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Edited Transcript of ITW earnings conference call or presentation 1-Feb-19 3:00pm GMT

Q4 2018 Illinois Tool Works Inc Earnings Call

GLENVIEW Feb 4, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Illinois Tool Works Inc earnings conference call or presentation Friday, February 1, 2019 at 3:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* E. Scott Santi

Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO

* Karen A. Fletcher

Illinois Tool Works Inc. - VP of IR

* Michael M. Larsen

Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO

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Conference Call Participants

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* Andrew Alec Kaplowitz

Citigroup Inc, Research Division - MD and U.S. Industrial Sector Head

* Andrew Millard Casey

Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Senior Machinery Analyst

* Ann P. Duignan

JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - MD

* David Michael Raso

Evercore ISI Institutional Equities, Research Division - Senior MD & Head of Industrial Research Team

* Jamie Lyn Cook

Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division - MD, Sector Head of United States Capital Goods Research, and Analyst

* Jeffrey Todd Sprague

Vertical Research Partners, LLC - Founder and Managing Partner

* John George Inch

Gordon Haskett Research Advisors - MD & Senior Analyst of Multi-Industrials

* Joseph Alfred Ritchie

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - VP & Lead Multi-Industry Analyst

* Joshua Charles Pokrzywinski

Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst

* Mircea Dobre

Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst

* Nathan Hardie Jones

Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - Analyst

* Nicole Sheree DeBlase

Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Director & Lead Analyst

* Ross Paul Gilardi

BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Director

* Steven Fisher

UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director and Senior Analyst

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Welcome, and thank you for joining ITW's 2018 Fourth Quarter Earnings Call. My name is Cheryl, and I will be your conference operator today. (Operator Instructions) Please note, today's conference is being recorded. I will now turn the call over to Karen Fletcher, Vice President of Investor Relations. You may begin.

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Karen A. Fletcher, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - VP of IR [2]

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Thank you, Cheryl. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to ITW's Fourth Quarter 2018 Conference Call. I'm joined by our Chairman and CEO, Scott Santi; along with Senior Vice President and CFO, Michael Larsen. During today's call, we will discuss fourth quarter and full year 2018 financial results and we'll update you on our 2019 outlook.

Slide 2 is a reminder that this presentation contains our financial forecast for the first quarter and full year 2019, as well as other forward-looking statements identified on this slide. We refer you to the company's 2017 Form 10-K and subsequently filed Form 10-Qs for more detail about important risks that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations.

Also, this presentation uses certain non-GAAP measures, and the reconciliation of those measures to the most comparable GAAP measures is contained in the press release.

As a reminder, in 2017, we disclosed a $95 million favorable legal settlement and recorded a onetime tax charge in the fourth quarter. Therefore, we provided you with 2 tables on Slides 3 and 4 that summarize key financial measures for fourth quarter and full year on a GAAP basis as well as on an adjusted basis, excluding the legal settlement and tax charge. For the rest of this conference call, our comments and variances exclude these 2 items -- these 2 onetime items from 2017.

So with that, we can move to Slide 5 and I'll now turn the call over to our Chairman and CEO, Scott Santi.

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [3]

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Thanks, Karen, and good morning, everyone. Greetings from the epicenter of the polar vortex.

In the fourth quarter, the ITW team delivered solid earnings growth and margin expansion. Fourth quarter EPS was in line with the midpoint of our guidance and increased 8%, 10% excluding currency, with operating margin up 70 basis points to 24% and after-tax return on invested capital up 320 basis points to over 27%.

For the full year, the ITW team delivered high-quality earnings growth of 15%, record operating income, record operating margin and record return on invested capital. Free cash flow was up 10%, and we invested over $600 million in our businesses for growth and productivity. In addition, we returned more than $3 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases.

Throughout 2018, we continued to make significant progress on the execution of our enterprise strategy, as evidenced by 110 basis points of margin improvement from our Enterprise Initiatives over the course of the year. And we made really good progress on our organic growth acceleration in better than half of our operating divisions.

As we discussed at our Investor Day back in December, our focus now is on getting the other 36 of our divisions that are not yet growing to their potential, moving more briskly down that path, and it's a major focus for us in the next couple of years.

There's no doubt that 2018 had its challenges, raw material cost inflation, tariff uncertainties, decelerating auto production and currency headwinds in the back half of the year. Our ability to power through these challenges and deliver another year of record results is evidence of the performance power of the ITW business model and the resilience of our high-quality diversified business portfolio. As we head into 2019, I'm confident that we are well positioned to deliver another year of meaningful progress down the path to ITW's full potential and to our 2023 performance goal.

Before I turn the call over to Michael, let me conclude by recognizing and thanking my ITW colleagues around the world for the great job that they continue to do in serving our customers and executing our strategy with excellence. Michael, over to you.

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [4]

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Thanks, Scott, and good morning. Let's stay on Slide 5 and recap a few more highlights for the fourth quarter. GAAP EPS was $1.83, an increase of 8% as we managed through some international end market softness in 2 segments with solid execution and delivered earnings per share at the midpoint of our guidance. Organic revenue was up 1%, with solid 4% growth in North America, offset by a 2% decline in international markets. I'll provide some additional color on what we saw in North America and international markets in a couple minutes.

PLS was 90 basis points this quarter, a little bit above our full year rate of 70 basis points. Operating margin performance was solid as margins improved 70 basis points, with 110 basis points from Enterprise Initiatives, lower price/cost margin dilution headwind. Finally, free cash flow increased 18% to $727 million, 120% of net income and we repurchased $500 million of our shares in the quarter.

Moving to Slide 6 for detail on fourth quarter operating margin. We've expanded operating margin every quarter this year and the fourth quarter was no different. In fact, we did better than last quarter, with 70 basis points of improvement year-over-year versus 30 basis points in Q3.

All year, our teams have continued to execute well in Enterprise Initiatives, consistently contributing 100 basis points or more of margin improvement every quarter. And the impact is broad-based. In the fourth quarter, Enterprise Initiatives benefits ranged from 80 to 120 basis points across each one of our 7 segments. As I mentioned, price/cost margin dilution improved, narrowing from 70 basis points in the second quarter to 60 basis points in the third quarter, and now 40 basis points in the fourth quarter. Throughout the year, we continue to take decisive pricing actions to offset cost inflation and tariff impact.

As planned, on a dollar basis, price more than offset raw material costs this quarter and for the full year. All in, operating margin expanded by 70 basis points in the fourth quarter to 24%, the highest Q4 operating margin in ITW's history.

