U.S. Markets open in 9 hrs 25 mins

Edited Transcript of HUSQ B.ST earnings conference call or presentation 22-Oct-19 8:00am GMT

Q3 2019 Husqvarna AB Earnings Call

Stockholm Oct 29, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Husqvarna AB earnings conference call or presentation Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at 8:00:00am GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

================================================================================

Corporate Participants

================================================================================

* Glen Instone

Husqvarna AB (publ) - Senior VP of Finance, IR & Communication and CFO

* Johan Andersson

Husqvarna AB (publ) - Director of Group Corporate Communications & IR

* Kai Wärn

Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director

================================================================================

Conference Call Participants

================================================================================

* Björn Enarson

Danske Bank Markets Equity Research - Head of Equity Research of Sweden

* Johan Eliason

Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Analyst

* Karri Rinta

Handelsbanken Capital Markets AB, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Klara Jonsson

SEB, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Olof Cederholm

ABG Sundal Collier Holding ASA, Research Division - Analyst

================================================================================

Presentation

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Andersson, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Director of Group Corporate Communications & IR [1]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning, and welcome to Husqvarna Group's presentation of the third quarter 2019. My name is Johan Andersson, responsible for Investor Relations, and will be the moderator here today.

Here in Stockholm, we have our CEO, Kai Wärn; and our CFO, Glen Instone, that will take you through the reports with our presentation. And after that, we will open up for the Q&A session, first on the floor here in Stockholm and then over the telephone conference.

So with that, please, Kai.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [2]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you, Johan. Good morning, everybody. Welcome to this quarterly 3 announcement, which is to a large extent showing a lot of improvements in many aspects, and I'll try to cover those within short. But let us jump straight into it.

So to start with net sales. Adjusted for the exited Consumer Brands business and comparable currencies, it's plus 2%. All divisions showing growth. Particularly noteworthy is that Europe is doing well. And again, after the start of quarter 2, which was a bit difficult on the robot side, that then improved throughout the quarter. It was very satisfactory to see that the growth rates of robotics as well as battery-based products was really good throughout the quarter and well above the medium-term guidance we had given of 15% year-on-year. That was positive.

A little bit on the negative side, though, we experienced a weak market for wheeled products. This is very much related to Husqvarna Division in North America, which was double-digit and hence burdened the -- the Husqvarna Division a bit. So that was a bit tough, but for the rest, I would point to 2 things on the sales side. And on (inaudible) plus 2 in all divisions in growth.

If you look at the operating margin, we are now at 9.3% rolling 12 months. And please remember, end of '18, we were at 7.9%. So it's quite a considerable improvement we have done in this period of time. We're actually talking about SEK 700 million of EBIT improvement of SEK 3.5 billion to SEK 4.2 billion is -- to give the magnitudes of that. And in the quarter then, of course, it was a big increase versus on the other hand the low reference point of '18, so a plus 84%. But again, that reference was nothing to be proud of given the problems you would recall on the weather side in Europe at that time.

Also satisfactory to see direct operating cash flow SEK 3.8 billion for the year-to-date versus SEK 2.1 billion. So again, a considerable improvement. And going forward, we talk about now an increased cost focus to support the continued strategic initiatives and profitability improvements that we expect to see and aim to see. And that means, of course, just like in previous years, an efficiency program of a considerable magnitude, but also looking at particularly some cost structures as well to make sure we are competitive in all aspects.

Regarding then after-sales growth. To the right of this page, you will see then the year-to-date with Gardena being 3%. All these numbers, by the way, are adjusted for the exited businesses we account so far for, give and take, SEK 1.2 billion year-to-date for the exited businesses. We foresee that to be about SEK 1.5 billion for the full year, so on the lower side of what we said. On the other hand, just going a little bit ahead now into next year that might be in the magnitude of SEK 2 billion of exits in 2020 to follow this year. So the total of those 2 years is pretty much the same, a little bit skewed into 2020. But excluding those exits, Gardena 3%, construction 4% and Husqvarna then 1% and the group is on 2%. So a little bit behind what we were trading at coming into '19, but also remembering these 2 situations with historical quarter 2 in Europe, but now a little bit weakness in North America.

So given those 2 factors, we are quite pleased actually to see where we are at this stage. We are from a taxless EBIT level at SEK 3943 million, so just beneath SEK 4 billion, which is actually the best-ever absolute level we have had. And margin-wise, as you heard me say, we're back to 9.3%. So we have restored the profitability, which was, of course, hugely important. And you will recall, that was the priority 1 when we talked about 2019 end of last year. So I would say, yes, we are delivering on that improvement.

