Alan Wilson - Chief Executive Officer
Malcolm Swift - President, Europe, Middle East and Africa
Gordon Stetz - Chief Financial Officer
Andrew Lazar - Barclays Capital
McCormick & Company, Incorporated (MKC) Barclays Back-to-School Conference Call September 3, 2012 1:30 PM ET
Andrew Lazar - Barclays Capital
Okay. If everybody could just find their seats, we will kick off our next presentation. Okay, despite a difficult broader sort of food industry operating environment, McCormick continues to deliver strong top line results across its consumer segment, which also offset some lingering challenges coming as a result across our foodservice environment. For us, recent acquisitions in emerging markets continue to give the company’s visibility to future growth. We are excited to welcome CEO, Alan Wilson; President of Europe, Middle East and Africa segment, Malcolm Swift; and CFO, Gordon Stetz to our Back-to-School Conference today. One reminder that McCormick will not host a breakout session today since the company is in its quiet period.
With that, I will turn it over to Alan Wilson and thanks for being here.
Thanks Andrew for the introduction and thanks for having us back to the Back-to-School Conference. We always look forward to this year. This is a great opportunity for us to discuss our business and welcome those here in the room and those listening by webcast. As Andrew indicated, Malcolm Swift has joined me today to discuss our business in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. As President of this region, Malcolm and his team are achieving strong growth in both developed and emerging markets. Gordon Stetz and Joyce Brooks are also here today and available during the question-and-answer period.
Our remarks today will include forward-looking statements. Let me remind you that our actual results can vary from these projections and refer you to our Annual Report in the website, which contain additional information regarding business risks. At McCormick, we bring passion to flavor. Our business is all about making food taste great. Flavor is an exciting and a growing business with consumers all around the world exploring new tastes and adventures in eating. Consumer demand for flavor is on the rise. In a recent U.S. survey, nearly two-thirds of consumers said that flavor makes all the difference in my meal and more than half indicate that adding spices is quick and easy. Today, the average U.S. consumer pantry has 40 spices and seasonings up from about 10 a decade ago. On a global basis, your monitor projects robust global sales growth from many product categories that deliver flavor.
This chart shows projected sales growth for 2017 across flavor categories. Spices and seasonings, which is McCormick’s largest growth platform ranks number three in expected sales growth. As a global leader in this category, we have a 22% share four times to that of our next largest competitor. An attractive growth rate and sales of spices and seasonings is expected in both developed and emerging markets. Across our two business segments, consumer and industrial, we are meeting this growing consumer demand with the leading market position.
Our consumer business has strong brand leadership. The spice and seasoning category comprises about half of our consumer business sales. For this category, McCormick’s share is well above that of the next largest branded competitor in five of our top six markets. As category leader for our retail customers, we supply everything from premium gourmet items to value-priced private label products and our innovation and brand marketing, are key drivers of category growth. Beyond spices and seasonings, we are a leading player in our next largest category, recipe mixes. And in many regions, our brands have the lead in a number of other categories such as marinades here in the United States, dessert items in France, and gelatin in Australia.
Through our industrial business, we supply multinational industry leaders, including 9 of the top 10 global food companies and 8 of the top 10 foodservice companies. Through these customers, we are gaining exposure to some of the latest industry trends and partnering with them on innovation with a broad range of flavor solutions. In addition, we have established beachheads in new geographies through our industrial business, including our entry into China, nearly 25 years ago and more recently in South America. Whether you are cooking at home, eating out, or enjoying a snack across our consumer and industrial businesses, we are creating great taste and McCormick has the taste and the food safety that you can trust. Each day, you are likely to enjoy something that’s flavored by McCormick. This has led to strong top line performance.
Since 2005, we have increased sales at 6.5% compounded annual growth rate. And we are driving this increase in both developed and emerging markets. Through organic growth and acquisitions, our goal is for emerging markets to reach 20% of sales in 2015. This will be double the percentage of sales in 2011. Beyond our consolidated businesses, McCormick has further presence in emerging mass-markets through our joint ventures and our export business. For consolidated businesses, our long-term goal is to grow sales 4% to 6% and we are driving sales with three, key three – three key growth initiatives, driving our base business, delivering innovative new products and expanding our portfolio of leading brands and geographical presence through acquisition.
