Praxair Inc PX
Q4 2012 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 01/23/2013

Operator: Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Q4 2012 Praxair Earnings Conference Call. My name is Miranda, and I'll be your operator for today. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. We will conduct a question-and-answer session towards the end of this conference. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes.

I would now like to turn the call over to your host for today, Ms. Kelcey Hoyt, Director of Investor Relations. You may proceed, ma'am.

Kelcey E. Hoyt - Director, IR: Thanks Miranda. Good morning. Thank you for attending our fourth quarter earnings call and webcast. I'm joined this morning by Jim Sawyer, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and Liz Hirsch, our Vice President and Controller.

Today's presentation materials are available on our website at in the Investors section. Please read the forward-looking statement disclosure on Page 2 of the slides and note that it applies to all statements made during this teleconference.

Please also note that our discussion of earnings for the full year and fourth quarter, including year-over-year and sequential comparison excludes previously disclosed adjustments in the third quarter of 2012 and fourth quarter of 2011. These items are detailed and reconciled to the GAAP reported numbers in the appendices to this presentation and the press release.

Jim and I will now review Praxair's full year and fourth quarter results as well as our outlook for 2013 including earnings guidance. We'll then be available to answer questions.

James S. Sawyer - EVP and CFO: Thank you, Kelcey, and good morning everyone. Praxair delivered solid results for the full year 2012. Strong growth in our North American businesses was offset by significant currency headwinds and recessionary economic conditions in Europe and Brazil resulting in relatively stable sales, but continuing earnings per share growth.

Excluding foreign currency and cost pass-through full year sales grew 5%, operating profit 6% and EPS 8%. This demonstrates that we continue to get leverage down the income statement by growing operating profits faster than sales through strong productivity, gains, and price. EPS grew more than operating profit because of our strong return on capital and operating cash flow which revised the share repurchases.

It is the hallmark of our leadership and commitment to solid execution. Effective management is what we have under our control, particularly during times of challenging economic conditions. Our results for the fourth quarter were mixed as we had warned and at the beginning of the quarter. I hate to refer to the fiscal cliff, but budget anxiety and deferral of capital spending resulted from poor business confidence which is strongly evident Europe, South America, and the U.S.

Demand for packaged gas is primarily from the metal fabrication and machinery industries, slowed market lay in December as customers took extended holiday shutdowns in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, Europe, and particularly South America. These shutdowns have extended into January and in Brazil, situation will probably last into February due to the carnival and lunar New Year holidays.

Read our Earnings Call Transcript disclaimer.
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