Now we'll look at segment performance, starting with Slide 7. The table on the left provides some additional color on our fourth quarter organic growth rates by segment and by region. As I mentioned, North America continued its solid growth pattern with 4% this quarter, similar to third quarter and first half of the year. North America has really been steady and strong all year, ending the year up 4%. You can see some really good organic growth numbers in North America, with, for example, Food Equipment and Welding, both up 7%; Polymers & Fluids, up 6%.

For the full year, every segment delivered positive organic growth in North America, ranging from 2% to 11%.

International was more of a challenge, specifically in 2 segments, with organic growth down 2% in the fourth quarter compared to up 2% in the first half of the year. The international market challenges that we're experiencing are not broad based, and relate to just 2 segments: Automotive OEM and Specialty. Excluding those 2 segments, our international growth rate in Q2 would have been 4 points higher at plus 2%. More on that in the next few slides.

I should just point out that China, overall, was down slightly at minus 2%, with again, lower sales in Automotive and Specialty only. The other 5 segments saw positive demand trends as evidenced by, for example, Test & Measurement and Electronics, up 12%; Welding up 22%; and Polymers & Fluids, up 9%. For the full year, China was up 3%.

Let's go into the segment details, starting with Automotive OEM. Organic growth was down 4% this quarter. North America being positive 2% was not enough to offset a meaningful reduction in build rates in Europe and China. For the full year, Automotive OEM organic growth was flat, as the auto builds in regions that are relevant to ITW all declined.

If you look at 2018's full year organic growth compared to builds by region, we delivered significant above-market growth in 2 of our key markets, North America and China. In North America, we grew 3% versus builds down 1%. And in China, organic growth was 3% versus builds down 4%.

In Europe, the implementation of mandated new emissions testing procedures in Q3 caused significant auto production disruption in the back half of the year. We're confident that our below build rate revenue declines in the second half are a function of mix, what models passed the new emissions testing procedures and when, and not the result of any material share loss. Our new program wins in Europe in 2018 were very strong as is our new program pipeline there. We remain confident that our European auto businesses are well positioned to deliver consistent above-market growth and that they will get back to doing so over the next several quarters.

With respect to the European market production issues I referenced a minute ago, our auto team on the ground expect that they will work themselves through over the next several quarters, and that conditions will begin to normalize in the back half of the year.

Fourth quarter operating margin declined 150 basis points, almost entirely due to price/cost headwinds. As you know, pricing actions take longer to implement in the automotive market. It is encouraging, though, that for the full year, this segment's operating margin of 22.5% was down only 30 basis points, with the benefits from Enterprise Initiatives, essentially offsetting price/cost headwinds.

Moving on to Slide 8. Food Equipment had a strong quarter and delivered accelerating organic revenue growth of 5%, its highest quarterly growth in 4 years, as overall demand continued to improve across-the-board. North America grew 7%, with equipment up 9% and service up 4%. Food service was up 11%, and retail, i.e. sales to grocery stores, turned positive as we began to lap the difficult comps that we've talked about on prior calls. Growth in institutional end markets continues to be very strong and was up double digits, with particular strength in the education and lodging categories. International markets were solid too, up 3% with good growth in both equipment and service.

As expected, Test & Measurement and Electronics organic revenue was flat against the tough comp of 9% organic growth in the fourth quarter of 2017. Test & Measurement was down 1% due to this difficult year-over-year comparison. Electronics was up 2%. While this quarter had a tough comp, full year organic growth was solid at plus 4%. And I should point out that fourth quarter operating margin improved by 140 basis points to 24.8%, a record for the segment.

Now on to Slide 9. Welding continued its strong run, with 8% organic growth this quarter, which is impressive versus a comp of 6% growth last year. Demand was strong across-the-board, with global equipment up 7%, and consumables up 8%. The industrial business was up 7%; commercial up 8%; and oil and gas up 9%. By region, North America was up 7% and international up 11%.

Polymers & Fluids organic growth was 4%, with 7% growth in automotive aftermarket, which benefited from a new product launch. And polymers was up 4%, with strong product sales in Asia Pacific, offsetting a 4% decline in fluids, which included a significant amount of PLS and a tough comp at plus 5% last year.

Turning to Slide 10. Construction organic sales were down 1%, as our North American commercial sales were down 10%, primarily due to project timing in our warehouse flooring business. North America residential was essentially flat, with 5% growth in renovation and remodel, offset by a decline in new construction. Europe was a bright spot, with sales up 6%. Australia and New Zealand sales were down 5% due to a slowing residential construction market there.

Specialty organic sales were down 2% against a tough comp of plus 5% last year. This segment also had over 100 basis points of PLS in the quarter. International organic sales were down 8%, with some of the same soft spots that we saw in the third quarter, including appliance components and graphics. Equipment sales were a bright spot, up 4%, and our Hi-Cone division, which you saw at our Investor Day, was up 13%.

Moving on to Slide 11 and full year 2018 performance. 2018 was a record year for EPS, operating income, operating margin of 24.3% and after-tax return of invested capital of 28.2%. Operating margin was up 60 basis points, driven primarily by another year of strong execution on Enterprise Initiatives, contributing 110 basis points.

Free cash flow was up 10% to $2.4 billion, with free cash flow conversion of 95%, slightly below our target, primarily due to the combination of modestly higher CapEx investments and slightly elevated inventory levels at year-end due to higher material costs. Finally, we executed $2 billion in share repurchases and increased the dividend by 28% this year.

Looking back at 2018. We delivered on the annual EPS guidance that we provided as we entered the year, thus continuing our track record of exceeding our annual guidance for the past 6 years. The consistency and quality of our financial performance as summarized here for 2018, are a testament to the power of ITW's proprietary business model, our high-quality diversified business portfolio and strong execution by the ITW team.

Let's now turn to Slide 12 and 2019 guidance. We are reiterating our full year EPS guidance from Investor Day in December, EPS of $7.90 to $8.20, with a midpoint of $8.05, which represents 6% growth year-over-year. We now expect organic growth in the range of 1% to 3%, compared to a range of 2% to 4% previously. This reduction is entirely related to taking a more conservative, risk-adjusted view with regards to auto builds and semiconductor-related demand in 2019. This range also includes PLS of about 80 basis points, which is unchanged from December.

We continue to firm up the projects and activities related to our Enterprise Initiatives, and are confident that they will deliver 100 basis points of operating margin expansion, independent of volume. Also included in our plan are higher restructuring expense versus 2018, and we have a particularly heavy restructuring agenda in Q1. This is driven, to a significant degree, by actions we are taking to rightsize our Automotive OEM and Specialty businesses in Europe.