I am going to provide an update on each of these initiatives, describe the progress we are making despite a challenging environment. Then Malcolm is going to discuss our business in Europe, Middle East and Africa, the remarks in the current environment there and how we are achieving solid financial performance in the region in both developed and emerging markets. So, staying with the global perspective at this point let me turn to our first growth initiative, base business growth. Base business growth encompasses the strong category increases that I showed previously. As a category leader, we are helping to drive this increase with our brand marketing support. Since 2005, we have doubled our spending. Importantly, we are achieving strong results in this investment. Our recent measure of ROI in the U.S. shows performance ahead of industry averages. And in our top five markets, McCormick’s share of voice is 80% or greater in the spice and seasonings category. Through consumer marketing along with trade support, in-store activity at retail and distribution expansion, our objective is to increase the category share for our brands. Our marketing messages are designed to help consumers prepare flavorful healthy meals that their families love.
In recent years, we have directed more of our marketing spending towards digital marketing, which has one of the highest returns in our categories. In 2013, we plan to spend approximately $30 million roughly twice the amount spent just two years ago in 2011. Let me show you some highlights from the past 12 months including our Grillerhood and holiday campaigns, dinner pantry idea programs, and helping growing this messaging.
In the U.S., we have had some great results from our digital marketing, including a 32% increase in the recipe searches for our gourmet dinner party program and a 25% increase in Facebook fans. With the re-launch of the mccormick.com website, unique visitors were up 86% to 10 million year-to-date and recipe views were up 90% with 13 million year-to-date. In addition to our lead in brand marketing, we are at the forefront of flavor innovation. For our consumer business, we build off of innovation platforms, cross-marketing, winning ideas such as recipe inspirations, grilling items, and gourmet recipe mixes.
Our gourmet recipe mixes are unique blends of herbs and spices designed to make a delicious meal. Following success in the UK, we launched these in the U.S. and are attracting new users. 36% of U.S. gourmet recipe mix sales are incremental for the category. Our 2013 innovation behind regional leaders includes Zatarain’s Big Easy Rice in microwavable pouches in the U.S., a squeezable ketchup pouch in China, Sweet Treats airplane desserts in Australia and in India, new Kohinoor brands Rice n Spice blends and 2-minute meal ideas. I’ll let Malcolm update you on what’s new in EMEA.
Industrial customers count on McCormick to flavor many of their latest innovations. In each of the past five years, 12% or more of annual sales for our industrial business have come from new products introduced in the last three years. And more than 30% of our new product briefs had some type of health and wellness attribute in 2013, whether it was to reduce sodium, lower calories, lower fats or more simple ingredients statement. This is an area of increased interest, and one for which we are particularly well suited with our foundation in spices and herbs. In support of both business segments, we have made significant investments to continue to create leading development capabilities and expand best practices around the world, and we have set a goal for 2015 to have at least 10% of annual sales to come from products that were launched in the last three years.
Our third avenue of growth is acquisitions, which has contributed one-third of McCormick’s sales growth over the last five years. We are seeing leading brands that build on core growth platforms in developed markets, expanding our breadth of flavors with regional leaders and working to enter an increased scale in emerging markets. Since 2000, we have broadened our flavor portfolio with a number of great brands through acquisitions and joint ventures as shown here. During the same period, we established a steady and consistent track record based on our financial discipline, clear business plans, and strong execution.
Our latest acquisition news is in China. After 22 years of organic growth, we have complemented our first – completed our first acquisition in the market, Wuhan Asia-Pacific Condiments, WAPC. This business is expected to increase our sales in China by more than 60%. We completed this deal about three months ago, and the integration is going extremely well. WAPC is a leader in chicken bouillon, a product used by more than half of consumers in Central China everyday at every meal to enhance the flavor of food. Founded in 1998, the business has approximately 900 employees, a modern production facility and a powerful network of distributors. It’s an excellent complement to our existing business and it’s not only its product portfolio, but geographically with a base in Central China compared to our current presence along the coast.
Clearly, we are making strong progress with each of these three growth initiatives in 2013. We are also benefiting from more moderate input cost inflation compared to the steep increases in both 2011 and 2012. However, 2013 is not without challenges. Early in the year, a low discount rate environment led to a significant increase in our retirement benefit expense. Also due to various factors, our tax rate for 2012 was lower than what we are forecasting in 2013. These two factors created a headwind for year-on-year increase in earnings per share. Together, they lower our 2013 EPS by about 8%. We are also working through some pressure specific to each of our two business segments.
In our consumer business, we are pleased to report strong sales growth through the first half with sales up 5%. However, in this economic cycle, the growth rate of private label sales has outpaced that of branded products in certain markets. We are responding by developing differentiated products that offer consumers a unique flavor experience ensuring that consumers to see the value in our brands through careful pricing and promotions, and we are gaining distribution in all channels. We want our brands available to consumers, no matter where they shop. We believe that these actions are building our brand equity and we are well positioned to grow as consumers strive to balance flavor, convenience, health, and value.
Our industrial business is facing a different set of challenges as demonstrated by our first half results with sales down 1% in local currency. Early in 2013, we knew we were going to have a tough year ago comparison with the 13% sales increase in the first quarter of 2012. In addition, demand from quick service restaurants in the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions, has been weak. In the U.S., we have had some new product wins with quick service restaurants. However, this hasn’t been enough to offset lower sales to these customers due in part to promotional emphasis on menu items that aren’t flavored by McCormick.
In China, the quick service restaurants we serve have been affected by consumer concerns over bird flu leading to lower sales of chicken products. In both of these regions, we remain cautious and do not expect to see improvement until our fourth quarter. All these issues have certainly impacted our sales for the restaurant industry. We have benefited from product innovation activity underway by leading food companies. We believe our industrial customers continue to value McCormick’s creativity, new product development, capabilities and technical expertise. Through customer intimacy and success with innovation, along with our productivity improvements, we grew operating income for this business segment more than 50% from 2007 to 2012. We expect to return to growth in sales and profit for our industrial business in the fourth quarter of 2013 and into 2014.
As I get ready to turn it over to Malcolm, I want to point out to you that our financial performance in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, EMEA, demonstrates our ability to operate effectively in a challenging environment. During a difficult economy in many of the countries where we operate under Malcolm’s leadership, our team in EMEA has grown sales by 25% since 2010 and increased operating income at an even faster rate during this period. Malcolm has joined us here today to describe how we are driving these results and our plans for further growth.
And I will turn it over to Malcolm.
Thank you Alan and good afternoon everybody. It’s great to be at the conference today. I am going to share with you a profile of our business in EMEA and the focused actions we have been taking to deliver growth in a tough operating environment. We operate in both our consumer and our industrial segments generating just over a fifth of McCormick’s net sales and employing almost 4,000 people, which included network of merchandisers with direct store delivery. The region is led by a multinational team of executives with deep experience of the geographies of EMEA.
Our consumer business has a portfolio of leading brands, brands which have the level of brand affinity, which McCormick has here in the U.S. And our industrial business sells our leading brands to foodservice distributors and provides a range of customized flavor solutions for leading multinational restaurants and food manufacturers. It’s sometimes difficult to find positive news about Europe. Excuse me, flip the page. We operated integrated supply chain across our business segments with nine facilities across the region. The largest plants were in the UK, France, and in Poland. We also have facilities in our emerging markets in Turkey and in South Africa, two of which are operated as joint ventures.
We have made significant investments to create leading R&D capabilities across the region. Our five technical innovation centers are part of our global R&D network, but remain close to local tastes and cuisines in both the developed and the emerging markets. We have a strong growing business in this region. From 2009 to 2012, we achieved a compound annual growth rate of nearly 9%. Our growth is balanced between our consumer and our industrial businesses and has been generated in both the developed and the emerging markets. So, it is sometimes difficult to find positive news about Europe, and there is no doubt that the sovereign debt crisis and the euro currency problems are real. However, Europe is more than the EU and EMEA is more than Europe.
