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Edited Transcript of 2319.HK earnings conference call or presentation 31-Aug-17 1:30am GMT

Thomson Reuters StreetEvents

Half Year 2017 China Mengniu Dairy Co Ltd Earnings Presentation (Chinese, English)

Hong Kong Sep 6, 2017 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of China Mengniu Dairy Co Ltd earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 1:30:00am GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Minfang Lu

China Mengniu Dairy Company Limited - CEO and Executive Director

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Presentation

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Unidentified Company Representative, [1]

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Dear investors, dear press, friends from China and Hong Kong, welcome to 2017 Interim Results Announcement of Mengniu and Yashili. I believe you have collected the slides in hard copy. Please kindly switch your mobile to silent mode.

Let me give an introduction of the management we have today. Lu Minfang, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Executive Director; Ms. Wu Wenting, Vice President and Executive Director; Mr. Zhang Ping, Chief Financial Officer; Mr. Shi Dongwei, Executive President; Mr. Liu Shengli, Vice President; Mr. Gao Fei, Vice President; Mr. Chris Kwok, Financial Controller and Company Secretary; Mr. Chopin Zhang, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director; Ms. Wen Jieping, Chief Financial Officer.

We have 3 parts for the results announcement. First of all, the management will walk us through the business highlights, and then we have a Q&A session following that. So Mr. Lu, please.

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Minfang Lu, China Mengniu Dairy Company Limited - CEO and Executive Director [2]

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Dear investors, friends from the media, good morning. It's my great pleasure to share some of our highlights in the first half. As for myself, I've been working in Mengniu for nearly 1 year, this is our first time to walk you through the business highlights with the new management team.

To sum up my experience in Mengniu, I think I should say 2 words. First word is confidence. The confidence is from the fact that our management has worked closely with all the colleagues with a common goal. We have responded to every decision swiftly. The confidence is also from the fact that we have implemented all the strategies that we made at the beginning of this year.

Third, the confidence is also from the fact that our operation team is running very well after reorganization. With that, I believe at present, Mengniu is in a benign cycle of development. So to prove that, I will talk about the business highlights of the first half.

First of all, some financial figures. We maintained 9.7% of high-speed growth, and last -- that was last year. And in the first half of this year, we have achieved 8%. Last year, in the first half, that was earning 6.6%. But in the first half this year, we have achieved 8% of growth.

As for GP, we have gone up by 14.4%. You should know this is against the backdrop that the industry has seen GP going down, but we have gone up against the trend. So that means our reorganization of team, our improvement of product portfolio has been doing very well.

In this year, there is a price raise in raw material and packaging material, but we have optimized our product portfolio and reorganized the team. That's why our GP has gone up a lot.

Operating profit has gone up by 18.4%. This is including all the subsidiaries, including modern farming, which is consolidated. EBITDA has gone up 6.2%. Of course, this is because that we have consolidated all the subsidiaries, especially modern farming, which is at loss.

The profit attributable to owners of the company has gone up 4.7% to CNY 1.1 billion. Basic EPS has gone up by 4.7% to $0.29 (sic) CNY 0.29. So this is kind of overperforming the target that our board set. We have very healthy profit, and there is a rosy picture of GP margin.

I'm sure you have been concerned about our cow business, especially Modern Dairy. We have acquired the additional shares from Modern Dairy in March and April this year. So as for revenue and GP margin, we have talked about it, but there is a 25.2% of growth in operating profit.

As for profit attributable to owners of the company, it's gone up 29.3%, with net profit margin being 5.4%. That indicates that our key business and the subsidiaries have performed very well in the first half.

In the first half, all the business units of Mengniu have seen the growth in their sales. This is for the first time in history. And there is an improvement in profit as well.

Next, I'm going to talk about the business in different units. As for liquid milk, as you can see, our 3 business units and the other little business units have all increased. None of them is declining. Liquid milk has gone up by 6.8%. Ice cream has a turnaround. Last year, there was some improvement, but this year, it rises significantly.

As for milk formula, including [Dumex] and Yashily, it's gone up by 7.6%. The decline of Yashili is narrowing because Dumex has recorded good growth. So as for milk formula, we have recorded 7.6%. As for others, cheese, plant-based milk, we have recorded growth. The base is not that strong, but it indicates that we have achieved some improvement in this business. So all of these have brought us CNY 29.5 billion, which presents a growth of 8.1%.

I would especially talk about what's good for this year. In all of these business units, we have achieved tremendous growth in market share. As for liquid milk, others and other competitors have outperformed us. But as for liquid milk, the structure is changing. This is obvious. We have (inaudible), Just Yoghurt and Daguoli. These 3 products have been doing very well.

Second, I think one of the highlights is that we have increased our market share in chilled products, and we have been always the leading player. And it's 28.2%. If we take out the yogurt business, our yogurt business is more, obviously, the market leader from 31.5% to 32.2%.

Sometimes, the results from Nielsen is a bit different ours. If you remember this rate last year, there was a growth of 9.7%, but it's not reflected in Nielsen's market share indication. Because the market is turning to be more and more multichannel, so the market trend as well as our business is very healthy as you can see.

In terms of cash flow, in the first half, our cash flow is doing very well. It rises from CNY 2.6 billion last year to CNY 3.4 billion this year. This is thanks to our improvement in operating efficiency contributing a lot to profit.

As for CapEx, as you can see, apart from equity investment, we have controlled the CapEx very well from CNY 1.48 billion to CNY 1 billion. And another big thing is our equity investment to Modern Dairy. As for free cash flow, it has gone up significantly, doing much better than last year, so we are achieving a high-quality growth.

As for SG&A, it's rising stably from 23.7% to 24.2%. Last year, it was 25% for the whole year. So I think this year, it's more or less the same. Because the market competition is still heated, so that's why we want to keep our position in the market. And at the same time, we try to keep our top line at a high position as always.

As for G&A expenses, it's down from 4.2% to 3.7%. We have implemented the organization restructuring in all business units, so that's why our G&A expenses have achieved very good improvement. We have consolidated business in every unit and improved efficiency, that's why the trend in the expense reduction is very good.

As for free cash flow, including our improvement in the operating cash flow, apart from that, we have better operating efficiency, be it for inventory turnover, receivables and payables. In all of this, we have improved a lot.

So it's worth noting that our inventory turnover has gone down from 39.3% to 31.5%. Very significant decrease. This is thanks to our effort to reorganize our business units, so our back office and front office can work seamlessly. We have CNI system with SAP support, so our SAP operation is doing very well. In terms of operating efficiency, we have seen very healthy trend.

So I covered some of the achievements and the highlights that we had. In the next part, I'd like to talk about what we did in the first half and what we will be doing in the second half in order to make sure that the healthy growth will be maintained in the future, how our high-speed growth can be maintained in the future.

As we said, we have the same guidance as we did in the first half, so how can we keep the good momentum? That means we must keep a high sales figure, and we have to continuously improve our operating efficiency. That's why I want to spend a few minutes to talk about what we did in the first half.

On this page, as we said in March this year, we have changed our strategy in a bold manner. We have 5 points here. The first is organization restructuring. So the reorganization of the company is our strategic move. Second, improving operational efficiency is very important for the company. This is to strengthen our profitability.

Third, we deployed upstream resources with a forward-looking vision and build an all-value-chain system so we can see a very good synergy of the different industry chains. Fourth, we promote upgrade in all brands in all categories and drive the development of new products. In the first half, our new product -- especially in chilled products, Daguoli, and ice cream, we have seen very good results.

Last but not least, our strategy is to build up channel advantages through various approaches and continue our Route to Marketing initiative and strengthen the competitiveness in sales channels. So I'd like to give a detailed view of every point.

First of all, as for the organizational restructuring, this is in line with our strategy and business. Traditionally, our hedges are in UHT/chilled segments and ice cream. As of today, you can see there is a rise in our market share in chilled segments and ice cream that indicates our business units have been doing very well in making general decisions, especially in marketing. These are thanks to the decisions of our business units. This has improved our speed of decision-making.

As for milk formula, we have been actively adjusting our business, including the product structure. In Yashili, we have 7 series and 21 products, so this is the brand that we have most products that will strengthen our deployment in product. I believe with that, the results of Yashili will be even better in the second half.

We also actively build new segments, and we develop business with high-growth potential. So we have to highlight a few points. First of all, pasteurized milk. We set up the business units for pasteurized milk in May this year, starting our deployment in this front.

After our move to take additional shares from Modern Dairy, this is one of the strategic moves that we did. That's why we acquired additional shares from Modern Dairy because we intended to get their best product, that was pasteurized milk. We have started the job here, and we have an individual team for the operation.

Second, plant-based protein drink. The sales has been rising very well. But there is room for improvement and for profit, so we will have more strategy for this.

Cheese business. In Mengniu, our own cheese business has developed very well. Recently, we have reached an agreement with Arla to set up a new cheese factory in China. This factory would be put into operations next year. Prior -- before the production launches, we will be using Arla's China layout to help us with our JV layout in China.

Finally, on international business. Actually, regarding this part from Hong Kong, Macau, Southeast Asia, et cetera, at the moment, for this part, it's been growing at 30% annually, consecutively. So it's growing very well. So if you look at all of our -- a lot of our products outside, in the lobby, quite a few of them are sold in Hong Kong as well as in Singapore.

For example, our brand Just Yoghurt, it is selling very well in Singapore. It is very popular in Southeast Asia. So we welcome you all to taste our products that's being showed outside.

Besides those, we also have our indexed high-end milk layout, and that is almost completed. So going forward, along the One Belt, One Road countries, our layout will be completed and our growth will be sustainable.

For the second half of this year, in terms of the first half of the year, we have worked on our organizational. Second, we need to have a very good system to empower our units so that other strategies could be implemented sooner. You can see this is why we have been able to do very well out of fee -- out of the costs area, especially for the SP and costs, et cetera.

For our second half, our priority would be R&D and branding, so this is for us to layout our strategic plans. Last week, I went to the States in our R&D for UCS. They are the place, the center for R&D around the world. I was very surprised to see that for that university, every year, there are 3,300 Chinese students enrolling in that university. And in my lab, in our R&D unit, including UC Davis, around 60% to 70% high-end research talent come from China, Ph.D. and post-doc holders.

In addition, for our technology R&D, we also have enjoyed breakthroughs. Therefore, R&D as well as branding building will be our second half year's priority.

In addition, we also talk about -- in order to realize this growth, we need to work hard on our incentives mechanism. So this is also one area that you will see a lot of improvement in this area. We will make sure that it is the performance-driven culture in the company.

Finally, in order to realize this, we need to strengthen our performance approval. Actually, we've done a lot of work. Perhaps from the outside, you didn't really understand. We make sure that it is performance-led. If you're able, you will be able to be promoted. Otherwise, you can't move forward in the company.

Second, on this part, I'm not going to spend too much time on this. Actually, last Q3, I talked about this. We have seen great results coming from these 3 areas of work. We can see that for the packaging material, it has gone up by 40%. But for Mengniu, in this backdrop, our gross margin has actually been able to grow. Therefore, in terms of our cost control, we have done very well.

For A&P efficiency, for the 3 products, (inaudible) Big Fruit and Just Yoghurt, these 3 types, the 90% of our A&P are invested in these 3 projects -- in these 3 products. So we will continue to improve our merchandising efficiency.

Finally, on our supply chain. Our supply chain, we have eliminated the unnecessary OEMs. In addition for the raw milk, together with the factories that we have for each business unit, we have been able to create great synergy. So all of the system has been realized by digital method. All the budget, all the performance approval -- appraisal, et cetera, is all done digitally. So based on this, there will not be high price, no powder.

Second, our synergy with the different BUs, it is very -- it is going very well. And I'm very satisfied and very proud of this that we were able to connect it seamlessly. So this again reflects the improvement of our gross margin.

Going forward, we need to continue to work on our [COE]. We hope that there will be further enhancement on the achievements that we have already made. We have 6 indicators here. We hope that we would be able to implement these. And I believe that the COE efficiencies that we have seen in the first half of this year will further reflected in the second half.

Finally, I'm going to talk about the integrated resources. So first one is the China Modern Dairy. Second is the successful operation of milk sourcing division. So we hope that it is not only just a division to source milk, but also for the milk powder, raw milk procurement and centralized management is all synergized in one department. As long as we can make it work in the whole group, it will be rolled out. However, for the CMD, I'm going to spend some time on talking to you about this.

The synergy work for CMD we have already seen achievements so far in terms of the 3 areas, overall company cost control and brand business. You know that CMD is also working hard on reducing its financing cost in terms of quality control. You know that -- this, we do not need to stress more on that.

In terms of brand business, we have completely taken over CMD's production through sales of their branded business from their UHT to their chilled business. This has been finalized since June. In addition, we have also launched new products for CMD, which is Xianyu. This product is growing very well. I hope that if you have the opportunity, you can also taste it.

The third area is on the farming business, including raw milk supply, raw material procurement in upstream business. I have also spoken to the investors. For the first half of this year, we did not produce any [convert] milk. However, Mengniu did not have any suffering from it either. In addition, Mengniu have used these resources very well.

Looking back at a lot of the companies, well, the figure that I got is every company have used convert milk. However, Mengniu that was the only one which did not use this. Not only that we have not made a loss, perhaps we have made even a gain. For full (inaudible) Farming, in terms of our raw material procurement, some of those platforms are also being rolled out actively. I believe that this will bring benefits to CMD as well as Mengniu.

One area I'd like to focus on which is the premium work that we're doing, 3 area. One is in the (inaudible), then Just Yoghurt and Big Fruit. For chilled business, our brand -- our famous brand is the aeronautic [Xianyu]. For ice cream, it is the (inaudible). For mother/baby product, we are also working very hard to promote it.

Finally, in terms of actively promoting innovative products, for example, (inaudible), I think you must try this, the super premium chilled yogurt. This (inaudible) is the one that was most tasteful in China.

Second, with the LC-37. You'll remember, Yoyi C, last year, it was double-digit decrease. And this year, it was positive growth. Together with our little blue bottle, these 2 areas we have done very well this year.

However, for us to further improve, this is not enough. In the second half of this year, we will continue to push forward new products. For example, the Xianyu Pure Milk, (inaudible) Milk Deluxe M-PLUS, this product is almost ready. Finally, new products under Just Yoghurt. I'm not going to reveal this yet. This will be launched in the second half of this year, a UHT yogurt. Actually, we have a few different series, and they will be launched at the same time.

In terms of chilled, our BB-12 Champion, this is a great product differentiation. Perhaps, you have heard about this in the news. This is a self-owned bacteria by Mengniu. With the spaceships coming back to earth, and this bacteria will be utilized in our products. Finally, our European-style charcoal yogurt will also be pushed forward to the market.

We also have other types of new products, I'm not going to further elaborate. It will bring you a lot of surprise. These products, together with our current star brands, they match very well, and you could taste our new products. Together with our brand -- star brands, actually, the new products, the taste has improved greatly, including the Milk Deluxe, the Milk-PLUS Yogurt; as well as the LC-37, the blue -- little blue bottle; and the Milk Deluxe M-PLUS. If you are into going to the gym frequently, please try this. This is a great high-protein milk.

Finally, we have always been talking about how to manage our channels and refine our channels. Despite what we talked about last year, we also have enhanced our sales channels this year. I can tell you, our sales companies' quality as well as our CBUs' quality have improved greatly because they have the ability to execute to make a profit. This is very good for the business.

In addition, with our distributors, we have also established a very good distributor system with them, so that we can move forward hand-in-hand. By the way, we also talked about key accounts, key cities as well as township breakthroughs in Beijing and Shanghai. We have changed our operating system. Beijing, great growth. Shanghai, since June, the growth is also showing momentum. So I believe this strategy is very important. In addition, for areas where Mengniu has been leading the market, we'll continue to push forward.

Finally, on the townships and villages, this will be a very important area for us to grow in the future in terms of both chilled and UHT to push forward our growth. This year, we will continue to add other locations. Next month, we will have a comprehensive cooperation with Ali to talk about a new online channel.

So just now, we talked about the organizational structure to the market penetration. These 5 areas, 1, 2, 3, 5, as shown on the PowerPoint, we have been able to make progress in all these areas. So I think just now, it's a very brief introduction. But for us, it is a good introduction for our strategy as well as its implementation for this year.

Before I finish, I would like to share with you the changes in Mengniu. It is because we now have a new core team, new structural organization, a better corporate culture, therefore, I think this is a solid foundation together with our better, clearer strategies for our business.

Same in our board meeting yesterday, we have received support from our board as well as our main shareholders, whether it is UHT or chilled business or our business with Arla. For the business going forward this year, in terms of R&D or technology support, et cetera, they have been giving us maximum support for a lot of projects. For example, in Danone, some of those projects are leading projects.

Because we have a great team, everyone is working towards one goal. Because we have a corporate culture that is positive, it has put Mengniu back on the map, on the right trajectory. So I believe, going forward, I have full confidence of Mengniu's future. Our whole management team are very confident. I'm also very confident of our board, and I would also like to thank the media as well as our investors for your continuous support.