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Executives

Mary Pat Thompson - SVP & CFO

Jim Cleary - President & CEO

Analysts

John Kreger – William Blair

Erin Wilson - Bank of America

Mark Arnold - Piper Jaffray

Ross Taylor – C. L. King

Otto Freeman - JPMorgan Chase

Joseph Garner - Emerald Advisers

MWI Veterinary Supply, Inc. (MWIV) F4Q10 (Qtr End 9/30/2010) Earnings Call November 4, 2010 11:00 AM ET

Operator

Good morning, and welcome to MWI Veterinary Supply’s fourth quarter and fiscal 2010 earnings conference call. Today’s call is being recorded.

At this time, I would like to turn the conference call over to Mary Pat Thompson, Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer, for introductory remarks.

Ms. Thompson, please go ahead.

Mary Pat Thompson

Good morning, and welcome to MWI Veterinary Supply’s fourth quarter and fiscal year 2010 earnings conference call. This is Mary Pat Thompson, Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration, Chief Financial Officer, and joining me today is Jim Cleary, MWI’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Certain statements contained in this conference call that are not descriptions of historical facts are forward-looking statements as such term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Because such statements include risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.

Factors that could cause results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to those discussed in filings made by MWI with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Many of the factors that will determine the company’s future results are beyond the ability of management to control or predict.

Listeners should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which reflects management’s views only as the date hereof. MWI undertakes no obligation to review or update any forward-looking statements or to make any other forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Another note that I would like to point out during the call is related to financial comparisons that are made. All financial comparisons are for the fourth fiscal quarter or fiscal ended September 30, 2010 compared to the same period in prior fiscal year, unless otherwise noted.

Now, I would like to turn the call over to Jim Cleary to begin our remarks.

Jim Cleary

Good morning, and welcome to MWI Veterinary Supply’s fourth quarter and fiscal year 2010 earnings conference call. Today, I will walk you through an overview of the results that were presented in our earnings announcement released earlier today. Mary Pat will provide additional detail and explanation of the financial results. Then I will briefly discuss the company’s business outlook for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011. Lastly, we will open the call to questions.

Highlights for the quarter included, first, total revenues grew 45% to $358.9 million. Of the 45% growth, 19% was due to organic revenue growth in the United States and 26% was related to our acquisition of Centaur. In February 2010, we acquired Centaur, which is a supplier of animal health products to veterinarians in the United Kingdom.

Second, Selling, General and Administrative expenses as a percentage of revenues improved to 8.4% compared to 9.4%.

Third, operating income increased 30% to $13.8 million and our net income increased 34% to $8.8 million or diluted earnings per share of $0.71 compared to $0.53.

Fourth, internet sales to independent veterinary practices and producers in the United States grew by 53% and our product sales from the internet as a percentage of total U.S. revenues, increased to 35% compared to 32%.

Fifth, at the end of September, we had 217 field sales representatives and 159 telesales representatives in the U.S., an increase of 46 sales reps since the start of our fiscal year and 18 sales reps since the start of our quarter.

And sixth, we generated $6.3 million in cash from operations during the quarter, and we had borrowings under our credit facilities of only $10.1 million at the September 30, 2010.

Our financial results were very strong for the quarter and fiscal year. We have achieved excellent growth in our revenue, earnings, and value added services. I would like to thank our team for their continued dedication and focus on customer service that contributes to our ongoing success.

Now, I will turn the call over to Mary Pat Thompson, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer who will provide additional detail of our financial results.

Mary Pat Thompson

Thank you, Jim. Revenue growth was 45% to $358.9 million for the quarter, with 19% due to organic growth in the United States. Other revenue growth, 26% or $53.8 million was related to the acquisition of Centaur. Excluding the acquisition, our revenue to existing customers represented 40% of the growth of total revenue.

The organic growth of 19% was partially due to the fact that among other things, certain of our existing customers, as well as new customers, placed additional orders with us when their usual supplier was no longer able to meet their needs.