We consider our exposure to the weakest peripheral economies in the EU to be limited, and we have achieved consistently strong growth in our most important markets. We believe we have high growth, high potential markets in our geographies, and we are increasingly penetrating these. And we have been effective in reducing cost to provide funds to reinvest in our brands and in our infrastructure. So, as Alan has said, flavor is an exciting and growing business all around the world, and EMEA is no exception. In spite of the economic challenges of the region, consumer demand for flavor is growing in our markets.
Here is a summary of the category performance in our top four consumer markets in spices and seasonings, McCormick’s largest growth platforms. You can see that the categories continue to perform well and as category leader in these four markets, McCormick has contributed significantly for this growth through brand marketing and innovation. In France, McCormick is also the category leader in the homemade desserts category, which is not shown on this chart, where growth has been 4% year-on-year. So, as Alan has said, our corporate goal is to grow sales at 4% to 6%.
And I will now move on to discuss how we are focused to drive sales in the three areas above. Focus to the increased investment in our brands is the prime source of our business base growth. Although EMEA is too diverse to manage as one single market, there are scale and shared learning benefits from a regional marketing approach. We have introduced a master brand approach. This creates a clear brand identity and a brand architecture across our portfolio and it simplifies the shopper experience in all markets. The favorable consumer response has led to a positive sales uplift since this was implemented.
The master brand approach continues into our advertising execution. Consistent multi-market copy drives brand equity and campaign efficiencies. We have invested strongly behind this master brand approach that increased our spend by 36% in the past five years. Our master brand strategy is further reflected in the investments we have made to transform our approach to the digital channel in the region. Legacy websites have been designed on a market-by-market basis and had limited functionality. These sites were previously inefficient at driving search traffic and could not interact with our emerging social media activities, especially on smartphones. So, we have now created standardized websites, both fixed and mobile in 16 different languages with mobile phone apps and social media sites on Facebook. So, these are all driving increased traffic and interest in our brands. We have seen an increase of nearly 50% in visits to our UK, French and Polish websites compared to last year, with a total of nearly 4 million visitors. Facebook fans in the UK, France, and Poland have grown by almost 300% in total from 120,000 to almost 0.5 million.
We have also responded to the economic environment by developing the value for money aspects in our brands. We have done this in the form of large packs in the most popular flavors and items. The Ducros (inaudible) range and the large packs of selected references of Vahiné dessert aids successfully meet the demand for value-priced items. Sales of family packs of Vahiné chocolate chips grew more than 60% since last year and sales of British coconut more than doubled in the same period. In parallel, we continue to expand our brand offering in the rapidly growing discount channels in a number of our EMEA markets. We do this by winning new distribution and also by widening distribution in customers, where we are already represented.
The second key driver of our growth is innovation. We have made significant investments to create a central EMEA technical innovation center in the UK. This center creates leading capabilities in flavor innovations for both our consumer and our industrial businesses. All elements of product development are under one roof with state-of-the-art creative, culinary and sensory facilities. This is where we have our created product development process. This is the process, which speeds up new product introduction and increases the probability of market success. An entire floor dedicated to product development for our global industrial customers has also been created.
We are pleased with the current growth rate of our industrial sales, 9% CAGR for 2009 to 2012, and we believe that our expanded innovation capabilities will continue to stimulate sales. We have a very focused approach to innovation. We combined global scale and local expertise to convert ideas into product concepts, and these concepts help our consumers to prepare flavorful healthy meals that families will love. We are closely aligned to our global marketing strategy and invest heavily in researching local and regional consumer needs in our two global platforms. We think of this of using McCormick’s global might for the local fight in Europe. Insights from this research are driven towards new products via cross-functional EMEA wide leadership group called the ICOG, the Innovation Council of Growth. This senior group reports directly to me. Since 2012, we have launched more than 250 new products to offer our consumers a unique flavor experience and the majority about two-thirds of these are multi-market launches.
