Zebra Technologies Corporation (ZBRA)
Q4 2011 Earnings Call
February 14, 2012 11:00 AM ET
Anders Gustafsson – Chief Executive Officer
Mike Smiley – Chief Financial Officer
Mike Terzich – Senior Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing
Doug Fox – Vice President, Investor Relations
Anthony Kure – KeyBanc
Paul Coster – J.P.Morgan
Chris Quilty – Raymond James
Ajit Pai – Stifel Nicolaus
Marty Moser – Northwestern Mutual
Keith Housum – Northcoast Research
Greg Halter – Great Lakes Review
Tim Mulrooney – William Blair
Rick Johnson – Tieg
Keith Curtis – Brant Point Capital
Previous Statements by ZBRA
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All lines will be in a listen-only mode until after today’s presentation. Instructions will be given at that time in order to ask a question. At the request of Zebra Technologies, this conference call is being recorded. Should anyone have any objections, please disconnect at this time.
At this time, I would like to introduce Mr. Doug Fox of Zebra Technologies. Sir, you may begin.
Thank you. Good morning. Thank you for joining us today. Certain statements made on this call will relate to future events or circumstances and therefore will be forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.
Words such as expect, believe and anticipate are a few examples of words identifying a forward-looking statements. Forward-looking information is subject to various risks and uncertainties, which could significantly affect expected results. Risk factors were noted in the news release issued this morning and are also described in Zebra’s 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010 which is on file with the SEC.
Now, let me turn the call over to Anders Gustafsson for some brief opening remarks.
Thank you, Doug, and good morning, everyone. Today Zebra reported solid fourth quarter financial results concluding another year of strong growth. Earnings from continuing operations advanced 20% to $0.63 per share on a 6% increase in sales to $247 million. For the fourth quarter, we maintained high profitability and generated $36 million in free cash flow.
Our robust and steady run rate business and several large deals led to record sales in Europe and near record sales in North America. Globally, record sales of mobile and card printers underscored solid performance in several product categories, as we helped more customers in targeted industries, improved business performance by enabling them to see more and do more.
Fourth quarter results demonstrate the great value of Zebra’s industry leadership. Investing in those areas that deliver the highest risk-adjusted returns, we gained share on the strength of expanded channel relationships and the more competitive line of innovative products.
Our fourth quarter performance caps a very successful year for Zebra. For all of 2011, we achieved 10% sales growth, with records sales in all international regions and in multiple product lines. Increases in gross margin and effective expense management drove operating leverage and a 2% increase in operating margin to 18.5%.
We invested more than $160 million to repurchase 4.4 million shares of Zebra stock and delivered a 32% increase in earnings from continuing operations to a record $2.40 per share. With a net gain on the sale of Navis and proveo net income for the year was $3.22 per share.
Operationally, we made progress on several strategic fronts. We opened new sales offices in China, Russia and Brazil, and the sales resources previously brought on board became more productive.
We accelerated the pace of product introductions with a record 13 new printer products, and 10 hardware and software releases for vacation solutions in 2011. These new products enabled us to broaden our customer base in established and new industries.
We also made excellent progress in building relationships with a broader base of customers in targeted verticals. These achievements have positioned Zebra to deliver increased shareholder value over the long-term.
I would now like to provide an overview of the highlights for the quarter by region. In North America, year-over-year sales increased 9.5%. Steady bookings throughout the period created an underlying foundation of strength for the region. Several large orders further reinforced our performance. Shipments of mobile and desktop printers in particular supported applications for customers in retail and small package delivery.
We were also pleased with the level of orders for our recently introduced QLn wireless mobile printer, including one for government labeling application. This shipment highlights the success of our take share strategy and increased focus on growing our presence in the government sector, which has historically been underserved by Zebra. Customers are responding enthusiastically to the innovative features of the QLn mobile printer, which incorporates a flexible user interface for easy configuration.
Our EMEA region was another source of strength in the fourth quarter with sales up 5% from a year ago to a record $88 million. In an environment with some significant economic challenges, we are particularly pleased with the achievements of our EMEA organization. Eight of 10 sub-regions posted year-over-year gains with notable performance in manufacturing-centric Germany, as well as France and the U.K.
Larger deals included shipments of wireless mobile printers to retail and transportation customers, kiosk printers for banking applications and card printers for government identity cards. It was also a good quarter for sales of labels and ribbon supplies in the region. Supplies and service offer growth in our core business which we will be focusing on in 2012.