If you look at the group financials. It's -- maybe I'd like to draw your attention to the gross margins. May that be the quarter 3 or may that be the year-to-date, you see pretty strong gross margin improvements, I think that's a sign of strength. And you see the operating income improvement of 20% and the equivalent of SEK 700 million that I mentioned would also be the things I'd like to call out specifically to this page.

Looking into the Husqvarna Division. We see the plus 2% for the quarter and actually plus 1% for the year-to-date on the top line. And again, back to the comments. Good growth in Europe. Good growth also for robots and battery-based products. Europe is double-digit; North America, double-digit down for the quarter, just to give you the magnitudes. And within those numbers, of battery products, as I mentioned, are well above the 15% target that we expected to deliver on midterm. So that's good.

The rate of robot sales in North America hasn't really changed. I just want to be clear about this. So when we talk about wheeled products, North America, we predominantly mean tractors, zero turns, vehicles that you sit on. The robots growth rate in North America remains close to the same as before, although doubling, give and take, and nothing has changed on that.

On the year-to-date, looking maybe then more at operating income, yes, we do have impact, positive impact from the price increases; of course, equally from the restructuring and efficiency programs as well as some positive currency effects. On the other hand then, we have higher raw materials, tariffs, and particularly the tariffs. And of course, the strategic growth initiatives is also a bit of a burden on that perspective. Not to forget, I think, on the year-to-date, 16% up with operating income, which is, I think, still quite something at least now.

Moving over to Gardena. Of course, a success story. And you will recall that this time last year, they had -- they were up 23%. So they have -- just have quarter 3 but on the backstop of the fantastic weather that you might have enjoyed privately as well. So the result of that an increase from [SEK 12 million] in '17 to SEK 66 million for the quarter. And now we're pretty much on the route to almost double that to SEK 120 million. So pretty nice development, actually, from quarter 3. Quite pleased with that. And how is that? Well, within the category of watering, we have also had a favorable mix because watering is not watering whether it's a hose/cable package that we're selling or whether it's sprinklers or couplings. It's quite different margins. So the mix within the watering category has been favorable. And we have also a very good result about the restructuring of the European housing advance, exits and as well as efficiencies, actually.

But -- so that -- so the 3% here, adjusted for the exits, is actually really a sign of strength. It is quite something, actually, remembering the last year reference.

Year-to-date, also, actually, 3%, up 29% operating income, which is driven very much by similar things but also including price as a component beyond the restructuring and efficiency. Pretty nice story, indeed.

Construction, pressing on, quarterly rates, it's pretty much the same on the top line as the year-to-date, around 4%. The quarter then up 19% in operating income. And we will see 12%, and for year-to-date, volume price of components, efficiencies as well as some positive currency effects. And we are, of course, pleased that we have now integrated the acquisitions in the right way that we have executed last few years. And we have added a smaller acquisition here in the shape of Wacker Neuson in the trowel business. So particularly sit-on vehicles, and this is a concrete floor and surfaces. This was a gap we had in the concrete floor and surfaces offering. And you can say, we are now pretty complete in that respect. SEK 150 million, not huge, but still really important to provide that complete offering. No effect this year because this is an asset deal, it's assets within R&D and manufacturing, and we will start to see that business taking shape during 2020. But it's an important piece in the puzzle.

All 3 divisions doing quite well, I think it's fair to say. Until that connected to the capital marketplace, September 17, we also showed some new innovations, notably the virtual boundary system for robots aiming particularly at the professionals, which brings a lot of advantages for that community as well as autonomously. And so here we have pilots ongoing with them amongst others and with all the others, Swedish aerospace authority, who's looking into how they can automate this airport, both from snow removing point of view as well as lawn cutting.

And you might have heard that we also took a share in a company called Yeti, which is a joint venture then with Semcon and Øveraasen, and Øveraasen is the snow removal piece. We have the lawn mowing piece. Semcon has configured that control and planning software structures, amongst others. So that is also an interesting piece for the future.

With that, I think I'll lead to Glen to talk more about the income statement.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Glen Instone, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Senior VP of Finance, IR & Communication and CFO [3]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you. Good morning, all. So a bit more detail on the income statement for the quarter and year-to-date.