Our latest launch is flavor shops, a highly differentiates blend of herbs, spices and seasonings locked in sunflower oil combining convenience and great flavor. But not all of our innovation in global platforms is driven centrally. We pride ourselves on thinking both globally and locally. We still expect local management to recommend specific local innovations, which can drive performance faster. This is an example of our local innovation focus in France, where the new Ducros premium range was launched this year. And my last example of innovation is in the category of homemade desserts in France. As I said earlier, this is a strongly growing category and a regional innovation platform for McCormick. Vahiné was launched 40 years ago and it remains the category leader in France and is growing through a continuous pipeline of innovations bringing taste, convenience and value to the category. It is an excellent example of the innovation behind regional leaders to which Alan referred earlier.
I will now turn to acquisitions and expansion into new markets as a further growth driver for McCormick in EMEA. For acquisition opportunities, we are seeking leading brands in core growth platforms, and for us many of these opportunities enable us to increase scale in the emerging markets within the region. And we have taken a very targeted approach to our expansion plans. The opportunities in these markets is substantial. As shown here by the comparison with our two strongest developed markets, the UK and France, our acquisition of Kamis in 2011 has provided a growth platform into both Central and Eastern Europe, through the subsidiary businesses we also acquired in Russia, Ukraine and Romania.
Kamis is the category leader in Poland in our largest global platform, spices and seasonings. Galeo complements Kamis and appeals to the value consumer competing with lower price brands and private label. Focusing on our global platforms, we are leveraging our regional EMEA capabilities in brand marketing, in innovation, in category management and customer relationships. The Kamis business is now fully integrated. We are adding capacity to accommodate increased demand and our harmonized regional processes are driving growth and further efficiencies. This year we have launched 14 new recipe mixes under the Kamis brand supported with significant digital and TV advertising investments. Let’s take a look at our latest TV ad.
Our business is Russia is supplied from our Polish plant, but we have 186 employees working in two locations in the market. We are rapidly up-scaling our local customer and category expertise and leveraging our regional innovation launches into this key market. We are already seeing accelerated growth from these initiatives plus 28% in 2012 and we expect Russia to be a key growth market for us in the next five years.
Turkey is also a key market for us in EMEA. A fast growing economy whether it’s a high demand for spices, seasonings, and recipe mixes. We entered this attractive market by forming a joint venture with Yildiz Holdings. Yildiz owns Ülker, a leading food brand in Turkey, which is present in multiple categories. We launched a range of 59 herbs, spices and seasonings under a new brand, Ülker Ducros, and this was created within our master brand architecture. We already have a 15% share of this category. And as in Russia and in Poland, we are leveraging our regional expertise in brand marketing, innovation, customer and category management. In 2013, our last three NPD launches already account for 25% of our turnover. And here is our latest advertising from Turkey.
Turkey is not only a great future opportunity for our consumer business. It’s already one of the most important markets for our industrial business. We have had an industrial joint venture in Turkey for almost 20 years, and it served several of our largest global customers, including exports to the Middle East. From 2010 to 2012, our sales have grown at the CAGR of 23%. South Africa too is a source of growth for the industrial business, with a 17% CAGR in the same time period. We have both owned and joint venture operations here and have also invested in creating leading edge local R&D facilities. And on the consumer side, we have exported branded products into Africa for more than 30 years and today you have products in 17 different countries.
So, in spite of the difficult economic environment in Europe, our business and our categories are performing strongly across the overall EMEA region. The strength of our businesses in developed markets provides a sound base for acquisition and expansion. We are already present in many of the higher growth markets and anticipate further opportunities ahead of us in the Middle East and Africa. Our growth strategies are supported by a strong focus on CCI, which helps us to fuel advertising and innovation investments.
McCormick in EMEA is a very focused business. We have made clear choices about where we want to compete for growth. Led by an experienced and disciplined management team, we were able to develop robust business plans. And our ability to execute these plans is delivering growth across the region. I believe that we have all the ingredients in place for continued success. Thank you for listening. And I will now turn it back over to Alan.
Thanks Malcolm. Let me summarize, at McCormick, our people are key ingredients to success. Employees and locations around the world are united by their passion for flavor and driving our results. We are proud of our multiple management philosophy established in 1932, which is a foundation of our culture with our spirit of inclusion and empowerment. I would invite you to learn more about the culture and other aspects of our social responsibility in our recently CSR report. Our growth strategy is really simple and straightforward, invest in the business to increase sales and profits and fuel these investments with our CCI program. As evidence to this effectiveness, this strategy is underpinned more than a decade of strong financial results. Malcolm and I devoted most of our time today to our top line initiatives. We are fueling this growth with our comprehensive continuous improvement program or CCI. Our performance teams throughout the company are working on productivity improvements, and long-term, we expect to achieve at least $45 million in annual cost savings.
