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Philip Morris International's Management Presents at 2013 Barclays Capital Back-to-School Consumer Conference (Transcript)

Philip Morris International Inc. (PM) 2013 Barclays Capital Back-to-School Consumer Conference Call September 4, 2013 10:30 AM ET


Jacek Olczak – Chief Financial Officer

Unidentified Analyst

Okay, we’re going to get going with our next presentation. Our next speaker is Jacek Olczak, the Chief Financial Officer of Philip Morris International. Jacek joined Philip Morris International back in 1993 and assumed the Chief Financial Officer role just over a year ago, back in August 1, 2012 after having served for three years as the President of Philip Morris’ EU region.

While the external environment has certainly been challenging for global consumer packaged good companies, Philip Morris continues to expect double-digit currency-neutral EPS growth in 2013. We look forward to Jacek’s insights on the future of the global tobacco category and the opportunities and challenges in front of PM.

And with that, I’ll turn it over to Jacek.

Jacek Olczak

Thank you, good morning. It’s a great pleasure for me to be back in Boston again, at the Barclays Back-to-School Consumer Conference and have the opportunity to talk to you about our business. I welcome those who are joining us on the webcast. My remarks contain forward-looking statements and accordingly, I direct your attention to the Forward-Looking and Cautionary Statements section of today’s presentations and our SEC filings. A glossary of terms is available on our website and is included in this presentation.

We are confident that we can deliver robust financial results in 2013. As you know, we have indicated that we expect a better second half of the year with a particularly strong fourth quarter. We will not be talking about the guidance today as we are approaching the end of the quarter. In line with our tradition, we will update our guidance during the next earnings call.

The total market environment continues to be exceptionally difficult, but we have seen some moderation in the negative industry trends in the EU region. Our brands continue to perform well and we have solid global market share trends. We are addressing issues in Japan and the Philippines, but these will take some time to show concrete results. Of key importance, our ability to price remains strong, and this will offset the volume softness.

Let me start with the EU region. In the EU region, while the level of unemployment remains high and cigarette industry volumes continue to decline at a significant pace in many markets, we have seen some moderations in the rate of decline. The trends of cigarette industry volume on a three-month moving basis through July were generally better than the year-to-date trends, with the most notable improvement in Germany. On a Regional basis, the decline was 6.6% over the last three months, compared to 8.4% year-to-date. While this is no cause for great optimism, it is in line with our expectations for a better second half volume trend.

We continue to register a good market share performance across the EU region. On a year-to-date basis through July, our Regional cigarette share was up by 0.7 points to 38.8%, while our fine cut share was 0.9 points higher at 14.5%. This was driven in particular by the strong performance of Marlboro, whose cigarette share rose by 0.5 points over the same period to 19.1%, and whose fine cut share was 0.9 points higher at 3.4%.

Let me complete my update on the EU region with a few words about the pending Tobacco Products Directive or TPD. The proposal made by the European Commission calls notably for a ban on slims and menthol cigarettes, 75% graphic health warnings and a pharma approach to e-cigarettes, though it does not mandate plain packaging. This proposal has been reviewed by various committees in the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

Diverse positions have emerged. For example, a number of Parliamentary committees have proposed a 50% warning size, the Council 65% and the Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety or ENVI, 75%. There is also a difference of opinion on slims with only ENVI supporting the EU Commission proposed ban.

The European Parliament is expected to debate the issues during the plenary session that starts on September 9. Whatever emerges will then be discussed as the part of the trilogue with the Council and the Commission in order to agree on a final legislative text. The TPD is expected to be adopted by the end of this year. Member States will then have a period of 18 to 24 months to transpose the TPD into the national legislation.

We believe that major provisions in the current draft fail to meet standards of sound, evidence-based policy and rationality, such as, for example, the ban of entire segments of the market and the excessive health warning. We will continue to argue for the elimination or moderation, respectively.

Let me now turn to two key markets in the EEMA Region, starting with Russia. Through the end of July, cigarette industry volume is estimated to have declined by about 7%. The decrease has been concentrated in the super-low price segment, whose volume declined by an estimated 17% during this period. This reflects the impact of proportionally higher price increases at the bottom of the market, slower economic growth, and the emergence of illicit alternatives. While still relatively low, illicit trade has increased compared to the previous year. In July, two successful anti-counterfeit raids were carried out in and around Moscow, and the Russian authorities are showing a greater awareness and a willingness to address this phenomenon.

We were ahead of competition in our implementation of price increases announced in December last year and June this year. Nevertheless, we were able to maintain a solid market share of 26.1% year-to-date July, down by just 0.1 point. This reflects our well-balanced portfolio led by Parliament in premium, Chesterfield and L&M in the mid and the Bond Street in the low-price segment, as well as our relatively low exposure to the super-low price segment.

Cigarette industry volume in Turkey declined by an estimated 10% year-to-date July due to the resurgence of illicit trade that reflects the government’s focus on other priorities in recent months. The key trends in the market continue to be adult smoker up-trading to mid and premium-priced products and the expansion of the super-low TRY 6 per pack price segment. This is at the expense of the low TRY 6.50 per pack price segment. The continued growth of Parliament in premium and Muratti in the mid-price segment has improved our mix.

However, this has not been sufficient to prevent a slight year-to-date July market share loss of 0.2 points to 45%, which is attributable to the decline of the low-price Lark and L&M due to the price sensitive adult consumers moving to the super-low price propositions. We have addressed our under-representation in the super-low price segment through the re-launch of Chesterfield in June and the initial results are promising. The brand achieved a 4% Nielsen market share of the super-low segment in July.