Commissions grew 19% to $4.7 million. At the end of September, we had 217 field sales representatives and 159 telesales representatives in the United States, an increase of 28 field sales reps and 18 telesales reps, since the start of our fiscal year on October 1, 2009.

Gross profit increased by 31% to $45.5 million. Gross profit was benefited by our revenue growth and the addition of Centaur. Gross margin was 13.7% compared to 14.1%. Gross margin decreased due to the addition of Centaur. Gross margin percentage decreased due to the addition of Centaur.

Centaur’s gross margin is generally lower than MWI’s and this reduces the overall gross margin of the consolidated company. Vendor rebates decreased by $850,000. This decrease was primarily due to a rebate received in a prior fiscal year from a vendor that is no longer in business.

Operating income increased 30% to $13.8 million. SG&A expenses increased 29% to $30.3 million. SG&A expenses increased due to our revenue growth and the acquisition of Centaur. SG&A expenses as a percentage of revenues improved to 8.5% compared to 9.5%.

SG&A expenses as a percentage of revenues decreased due to the addition of Centaur and our revenue growth. Centaur’s SG&A expenses as a percentage of revenues are generally lower than MWI’s and this reduces the overall SG&A expenses as a percentage of revenues of the consolidated company.

Additionally, we had an improvement in our allowance for doubtful accounts, as a result of payments made by certain customers in both the companion and production animal markets.

Our effective tax rate for the quarter was 36.2% compared to 39.1%. This decrease was primarily due to the impact of the Centaur acquisition that contributed additional earnings at a lower effective tax rate. Our effective cash rate for fiscal year 2011 is projected to be 38%.

Net income increased 34% to $8.8 million. Diluted earnings per share were $0.71 compared to $0.53, an increase of 34%. The impact of diluted earnings per share as a result of the Centaur acquisition was $0.09.

Revenue growth was 31% to 1 billion, $230 million for the fiscal ended September 30, 2010 with 14% due to organic growth in the United States. Commissions grew 18% to $16.8 million.

Gross profit increased by 23% to $155 million. Gross margin was 13.4% compared to 14.3%. Vendor rebates decreased by $684,000. Operating income increased 34% to $54.2 million. SG&A expenses as a percentage of revenues improved to 8.6% compared to 9.6%.

SG&A increased 16% to $105.8 million. Included in the increase in SG&A expenses are direct acquisition related cost of $1.1 million related to the acquisition of Centaur. Net income increased 34% to $33.4 million. Diluted earnings per share were $2.70 compared to $2.02, an increase of 34%.

Our cash balance as of September 30, 2010, was $911,000 and we had only $10.1 million outstanding on our credit facilities, which were used to finance the Centaur acquisition.

Compared to September 30, 2009, receivables increased 33%, inventories increased 51% and accounts payable increased 56%.

The increase in receivables was primarily due to the acquisition of Centaur. The increases in inventory, and accounts payable were primarily due to the inventory purchase during the quarter to accommodate the growth from our customers who placed additional orders with us when their primarily supplier was no longer able to meet their needs.

Now, I will turn it back over to Jim.

Jim Cleary

Thank you, Mary Pat. Now, I would like to turn our attention to MWIs outlook for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011. We estimate revenues will be from $1 billion 410 million, to $ 1 billion, 460 million which represents growth of 15% to 19% compared to revenues in the fiscal year 2010.

We estimate that diluted earnings per share will be from $3.02 to $3.10, which represents growth of 12% to 15% compared to diluted earnings per share in fiscal year 2010.

These estimates are based on the company’s current calendar year and quarterly vendor contracts, which typically undergo annual renegotiation and which may include terms such as rebates, commissions, and exclusivity requirements.

Regarding fiscal year 2011, our goals are to improve quality and customer service while growing faster than the market and reducing expenses as the percentage of revenues.

Actions planned for fiscal 2011 include, first we will continue to invest in personnel, technology, and distribution center infrastructure as we review the needs of our distribution centers.

This will include moving from our existing distribution center in Visalia, California, to a larger, better distribution center in Visalia, California, which is expected to be completed in December 2010.

Second, we will continue to expand our sells force, which will help penetrate into regions and customer groups that have the most opportunity for growth.

Third, we will continue to stay committed to improving our low operating expense structure, and making smart decisions with both our operating expenses and capital investments.

Fourth, we will continue our focus on value-added services including our e-commerce platform, our pharmacy fulfillment programs for both production and companion animal products, and other value-added services.

And fifth, we will evaluate potential acquisitions that are strategic fit for MWI and add to our shareholder value.

Now, I would like to open the call for questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from John Kreger, from William Blair, sir?

John Kreger – William Blair

Hi, thanks very much. If we look at your revenues in the quarter just reported, can you give us a sense about how production, versus companion contributed?

Jim Cleary

Yeah, sure, I would be happy to do that. We had really good growth in both production and companion animal during the quarter, and really in all geographic areas, too. Production, or I should say, companion animal grew a bit faster than production animal during the quarter, but they grew out about the same rate.

John Kreger – William Blair

And Jim, I know you mentioned on the call, a benefit of a competitor having some issues, really going away. Is there a tale on that or was all the benefit really captured in the quarter just reported?

Jim Cleary

There was certainly benefits during the quarter which we just reported, and that benefit will continue into fiscal year 2011. And you know, as fiscal year 2011 moves into like the second half of the fiscal year, that benefit really decreases, or is less impactful because we started seeing that benefit, probably in the middle of our fiscal year, 2010, and then it accelerated. So that benefit will continue for several more months.

John Kreger – William Blair

Okay, just two more, I’ll throw them both out and then be quiet. Any reflections on Centaur and your move into Europe, in general? Is that, is it strategic for you to try to expand there? Any reflections on that deal?

And then the other question was if you could just expand perhaps a little bit more around your fiscal 11 guidance, and specially it looks like your baking in some margin compression as the year progresses, thanks.

Jim Cleary

Sure, I’ll take the first part of that and then I’ll let Mary Pat address the margin portion.

So with regard to the acquisition of Centaur that has worked out very well for us. The integration has gone nicely, we’re very happy with the company and very happy with the team there. And so as additional opportunities present themselves, we will be interested in growing that business, John.

Mary Pat

And as you mentioned, John, We are expecting gross margin to be down, largely due to the addition of Centaur for the four month coming up October to January where it will be new. We’ll continue to try to improve our SG&A expenses as a percentage of revenue year over year of course. It can vary quarter to quarter, but our expectation is to improve SG&A by 10 to 20 basis points each year.

John Kreger – William Blair

Great, thank you.

Operator

Thank you sir, our next question comes from Mark Arnold, from Piper Jaffray. Sir?

Mark Arnold – Piper Jaffray

Great quarter again, guys.

Jim Cleary

Thank you.

Mary Pat Thompson

Thank you.

Mark Arnold – Piper Jaffray

I just wanted to follow up at least first here with just, I guess is a combination of the inventory build and the discussion about the bankruptcy of a competitor here. You know, the inventory build here was pretty significant and I guess how should we – given that and given the reasons for it, is that fairly reflective of how much business you’re picking up from that one competitor specifically, or former competitor, or is there more than just one supplier that kind of led to that huge increase?

Jim Cleary

Yeah, let me address that first and then I’ll turn it over to Mary Pat and Mark to provide some additional detail.

In the month of July, we saw the opportunity to pick up significant additional business, particularly in the Midwest and the Northeast, but in other parts of the country too. And so we made a very strategic and important decision that’s really worked out well for us to really build our inventory levels to be able to handle that additional business.

And so we built inventories, you know, above the levels that our systems would have told us to and it really, you know, worked out very well for us so that we were able to handle that additional business when it came in.

So I think that’s, you know, one of the reasons why our revenue growth was so strong, that we were able to maintain very good bill rates at a point in time of significantly increased demand.

Mary Pat Thompson

Yeah, and a comment I’d like to add onto that is of course those inventory levels will continue to be worked down as we absorb the business. You will probably see some negative cash flow in the December quarter because of course, all those inventories will be paid for in the December quarter and perhaps not all of the inventory flow will have been collected back from the customers in cash received.

But I’m looking at an improved bad debt situation for now and I’d say for now because feed prices are going up and so I think in the longer term they’ll have an impact on the break evens and the production segment.

So we’ll work through this inventory. We’ll work through it in the December quarter, but there will some short-term impact on the cash flow.

Mark Arnold – Piper Jaffray

Maybe I’ll just add another follow up to that. So I guess that strategic move you made in July, do you feel comfortable then that you’re going to be able to maintain a significant amount of the share of that competitor or former competitor’s business going forward, or do you think you might lose a little bit of that but still gain a pretty healthy portion?

Jim Cleary

Yeah, that’s a good question, Mark. And you know, a difficult one to give an exact answer to. You know, I think that we will get and will keep our fair share of that business. And you know, one thing that I will add is that we did add some new customers, quite a few new customers, but the majority of the customers were people that already had accounts with MWI, who were purchasing from MWI. And this provided us with the opportunity to move from their secondary distributor to perhaps be their primary distributor, or to move from being their primary distributor with good share to their primary distributor with higher share.

And so it, you know, it basically enabled us to move up the list in a lot of accounts that we already had accounts with.

Mark Arnold – Piper Jaffray

Okay. That’s perfectly leading into my next question. We recently did a Vet Clinic survey and I was surprised at how strong the – when we asked a question about who the clinic’s primary supply was, how strong their response was for MWI. You guys came out first overall in the space.

That survey and our channel checks also suggest that companion animal industry growth has maybe slowed a little bit further in the second half of this year, though it’s still positive. And the outlook is for pretty modest growth over the next few quarters. Is that consist with what you’re seeing for the overall industry, irrespective of what the impacts that you’re seeing in your own business?

Jim Cleary

Yeah, overall, Mark, I would have to say yes it is consistent with what we believe we’re seeing. And it’s really a bit challenging for us because we are experiencing such market-share gains right now. So it is challenging, I should say, to estimate what the market growth is.

But I – based on everything I’m seeing, I think it is a very – or flat-to-low growth environment and that’s what we are anticipating for Fiscal Year 2011 with regard to the market, is a low-growth environment.

But you know, we feel like we can continue to gain share and grow faster than the market.

Mark Arnold – Piper Jaffray

Okay. On the production animal side, you know, we’ve heard rumblings that a large player, large manufacturer in that space may offer a much more attractive total pricing program in 2011 than they have the past couple of years. I don’t expect you to comment specifically on the negotiations on any one manufacturer’s program, but can you give us a general sense for how you feel the rebate programs in 2011 may look versus 2010 on the production animal side specifically?

Jim Cleary

Yeah. Overall, I’d have to say that we are expecting those contracts to be about the same in Fiscal Year 2011 as they were in Fiscal Year 2010. And you know, as we’re preparing our budget, you know, we are not anticipating any major changes in those production animal contracts.

Mary Pat Thompson

One comment I’d add onto that is that we talked a lot about the fact that this September quarter had that missing rebate and that wasn’t related to livestock or to companion, it was strictly a manufacturer no longer is in business and they wanted a lot of attention focused on their program in the September quarter. Of course, that rebate was gone in Fiscal Year 2010.

And so I would agree with Jim that going forward it will look probably very similar in 2011 compared to 2010.

Mark Arnold – Piper Jaffray

One last question from me and I’ll let somebody else jump in. On the production animal side, you know, what are you seeing with the industry there? Obviously, you know, so far this year there’s been a lot of improvement in pricing, but more recently we have a bigger jump in commodity input costs. Can you just give us some general sense of what you’re seeing in that side of business and kind of how you expect that to grow here going forward?

Jim Cleary

Sure. Yeah, what we saw in the latter part of Fiscal Year 2010 and this fall is a nice improvement in production animal market. In the beef, you know, both ranchers and feeders were profitable and so that’s always helpful. And there were also improvements in the dairy market.

You know, of course the issue now, which is exactly the issue that you brought up is that grain prices are high and so input costs are high, which will bring profitability down for people that are buying on the open market and didn’t purchase in advance.

Overall, we’re expecting a production animal market to continue to be okay, and we’re continuing to focus on it. And one of the things that’s really been positive for the production animal market is that the export market has come back and the export market has been good.

Mark Arnold – Piper Jaffray

Great. Thank you guys.

Operator

Thank you, sir. Our next question comes from Robert Willoughby from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. Sir, you may ask your question.

Erin Wilson – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Hi. This is Erin Wilson in for Bob today. Regarding your 2011 outlook, can you point to what are kind of the primary profit drivers, you know, after your anniversary from the Centaur acquisition?

Jim Cleary

Sure. As we look at Fiscal Year 2011, we see continued market share gains for the company. And so, you know, we’re expecting that we’ll have okay growth in the Western part of the United States where we have high share. And then in the Midwestern and Eastern portions of the United States where we’re expecting higher growth rates.

We’re also going to continue to build our sales force. In Fiscal Year 2010 we added 46 sales reps during the year, which included 28 field sales reps and 18 telesales reps, and we’ll continue to build sales reps in Fiscal Year 2011 to grow our sales. So probably not at the same rate that we did in Fiscal Year 2010.

And then we’ll continue to control our operating expenses so we can bring that revenue growth to the – bring up a good portion of it to the bottom line. Mary Pat, do you have anything to add?

Mary Pat Thompson

We’ll continue to also focus on, as Jim mentioned, the value-added services or e-commerce growth has been just excellent and we definitely want to put a lot of focus on that. We’re continuing to focus on our private label brand. We were up for the quarter, that won over 34%, $11.7 million. So we’re hoping to continue to really drive that opportunity as well.

Erin Wilson – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Okay, yes. That’s great. Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions) Our next question comes from Ross Taylor from C.L. King.

Ross Taylor – C. L. King

Good morning. Most of my questions have been answers, but just two or three remaining. The bad debt item that you mentioned in the press release and on the call, was there a reversal in some of your bad debt accruals during the quarter that was reflected in SG&A? And if so, can you quantify it at all?

Mary Pat Thompson

Yeah. We have had a slighter improvement in the September quarter in bad debt. And it was a specifically identified account who’s payment improved in the quarter and so we’re able to remove them from our specifically identified bad debt list. And it was not nearly as significant in the September quarter by any means as it was in the June quarter.

That said, I am still cautious because I do think as Jim talked about the input prices, I think that those, you know, starting in January forward, you know, may be a bit challenging for some of the dairy segments. So I’m cautiously watching that number.

Ross Taylor – C. L. King

Okay. That helps. And the last item I wanted to ask about was, you know, Centaur. Do you expect to be able to grow that business in terms of revenues materially in Fiscal ’11 and do you expect to be able to achieve much in the way of operating margin improvement there or are things fairly static from an operational basis?

And second question related to that, you know, I think you’ve mentioned before there’s, you know, some automation that Centaur has that you might be able to bring to some of your U.S. facilities and if you could give any update on that, that would be helpful.

Jim Cleary

Sure. With regard to Centaur, the market in the UK appears to be growing right now, a little bit faster than the market. In the U.S. appears to be growing in the low-to-mid single digit rate and we’re anticipating in Fiscal Year 2011 for Centaur to grow approximately in line with the market. I don’t see a lot of near-term opportunity with regard to margins there.

With regard to technology, we do see a lot of opportunity. They really are very advanced in terms of warehouse management systems and technology, and automation. And we are learning a lot from them, and we hope to be able to employ some of those tools here in the U.S. which would be very advantageous to us.

Ross Taylor – C. L. King

Okay. That’s helpful. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you, sir. We have a follow-up question from John Kreger from William Blair. Sir, your line is open.

John Kreger – William Blair

Thanks. Just following up on the Centaur question, of the 15 to 19% revenue growth guidance in Fiscal ’11, Mary Pat, how much would you say of that is organic?

Mary Pat Thompson

Well, as you mention, we’re – our guidance is 15 to 19%. About $80 million will be from the timeframe from October to February 8. So that will be new for Centaur this year. But the balance, of course, will be with the organic.

If you exclude those revenues from the acquisition, organic growth rate will be between 8% and 13%.

Ross Taylor – C. L. King

Great. Thanks. And then a question about commodity price changes recently, are you seeing any impact on your production animal customers? It sounds like you’ve had some pretty good results in terms of your allowance for doubtful accounts. Are you starting to worry that if the commodities continue to go in the wrong direction you may have to start cranking the reserve up again?

Mary Pat Thompson

Yeah. That is a risk and we are always monitoring that very, very closely. I didn’t see, which is fortunate, if you look at our receivables, you know, the receivable balance didn’t really climb that much I September and that’s really a reflection there wasn’t as much delayed billing done this September as there has been in previous years. And delayed billing typically increases, you know, pretty dramatically your bad debt exposure because you’ve got a lot of bills that will come all due, you know, say in the December-January time frame. So that’s the positive, but I am very cautious about what January forward looks like for the product market.

Ross Taylor – C. L. King

Okay. Thank you. And then one last question. Back in January and February, there’s a lot of talk about the changing distribution for the flea and tick class. Now that we’ve had one season past, what did you learn from that? What surprised you if anything in terms of how that actually played out?

Jim Cleary

Yeah, that really benefited us and the largest benefit was the fact that, you know, our customers that formally would call us for one flea and tick product line, now we’re able to call us for all the flea and tick, and heartworm product lines. So that was a real benefit.

And then the By-Sell flea and tick products that we stock in our warehouses and we bill, they added about 5% to our growth during the quarter, so that was a benefit.

Ross Taylor – C. L. King

And Jim, was that in the quarter or for the full year?

Jim Cleary

That was for the quarter.

Ross Taylor – C. L. King

Okay, great. Thanks.

Operator

Thank you, sir. Our next question comes from Jonathan Rich from Freedberg Investments. Sir, your line is open.

Jonathan Rich – Freeberg Investments

Hi You guys talked about that one distributor that had issues meeting inventory, but do you think there are other smaller distributors out there that kind of have those same problems where they can’t carry enough inventory or maybe they’ve cut back on service levels that you might be able to take advantage of next year?

Jim Cleary

Yeah. I think that’s a good question and I do think that some of our market share gains have probably been coming from smaller region distributors that we just have higher fill rates, higher levels of inventory and higher fill rates and broader product line. So I think that that has benefited us in Fiscal Year 2010.

Jonathan Rich – Freeberg Investments

Do you think it will benefit you in 2011?

Jim Cleary

Yeah. Yes.

Jonathan Rich – Freeberg Investments

Okay. And then also I think you guys have been taking share by moving to a new geographies, what inning do you think you’re end for that?

Jim Cleary

You know, that is a really good question and one which I’m sorry, I’m not going to give you. But I think that there’s still plenty of room in Fiscal Year 2011 and beyond to have a good growth rates particularly in the Midwest and East where we have been gaining share.

Jonathan Rich – Freeberg Investments

Okay, great. Thank you very much.

Jim Cleary

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you, sir. I am show no further questions in queue. I would like to turn it back to the speaker for any further remarks.

Jim Cleary

Thank you very much and have a great day. Good bye.

Operator

Thank you all. This does conclude your conference. You may now all disconnect. Thank you very much and have a wonderful day.

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