CNH REPORTS PROFIT OF $193 MILLION IN 2004 BEFORE RESTRUCTURING CHARGES
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Lake Forest, Illinois (February 3, 2005) CNH Global N.V. (NYSE:CNH) today reported a fourth quarter 2004 net income of $26 million, compared to a fourth quarter 2003 net loss of $111 million. These results include restructuring charges, net of tax, of $22 million and $140 million, respectively, in the two periods. Fourth quarter 2004 basic earnings per share were $.19 ($.11 per diluted share), compared to a net loss of $.84 per share ($.84 per diluted share) in the fourth quarter of 2003.
For the full year, CNH's net income of $125 million in 2004 compares to a net loss of $157 million in 2003. These results include restructuring charges, net of tax, of $68 million and $187 million, respectively, in the two periods. Basic earnings per share for the year were $.94 ($.54 per diluted share), compared to a net loss of $1.19 per share ($1.19 per diluted share) in 2003.
Excluding restructuring charges, net of tax, CNH reported net income of $193 million in 2004, compared to net income of $30 million in 2003. This $163 million year-over-year improvement exceeded the company's expectations. The improvement was achieved despite lower fourth-quarter sales of agricultural equipment, primarily due to overall destocking of dealer and company inventories, mainly of combines in North America following the closure of the East Moline assembly plant.
"The people of CNH can be proud of their accomplishments in 2004," said Paolo Monferino, president and chief executive officer. "The year brought our merger-related initiatives to a successful close. While we see new challenges on the horizon, largely from the escalation of some material costs, especially steel, and the softening of some of our major markets, we now face these challenges from a stronger position, and we expect continued growth in revenue and net income in 2005."
Fourth quarter sales of agricultural equipment
Net sales of agricultural equipment of $1.9 billion for the quarter were at approximately the same level as in the fourth quarter of 2003, but down about 5% excluding currency variations.
In the fourth quarter, CNH estimates that worldwide industry unit sales of agricultural tractors were up approximately 10% and combine sales were up about 15%. Industry sales of over-40 horsepower tractors were up approximately 26% in North America, 18% in Rest-of-World markets and 8% in Latin America, but were down 1% in Western Europe. Industry sales of combines were up 43% in North America, which was significantly stronger than expected, 34% in Rest-of-World markets and 17% in Western Europe. In Latin America, industry sales of combines through September were up approximately 30% from the same period in 2003. However, in the fourth quarter, Latin American industry sales of combines declined approximately 10%. In total, fourth quarter worldwide industry unit sales of agricultural equipment increased year-over-year by approximately 10%.
Total retail unit sales of CNH agricultural equipment also increased in the quarter, in line with the global market. Increases in CNH's retail unit sales in the Americas and Rest-of-World markets were offset by declines in Western Europe. CNH under-produced its retail unit sales of agricultural equipment by approximately 20% in the quarter, reducing worldwide dealer and company inventories of tractors and combines (destocking) by approximately 15%.
Fourth quarter sales of construction equipment
Net sales of construction equipment were $962 million for the quarter, up $164 million or 21% from the fourth quarter 2003. Excluding currency variations, sales were up 16% from the fourth quarter last year.
In the fourth quarter, CNH estimates that total worldwide industry unit sales of light construction equipment increased by about 19%, while sales of heavy construction equipment increased by approximately 13%. Industry unit sales of light equipment were up 23% in North America, 17% in Western Europe, 14% in Rest-of-World markets and up 50% in Latin America (the smallest of the four market areas). For heavy equipment, industry unit sales increased by approximately 35% in North America, 16% in Western Europe and 43% in Latin America. Industry unit sales declined by about 5% in Rest-of-World markets. In total, fourth quarter 2004 worldwide industry sales of light and heavy construction equipment increased by approximately 17% from the same period last year.
In the quarter, total retail unit sales of CNH's heavy and light construction equipment increased, in line with the global market. CNH under-produced its retail unit sales of construction equipment by approximately 14%, reducing worldwide dealer and company inventories by approximately 13%.
Equipment Operations fourth quarter financial results
Fourth quarter net sales of equipment were $2.8 billion, compared to $2.7 billion for the same period in 2003. Net of currency variations, sales increased by 1% compared to the same period last year. The company's destocking, primarily of agricultural equipment, partially offset the impact of improved price realization.
CNH Equipment Operations' fourth quarter gross margin (net sales of equipment less cost of goods sold) increased year-over-year by $48 million, or one percentage point, primarily on the strength of the company's North American construction equipment business, while the company's agricultural equipment business gross margin declined slightly in the quarter. Improved price realization and favorable currency translation impacts were offset by unfavorable economics, including higher steel costs, and lower volume and mix. Construction equipment's gross margin increased in the quarter as higher pricing, volume and mix and savings resulting from the company's manufacturing rationalization actions more than offset the unfavorable economics. Even though construction equipment operations under-produced retail unit demand by 14% in the quarter, production increased by approximately 20%, compared to the fourth quarter of 2003, driven by higher industry volumes.
CNH defines industrial operating margin as net sales, less cost of goods sold, SG&A and research and development costs. In total, the company's fourth quarter industrial operating margin of $100 million was approximately the same as in the fourth quarter of 2003, in spite of lower volumes driven by overall company and dealer inventory destocking.
Equipment Operations full year financial results
Full year 2004 net sales of equipment increased to $11.5 billion, up 15% compared to $10.1 billion for the same period in 2003. Net of currency variations, sales increased by 9%. By region, net of currency, sales increased by 24% in the Americas and 2% in Rest-of-World markets, while sales in Western Europe declined by approximately 6%. Worldwide, in addition to the currency impact, sales increased primarily from improved volume and mix, improved price realization and new products.
Equipment Operations' full year gross margin increased year-over-year to $1.76 billion, or 15.3% of net sales, from $1.48 billion, or 14.7% of net sales, primarily on the strength of the company's agricultural and construction equipment businesses in the Americas. The company's agricultural equipment business gross margin increased in dollars but remained flat as a percent of net sales compared with 2003. Higher pricing, favorable currency and higher volume and mix offset unfavorable economics, particularly higher steel costs. Improvements in North America were offset by declines in Europe, where the competitive conditions did not allow for sufficient price increases to recover increased steel costs and other economics. Production of agricultural equipment, for the full year, was just slightly below the level of retail unit sales.
Construction equipment's results improved significantly in 2004, as gross margin increased both in dollars and as a percent of sales, approaching a more acceptable level. Improved price realization, volume and mix, and impacts of the company's manufacturing rationalization actions more than offset higher steel costs and other economics. Production of construction equipment, for the full year, was at the same level as retail unit sales.
CNH's profit improvement initiatives generated savings of approximately $165 million in 2004, from manufacturing footprint and efficiency actions and material cost reductions, excluding steel. Higher steel costs of approximately $160 million were partially offset by steel surcharge pricing, netting to a full year incremental cost of approximately $50 million. New products contributed additional incremental profit, totaling about $30 million for the full year.
For the full year, SG&A costs were 8.0% of net sales, compared with 8.3% of net sales in 2003. Total salaried employment at December 31, 2004 was approximately 3% lower than at December 31, 2003.
In 2004, CNH's industrial operating margin rose to $567 million, or 4.9% of net sales, compared to $381 million, or 3.8% of net sales, in 2003. The increase, as a percent of net sales, was due mainly to improvements at the company's construction equipment operations.
For 2004, CNH Equipment Operations adjusted EBITDA was $687 million, or 6.0% of net sales, compared to $501 million, or 5.0% of net sales, in the prior year. Interest coverage was 2.9 times for the full year 2004, compared to 2.1 times for the prior year.
Financial Services fourth quarter financial results
In the fourth quarter of 2004, CNH Capital reported net income of $55 million, compared to $36 million for the same period last year. The improvement was due mainly to lower year-over-year provisions for loan losses.
Financial Services full year financial results
CNH Capital's net income increased to $159 million in 2004, compared to $93 million in 2003. The significant increase in CNH Capital's results reflects better spreads on the company's asset backed securitization transactions and improved margins. Continued improvements in portfolio quality have resulted in steady declines in past due and delinquency rates in CNH Capital's core business and lower provisions for loan losses for the year. The total serviced portfolio at the end of 2004 increased by 6% compared to the December 31, 2003 level.
Equipment Operations net debt was $1.3 billion on December 31, 2004, compared to $1.9 billion on December 31, 2003. The year-over-year decline in net debt reflects primarily lower levels of working capital.
Equipment Operations working capital, net of currency variations, was approximately $642 million lower on December 31, 2004 than on December 31, 2003. The $642 million decline includes the $466 million year-end impact of CNH's European wholesale securitization program, which began in the third quarter of 2004, and the early settlement of a European non-operating receivable of approximately $190 million, in the fourth quarter of 2004. In 2004, at constant currency levels, inventory declined by approximately $85 million in 2004, and third-party payables decreased by approximately $58 million while the net working capital impact of intersegment receivables and payables increased by $97 million. The $85 million full year inventory reduction was achieved because of the destocking actions in the fourth quarter.
As previously announced, CNH contributed $155 million to its US pension plan during 2004. In total, the company's equipment operations generated approximately $879 million of cash from operating activities, covering the company's $179 million of capital expenditures made during the year, with the balance principally used to reduce net debt.
Financial Services increased its net debt to $3.6 billion on December 31, 2004 from $3.2 billion on December 31, 2003, supporting its larger on-book portfolio of retail financing contracts. Higher year-end levels of origination activity in the company's North American businesses were the primary drivers of the increase in the portfolio, net of currency variations. During the quarter, CNH Capital repaid a maturing $500 million bank credit line.
Pension fund and obligation
For 2004, CNH's US and UK pension plan assets have benefited from returns on assets in excess of CNH's assumptions and also from the $155 million of contributions to the US plan. The favorable developments with plan assets were offset by decreases in discount rate assumptions, resulting in higher benefit obligation valuations. As a result CNH's minimum pension liability increased by $122 million, resulting in a net of tax charge to equity of approximately $64 million. For 2005 CNH expects that its pension and medical costs for active employees and retirees will be approximately the same as in 2004. In addition, CNH expects to contribute approximately $90 million to its US pension plan in 2005.
Agricultural equipment market outlook for 2005
CNH expects full-year 2005 worldwide industry unit sales to be flat with 2004 levels. In North America, total industry unit sales are expected to increase approximately 5%, with a possible slowdown in unit sales in the second half. Overall industry unit sales in Europe will be flat to slightly down. In Latin America, after a very strong 2004, industry unit sales of agricultural equipment should decline by about 20%.
In North America, first quarter industry sales of tractors and combines are estimated to remain strong. In Western Europe, implementation of the new agricultural system, which decouples payments to farmers from production, is expected to create uncertainty in those markets, with tractor and combine volumes expected to decline by up to 5%.
In Latin America, we estimate industry sales of tractors to be down by 10% in the quarter, while industry sales of combines are expected to decline by approximately 30% from the high level of 2004. The Brazilian combine market in the first quarter last year was up approximately 70% from the first quarter of 2003 as higher crop prices to the Brazilian farmers bolstered farm incomes. Following declines in commodity prices and changes in exchange rates since that time, we anticipate that combine industry unit sales in the first quarter of 2005 will return to about the same level as in the first quarter of 2003.
Construction equipment market outlook for 2005
CNH expects full year 2005 worldwide industry unit sales of light construction equipment to be up possibly as much as 5%, with North American sales up about 5%. Gains of up to 5%, are anticipated in the Western European and Latin American markets. Industry unit sales in Rest-of-World markets are estimated to decline.
For heavy construction equipment, we expect the worldwide market to be flat to down 5%, in units, for the full year. Although there are marked differences by geographic region industry unit sales in North America should be up about 5%, while the market in Western Europe is estimated to be flat, compared to 2004. Industry unit sales in Rest-of-World markets should be down, compared to 2004.
In the first quarter 2005, we expect that worldwide industry unit sales of light equipment will be stronger than the full year outlook would suggest. Industry unit sales in North America should be up 15%, up 5% to 10% in Western Europe and up about 25% in Latin America. Industry unit sales in Rest-of-World markets are expected to decline.
Industry unit sales of heavy equipment in the first quarter 2005, for the Americas and Western Europe, also are expected to be stronger than the full-year outlook would indicate. Industry unit sales should be up about 15% in North America, approximately 20% in Latin America, and flat in Western Europe. Industry unit sales in Rest-of-World markets, however, are estimated to be down about 30% as the market in China is not expected to repeat its performance of last year.
In January 2005, CNH began the consolidation of its New Holland construction equipment family brands in Europe and Latin America, into one New Holland brand. The company is focusing on two major construction brands globally - Case and New Holland. CNH expects that, long-term, this consolidation will generate additional incremental revenue, allow CNH to provide better support to its dealers, strengthen its dealer network, and result in the availability of a greater range of products. In the near term, this action may result in some network and product line adjustments and increasing support costs.
CNH outlook for 2005
For the full year 2005, CNH expects net sales of equipment to increase by about 5%. However, the company believes it will continue to face higher material costs in the beginning of the year, availability issues for some components and commodities, and, in general, higher volatility of market conditions. CNH remains committed to its goal of generating $500 million of efficiencies in the 2005 to 2007 period. Because of the distribution of CNH's worldwide manufacturing operations and its global sourcing patterns, the company believes its net results are not unduly exposed to currency-rate variations.
In total, considering all of these factors, the company expects a year-over-year profit improvement of about 15%, depending upon market conditions and commodity cost evolution. However, for the first quarter of 2005, the company believes its net income before restructuring costs should be approximately at the same level as last year in spite of the recent steel cost increases and a planned smaller seasonal inventory build, mainly for combines in the Americas.
CNH management will hold a conference call later today to review its fourth quarter results. The conference call webcast will begin at approximately 10:00 am U.S. Eastern Time. This call can be accessed through the investor information section of the company's web site at www.cnh.com and is being carried by CCBN.
CNH is the power behind leading agricultural and construction equipment brands of the Case and New Holland brand families. Supported by more than 12,000 dealers in more than 160 countries, CNH brings together the knowledge and heritage of its brands with the strength and resources of its worldwide commercial, industrial, product support and finance organizations. More information about CNH and its products can be found on line at www.cnh.com.
Forward looking statements
This press release includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements other than statements of historical fact contained in this press release, including statements regarding our competitive strengths, business strategy, future financial position, budgets, projected costs and plans and objectives of management, are forward-looking statements. These statements may include terminology such as "may," "will," "expect," "should," "intend," "estimate," "anticipate," "believe," "continue," "on track," or similar terminology.
Our outlook is predominantly based on our interpretation of what we consider key economic assumptions and involves risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ. Crop production and commodity prices are strongly affected by weather and can fluctuate significantly. Housing starts and other construction activity are sensitive to interest rates and government spending. Some of the other significant factors for us include general economic and capital market conditions, the cyclical nature of our business, customer buying patterns and preferences, foreign currency exchange rate movements, our hedging practices, our and our customers' access to credit, actions by rating agencies concerning the ratings on our debt and asset backed securities and the ratings of Fiat S.p.A., political uncertainty and civil unrest or war in various areas of the world, pricing, product initiatives and other actions taken by competitors, disruptions in production capacity, excess inventory levels, the effect of changes in laws and regulations (including government subsidies and international trade regulations), technological difficulties, results of our research and development activities, changes in environmental laws, employee and labor relations, pension and health care costs, energy prices, real estate values, animal diseases, crop pests, harvest yields, government farm programs and consumer confidence, housing starts and construction activity, concerns related to modified organisms and fuel and fertilizer costs. Additionally, our achievement of the anticipated benefits of our profit improvement initiatives depends upon, among other things, industry volumes as well as our ability to effectively rationalize operations and to execute our dual brand strategy. Further information concerning factors that could significantly affect expected results is included in our Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2003.
We can give no assurance that the expectations reflected in our forward-looking statements will prove to be correct. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements. All written and oral forward-looking statements attributable to us are expressly qualified in their entirety by the factors we disclose that could cause our actual results to differ materially from our expectations. We undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements.