Carriage Services, Inc. (CSV)

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Carriage Services, Inc. (CSV)

Q4 2007 Earnings Call

March 7, 2008 10:00 am ET


Kip Rupp – Managing Director, DRG&E

Melvin C. Payne - Chairman of the Board, President & Chief Executive Officer

Joseph Saporito - Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President & Secretary


James Clement – Sidoti & Company, LLC

Drew [Gaputes] – Davenport & Company

Alan Webber – Sidoti & Company

[Darnell Zasis] – Lord, Abbett & Co.

Igor [Latsin] – Summa Capital Management, LLC

Frank Bianco – Argent Capital Management, LLC



Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for standing by and welcome to the Carriage Services’ fourth quarter and full year 2007 earnings conference call. During today’s presentation all parties will be in a listen only mode. Following the presentation, the conference will be open for questions. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder this conference is being recorded today on Friday, the 7th of March, 2008. I’ll now turn the conference to Mr. Kip Rupp, Managing Partner of DRG&E. Please go ahead.

Kip Rupp

Good morning everyone, we appreciate you joining us for the Carriage Services’ conference call to review yesterday afternoon’s earnings release. Before I turn the call over to management, I have the normal housekeeping details to run though. If you would like to be on the email distribution or fax list for future Carriage Services’ news releases or if you had any technical problems and did not receive your copy of the news release yesterday afternoon, please call our offices at DRG&E and we will be happy to help you out. That number is 713-529-6600. Also if you’d like to listen to a replay of today’s call one will be available via webcast by going to Carriage’s website at Additionally in a few hours there will be a telephonic instant replay available that will be available for the next seven days. The replay at this number and code are in the press release that was released yesterday afternoon.

Please note that information reported on this call speaks only as of today, March 7th, 2008 and therefore you are advised that time sensitive information may no longer be accurate at the time of any replay listening. As you know certain statements made today in the conference call or elsewhere by or on behalf of the company that are not historical facts are intended to be forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 as amended and Section 21(e) in the Securities Act of 1934 as amended. These statements are based upon assumptions that the company believes are reasonable. However many factors that are discussed under forward-looking statements and cautionary statements in the company’s annual report on 10-K for the year December 31st, 2006 and subsequent SEC filings could cause the company’s results in the future to differ materially from the forward-looking statements made today in other documents or oral presentations made by or on behalf of the company. A copy of the company’s Form 10-K and 10-Qs and other information and news releases are available for free on the Carriage Services’ website.

Now, with me today are Mel Payne, Carriage Services’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and Joe Saporito, Carriage Services’ Chief Financial Officer. I would now like to turn the call over to Mel.

Melvin C. Payne

Well, how does everybody like our bikini reporting after one year? Because we worked out a lot in the gym before rolling it out about one year ago and our results for the year show that we are a very fit company. More seriously our reporting is the most transparent in the industry and the most transparent probably in most companies, no matter what the industry. There is simply no place to hide from our field operating and acquisition results and beneficially our managing partners can see the impact their individual business is having on Carriage’s total performance. We like it that way and they like it that way.

Our company theme for 2007 was 2007 The Year of Being the Best, No Excuses and I am extremely proud that our employees and leaders lived up to the promise of that theme with consistently broad and deep execution of all three of our models. It was truly a breakout year for Carriage in numerous ways which got reflected in a stock price increase of 73% to $8.80 per share on December 31, 2007 and while the stock is backed up quite a bit in the current market correction, we do not concern ourselves with that. We’re not buying any stock back in as the stock should follow the progress of the company over time and I can tell you our company continues to get better. We made seven great acquisitions during 2007, each of which was consistent with our ten-year vision for Carriage. As part of the vision we have established five and ten-year goals to grow the financial performance contribution from our acquisition portfolio by focusing our capital investment in 10 to 15 strategic markets where demographic trends are positive and strong independent brands that fit our six strategic criteria are available for expansion and consolidation.

Our trend reports isolate the impact this growing acquisition portfolio is having on our performance over time. We believe that our commitment to making the individual experience of our client families highly valuable and unique within a decentralized framework of it being the best entrepreneurial culture offers an attractive succession planning solution to the remaining large quality independence in our industry. Specifically we want to be known for hiring and retaining only the best talent and for acquiring only the best operations in large demographically attractive markets. A being the best, not the biggest, reputation and culture is a compelling vision for our company and reflects our view of the very serious and noble nature of our work. Taking great care of the deceased, while serving the celebration of life, grief of loss and memorialization needs of the living, our direction and strategies are clear and our dedication to this vision is strong and unwavering. Now it’s all about execution.

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