One of the highlights of the EEMA region is North Africa and the Middle East. Our year-to-date July estimated market share in North Africa grew by six points to 27%, behind the strong performance of Marlboro across the area and the growth of L&M in Egypt. Our North African volume grew by 30% during this period. We also maintained our clear leadership position in the GCC with an estimated 44% market share and a volume growth of some 3%.

Our market share in Japan in July was 26.5%, slightly above the previous month, but 1.3 points below the last year’s level, when we benefited from the pipelining of Marlboro Ice Blast 5 milligram and 1 milligram propositions. We have two key objectives in the Japanese market. We need to reinforce our leadership in the growing menthol segment and we have launched two new innovative menthol offerings; Lark Ice Mint, the first 100 millimeter capsule product in the mainstream segment, and Marlboro W-Burst, the first double capsule product. Consumer acceptance has been encouraging.

The second objective is to obtain a larger share of the non-menthol segment, which still accounts for nearly three quarters of the market. Our traditional brands in this segment, Lark and Philip Morris, are under pressure, resulting in a 0.7 segment share decline.

We have just launched a new smoother-tasting Marlboro line-up, called Marlboro Clear, to widen the appeal of the brand to mainstream non-menthol smokers and improve Marlboro’s relatively small 6% share of the segment. The new products provide adult smokers with a smooth taste and a clean aftertaste.

Innovation remains a key to success in Japan though our initiatives will take some time to bring about a recovery in the market share. Industry volume meanwhile remains on track with our forecast of a modest decline of about 2% for the full year. And finally, with regard to the foreseen increase in the consumption tax in April next year, we expect a final decision by the government during the fourth quarter.

Let me now turn to the Philippines. The positive news is that monthly average tax paid industry volume has been 8 billion units over the three months through July, representing a relatively modest decline of 5% compared to the same period last year. This is a significant improvement over the 5.1 billion unit monthly average volume during the first quarter of this year.

We believe that this improvement is predominantly attributable to a local competitor declaring a higher proportion of its volume for excise tax purposes. Adult smoking incidence is slightly above last year and average adult daily consumption has declined insignificantly. This indicates that overall consumption levels have not been significantly impacted so far by the huge disruptive excise tax increase that took place at the beginning of the year.

However, we have witnessed substantial adult consumer down-trading to the super-low price segment, where the stick price is still an attractive 1 Peso and where virtually all local competitors’ brands are positioned. As a result, the super-low segment has grown from 15% last year to 44% in the last three months through July. We strongly believe that the current 1 Peso per stick price level is economically unsustainable assuming full tax enforcement. Therefore, we would expect the market to eventually revert to more acceptable, historically-prevalent price gaps.

In the meantime, we have been seeking to incentivize the retailer to reduce the stick price of our key brand, Fortune through trade programs, have supported our own super-low price brands in order to protect our market share, and continue to work closely with the Bureau of Internal Revenue to obtain a level playing field. Full tax enforcement and the resulting reduced price gaps will be critical to the profitable recovery of our business in the Philippines going forward.

Let me finish my update of key markets with Indonesia. Due to the recent spike in inflation, we now forecast industry volume to grow by approximately 3% this year, in line with the historical average, though below the exceptional increases of 2011 and 2012.

Year-to-date July, our market share reached 36.2%, 1.1 point ahead of the prior year as the growth of Sampoerna A, Marlboro and U Mild more than offset a weaker performance of Dji Sam Soe. Dji Sam Soe has crossed the favorable 1,000 Rupiah per stick price point. We believe that, while we will hit road bumps on specific brands from time-to-time, due to price points and the importance of stick sales in Indonesia, attractive growth opportunities remain going forward.

The machine-made low tar, kretek segment continues to expand, albeit at a slightly more moderate pace, and we are making steady inroads into the full flavor machine-made segment. In the last two months, we have continued to increase prices on a regular basis, helping to drive margins higher following the January excise tax increase and the increase in the cost of cloves.

On a global basis, our pricing remains strong, backed by the strength of our broad portfolio and supported by a largely rational excise tax environment. We achieved a pricing variance of over $1 billion in the first half of this year, which is some $200 million more than during the same period last year.

We have achieved excellent market share performance this year, with gains year-to-date July in all four regions, excluding the Philippines. This should enable us along with our strong pricing to mitigate the continued globally weak cigarette industry volume, which remains a key challenge for the remainder of the year and into next year.

In addition to the solid prospects for our conventional business, let me also briefly share with you the important progresses we have made so far this year with the Next Generation, or Reduced-Risk, Products. We are on track with our two manufacturing facilities, with 2016 the target for completion. We have commenced five out of eight sets of full clinical studies with results expected in 2014 and we are carrying out full consumer acceptance tests for one product platform.

Early results are very positive with a high acceptance rate, taste liking and exclusive use. We thus remain on track to successfully launch Reduced-Risk Products in 2016, 2017, which will provide PMI with exciting new business opportunities.

In conclusion, our business fundamentals remain solid despite an exceptionally difficult economic environment that has encouraged adult smokers to switch to cheaper alternatives to tax paid cigarettes, such as fine cut in Europe and illicit trade in many markets.

We have a very good geographic balance with strength in both developed and emerging markets. We believe we have the best brand portfolio led by Marlboro and Parliament in premium and Chesterfield, L&M and Bond Street in lower price segments. The issue in Japan and the Philippines are known and will unfavorably impact our results this year, but we have strategies in place to address them.

We are confident that we’ll deliver strong financial results in 2013 and we continue to focus on returning cash to our shareholders through share repurchases and dividends, while seeking strategic investment opportunities that will strengthen our business. Finally, we remain very excited by the prospect for the future commercialization of our next-generation or reduced-risk products.

Thank you for your interest in the company. I will be happy to answer your questions now.

Earnings Call Part 2: