Kimberly-Clark Corporation (NYSE:KMB)
Barclays Back-To-School Conference Call
September 04, 2013 09:45 am ET
Mark A. Buthman – Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Mark A. Buthman
Good morning everyone. Thank you for sliding us right in behind P&G, that’s big shoes to fill, so hopefully we will try to hold our own. It’s great to be back in Boston and now we appreciate the invitation to participate in the Back-to-School Conference, it’s always a good opportunity for us to connect with investors and get back into the swing of things in the fall.
So to start, I want to cover three things today. We are going to start with just a quick recap of our enterprise strategy and then we will take a look at our financial performance, both over the long-term and near-term. We will revisit the guidance that we provided back in July with our second quarter earnings and then we’ll take a little deeper dive into our global business plan and specific strategies underlying each of our businesses and give you a little bit update about how we are doing around the world. And lastly, we will sort of finish with some focus on financial discipline, which is really the foundation upon which our overall business model works. And at the end, we will have plenty of time for questions.
So headlines; we are executing our global business plan, our GBP well in a very difficult environment. I am sure that’s a consistent thing that you are going to hear from companies throughout this week. Despite the challenges in the macroeconomic environment, we’re continuing to invest to keep our business healthy and growing over the long-term.
We are leveraging strong financial and cost discipline to make sure we’ve got the resources to keep the business – keep investing in the business despite what’s going on in the world around us. And lastly, we focused a lot of time and energy on allocating capital in ways that we hope are friendly to our shareholders and we will talk about that little bit later.
Our enterprise strategies, to recap, we manage our businesses as a portfolio. So each business has a role to play. From businesses that are going to be growth oriented, some are driving revenue realization and cost savings to drive margin improvement and other businesses has a role to generate cash to invest elsewhere in the portfolio and it really drives how we think about investment decisions whether its capital or marketing innovation or talent around the organization. So it’s all about making choices.
We drive investments, investments behind innovation, investments behind brand building and targeted growth initiatives. Part of our global business plan, we actually are in the fortunate position, we have more growth opportunities than we’ve got resources or capital to invest. So it’s about making decisions and targeting to grow where we’ve got the best chance to win.
Sustainable cost reduction is really important part of the model. It’s the engine that sort of fuels the investment in the business and drives bottom line margin improvement and earnings growth.
And then lastly, taking a disciplined approach to allocating our capital, both how we invest in the business to drive improvements in returns on that capital overtime, as well as making sure we are disciplined in returning cash to shareholders in the form of dividend and share repurchases, it is kind of the bottom line of our global business plan strategies.
So overtime, we launched the global business plan 10 year ago in the middle of 2003. And at that time, we set out some pretty clear performance benchmarks and here is how we’ve done over that first 10 years of the strategic plan. Top line, we want to grow 3% to 5%, so if you take a look at the categories that we participate in, 3% to 5% is roughly inline with category growth plus taking a little bit of share, that’s our top line goal. Over the first 10 years of the GBP, we were been at the high end of that expectation at 5% topline growth.
Earnings, we want to grow mid to high single digits. We’ve been at the low end of that. That are opportunities to improve. Return on invested capital, we want to drive consistent improvement in our returns in the capital, we want to drive consistent improvement in our returns and the capital we deploy, 20 basis point to 40 basis points a year. We’ve been right in the middle of that expectation.
And lastly, we want to drive dividends, we want to be a top tier dividend payer. We have accomplished that with a 9% average annual increase in the first ten years of our global business plan. Going forward you should expect us to increase dividends roughly inline with our earnings growth. So, pretty solid performance with some opportunities to improve on the bottom line.
First half of 2013, we had a really strong start to the year. Top-line up 1%, and if you strip out the effects of currency in some of our restructuring activities, delivered 3% organic sales growth. Operating margins were up a 150 basis points, earnings were up 14% and return on invested capital was up healthy 90 basis points. So, really a good start to the first half of 2013.
Revisit the guidance we provided with our second quarter earnings back in July, was an update from our initial guidance for the year. So on the top-line, sales down 1% to up 2% and that’s really a difference from our initial guidance. It’s just solely due to currency. Organic sales we still expect to be 3% to 5% for the year and that will require a better performance on the top-line and the second half of the year.
Operating margins up 70 basis points to 80 basis points, that’s up 30 basis points from the original guidance we had in the year. Earnings will be up 7% to 10%, but as a reminder, currency is relative to the dollar drop pretty dramatically in June after Fed’s Chairman, Bernanke’s comments. If currency rates hold at that level, it is going to be tougher for us to hit the high end of our earnings range.
ROIC up 80 basis points to 120 basis points, a substantial step up really driven by margin improvement from the initial guidance we set out in January. So overall, strong start to the year, and pretty solid outlook for 2013.
We said in our long-term objectives we needed to improve our performance on the bottom line and this is just a quick chart and it shows the initial performance in our global business plan, 5% sort of low mid single-digit performance. 2012 and 2013 will be at high single to low double digits. It’s really based on progress against our targeted growth initiatives, driving consistent cost savings, translates into great margin improvement and just basically strong execution of the business overall, so improving bottom line performance.
Okay, so that’s kind of the recap of the enterprise strategy and our long range and near-term financial performance, shift gears and go a little bit deeper into each of our businesses. So our Global Business Plan strategies by business unit, we want to win around the world in our personal care businesses. So that is our baby and child care business, our adult care business and our Feminine care business.
Consumer Tissue, we are going to be more targeted where we grow and it’s not a business we're going to invest in universally across the globe, but in every market we are going to look to drive revenue realization, mixed improvement and cost savings to drive improved margins in Consumer Tissue.
We want to drive rapid growth in our K-C International business with an emphasis on three geographies; growing in China, in Russia and throughout Latin America. And then lastly there is a couple of real gem segments in our K-C Professional and our Health Care businesses, they’re places that we think we can drive growth and margin improvement as well.
So I'm going to dive into each of these in just a little more detail. I’ll start with Personal Care in North America. We will start with our adult care business. So this is a great category, with great demographic trends. There is 60 million consumers in our adult care category in North America alone and the category is growing at mid single digit rates, it’s built around two well known and trusted brands; Poise and Depend. Innovation and marketing are really important, so as consumers come into this category, you could imagine, there is some hesitancy to enter into this category. So making sure you have great performing products and that you are communicating effectively with the consumers especially at the point of market entry is really, really important.
So if you look at the chart on the right, topline growth consistently over the last five years has been high single to low double digits and we steadily improved market share across this period of time. This smaller business, we’ll talk a little bit more about this international in a few minutes, but 75% of our global adult care business is in North America today.
There are number of innovations that have come to market in 2013. You can imagine in this category, discretion and normalcy are really important. So odor control is important, and we’ve rolled out an innovation to address that number one unmet need across our Poise lineup in 2013.
In addition, the light-end incontinence category really is targeted at women, but men also wrestle with this issue, so we launched the Poise, or Depend Guards and Shields for men. So for men in the audience, I want to ask for a show of hands, but as you think about, now that I am in my 50s, I think more about this category a little bit more. If you think about entering this category, how will you think about, what product form I use, 80% of the consumers have entered this category, really don’t know what form of product I should use or what size I should use and people don’t even like to shop for this category. So how we communicate from a brand messaging standpoint is really important.
So we got kind of a creative spot, here I will show you in a second. Using Tony Siragusa to introduce the ten Guards and Shields for men. See what you think, if you could play this out please.
Okay, guys it’s the end, all right. So anyway adult care is a fantastic business with a whole stream of innovations, it’s a growing category, it’s a profitable part of mix, it’s an opportunity for us to drive penetration in North America and grow the business worldwide.
Our North America baby and child care is the biggest part of our personal care portfolio. The challenge here is, the category is down. Over the last four years, the birthrates are down and the category is down 8%, so it’s a smaller pie. This year we're expecting birthrates to level out. We are not at in an inflection point yet, but we're starting to see the shallow end of the ball, but the category will still be down 1% for 2013. So innovation in connecting with consumers is all the more important in this category. We've got great market share position.
So if you look at our training pants business, our disposable diaper business and our wet wipes business collectively, we have more than 40% of the baby and child care category. We’ve got innovations rolling out across our line up, improved our best ever performing Huggies diaper, Huggies wet wipes and improved sheets, improved dispensing. If you think about a wet wipes dispensing capability which is sort of part of Kimberly Clark’s heritage, we got to be able to do one touch dispensing, right? You've got to have one hand free and one hand kind of referring with your baby.
So dispensing is really an important part of the wet wipes delivery mechanism. And pull ups, we have the best fitting. We are trying to make pull ups more and more underwear like for kids that are getting into the potty training. So, a great business with great relative market shares.
Before I close out, personal care, let’s talk about some strategic changes we announced in our European business. We made an announcement last October that we are going to exit disposable wipers in Europe along with selected other businesses, lesser profitable businesses in Europe. And this is really about streamlining the cost profile of our European business.
So to mention it, it’s about $0.5 billion of sales we are exiting in Europe, which was just about breakeven. So it’s a big overhead transformation in Europe. And the benefits are going to be a much more streamlined cost structure, improved profitability and the management team is going to be able to focus on those products and country category intersections where we’ve got the best chance to win.
Quick update; in percent of the restructuring charges that are behind us, that our market exits are complete, our facilities four of the five impacted facilities are completely just entered into an agreement in the past several weeks to sell the remaining facility which is a tissue facility in Italy, that’s expected to close. So facilities will be – by the end of September should be behind this.
Workforce reductions are well underway and the important thing is that the European consumer business is right on track with its operating plans. So this is a massive transformation and the team is right on plan to deliver against its targets in 2013, so a fantastic execution performance by our team in Europe.
Let's shift gears and talk about consumer tissues. So this is a business where we're going to drive margin improvement around the world and we are going to have some targeted growth, but it’s also a category where consumers expect innovation. So across our line up in North America, Kleenex, Cottonelle dry and Moist Bath, Scott Extra Soft, all have improved bath sheets.
This is a great hotel, except we don't Cottonelle bathroom tissue in the rooms, it could be an opportunity to improve the consumer experience, but we have the best performing day sheet across our tissue lineup that we have ever had and we have got some dispensing options for Cottonelle Moist, a very under penetrated category, it’s an opportunity, if we can get consumers into the habit of using a dry and moist regiment we have got a great growth opportunity and dispensing is an important part of that.
Innovations are driving international mix, so despite some of the macroeconomic challenges around the world, we have got one example here of our Neve bathroom tissue which is in Brazil, it is a 3-ply super-premium execution. And we have all read about the challenges [indiscernible]. I have facial tissue here if you need it.
About the challenges in Brazil, but I think it’s an example where in our categories if you are providing great performance and a good value, you can continue even with challenging economics circumstances, attract consumers into the higher tiers of our categories, so excited about the Neve Brand.
And again with the focus on margin improvement, we’ve completed at the end of 2012, a pulp and tissue restructuring, we exited the last of our integrated pulp manufacturing around the world and we took a significant amount of tissue capacity out of the market. Charges were complete at the end of 2012. Through the middle of this year, we delivered a cumulative $65 million of savings for the tissue business.
By the end of 2014 that will accumulate to $100 million of benefit to the consumer tissue business, which will improve, drive margin improvement and some investment and innovation and brands support in those markets that we are targeting to improve our positions. So great margin improvements since 2010. You can see it on the right hand side of this chart, up over 400 basis points in the last 3.5 years.
Okay, KCI is K-C International, which for us is those markets outside of North America and Western Europe, so developing markets if you will. It’s the growth engine behind Kimberly Clark. It was the place that we tried to double down as part of our original global business plan and you can see since the start of the global business plan, we’ve driven double digit top line and bottom line growth in K-C International. It’s now approaching 40% of our company sales or about $8 billion in revenues to mention that.
We got great market positions, attractive market dynamics, penetration in many of our categories is still relatively low around the world, either consumers are not in our categories or we have a very small percentage of their total requirement. So if you think about China as an example, we will talk about diapers in a second, about 20% of the total market is penetrated, where moms will say, I am a disposable diaper user. But if you are a disposable diaper user, you might use just one disposable diaper just for overnight or just when you leave the house.
So even though penetration, we had consumers that are in the category that are either using a very rudimentary form or we can increase our share of their requirements, so it’s a great opportunity, really across our categories.
Our multi-tier product strategies; we are in multiple tiers, performance and value tiers in international. We have got targeted geographic expansion plans. Again we have more opportunities to grow in international than we have got to panel in resources to address. So it’s really about making the right choices.
Focused geographies within K-C International are China, Russia and Latin America. So why is that? They represent more than half of our international business. We are focused on driving innovation and connecting with consumers through great brand engagement, really across all our categories. It is a place where we are over indexed in terms of investments and selling and marketing expenses.
You can see on the right-hand side, China, Russia, and Latin America have grown more than 50% higher than the balance of our K-C International businesses. So the heritage of our K-C International in market like Australia and Korea, where we have fantastic market shares, but they are relatively developed and slow-growing.
So China, Russia, and Latin America give us the opportunities to push the growth envelop. Most of that investment, the majority of that investment is going into our personal care business.
K-C Professional is also really important part of the low-profile of KCI. In many cases our professional tissue business is more profitable than our consumer tissue business. And in North America we often take for granted, that there is bathroom tissue in the restrooms and hand towels. Around the world, for those of you who travel internationally, that’s not always true. So it is a great opportunity for us to drive penetration in the K-C Professional market as well.
Let's talk a little bit on diaper organic sales growth. This is really our biggest opportunity to grow internationally. Innovation is super important, much like the U.S., we have new consumers that are constantly coming into this category every 2.5 to 3 years, the whole consumer base refreshes, so innovations are really important.
We are expanding into diaper pants, so around the world, training pants really don’t exists. So Pull-Ups aren’t a big part of the portfolio around the world. So when baby starts to be mobile, having a pre-fastened diaper that you can just slip on without having to lay your child down is really an important innovation, growing much more rapidly around the world and Kimberly-Clark has advantage pants technology relative to competition, so it’s a place that we’re excited about and a place that we can win.
We are over indexing in terms of our marketing investments and trying new and creative ways to reach the consumer and then expanding distribution. China for example, in 2010, we were in about 50 large city clusters in the eastern part of China, by middle of this year we are in 85 of those city clusters and by the end of this year, we will reach 90 large city clusters. So we’re expanding distribution in these markets as well.
You can see on the bottom of the chart, this is our organic sales growth. So China over the last 18 months has grown more than 40% in diapers, Brazil more than 20%, so healthy double digit and in Russia we had a really tough competitive battle in 2010 and 2011, as we got that behind us, a very healthy double digit growth in 2012 and 2013.
So one of the things we are excited about in these categories is getting into gender specific. So boy and girl diapers and in many of the markets around the world, that distinction is really important and how parents connect with a daughter or a son is really an important part of their household and how they think about their family developing.
So gender specific diapers we think is a really big idea. So I’m going to share a couple of thoughts of use; the first one comes from Russia that will test your language skills and the second one comes from Brazil. We’ll see what you think.
Pretty good. You know what’s the use of aesthetics? So we’ve got Disney in Russia and Turma da Monica in Brazil. Turma da Monica is a very famous cartoon character that when Kimberly-Clark entered Brazil, it was actually a diaper brand. So you see it, it’s now called Huggies Turma da Monica. We also see how the word Huggies translates across languages, right. So we are excited about boy, girl as an opportunity to drive our diaper business internationally.
Okay, let me finish up the touching on K-C International with two smaller businesses; adult care and baby wipes. Very small businesses, the adult care business really doesn’t exist as a consumer business in many markets around the world, often times you have to get a physician’s prescription when you go to the pharmacy to get an adult care product, so we are driving category to development. They are both places where we’ve got advantage technologies and great growth opportunities.
Bringing products to more markets, we call it putting adult care on the map around the world, leveraging the same well know brands we use in developed markets. So Huggies, Poise and Depend and we really are investing to make these businesses global. And you can see in the chart, fantastic double digit growth rates over the last 3.5 years in both the adult care business and the baby wipes business.
Some quick fact, around the world many mom who use disposable diapers don’t use wet wipes. So for any parents in the room, imagine changing your child without wet wipes, all right. If we could get every mom in the world to use a single wet wipe for every diaper change, it’s a $1 billion opportunity for us. Seems like a pretty simple sell, right? But it’s a category that we’ve got a lot of development works to do.
Okay, let’s finish up with our business unit strategies in KCP and Health Care. We’ve both got a third of each of these businesses to have categories, they are fantastic in terms of growth opportunities and margins opportunities as well. K-C Professional it’s in the work place, so it’s the wiper business and our safety business, and you can see in the top right, growing at 20% our base, kind of our heritage washroom business. And it’s the same for Health Care. In medical devices, growing 30% faster than our heritage supplies business and Health Care, both of these categories are driven by innovation and geographic expansion. I mentioned earlier K-C Professional is a fantastic global growth opportunity for us.
So how do we make all that happen, it’s really investing behind innovation and strategic marketing to bring news to the consumer in a way that’s compelling and helps to invite them either into the category in K-C International’s case or invite them into our brands in a more developed markets.
So we have steadily increased our investment and strategic marketing of brand building, really driving supporting innovation and building the equity of our brands around the world. Increasing use of non-traditional channels, so think about this as digital marketing or in-store shopper marketing.
Over the last five years, we have doubled our investment in digital marketing today, represents more than 25% of our strategic marketing investment in North America.
In addition to increasing the absolute dollar investment, we are driving efficiencies and effectiveness of our marketing programs and you can see in the chart at the right, a significant increase in investment over the last five years of 120 basis points as a percent of net sales, two-thirds of that increase is focused on our K-C International business, so it’s an element of over indexing in terms of our marketing support geographically.
So a fantastic increase and cost savings is really the way that we fund that investment, but an ongoing program over the last 10 years, we’ve driven $1.9 billion of costs out of our business model, heavy supply chain focused, right, that’s where the majority of costs are. Three years ago, we started to develop a global procurement function. They drive about a third of our overall savings and then lien manufacturing practices, both productivity improvements and waste improvement deliver about two-thirds of the balance of our cost savings.
You can see on the right hand side of the chart, in the early days of the global business plan, we were clicking along at about $200 million a year pace. We have started to ramp that up in 2012. We were knocking on the door of $300 million of savings. And the guidance we provided in July was to deliver savings of $300 million to $350 million. So this is one of those opportunities, as we drive savings and we become more capable in this area, the more savings we drive, the more that we find.
So this is really an important part of our business model going forward and if you go back to the lower left in the adjusted gross margin, you can see it translating into margin improvement which gives us the opportunity to invest back in innovation and strategic marketing and bring some margin improvements to bottom line to drive earnings.
It’s not only about the income statement it’s about working capital and the balance sheet as well. This is an area that we’ve just done really a terrific job at as an organization. We’ve driven more than four weeks out of our cash conversion cycle over the last five years. We’ve done it through extending payable terms and being pretty innovative in how we engage suppliers with our banks to provide some supplier financing. So it’s not just about stretching our suppliers, but it’s actually about helping them with their financing requirements as well and then driving inventory focus.
So as we invest in capacity in our K-C International business, it drives our cost of manufacture down, but we are also not shipping stuff among geographies. So it gives us working capital opportunities as well. So we expect continuous improvement in working capital going forward and a target to improve our cash conversion cycle by a day. But as you can see from the chart, we are well ahead of that in the first half of 2013.
As we drive more innovation into the business, it puts some pressure on our working capital, so our teams are getting better at rollovers and managing a higher velocity of innovation in our business as well.
Of course we generate more cash than we need to invest in the business and first call on that excess cash is dividends. We started our global business plan, we set out to be a top tier dividend payer within the CPG space. We think we’ve accomplished that goal.
Our yield is about 3.5%. Of course we love our stock price to be higher and they yield to go down, but we will take it for now. And you can see in the upper right that we have more than doubled our dividends per share, since the start of our global business plan. That a 9.5% dividend increase in 2013 is roughly in line with prior year earnings. It’s our 41st consecutive increase in our dividend and the 79th straight year of providing [ph] dividends.
So we don’t want to be known as a dividend stock. On the other hand, we do think it’s an important part of how you should think about Kimberly Clark from an investment perspective.
And lastly, we returned our excess cash to shareholders through share repurchases. It’s simply a return of cash is how we think about it with dollar cost averages. If you look at how much we need to invest in the business, we top up our pension plans, we pay a dividend and what’s left over, we return in the form of share repurchases cumulatively. Since the start of the global business plan, we have returned more than $10.5 billion of cash to shareholders. Our 2013 plan is to buyback $1.2 billion worth of our stock.
Coming into the year, that target was $1 billion to $1.2 billion, our cash flow has been on the healthy side of what we expected heading into the year, so bit of top end of where we expect it to be heading into the year and you can see in the chart, our goal is not just to return cash to shareholders, but we want to take a meaningful number of shares out of the market and if you take a look at the year-end 2003, we’ve taken almost a quarter of our shares out of the market through share repurchases.
And of course, our business strategy and our capital allocation strategy are all designed to try to drive improved returns for shareholders and this just gives you a little scorecard of how we are doing for the last one and three year periods, we have been roughly inline slightly better than the overall market in our peer set, but roughly right inline gives us an opportunity to improve, right. Five and 10 years actually substantially ahead of market performance and ahead of our consumer peer group. So it’s the track record we are proud of. At the same time, we’ve got plenty of opportunities to improve on this performance.
Okay. So to summarize, I have covered a lot of territory, we are making great progress against our targeted growth initiatives. We are driving improved profitability and that’s translating into improved returns on the capital that we are deploying in the business.
We are improving the overall shape and value of our business portfolio. So we are making choices to make our business portfolio stronger overtime and we are confident that the best way to improve value for our shareholders is to continue to execute in a disciplined way against our global business plans.
So, before I get into questions, let me remind you I have made some forward-looking statements. If you go to our website, in our 10-K, there is a whole description of risk factors which could impact our future performance. I’d encourage you to read that in depth and then non-GAAP financial measures, there is a number of non-GAAP references that we made and if you go through the investor section of our website and will tell you why we do that and why it’s important to part of understanding Kimberly-Clark.
So with that, we got a few minutes left and I’d be happy to take some questions.
Thanks very much. I was wondering if you could share with us some of your thoughts about longer term gross margin evolution, I mean clearly cost cutting is doing a fair amount of the work, but also is there a mixed impact that we should be aware of either at the divisional level or within the divisions as we see sort of premunition [ph] ongoing and if so, what would be a good gross margin for you guys?
Mark A. Buthman
Ian, that’s a great question. We don’t have a long range gross margins specific target, but longer term we expect the operating margins to improve 30 basis points to 50 basis points a year and gross margins need to grow faster than that. So directionally, we want to continue to drive gross margin improvement. Cost savings is an important part of that, but product mix and innovation is also an important part, but if you think about our overall portfolio, Personal Care will continue to get to be a bigger and bigger part of our portfolio, it’s a higher margin option than Consumer Tissue.
Within each category, Consumer Tissue, we showed some margin improvement there. You should seek steady progress as we moved into the higher margin mix within our consumer tissue segment and then as we invest behind K-C Professional and Health Care, the higher margin, higher growth options. There, our portfolio will continue to drive some of that margin improvement.
And then K-C International which today is below of our corporate average gross margins, but is much higher from a growth perspective. Our goal is for K-C International to grow their bottom line faster than their top line. So they will continue over time to make up the gap to the corporate average. So despite that investment in K-C International, we actually see that as an opportunity to not only be dilutive, but eventually to be accretive. So there is a number of different levers that’s going to drive that gross margin improvement over time.
Thanks very much.
Mark A. Buthman
Okay guys, work with me here. All right. Ian back to you, you are going to carry the balls.
I am just going to keep going still someone else stepped up. Just coming back to that price margin and then the evolution of it as well. Is operational gearing kind of a driver when we think about that medium-term great patent, are you more or less kind of pass the scale or should we go back to see that operations?
Mark A. Buthman
We are not. If you think about our capital, we spend $1 billion or $1.2 billion in capital every year, about a third of that is going into expansion capacity and almost all of that is going into K-C International, so it’s an opportunity. For example we built our business in China based on imports from our business in Korea, where we’ve got scale. As we built that business, we just opened a manufacturing plant earlier this year, opened up a new plant in China. So it gives us additional capacity, also dramatically improves the profitability as you can imagine in our China business.
We’ve got a diaper plant that we opened in Russia, a few years ago, the challenging volumes was really welcome to Russia from our competition, it’s really a challenging data, but now we’ve got capacity in place in Russia, it’s fueling the growth of that business. It gives them opportunities to drive margin and working capital improvement. So part of that capacity or operational gearing if you will is really focused on K-C International.
Okay. Thanks very much.
Mark A. Buthman
Okay. All right, so we wrap-up. All right, let’s wrap-up. We’re going to go to a breakout as always. We appreciate your interest in Kimberly-Clark. Thanks for your time.
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