So as Kai mentioned already, I won't touch on the sales figures. I think we've reviewed them sufficiently.

Looking at the gross margin. That was improving from some 25.6% to 28.2%, so 2.6%. Within that, you got roughly 1% of FX in the gross margin, and then we've continued to invest in strategic initiatives. And that's roughly SEK 50 million in the quarter, so roughly 0.5% on the margin.

The FX has more than offset the impact of the tariffs and raw materials in the quarter as well. I thought I'd point out. And pricing continues in a positive vein as well, also, like-for-like more than offsetting the negative impact of tariffs and raw materials.

Moving through to the SG&A. That's moving up roughly 0.5 point in the quarter, reporting out items affecting comparability, 22.8% to 23.3%. That is negatively burdened by FX in this respect. That's a negative FX effect of roughly 0.7%, 0.8% on the quarter. And then we do see higher rates with our logistics costs in the quarter. It's fair to point out there's very little strategic investments hitting SG&A in Q3.

Looking at -- I'll jump on the year-to-date and talk about the items below the operating results. Again, a nice increase on the gross margin from 28.6% to 31.1%. Real positive impact from FX as per the quarter. It's actually 1.6% positivity in the first 9 months. And then, of course, we do see the impact of strategic investments. That's roughly SEK 100 million in the gross margin through the first 9 months, negatively burdening 0.8%, 0.9%. Then we have a negative impact of the raw materials and tariffs, again, roughly offset by the pricing increases for this year. That's roughly 0.7%, 0.8%, which is a plus/minus 0 on the net effect.

Moving down into the SG&A. Again, just comparing -- excluding items affecting comparability, given that we booked some costs last year with magnitude of SEK 40 million of items affecting comparability into SG&A in Q3 last year. That means we have an 18.5% SG&A rate rising to 19.3%. Again, delta there is really the negative FX, which is roughly 0.8% on a year-to-date basis.

Looking below. Well, before I go below, I think, again, just to reiterate what Kai said, moving from SEK 3.5 billion EBIT to SEK 4.2 billion, so SEK 700 million in improved EBIT, roughly SEK 0.5 billion coming in H1 and again roughly SEK 200 million coming through now in Q3. So up to a 9.3% rolling EBIT is pretty impressive.

Items affecting comparability, very much in line with what we spoke about last year. We booked SEK 1.171 billion, and then we said we had roughly SEK 40 million still to come. And that was booked through the first half year. So the restructuring we talked about last year is now behind us and closed down from a P&L impact perspective.

Financial items. We were guiding on SEK 120 million to SEK 130 million per quarter. Still very much the guidance. You see we're sitting at SEK 437 million on a year-to-date basis. I expect this to be of the magnitude SEK 550 million from year-end.

Income tax. We actually had a positive item in Q3. That was actually just -- was passing the statute of limitations on a tax item we took from one of our subsidiaries. So we had to release the SEK 50 million on the tax line in Q3. Still, year-to-date tax is at 22%, pretty much in line with our previous guidance.

Cash flow, something we are pretty proud about, SEK 3.8 billion, coming up from SEK 2.1 billion through the same period last year. Of course, we have the improvement from EBITDA, roughly SEK 1.2 billion improvement. Worth calling out is roughly SEK 300 million in our EBITDA figure, which relates to IFRS 16 for leasing adjustments year-on-year.

But beyond that, we've actually improved the inventory throughout the first 9 months comparing to the 9 months last year. We've released a further SEK 800 million year-on-year in inventory. We've also increased a further SEK 400 million on accounts receivable. And then our accounts payable is actually -- is slightly negative on the accounts payable by SEK 700 million. So the net effect, we've improved from SEK 2.1 billion to SEK 3.8 billion. Well, we're pretty pleased with our cash flow performance.

That said, and maybe it sounds a little contradictory and it's not meant to be, we -- whilst we're happy with the cash flow performance, we're not fully happy with the working capital situation. So whilst I described the inventory as improved, SEK 800 million comparative to last year in the same period, we would have expected it to improve by even more. Hence, our working capital as a ratio to net sales is still behind our target. Remember, we talked 25% as our real ceiling level, we want to operate below that. We're currently sitting at 27.2%, so significantly behind our expectation. And I'll come back to inventory in the coming slide.

Moving to the balance sheet. Of course, it is inflated somewhat, given the weak Swedish crown, seeing roughly 5.9% weakening of the Swedish crown versus the dollar in the quarter and about 9.7% weakening of the Swedish crown versus the dollar year-to-date. So of course, given we have a lot of operations in U.S. dollars, it does impact the balance sheet.

The one to really call out, of course, is inventories. It's SEK 1.1 billion higher than prior year. Within that, SEK 600 million is FX. The remaining SEK 500 million or 5% higher inventory in like-for-like currency is the true increase. What is driving the increased inventory? Not surprising to say, of course, we closed Q2 with a higher lawn and garden inventory, and we also closed Q2 with slightly higher construction inventory. That's still following us through as we see at the end of Q3.

The other big swings on the balance sheet to really -- in relation to the IFRS 16 change, which is roughly SEK 1.8 billion hitting the lease line and hitting the noncurrent asset line.

Moving into net debt to EBITDA, still at the 1.9 level, and of course, our net debt has been moving a little bit. Maybe it's better that I describe it on the previous chart. So if you look at the net debt, also we've had a significant cash flow from our operational improvements, SEK 1.7 billion. IFRS is a burden to net debt of SEK 1.8 billion, whilst we've continued to pay the dividend, just below SEK 1.3 billion. And then I said, we have significant effects from FX also hitting the net debt, actually magnitude on the financing line, roughly SEK 700 million, and on other debt lines, roughly SEK 900 million. And then because of the lowering of the interest rates, of course, the pension liability has increased by roughly SEK 700 million.

With that, I will hand back to Kai with some closing comments before questions.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [4]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. And at this time, we ask you to put up the slide, which we used to refer to as a feel-good slide before we had the hit in 2018. But it's starting to feel a bit better now, restoring absolute levels, actually providing the best absolute level. I think the previous absolute was 3.79 something. And now we are 13 -- 3.94. And you see the margin, then improvement. I think you heard us talk about a lot of other aspects here, may that be anything from all the divisions in positive sales, may that be improved points on -- of robotics and that today is being up at the right type of levels and also divisions like Gardena being able to offset such a strong year that we experienced last year and acquisitions and some other few things.

So I think all in all, we're quite pleased with the quarter, and we are executing on our strategy, as referred to and elaborated, of course, at the CMD recently. Nothing in that perspective has changed. This would, I guess, something that will not be a surprise.

So I guess with those few comments, I'll leave it for Q&A.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Andersson, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Director of Group Corporate Communications & IR [5]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So thank you very much, Kai and Glen. And let's start with Q&A here in Stockholm. Do we have any questions? We got 1 here from Björn.

================================================================================

Questions and Answers

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Björn Enarson, Danske Bank Markets Equity Research - Head of Equity Research of Sweden [1]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A question on Husqvarna and the structure where -- including the Consumer Brands business, I mean the outcome has been clearly below expectation, at least since you changed the structure of that business. Can you add some color on the new seasonality with the remaining part of Consumer Brands? Or I guess there is somewhere where drawing boards go wrong in forecasting the Husqvarna earnings?

And the second question is on the inventory situation, if that is something that you would drag with you into the next season and potential implications following that?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [2]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If we would start with Husqvarna, then the seasonality has not changed at all. Actually, there's no seasonality impact to mention of with the integration of the Consumer Brands. If anything, it could be a bit more front-end loaded. But in the larger scheme of things, I wouldn't emphasize that. I think it is rather the disappointing North American quarter 3 here that we can refer to. And particularly this year, I think that was -- you're right, Björn, in respect to this year, we saw a very strong quarter 1. But that was more very large accounts issues to place orders early. And I wouldn't overemphasize on that. That's not necessarily going to be the case if we extrapolate it into next year or something. So with the seasonality, by and large, similar, actually. Disappointing, and I think we need to go back to my comments. Europe is up double-digit; North America, down double-digit, taking big swings. So that was, of course, a bit burdening the results with under absorption also of our production on the production side. So I think that's something which you might not have foreseen, trying to get back to your perception.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Björn Enarson, Danske Bank Markets Equity Research - Head of Equity Research of Sweden [3]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Also, I mean, very strong Europe and weak North America should also imply a very good regional mix, I would assume from a margin perspective.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [4]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It could be -- there could be a positive mix on that. Probably stronger in the first half than in the second half. But still, yes, there's an element of that. That's true.

I think what you see also is with the Husqvarna we have actually added a bit of cost to that structure. And when the sales fall through, you have less to balance it. So I think there is an element that we need to look at going forward, and I think that's also what we refer to when we talk about increased cost focus going ahead. So there's an element of recalibration. I wouldn't overemphasize it, but it's there.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Björn Enarson, Danske Bank Markets Equity Research - Head of Equity Research of Sweden [5]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And on the inventory situation, dragging into next season if there were not implications.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Glen Instone, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Senior VP of Finance, IR & Communication and CFO [6]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. First, we would have liked the inventory, as said, to be lower than it is, plus 5% FX plans is still higher than we would have liked, because last year it was still relatively high. We will have lower prebuild inventory during the fourth quarter. That is very much in line with our intentions. So we expect by the year-end we're much more of a like-for-like inventory situation versus last year.

What I should add to that, Björn, is given some questions I've had in recent months is how does the factory absorption impact maybe the inventory, and our absorption is taken to the P&L. So we're not dragging negative variances through as part of the inventory.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Andersson, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Director of Group Corporate Communications & IR [7]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think we had one question here in the back. Olof?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Olof Cederholm, ABG Sundal Collier Holding ASA, Research Division - Analyst [8]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Olof Cederholm with ABG. A couple of questions. Starting with the Consumer Brands exit, which is taking, I guess, longer or it's phasing differently from what you thought previously. What are the reasons for that? Is it more difficult to counter this business than you thought? And also, is there a mix difference here? Have you come farther in Europe than what you have in North America? I'll start with that. I have one other.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [9]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I would say, by and large, it is according to the total amount of exits we talked about into the summer 2018, is what we see now. We see SEK 0.5 billion sliding between '19 into 2020. So nothing to really overemphasize on that side. From a mix perspective, no big surprises either. So it's -- I wouldn't really emphasize anything along those lines, actually.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Olof Cederholm, ABG Sundal Collier Holding ASA, Research Division - Analyst [10]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So you can put in the SEK 3 billion with a high degree of confidence for 2020.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [11]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. Yes. If anything, there could be a slightly higher number than that, but not significantly.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Olof Cederholm, ABG Sundal Collier Holding ASA, Research Division - Analyst [12]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Perfect. And then maybe something that you might have mentioned. Apologies for that. But the robotics and handheld growth, did you mention what it has been for the full season?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [13]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No, I didn't mention that. But of course, obviously, it improved. It's somewhere in between the 5% and 10% mark for the combination of the robots and battery for the year-to-date, so -- give and take. So in the mid-range there somewhere you can count.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Andersson, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Director of Group Corporate Communications & IR [14]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you very much, Olof. Do we have any further questions here in Stockholm? Yes. One there.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Eliason, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Analyst [15]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Eliason, Kepler Cheuvreux. I was wondering about this wheeled product in the U.S. We have seen Craftsman being introduced at Lowe's and I guess, on that product, et cetera, and they seem pretty happy with that development. Is there a market share loss in your numbers as well for the U.S. development versus this brand, you think?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [16]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I can't say anything relative to Craftsman. I know that there was a lot of marketing behind Craftsman introduction at Lowe's, from the Stanley side acquired that brand. So that's -- but I would speculate that this may be even more important for them on the tools side than on the forest and garden side. But nevertheless, they are very active on the forest and garden side as well. I can't exclude that we have lost share on the wheeled products. If you look at the larger numbers of that particular account, it's positive. So I don't think it's obviously the answer that they're looking for. But I would like to add, though, that in general we have priced for the targets on our wheeled products. And of course, that could lead to some loss of share related to that. If others have priced more aggressively there could be of that. That analysis is still to be made and concluded.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Eliason, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Analyst [17]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And can you say anything about your sort of general listing and pricing into next season?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [18]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Listings are looking okay for next year. Absolutely. Pricing, we are sticking to a fairly strong position. And they don't want to simply say -- question that or do anything else. We're going to stick to that policy. That should remain. If you would ask a question about quarter 4, I counter launch that there will be, so to say, continued weakness in North America. But having said that, I don't think you necessarily should extrapolate that into 2020. So it's an end-of-season effect this year that I wouldn't say is unlikely, but I wouldn't take it any further.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Eliason, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Analyst [19]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And then the robotics launch in the U.S., considering the weakness -- or below your expectations, I guess, so far this year. Any changes to your strategy next year? Will you spend more on marketing? Or will you produce less ahead of the season, et cetera? Can you say anything on how your thinking is going there?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [20]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's a good question. And of course, we are spending some energy and time, actually, on exactly that question. So what we learned from this season? Okay, you might think that a doubling rate is not bad, but we -- traditionally it's even higher. So what we do differently? So I'm not prepared to be specific about what the outcome of that is. But for sure, we are asking ourselves that question. And there will be differences. We'll come back to that later.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Andersson, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Director of Group Corporate Communications & IR [21]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you very much. Do we have any other questions here? One in the front. Karri, please?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Karri Rinta, Handelsbanken Capital Markets AB, Research Division - Research Analyst [22]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Karri Rinta, Handelsbanken. First, a clarification. This double-digit decline in North America Husqvarna, is that for the Husqvarna as a whole? Or was it for the wheeled products?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [23]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No. It's for Husqvarna as a whole.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Karri Rinta, Handelsbanken Capital Markets AB, Research Division - Research Analyst [24]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

All right. And then maybe the...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [25]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Husqvarna Division.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Karri Rinta, Handelsbanken Capital Markets AB, Research Division - Research Analyst [26]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Husqvarna Division. Yes, yes. Maybe a follow-up on that, then the -- that given all of your positive comments about Europe, then it must have been from a profitability standpoint, very nicely profitable Europe and quite loss-making North America in the third quarter in the Husqvarna Division. And you alluded to some structural changes. So can you discuss a little bit about the -- what can you do just beyond hoping for better season next year in terms of North America profitability for Husqvarna?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [27]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Glen, do you want to start or should I?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Glen Instone, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Senior VP of Finance, IR & Communication and CFO [28]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I don't mind starting. Of course, it's very early to say, but we need to -- the efficiency program. It's here to stay, for sure, and we need the efficiency program to finance the transformation journey. We've talked about that. But we need to really turn over every stone, as the saying is, and look at what further we can do. As Kai said earlier, we -- certainly when the sales are not coming through then we're feeling that. So we do need to look at the structural cost within the organization.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [29]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think that's the perspective you need to have. I mean with the seasonality comes 1/3 of the sales the second half of the year. And of course, if your fixed cost, and it's relatively seen a bit higher, it will be hurting a lot more than if sales fall out. I think that's what you see. That is probably part of the whole thing.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Glen Instone, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Senior VP of Finance, IR & Communication and CFO [30]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What I would like to add, Karri, and also, Johan alluded to it earlier as well, maybe where the difference is between expectations and where we're actually currently trading is that we continue to invest in strategic investments, which is a gross margin burden in that respect. But we fully stand behind this, so it's the right thing to do given the product launches you're seeing coming through.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Karri Rinta, Handelsbanken Capital Markets AB, Research Division - Research Analyst [31]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

All right. And then a final question. This less prebuild in Q4, how should we think about that in terms of our expectations for Q3 -- sorry, for Q4?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Glen Instone, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Senior VP of Finance, IR & Communication and CFO [32]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I don't think -- if you look at our product costs, what feeds in from a factory cost perspective, it's not a significant amount of COGS. I wouldn't call it out as a material item in our Q4. But we will be making sure that prebuild is lower than prior year.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Andersson, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Director of Group Corporate Communications & IR [33]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Do we have any further questions here in Stockholm? No. At this point in time, should we check the telephone conference and see if we have any questions there, please, operator?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [34]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Operator Instructions)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Andersson, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Director of Group Corporate Communications & IR [35]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. So do we have any questions?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [36]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We will now take our first question.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Klara Jonsson, SEB, Research Division - Research Analyst [37]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is Klara Jonsson from SEB. Can you hear me?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Andersson, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Director of Group Corporate Communications & IR [38]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. Loud and clear.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Klara Jonsson, SEB, Research Division - Research Analyst [39]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Great. So back to the previous question on the North American market. How do you feel about your customers' inventory levels here ahead of the stocking exercise? And then what (inaudible) in inventories also?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [40]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I didn't hear the first part of your question. I heard the latter part. But can you please repeat the first?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Klara Jonsson, SEB, Research Division - Research Analyst [41]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. Sure. I was talking about the North American market. How do you feel about the customers inventory levels here ahead of the stocking exercise? I'm trying to figure out if it's just a market bullishness or if resellers' inventories are pushing them down.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [42]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No. The inventories in trade, yes. I think it is our impression that some of the major retailers are actually pursuing quite aggressively a reduction of the inventory. And that is also connected to a lower rate of purchases to us in quarter 3, that might prevail also into quarter 4. That's a good point, Klara, actually that, that dynamics is playing into the whole occasion here.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Klara Jonsson, SEB, Research Division - Research Analyst [43]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. Okay. So okay, I understand. So we expect further de-stocking among your customers in Q4 as well.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [44]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I wouldn't rule that out, no.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Klara Jonsson, SEB, Research Division - Research Analyst [45]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. Okay. Well, at (inaudible), very strong performance. You grew organically despite very tough comparable numbers. What was the strength driven by? I mean was the retailers stocking up ahead of 2020? Or was it end-market strength from what you grab?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [46]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No. I wouldn't say it's not stocking up for next season in quarter 3 for Gardena. That might be the case if you look at end of quarter 4, where they typically start towards the watering products. But quarter 3 is sell-through. And it's actually -- it's an expression then -- a reflection of good demand, nothing else.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Klara Jonsson, SEB, Research Division - Research Analyst [47]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

All right. That sounds good. My final question is about inventories. You managed to reduce them by SEK 490 million between Q2 and Q3, which is more than you introduced them between these quarters. Are we going to see a smaller buildup between Q3 and Q4 than historically, if I understand that correctly as well? So are you satisfied with these levels, then you will exit 2019 or -- when you enter 2020, will you continue to balance levels into next year's, do you think?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Glen Instone, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Senior VP of Finance, IR & Communication and CFO [48]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Good question, Klara. Are we happy with where we are now? Absolutely not. We should be expecting to have lower inventories. Of course, when we came out of Q2, we carried much more than we expected because of the season. We are working them down during Q3, to your point, roughly SEK 0.5 billion, and we'll continue to do so during Q4. We'd expect that at least by the end of the year we are somewhat comparable to prior year. But still, we feel we have structural changes to continue making to actually reduce our inventory further. So we're not going to be happy to be on prior year levels.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Klara Jonsson, SEB, Research Division - Research Analyst [49]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And is there any specific type of inventory that you're trying to reduce? Is it the North American inventory or European?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Glen Instone, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Senior VP of Finance, IR & Communication and CFO [50]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No. I wouldn't look at it geographically in this respect. I would just say that we need to improve our forecasting process. We're working a lot with our forecasting, making sure we're more reactive to the market demand.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Klara Jonsson, SEB, Research Division - Research Analyst [51]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So I mean, if I understand correctly, you sort of -- you lowered your guidance. You previously expected a full-year EBIT margin of 9.6% to 10% and you're talking about the lower end of the range, but now you more pointed towards 9.3% to 9.6%, in fact. So I mean for Q4, does this mean that this whole lowered guidance is explained by that we will see continued under absorption? Or is there anything else behind this lowered margin?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Glen Instone, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Senior VP of Finance, IR & Communication and CFO [52]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think that's a good point you're raising. So we are 9.3%, as you heard a couple of occasions that the guidance in July was really towards the point of 9.6%. North America is throwing in a little bit of a wrench in the wheel for us. To get all the way there, that we are going to improve versus last year, quarter 4, that is absolutely an ambition. Is it going to be sufficient to get all the way, that is uncertain. But we should be somewhere in between those points. And it is -- Klara, it is North America. That is the largest unknown for us definitely in the Husqvarna Division in terms of the effect.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Klara Jonsson, SEB, Research Division - Research Analyst [53]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So I mean -- yes. A follow-up on that as well and if the market continues to do at this rate like it is now going into 2020, could you say anything about what that would mean for your production?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Glen Instone, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Senior VP of Finance, IR & Communication and CFO [54]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think it's too early to say that. Of course, we look at sensitivity and different scenarios on that, Klara. But I think it's too early to say. But we're very mindful of any impact that, that would have from logistics to overhead absorption space, highly reduced volumes. So we'll continue to work with this but too early to quantify.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Andersson, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Director of Group Corporate Communications & IR [55]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you very much. I think we have one more question on the telephone conference.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Analyst, [56]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sorry, my question has been answered.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Johan Andersson, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Director of Group Corporate Communications & IR [57]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. Thank you very much. So I don't think we have any further questions on the telephone conference. Do we have any questions here from the floor in Stockholm? No.

Okay. I think with that, we conclude the day here and looking forward for meeting you at the Q4 report then. Thank you very much once again.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Glen Instone, Husqvarna AB (publ) - Senior VP of Finance, IR & Communication and CFO [58]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kai Wärn, Husqvarna AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [59]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [60]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This concludes our conference for today. Thank you for participating. You may all disconnect.