Here is a summary of our long-term goals. We want to grow sales 4% to 6%, increase operating income by 7% to 9%, achieve a 9% to 11% increase in EPS and with our dividend deliver double-digit total shareholder return. While annual financial results have varied from these objectives, through 2012 our five year compounded annual growth rate is right in line with our long-term objectives. Our business generates strong cash and we more than doubled cash flow from operations in the past decade and delivered a record $455 million in 2012. During this period, we demonstrated the balanced use of cash and are committed to returning a portion of cash to our shareholders. We have increased our dividend in each of the past 27 years and from 2007 to 2012 returned nearly $1 billion of cash to our shareholders in dividends and share repurchases. McCormick brings passion to flavor. We have a focused business and employees around the world that are working everyday to save the world from boring too.
Let me conclude with these key takeaways. McCormick is well positioned as a global leader in flavor to meet growing consumer demands, whether eating out or eating at home, we supply a range of flavors and price points from premium to private label. We have initiatives underway to drive profitable sales growth in both developed and emerging markets and an effective strategy that is sustainable delivering high performance for another decade of growth. I think we have time for couple of questions.
Andrew Lazar - Barclays Capital
Thank you. I think we have time for a couple to squeak in here. First one, Alan, the sales growth organically you have seen in the core consumer business the last couple of quarters has been very enviable, particularly in the U.S. You I guess pointed the last couple of quarters to step up in sales to your key industrial food manufacturing customers, which sometimes can be seen this kind of a leading indicator for where the group is going. I guess more recently, some of those key customers throughout the group as you have heard have talked about maybe things weakening a little bit and volume being a little bit more sluggish trying to get a sense of whether you have kind of seen that from your vantage point as supplier of some key industrial items to these guys or not?
Without getting any specific to the short-term because as you all know we are in a quiet period. We have seen a challenging environment certainly with our industrial customers coming off a pretty strong 2012, but we do expect as we said to seen an improvement in the fourth quarter and into 2014 based on some of the things that we are seeing in our pipeline.
Andrew Lazar - Barclays Capital
Another question, next leaving to the specifically the QSR foodservice, QSR piece, where you do expect a much obviously bigger fourth quarter, and I am trying to get a sense of your level of visibility to that, because I know it’s been pushed out a little bit. I think it helps originally for the second half to start to show some of that. So, is it just what’s in the pipeline, things that you know are going to be launched by some key customers in the foodservice arena that gives you that visibility in the fourth quarter?
Yes, tomorrow we are seeing the pipeline. We can’t predict what our customers are going to see from same-store sales or what they tend to promote, because there has been a focus as you have seen this year back to value menus, which is not necessarily the kinds of things that we are providing, but we do expect to see a stronger recovery.
Andrew Lazar - Barclays Capital
And then lastly from me, there was an article very recently in the New York Times, I think that talked about some of the growing practices of spices in some key growing areas like India and possible contamination issues. And I know this is something you spend a lot of time on and really use it as a point of differentiation among all the other smaller or more fragmented sort of core spice competitors out there. So, if you can give us a sense of how that either does or doesn’t impact you and how you deal with that?
Yes, food safety is absolutely the cornerstone of our strategy. We have had a global sourcing organization for more than three decades really focused on solving a lot of the issues that, that article pointed out. So, we have been back at the farm improving how farmers handle products so that they are safer. We sterilize and clean everything before we package as close to the source as absolutely possible. So, we are processing things in the United States that are sold in the United States. We are doing the same thing in EMEA and France and as well as in India and in Singapore. So, it really does help differentiate McCormick. And as that pointed out, their changing growing practices and handling practices we have been doing that for more than 30 years.
Andrew Lazar - Barclays Capital
Great, unless there is something really burning here, I think we have really got to push on to the next one. So, please join me in thanking McCormick.
Thank you very much.
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