The price/cost equation remains pretty dynamic, but margin headwinds should continue to moderate as the majority of raw material costs appear to have stabilized, and we have strong pricing momentum heading into the year, with the vast majority of planned pricing actions already implemented.

2019 tariff expectations remain around $60 million, which is based on current and announced tariffs, including the potential impact of List 3 growing from 10% to 25% in March. We continue to view the overall tariff impact as manageable, given the fact that we are largely a produce-what-we-sell company, and that we only source approximately 2% of our spend from China.

Given the differentiated nature of our product offerings across the company, we expect to be able to offset the impact of any incremental raw material cost inflation and tariff impacts that might arise in 2019, with pricing actions on a dollar-for-dollar basis at a minimum, just as we did in 2018.

Finally, we expect free cash flow conversion at or above 100% of net income, share repurchases of $1.5 billion and a tax rate in the range of 24.5% to 25.5%, up slightly from 24.5% in 2018 due to the non-repeat of discrete items.

Taking a closer look at the first quarter. We should point out that we expect that the first half of 2019 will be a little more challenging than what is typical for us in terms of year-over-year comparisons due to more difficult comps, more currency headwind in the first half versus the second half of the year and higher Q1 restructuring costs. Specifically, in Q1, we have $0.07 of currency headwind at current rates, the impact of higher restructuring, also $0.07, and $0.05 of tax rate headwind due to a discrete $14 million tax item that we recognized in Q1 of last year. There's also 1 less shipping day in Q1, which is another approximately $0.02 headwind to EPS and 1.5 percentage points headwind to organic growth. It's important to note that we have an extra shipping day in Q3.

As a result, we expect Q1 EPS in the range of $1.73 to $1.83 on essentially flat organic growth. However, coming out of Q1, the headwinds I've just described start to moderate. Roughly 2/3 or $0.14 of the expected currency headwind this year is in the first half. Restructuring activities, as we discussed, are front-end loaded this year, and price/cost margin impact should moderate as we go through the year.

It's important to note that our full year guidance is based entirely on current demand run rates, existing and announced price/cost impacts, known Enterprise Initiative benefits, and what we believe is a prudently risk-adjusted posture with regard to 2019 demand expectations in auto and semiconductor [related] end markets. We do not have any projections of demand improvement versus current levels in our 2019 guidance. However, given what I just described, and the fact that revenue comps are much easier in the second half of the year, year-over-year revenue and earnings growth comparisons will get increasingly positive as we move through the year.

On Slide 13, we provided an EPS bridge for 2019 versus 2018. Organic growth of 1% to 3% at our normal incremental margin of 35% contributes $0.20 to $0.30 to EPS growth. Benefits from Enterprise Initiatives add another $0.25 to $0.35. Lower share count represents the impact from the $2 billion in share repurchases completed in 2018 and the $1.5 billion planned for 2019. Combined, they contribute approximately $0.25 a share.

At current exchange rates, we anticipate $0.20 impact from foreign currency and approximately 2/3 of that impact is expected in the first half of the year as we talked about. And finally, we've grouped a few things into other on this bridge. This includes our expectation for higher restructuring this year, approximately $0.10, with $0.07 of that in Q1; a higher tax rate than 2018 due to the nonrepeat of discrete items, which is a $0.05 headwind; partially offset by lower interest expense driven by savings on the $1.35 billion in bond maturities in March and April. These 3 items and a few other puts and takes combine to reduce EPS by $0.10 to $0.20.

You'll note that there's no accommodation for potential M&A activity and specifically the potential divestitures that we talked about at Investor Day. Our guidance is all in, meaning, that the baseline presented here assumes our portfolio as it is today. We are making good progress on our potential divestitures, and we'll update you on our progress as we go through the year. Importantly, as we've said before, any EPS dilution from divestitures will be completely offset by incremental share repurchases, and are, therefore, EPS-neutral.

Finally, we've provided our views on organic growth outlook by segment for full year 2019 on Slide 14. These are based on current run rates, adjusted for seasonality, and are obviously influenced by year-over-year comparisons as we go through the year. It is important to note that there's no expectation of demand acceleration embedded in our guidance.

We see solid growth in Welding at 3% to 6%, down from 2018, but just as a function of the more difficult 10% comparison year-over-year. Food Equipment has good momentum and pretty easy comps in the first half and are expected to be up 3% to 5% for the full year. Construction up 1% to 4%, which also includes a number of meaningful new product launches.

Test & Measurement incorporates a more cautious sales expectation for equipment related to semiconductor manufacturing. Those sales represent approximately $200 million, and are expected to be down double digits in 2019. This creates a drag of 2 percentage points of organic growth to the Test & Measurement and Electronics segment.

Polymers & Fluids and Specialty, all with low single-digit growth expectation, and Automotive, as we mentioned, we're being pretty cautious with sales expected to be flat to down 4% despite the fact that third parties, such as IHS, are expecting positive growth in auto builds in 2019.

Lastly, a comment about quarterly guidance. From day 1 back in 2013, our strategy has been centered on leveraging ITW's powerful and proprietary business model to its full potential, and in doing so, position the company to deliver solid growth, with best-in-class margins and returns over the long term.

In the early stages of implementing our strategy, we believed that providing quarterly guidance was constructive, given the number and magnitude of the changes and initiatives that we were implementing across the company. We have now progressed far enough in executing our strategy that we believe that providing quarterly guidance is no longer value added, given the long-term performance focus of the company and our core shareholders. As a result, we're discontinuing this practice as of this quarter. We will continue to provide updated 5-year performance goals and EPS and organic growth guidance annually. With that, Karen, back to you.

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Karen A. Fletcher, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - VP of IR [5]

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Okay. Thanks, Michael. Cheryl, let's open up the lines for questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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Our first question comes from Andy Casey from Wells Fargo Securities.

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Andrew Millard Casey, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Senior Machinery Analyst [2]

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Your guidance, pretty interesting. It looks like top line is more or less consistent with the bear case on the stock, but the bottom line guide is what you said back in December. So couple questions on the back-end loaded nature of what you just presented. First, why is price/cost negative 50 bps for the year, given pricing momentum is carrying over? And from the outside, it looks like you're looking at apparent decreases in some of your raw material input costs. And then within that, do you expect price/cost to improve through the year?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [3]

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Yes. So, Andy, price/cost was negative 50 basis points from a margin standpoint in 2018. And we are not providing a number for 2019, primarily because it's still a pretty dynamic environment in terms of raw materials as well as potential tariffs. That said, what you are -- what you're saying is correct. I mean, it is reasonable to assume, based on what we know today, in terms of the price actions we've taken, the expected raw material costs, the tariffs, including the increase in March from 10% to 25% that may or may not happen, it is reasonable to assume that we will continue to make progress on price/cost from a margin standpoint in 2019. And certainly, we will continue to be positive on a dollar-for-dollar basis to a degree that's significantly higher, actually, than what we saw in 2018. So I hope that answers your question.

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Andrew Millard Casey, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Senior Machinery Analyst [4]

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It does. And if I can also follow up on something else, Michael. In your commentary around the first half versus second half, Q1 midpoint implies about 6% earnings decline year-over-year, but the rest of the year is up around 9%. You sound pretty confident in that in assuming the current run rates. Is a majority of that confidence really related to the pull-ahead of the 7 out of 10 for restructuring in the year into Q2? And basically, is that the big part of your confidence?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [5]

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Yes. Yes. I think what we're pulling forward, the restructuring, obviously, has a pretty big impact here in Q1 of $0.07. Some of those benefits will start to show up in the back end of the year. Many of these projects have a 1-year payback or better in many cases. In addition to the higher restructuring currency, is more of a headwind in Q1. The tax rate is a headwind. And then we do have 1 less shipping day, as I mentioned, in Q1, and so...

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [6]

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That we get back in Q3.

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [7]

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That we get back in Q3. That's why the year looks a little different relative to what you're used to from ITW, but there's some really good reasons behind that. And when you pencil it all out, you can get comfortable. We certainly are comfortable and very confident in our ability to deliver on the guidance that we're providing today.

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Operator [8]

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Our next question comes from Jeffrey Sprague, Vertical Research.

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Jeffrey Todd Sprague, Vertical Research Partners, LLC - Founder and Managing Partner [9]

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I was wondering if we could just dig into a couple segment-level-detail questions. First on Automotive and the whole emissions, WLTP had a logjam in Europe. Your view that it doesn't really sort itself out into the second half, is that kind of well-grounded in what you're hearing from the OEMs? Or is that really kind of just kind of caution on the chaos we've seen up to this point, and it's just kind of hard to predict how things play out there?

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [10]

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I think it's a little bit of both, but more of the latter. I want to be careful how I say this, but I think the information has, in terms of direct customer input, has been a little up and down just because I think it's a fairly fluid situation. But I think our posture, from a planning standpoint, we believe it's definitely on the conservative side. And just to be clear, we're saying that things start to mitigate in the back half or normalize, but certainly aren't all the way corrected. Probably, we'll begin with some elements of this all the way through the year is our current view.

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Jeffrey Todd Sprague, Vertical Research Partners, LLC - Founder and Managing Partner [11]

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Okay. And just on the Construction side. I'm sorry, can you elaborate on what drove the commercial weakness in North America and the U.S.? And is there kind of visibility on kind of a recovery plan there?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [12]

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Yes, there is. So it's a fairly small part of our overall business in North America. Part of what we do is we provide concrete solutions for warehouse flooring. And we had a number of projects that were scheduled to go in Q4 that pushed out to 2019. So it's just primarily a timing issue more than a commentary on what's going on in the commercial construction space.

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Jeffrey Todd Sprague, Vertical Research Partners, LLC - Founder and Managing Partner [13]

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And maybe just one other really quick follow-up. Do you have some additional restructuring kind of on-the-shelf, for lack of a better term, if kind of the macro environment does begin to fade on us here as 2019 unfolds?

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [14]

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Well, I would say, we normally operate with a fair degree of contingency planning around our plans, whether that's within a particular segment or at the overall company level. We certainly have the flexibility to make adjustments as we're talking about here related to Auto and Specialty in the near term. So -- and that's been sort of normal practice for the company for quite a long time. So should things, in terms of the -- sort of external or macro environment play out differently than what we're anticipating now, and again, I think we're taking a pretty conservative posture in terms of our planning approach here, then absolutely, we would expect to be able to adjust to that and do it in a relatively short order. As I said, we have a pretty flexible cost structure given how we operate with 80/20. So we could certainly make those adjustments within a quarter or 2.

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Operator [15]

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Our next question comes from Jamie Cook, Crédit Suisse.

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Jamie Lyn Cook, Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division - MD, Sector Head of United States Capital Goods Research, and Analyst [16]

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First, I just wanted to better understand. If we think about what -- your preliminary guide at the Analyst Meeting, the EPS is the same as it is today. You basically reaffirmed it. But your organic growth assumption is 1 point worse. I don't recall if the restructuring number was in there. And also FX seems to be more of a headwind. So can you just sort of help me understand what's offsetting those headwinds relative to what you guys said at the Analyst Day? And then my second question is just with regards to the organic growth, the 2% for this year. One would argue in 2018 where the economy was relatively strong, you guys put up the same level of organic growth. So just comfort level on you can put together -- you can put up another 2% organic growth in a tougher macro.

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [17]

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Yes. So let me start with the first part, which is a very fair question in terms of the organic growth guide today being lower than what we guided in December. Really, on the back of being more conservative around automotive builds as well as factoring in the latest view on semiconductor-related end markets. As we've gone through these last few months here, we've really firmed up our views in terms of the enterprise savings from Enterprise Initiatives to specific projects and activities that will deliver 100 basis points of margin improvement as well as other discretionary cost items. And so that's really what's driving the majority of our confidence and ability to maintain the EPS number. And in addition to that, I would say, although I'm cautious on this, given what we saw in '18, the price/cost headwinds are certainly looking more favorable today than at the end of last year. And then just to be precise, the [structure, I think,] that we had in our guidance in December is the same number as today. And so that number has not changed. I think the second part, if I remember correctly, was around our ability -- confidence to deliver 1% to 3% organic growth this year similar to last year. And I'll go back to how we model this, which is basically based on current run rates adjusted for seasonality. And if you run that out for the year, with the adjustments we made in Auto and Specialty, you get to a range of 1% to 3% organic growth. We provided a little bit more detail on the last slide, Slide 14, in the deck. You can see how it kind of pencils out by segment. And again, these are based on current run rates, risk-adjusted in a couple areas, and in our view, pretty cautious and conservative view, overall.

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Jamie Lyn Cook, Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division - MD, Sector Head of United States Capital Goods Research, and Analyst [18]

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I guess, so just given the -- it's a weaker macro, there are certain segments where you are assuming that your market share is above average and that sort of helps the organic growth? I mean, you talked about Construction a little. I'm just not sure if market share is contributing more, you know what I mean, relative to the just overall whatever macro.

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [19]

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Yes. I think Construction, there's significant new product launches on the docket for this year. I'd say, in addition to that, I wouldn't underestimate the impact of price this year relative to '18. And so if you add all that up, these are the numbers that make up the guidance by segment and 1% to 3% in total.

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Operator [20]

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Our next question comes from Joel Tiss, BMO.

And moving along, our next question comes from Andrew Kaplowitz, Citibank.

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Andrew Alec Kaplowitz, Citigroup Inc, Research Division - MD and U.S. Industrial Sector Head [21]

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Yes. So, Scott or Mike, obviously, ITW is relatively strong in Europe, and you did mention that Europe would be up a couple percent instead of down if it weren't for your issues in Auto and Specialty products. So maybe give us a little more color regarding what's going on in Europe. Construction actually looked quite strong for you guys, given the environment there. So what's the outlook here as we go through 2019 in Europe?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [22]

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Yes, I think the issues on the international side are really isolated in the 2 segments we talked about. I think the other 5 segments are doing pretty well across-the-board. If you just look at fourth quarter, certainly, Auto, Specialty were down, but we put up some really good numbers in Europe. Construction, overall, was up 6%; Welding, up 7%; Food, up 3%. We've not seen a big impact from Brexit or in the U.K., those markets are pretty stable. So we feel pretty confident going into 2019 in terms of modeling our current run rates in that geography.

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [23]

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And just maybe to add, I think in terms of -- I'm sorry, just another data point is, if you net -- just look at our European sales in Q3 and Q4, net of Auto and Specialty, it was plus 3% in Q3 and plus 2% in Q4. So we're certainly not -- which feels pretty stable to us not -- the 3% to 2%, I don't know, we're certainly not calling that a trend. But sort of bouncing low single-digits, pretty solid.

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [24]

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Yes.

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Andrew Alec Kaplowitz, Citigroup Inc, Research Division - MD and U.S. Industrial Sector Head [25]

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Okay, that's helpful, guys. And then there are a couple businesses that have been somewhat lethargic over the last couple quarters. They look like they ticked up a little bit here in this past quarter. I look at Polymers & Fluids and you mentioned that new product intro and auto aftermarket. And then within Food Equipment, you mentioned retail refrigeration turning around. Do these businesses have some sustaining power here going forward? In other words, are you seeing a little bit more CapEx from grocery stores, for instance, in Food Equipment? And does this new product rollout in auto aftermarket, does that give you continuing growth in the segment for the next few quarters?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [26]

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Yes, so I'd say, Andy, that Food Equipment certainly feels very good. I think the acceleration really started in the second half, the strength is broad-based on the equipment side. Service put up a pretty good number here as well. On the retail side, just to be clear, we're not seeing a pickup in terms of the CapEx spend on the grocery side. We're really -- what we're seeing is, these are flat to up slightly on a year-over-year basis as we lap the more difficult comps. But all the benefits that we expected in terms of new product introductions, certainly, we're seeing those in the second half of the year, and we expect those to continue into 2019. So Food Equipment, let's say, 3% to 5% feels very good for 2019. Polymers & Fluids, we did benefit from a new product launch in automotive aftermarket. I hesitate to say this, but we were a beneficiary also of some weather-related impact in terms of Rain-X wiper blades. And so that part of the business was up 7% overall. That is not a sustainable rate for the full year, obviously. But I'd say also in polymers, you're seeing some good progress there in terms of the overall organic growth rate. And like I mentioned earlier, you're seeing the impact of price. So, certainly, some good progress in those 2 segments, and we should expect to continue to see that in 2019 as reflected in the segment outlook we gave you on Page 14.

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Operator [27]

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Our next question comes from Mig Dobre from Baird.

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Mircea Dobre, Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [28]

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So I want to stick with Food Equipment here. I mean, 3% to 5% growth, this would probably be the best growth since '14, '15, that time range. And I want to make sure that I understand kind of what the moving pieces are here. Retail, you said, feels a little bit better, but it's mostly a factor of comps. So I'm not sure how much you're really expecting this business to grow. Institutional, you mentioned, was quite good, so maybe you can talk a little bit about momentum into 2019. I'm also wondering, just your restaurant business, because I think that's pretty meaningful as well. How that's doing international as well as North America?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [29]

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Yes, Mig, so the demand we saw, really, here in Q3, Q4 was broad-based. So we talked specifically about food service, which is everything, excluding the retail side, being up 11%. Retail turned positive in the low single digits. We're not counting on a big pickup in retail in 2019, and it's not that significant a portion of our overall business. We continue to see a lot of strength on the institutional side, up double digits. We gave you a couple of categories here, really, around education, so K-12, universities as well as lodging. And on the restaurant side also, double-digit growth, including, which for us is a smaller part of the business, on the QSR side. International, solid, up 3%. I certainly feel good about the momentum going into 2019. And just Q4 was best growth rate, I think, in over 4 years here. So new product introductions are really taking off and we feel -- we're very pleased with the progress we're making in Food Equipment.

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Mircea Dobre, Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [30]

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Got it. That's helpful. And then sort of going back to the big-picture top line guidance. So if you're starting the year flat in Q1 and you're guiding on current levels of plan and your comp is getting tougher in Q2 by at least 100 basis points, should we have expectations for an organic decline in Q2 and then acceleration in the second half on easier comps? Is that how we should we think about it?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [31]

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So, Mig, you should definitely think about it as, just given the comps, higher growth rates in the back half of the year than in the first half. If you just go back and look at '18, I think in '18, we were up 3% organic, I'm rounding, in the first half, we were up 1% in the second half. That alone is driving some of the higher growth rates, both in terms of organic as well as earnings growth. So really, the swings you're going to see are really a function of what the comps are on a year-over-year basis. Those are the big drivers. Again, there's no demand acceleration assumed here. On the contrary, if anything, we've dialed it back in -- certainly, in auto as well as semi, which we talked about earlier.

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Mircea Dobre, Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [32]

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But there is not something on the product side or, I don't know, something based on some visibility that you might have that would be able to maybe reassure us that you'd be able to buck the tougher comp in Q2 versus Q1?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [33]

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There's -- typically, every year, new products contribute.

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [34]

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And we don't manage for the quarter. The quarterly plans, we'll give you a Q2 update when we get there. Our expectation is, again, as Michael said, we're using current demand levels and projecting them through the year, I'm -- we just go look at Q2. This was a full year and a Q1 number. I don't recall exactly what the Q2 organic growth rate is embedded in our plan if we had it. And I think it's...

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Mircea Dobre, Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [35]

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No, I appreciate that. I was just trying to make sure that we have our [expectations set] in line with what you guys are thinking, that's it.

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [36]

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Yes. I think that math is -- there's nothing funny in the math here. This is really straightforward. As Michael said, we are -- if anything, have dialed back relative to current demand rates in a couple of areas where we think there's some potential risk. We're not saying that, that's going to play out that way. I think, overall, that's the smart and prudent approach in terms of our planning. And it also highlights the fact that we've got a lot of earnings growth power from the standpoint of Enterprise Initiatives and other things going on underneath that's not vulnerable to some further erosion in Auto if things play out. And ultimately, we've got a plan where we believe there's more upside potential than downside. That's the way we always plan, and that's really what we're -- I think, that's embedded in the approach we're taking in terms of taking the organic growth rate down a percent relative to where we were in December

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Operator [37]

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Our next question comes from John Inch, Gordon Haskett.

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John George Inch, Gordon Haskett Research Advisors - MD & Senior Analyst of Multi-Industrials [38]

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Scott, Michael, so wondering if there's any kind of an update on the divestitures that you planned for this year? And as kind of corollary to that, Michael, if we actually were to have taken the 2019 divestitures that you've got out and divested them at beginning of the year, kind of pro forma, would that have any material impact on the 1% to 3% core growth that you're anticipating for 2019?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [39]

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Yes. So that's a very good question. So the impact if these potential divestitures all happen is an improvement in our organic growth rate of about 50 basis points, an improvement in our operating margins by 100 basis points. So that would -- assuming that all of those take place this year, that's what you would expect to see in 2020. I think that's a fairly optimistic assumption. I think we're certainly making good progress, and I think a more reasonable planning assumption would be that maybe half of them get done this year. But none of that is included in the numbers today. So, certainly, you'd see some slightly lower revenues to the effect that if there is EPS dilution, you'll see higher share repurchases to offset that, so that they are EPS-neutral. There's going to be some gains on some of these potential divestitures, those are also not included. But on pro forma basis, it's a meaningful impact and we're making good progress.

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John George Inch, Gordon Haskett Research Advisors - MD & Senior Analyst of Multi-Industrials [40]

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Is there some reason you couldn't -- I mean I know you said half, but it's not a bad point, right, to pick. But is there some reason, if you start to get a cadence going -- because I'm assuming you're not doing them sequentially one after another, you've got kind of books out on more than one. I mean, why couldn't these things hit sooner? Is it just -- I guess, I don't really understand why. Because, there's not a lot of companies, right, why we couldn't we get most of this done in '19?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [41]

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I'll pass that on to the steering committee in charge of the divestiture activities, John. Look, we've prioritized, in terms of the biggest impact to the company, we're going to try to get those done first. We're not in a rush here. We're going to be very deliberate and thoughtful in terms of how we execute on this and maximizing the value for the company. And so...

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [42]

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And I'll just quibble a little bit with your perspective in terms of -- there's a decent amount of work involved in each one in terms of preparing them to separate from ITW and all the things we need to do to...

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John George Inch, Gordon Haskett Research Advisors - MD & Senior Analyst of Multi-Industrials [43]

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Yes, I live in the ivory tower, so I get it.

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [44]

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I don't want to go that far, John, but I was just -- I think we've got a good cadence, we've got good plans that we are finalizing now in terms of being very deliberate and intentional about how we go about it. But as Michael said, I think the reality is it's probably a 2-year process to move all the way through. And of course, everything that we can do to make it happen faster, we would certainly do that. But at this point, we also are not -- that's not the #1 priority right now. So we kind of balance that with everything else that we are trying to work on and make progress on.

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John George Inch, Gordon Haskett Research Advisors - MD & Senior Analyst of Multi-Industrials [45]

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So just on the Polymers business, I know Michael you called out the auto aftermarket likely not sustaining that cadence, that make sense. Was there any kind of a pre-buy in that business maybe associated with getting ahead of some cost increases or price increases that's also potentially contributing to the 1% to 3%, kind of the slight deceleration?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [46]

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John, we did not see that in Polymers & Fluids, and actually, in any of our other segments as we went through the fourth quarter here. The quarter played out as it usually does on a monthly basis. There's really nothing unusual, as we went through the quarter, including in Polymers & Fluids.

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John George Inch, Gordon Haskett Research Advisors - MD & Senior Analyst of Multi-Industrials [47]

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The other question I had is, oil and gas prices have come down obviously, since the December meeting. And I know we're talking about raw increases, but I was wondering about the indirect impact or even direct impact of those hydrocarbon pricings coming down? I realize you could buy a lot of metals, right, and metals derivatives. But is there possibly some sort of -- once we get the impact of this, is there some sort of potential net tailwind, that kind of begins to accrue to you later in this year or something?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [48]

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Eventually, the answer is yes. I don't know whether it'll be at end of this year or not. I mean, there certainly is tailwind today on a dollar for dollar basis, and as I said earlier. While raw material cost increases, there's just a carryover from last year, still a pretty significant number in 2019. It's less than 2018, and we are certainly significantly ahead on a dollar-for-dollar basis. So to that extent, it is providing some tailwind here.

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John George Inch, Gordon Haskett Research Advisors - MD & Senior Analyst of Multi-Industrials [49]

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Got it. One last one. I mean, companies used to talk about, I think they still do selectively, kind of these cost pressures that are embodied by wages. If you just focus on the U.S., what's actually happening to your U.S. wage costs, given what appear to be tight employment markets? I mean, are wages going up materially in '19? I don't remember if you called that out materially in '19 versus '18. Is that any kind of a factor here?

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [50]

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We have not -- I think there would be a -- from the standpoint of aggregate, North American wages, I am summarizing a lot of individual data points, but things are up tenths of decimal points, maybe relative to sort of planned increases in prior years, but nothing that I would consider to be material in terms of impact on the overall company at this point.

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Operator [51]

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And our next question comes from Ross Gilardi.

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Ross Paul Gilardi, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Director [52]

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Just on Auto, I think you said that you're assuming flat to negative 4% for '19. Can you give us any type of breakdown by region, particularly since you were saying that you're not assuming any acceleration in the second-half. I would just think, given like what's going on in China right now, to get to flat to negative 4% and just the pressures in that end market globally, that you'd have to assume some re-acceleration or not be down more than that.

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [53]

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Yes. So there's a lot of uncertainty around the numbers that third parties are providing on a geographic basis. I think the best I can tell you is when we were together in December, the view was that our Auto business would be flat on markets that, globally, would be down 2% to 3%. We gave that a further risk adjustment here relative to what we said in December. And I can't really give you a view by quarter here as the year plays out. I'll give you the actuals when we get through Q2, Q3 and Q4, but I can't really give you a guidance around that.

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [54]

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We got people that study this, like IHS out with a projection of plus 2% on builds in China for the year, plus 1% in North America and I think down a couple. I think, sort of globally, they're plus 1%, we're 0% to minus 4%. They're that -- this is just one data point, but there are people that study this that have, I'm going to call it, an optimistic view, but I think we're back to the comment we're making earlier about, making sure that we're appropriately conservative there, where there's still some uncertainty, but we're not -- I don't think we're on the high side of optimism relative to what most of our the at least third parties that we look at that study this market feel like is going to go on in '19. We're on the conservative side of them.

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Ross Paul Gilardi, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Director [55]

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Just on the restructuring, the $0.07, and I think the $0.10 for the year. What is it actually for? I mean, is it headcount related? Or is it 5-year Enterprise Initiatives. I think you mentioned before, but where is it again?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [56]

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So this is primarily focused on rightsizing our footprint. In Europe, the 2 businesses, the Automotive business as well as the Specialty business. And beyond that, we typically don't comment on specific restructuring projects.

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Ross Paul Gilardi, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Director [57]

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Okay. But on that, Michael, I mean, you had said that clearly, there's some pressures tied to what you were describing earlier, but it sounded like you thought things were normalizing, that you're not losing share. And it's kind of a timing issue of when the market actually improves. So why restructure the European Auto business if that's the case?

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [58]

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Well, we're just moving faster on some things. We still got an acquisition that we did 2 years ago that is in the restructuring, I would say, is normally -- normal part of the integration of that business. It's a fairly good piece of that. We are accelerating some of that, given the environment. In this pause in demand, it's a good time to get after some of that. So there's some things that would've been -- we would've gotten to anyway that is the easiest way to describe it, that I would say we have accelerated into the front end of the year, given the pause in the demand. These things are in some ways -- it's better timing if we can get them done when we're not also dealing with some increases in demand. That's probably a better characterization of it. Front-end loading, that's what we're doing.

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Ross Paul Gilardi, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Director [59]

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And then just the last one. On Test & Measurement, I mean, you guys eked out 140 basis points of margin expansion with real organic growth in the business in the fourth quarter, which is pretty impressive. But is that type of a margin expansion sustainable into 2019 in a flattish environment for that segment?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [60]

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I think we still have a ways to go in terms of further margin expansion in Test & Measurement, and that's based on what the -- bottoms-up, what the team is telling us. What you're really seeing is the impact of the Enterprise Initiatives in Test & Measurement. And I think it's another data point that supports the view that we have and the confidence that we have in the ability to continue to expand margins in 2019 and beyond as we talked about in December. We believe we have at least another 3 to 4 percentage points of margin expansion ahead of us and Test & Measurement has at least that level of improvement ahead of it in that -- over the next 3 to 4 years.

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Operator [61]

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Our next question comes from Joe Ritchie, Goldman Sachs.

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Joseph Alfred Ritchie, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - VP & Lead Multi-Industry Analyst [62]

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So just on your WLTP comments from earlier, I just want to make sure that I understand it. If your platforms are being disproportionately impacted, do you have a sense or line of sight on the approval for those platforms getting through the testing requirements? And shouldn't that just reverse itself at some point in 2019?

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [63]

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Well, it should reverse itself at some point. The answer to your question is we don't have great line of sight because it's a new test and I don't want to speak for the auto OEMs in Europe. But what we're hearing is that there's some uncertainty and some challenges. It's not that it can't be done, it is a new testing procedure, and that the backlog involved in getting all of these -- all of their models through it has been much more of a challenge than, perhaps, was expected. I don't know, I'm not -- again, we're drawing some conclusions over -- around based on a number of different data points. So my answer to your question is, absolutely, it should sort itself out. I think there's still a question on how long it takes to do so. And that's an element of our, let's call it, conservatism in terms of our posture around that. There is -- people are still buying cars in Europe. There's nothing in terms of -- or consumption data on auto that gives you a whole lot of reason for pause, at least to us at this point. It's much more about the disruption in the production part relative to the emissions testing regime. And I don't think it's sort of smooth sailing from here, let's say, in terms of how all that plays out based on what we hear.

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Joseph Alfred Ritchie, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - VP & Lead Multi-Industry Analyst [64]

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No, that's fair, Scott. And I guess, just a quick follow up to that. You guys gave us guidance on the whole growth outlook for Test Measurement and Electronics. Just wondering, and I know that you guided to current run rates, but the Electronics business, I guess, we've been seeing some softness and all. And any color on that business, specifically, and what you're seeing in terms of [run rate] perspective would be helpful.

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [65]

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Yes, most of our position in the electronics space is really more, I would say, MRO-related. So we're not -- with a couple of exceptions, just one in semi, we're not sort of upstream in terms of production equipment. So, that from our standpoint, the Electronics has been pretty stable. But it's -- but we're -- the way I would describe it is pretty downstream from the standpoint of where we participate there.

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [66]

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Yes. Clean room, MRO items, really.

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [67]

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MRO items. Not production items.

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Operator [68]

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And our next question comes from Ann Duignan.

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Ann P. Duignan, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - MD [69]

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Most of my questions have been asked, so just philosophically, I just wanted to ask about pulling the quarterly guidance, I'm just curious about timing. And whether you thought through the fact that without quarterly guidance, the probability is that in the sell side, estimates will be more variable. And that you're more likely to miss some of these expectations and, therefore, have greater earnings volatility, which traditionally meant cutting the multiple on its stock. So I'm just curious why you chose now to stop giving quarterly guidance?

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [70]

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Well, since we hadn't missed one in 6 years, we thought we would try something different. I'm just kidding. I think, ultimately, we talked to a lot of our shareholders, and there's a fair amount of effort that goes into providing it. There is some philosophical differences around, again, what we think the core investor value proposition for ITW is, which is really around strength of competitive advantage in the business model, resilience in terms of a high-quality diversified portfolio, all of those things are really oriented towards longer time periods of performance. And given all that, I think this is -- we felt like we had -- as I think Michael said in his remarks, it was valuable early in the process, given -- I'm talking about the enterprise strategy now. And then, at this point, we've progressed far enough where it's not value-added anymore. And the last thing I would say and this will be a little smirky, and I don't intend it to be, but we listen to your boss, Jamie Dimon, who told us that -- and a lot of companies should be doing this. I'm just kidding.

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Operator [71]

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And our next question comes from Steven Fisher, UBS.

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Steven Fisher, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director and Senior Analyst [72]

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Just wanted to follow up on the oil and gas question, more from the revenue side of things. Just wondering to what extent you're seeing any change in momentum in the oil and gas business in the last 2, 3 months or so, and how that's filtering into your, primarily, I guess the 3% to 6% growth in your Welding business?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [73]

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Yes, our exposure is pretty limited, overall, to oil and gas. It's primarily on the international side in the Welding business. And we've just started to see a pickup in oil and gas here in Q3 and Q4, we gave you the number here. And we haven't seen any changes over the last couple months, if that's what you're asking.

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Operator [74]

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And our next question comes from Nicole DeBlase, Deutsche Bank.

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Nicole Sheree DeBlase, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Director & Lead Analyst [75]

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Given that some of the -- I guess, some of the commentary around why organic growth is a little bit lower for the full year is semiconductor in Electronics. I guess, I'm curious, I don't think that, that came up in your commentary within T&M. Are you guys actually starting to see a slowdown in semiconductor spend, or is that just anticipated to occur throughout 2019?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [76]

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So we did see a slowdown here in Q4, not entirely unexpected. And again, it's in the portion of Test & Measurement that sells equipment for the upfront manufacturing of -- in the semiconductor space. And we did see a slowdown here in Q4. In the past, there've been talks about a pause, and then a pick up again in the back end of 2019. And we have taken all that out and basically assumed current run rates based on what we saw in Q4 and, therefore, in our view, appropriately risk-adjusted for any exposure in semiconductor.

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Operator [77]

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Our next question comes from Nathan Jones from Stifel.

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Nathan Hardie Jones, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - Analyst [78]

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A couple follow-ups on the Welding business there. Obviously, some good organic growth, but I know that business does sell a lot of steel. So maybe you could give us some color on what the input is from volume versus price, both in the fourth quarter, and what the pricing tailwind to revenue, at least, is in 2019.

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [79]

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Yes. So, Nathan, so we do not break out price versus volume at the enterprise level or by segment, including for Welding. So I'm afraid I can't give you that.

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Nathan Hardie Jones, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - Analyst [80]

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Okay, no worries. Just one on the Construction business then. You talked about new product releases on the slate for this year. Can you talk about when you expect those to start hitting the market? And any color you could give on the anticipated contribution?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [81]

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Yes. So it's a pretty long list of new products centered around our cordless technology where ITW is the market leader. They come in throughout the year in various geographies. Typically, the contribution from new products is somewhere in the 1% range in terms of overall revenue growth, and we expect it, just based on what's in the pipeline, to be a little bit higher than that in Construction this year.

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Operator [82]

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Our next question comes from Josh Pokrzywinski from Morgan Stanley.

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Joshua Charles Pokrzywinski, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst [83]

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Just to follow up on -- Michael, I get the -- part of the answer to the last question that you don't really want to break out price at the enterprise level. But it seems like some of the confidence in the year comes from maybe a bit more price yield and perhaps some commercial initiatives that offset some of that Auto commentary. Is that a fair assessment relative to prior years, that you guys just feel like outside of, perhaps, Auto that you're carrying a bit more price than usual and able to kind of hold up, at least, any downside scenario?

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [84]

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I don't know if we really thought about it the way you're articulating it. I mean, but certainly, like I said earlier, in 6 out of 7 segments, so excluding Auto, there's -- we've taken pricing actions to offset raw material cost inflation and tariff impact. And so to the extent that we'll probably have a little bit more price coming through in '19 than in '18, and that certainly helps the overall organic growth rate.

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [85]

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But we offset price every year.

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [86]

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Yes, we get price every year. Maybe a little bit more in '19 than '18, but it's not the big driver here.

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Operator [87]

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And our next question comes from David Raso, Evercore ISI.

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David Michael Raso, Evercore ISI Institutional Equities, Research Division - Senior MD & Head of Industrial Research Team [88]

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I had another question, but just wanted to circle back first on the organic sales guide. I mean, just want to make sure the takeaway is correct. The idea of the first quarter being flat. The second quarter, you do expect it to improve? I'm just making sure we are all level set, just given the idea that it's flat in the first quarter, if the first -- second quarter is not at least 1 or 2, it makes the second half, obviously, a little more of a struggle. So I just want to make sure we level set on that. So if you can give us some perspective. And then my real question, Food and Welding, Food and Welding are going to be over 55% in dollar terms of your EBIT growth -- I mean, sorry, the organic sales growth. In those businesses, good to see Food pick up at least on a year-over-year basis in the fourth quarter. Can you give us any help with -- not a backlog number, an order number. Just something kind of looking into '19 that gives us some perspective of the starting point of growth, sort of already booked relatively, just given their significance to the overall growth for '19?

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E. Scott Santi, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [89]

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I'll answer the second and throw it back to Michael for the first. These are all short-cycled businesses from the standpoint of we get an order today, we ship it tomorrow. What I can tell you is book-to-bill in both businesses in Q4 was positive. So order rates are at or above shipment rates in Q4. We don't build -- these aren't big backlog businesses, is my point. These are -- given the way we deliver, we get an order today, we ship it tomorrow. We don't build backlog, so -- but from the standpoint of just order rates relative to shipment rates, things in Q4 in both businesses were pretty solid.

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [90]

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Yes. That's where I was going to go with this, is Welding just grew organically 8% on a tough comp. They were up 6% in Q4 last year. Food Equipment, up 5% organic, so good momentum in those 2 businesses. In terms of the Q1, Q2 question, without telling you anything new, really, I mean, we did say that we have 1 less shipping day in the first quarter, which lowers our overall organic growth rate by mathematically 1.5 points. We do not have that headwind in Q2. So I don't know if that helps you in terms of what Q2 might look like. That's probably the best I can give you.

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David Michael Raso, Evercore ISI Institutional Equities, Research Division - Senior MD & Head of Industrial Research Team [91]

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Okay. No. I appreciate it. It's just if you do 0%-2%, then it's 3.5%-2.5%, it feels a little bit better than 0%-0% [organic growth]. That's all.

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Michael M. Larsen, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - Senior VP & CFO [92]

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Well, keep -- yes, David, keep in mind that 1.5% in Q1, mathematically, we lose from 1 less day. We get that back in Q3.

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David Michael Raso, Evercore ISI Institutional Equities, Research Division - Senior MD & Head of Industrial Research Team [93]

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Exactly, exactly. Yes, I just wanted to make sure we weren't starting second quarter at 1 or less, so it just gets more challenging. But no, I appreciate it.

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Karen A. Fletcher, Illinois Tool Works Inc. - VP of IR [94]

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Okay, yes, thank you, Cheryl. We've run a bit over. If you have any other questions or follow up, please reach out to me today, and thank you for your time this morning.

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Operator [95]

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And thank you for participating in today's conference call. All lines may disconnect at this time.