestseller in key accounts that were scored in the soft home division that gives us encouragement as we look forward and begin to think about reorders.

Also we are launching the new line at Walmart, Graco Basics line, and we kind of cross our fingers and hope that this is going to do as well as we expect it to do and will be an important new account for soft home, and there's also several tests underway with totally other channel of the clubs. I mean I can go on but I'm trying to restrain myself because there's a lot of work being done, I mean there's no assurance that it will all be successful but I feel that we as a company has a strategy (indiscernible) with a robust introduction and attention to new product and have fairly robustly producing high-value output from the design departments on an ongoing basis in product packaging and everything else.

Now as with the sales organization, was that a part of your question? I really don’t want to get into specific numbers of organization chart. Suffice to say as follows. We recognize that the business is undergoing a transition from a few large accounts to call it a diversified account base. Therefore we have more hands and more minds I mean to actually cover the increased portfolio of customers that we're trying to reach, and we're addressing it in two ways, one is the rep organization that will reach deep into the country and into the smaller customers which I still think are important, we're enhancing the sales executives that have to cover the big customers and we are adding salespeople to extend their reach into other channels, some of them have to be specialized in terms of knowledge such as the web, and I'm hoping that we'll get the full complement of what I envisioned as the right sales organization soon.

Arnold Brief - Goldsmith and Harris

Do you anticipate any extension of the Disney and Carter's license due to what's transpiring at one of your competitors?

Raphael Benaroya

I don't want to relate to what's happening with one of the competitors but I think that we have a continuous program on trying to grow with the expectation of the licensor as well, and if we know how to expand something, we're not going to sit back and not do it. I'll give you one example, Sassy bath is a new addition in the Disney category within Sassy and we took it and we are going forward with it.

Arnold Brief - Goldsmith and Harris

If you could just, what is the product line of the Disney Sassy bath, the number of SKUs, is it one or two products you're testing, is it a full-on product line in the bath area?

Raphael Benaroya

Arnold, I'm going to get you into our product development meetings you know. It's several products and there's a couple of very important products like number one, number two is number four, I mean the kind of spread between the top one and the others, alright, and I'll talk about it on specific calls out and that's what I hope…

Arnold Brief - Goldsmith and Harris

Just two other questions quickly. Do we see any benefits on these efforts in the sales area to improve sales showing up in the second quarter or is it all in the second half?

Raphael Benaroya

I would say it's the second half because if you get a new organization, you get new people on board, I mean it takes some time to actually make and to get intimate with the product line and with the customer and the idea is that I would count more on the second half.

Arnold Brief - Goldsmith and Harris

And lastly, you've talked a number of times about further efficiencies both on the cost of goods sold line and the SG&A line, could you give us some idea to what extent those are still in front of us versus what's been realized, if we look at another percentage point in the operating margin from a couple of million dollars, or is it more or is it less, just a ballpark on how it feels?

Raphael Benaroya

In the ballpark, it's there, I mean a couple of million dollars I believe are there.

Arnold Brief - Goldsmith and Harris

Last question, it's sort of a minor point but I'm just wondering if there's any developments with the TRC at all that would get you here some cash generation?

Raphael Benaroya

We are weighing a proposal that we have but I'm not ready to talk about it yet.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) That's all the time we have for further questions. Please continue with any closing remarks.

Raphael Benaroya

Again, I'd like to thank everybody for joining the call and again to express my conviction that there's tremendous amount of work that's being done here and all for the purpose of getting the right value that I believe this Company deserves and believe that these benefits will become even more evident as the year unfolds, and beyond of course. So, I'd like again to thank you and we'll talk again shortly, I guess with the end of second quarter.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude our conference call for today. You may all disconnect and thank you for participating.

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