LECO

Lincoln Electric Holdings, Inc. (LECO)

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Lincoln Electric Holdings, Inc. (LECO)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 17, 2012; 10:00 am ET

Executives

John Stropki - Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

Vince Petrella - Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Mark Douglass - Longbow Research

Alex Walsh - KeyBanc Capital Markets

Walter Liptak - Barrington Research

Brian Rayle - Northcoast Research

Holden Lewis - BB&T Capital Markets

Greg Halter - Great Lakes Review

Presentation

Operator

Greetings and welcome to the Lincoln Electric, fourth quarter and full year 2011 financial results conference call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. A brief question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. (Operator Instructions)

It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Vince Petrella, Chief Financial Officer for Lincoln Electric. Thank you sir. You may begin.

Vincent Petrella

Thank you Christine. Good morning to all of you joining us today and welcome to the Lincoln Electric 2011 fourth quarter financial results conference call.

We released our earnings this morning prior to the market’s open. Additional copies can be obtained on the Lincoln Electric website or by contacting our Investor Relations office.

Starting the discussion this morning will be John Stropki, Lincoln’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. John will provide commentary on the quarter and the year, as well as discuss some activity in our statements. I will follow with some more financial numbers in greater detail.

We’ve included a PowerPoint presentation as a part of today's discussion, which is available on the Lincoln website as well, under the Investor Webcast tab. But before we get started with today’s discussion, let me remind you that certain statements made during this call and in our discussions maybe forward-looking and actual results may differ from our expectations.

Actual results may differ materially from such statements due to a variety of factors that could adversely affect the company's operating results. Risks and uncertainties that may affect our results are provided in our press release and in our SEC filings on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q.

Now, let me turn the call over to John Stropki.

John Stropki

Thank you Vince and good morning to everyone. Our results for 2011 fourth quarter were very positive. 2011 sales of $2.7 billion was the highest in Lincoln’s history and also marked the second consecutive year-over-year of very strong sales growth. Sales in 2011 increased 30.2% over 2010, which in their self were up 20% from 2009 results.

We obtained good leverage in most of our business segments. The fourth quarter strong operating results, coupled with continued strength in sales and profitability were particularly encouraging, giving the ongoing uncertainty in economic and political environments in several key markets.

We entered 2012 with very good momentum. Particularly here in North America, our largest segment, where the overall manufacturing environment and relative business metrics continue to improve, especially in the United States. Our strong revenue growth underlines the fact we remain focused, on track and we are executing on our global growth strategy.

Our three U.S. acquisitions of last year are contributing beyond expectations and demonstrating good upside potential. Fourth quarter sales rose 23% to $695 million and net income increased 39% to $57.7 million or $0.68 per diluted share. Full year 2011 net income increased 66.8% to $217 million or $2.56 per diluted share. Vince will provide more detail on the numbers later, but first I’ll review some of the segments and provide a little color about the activity in the regions.

First, North America. In North America, our largest segment, sales were very strong in the quarter, rising 33% year-over-year to $362 million. Third party export sales increased $63 million, up 21% from the fourth quarter of 2010. Exports to the Brit countries improved 37% over the same period. We also announced a price increase in the United States effective October 3, 2011. Machine pricing was increased, an average of about 5%, with certain welding consumables, including select Sub Arc and Flex Cord wires, the pricing increased between 3% to 7%. 2011 North America sales were $1.3 billion, a 29% increase year-over-year.

As I said earlier, we are very pleased with the progress of our recent North American acquisitions. Torchmate has been a great addition right out of the gate. The products fit well with our customers and has been embraced by our industrial distribution channel. The team of people at Torchmate are energized and we are thrilled to have them on our team.

Our products has been focused on the development of new orbital welding systems. These products are used extensively in industries supporting the construction and maintenance of the energy infrastructure. The new orbital welding products have been released with great enthusiasm by key customers.

Techalloy makes nickel based alloy and stainless steel welding consumables. These products are important to the energy related industries. Techalloy was carved out of Central Wire. We have since consolidated operations in Baltimore, installed SAP, integrated the products into Lincoln’s portfolio and begun to manage the business for improved profitability. We will be moving the Techalloy operation into our Cleaveland operations in the future and we were just awarded a significant financial incentive package from the State of Ohio to help facilitate this move.

Business conditions in North America operations were stronger in the quarter. Overall industrial activity represented in key measures such as industrial production and capacity utilization across factories in the United States, both ran ahead of last year’s comparable. Industrial production in the US, excluding the high-tech segment was trending at 3.9% ahead of 2010 as of December 2011.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com