Company Notes Digest 3.28.13

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Throughout the week I spend a lot of time reading conference calls, SEC filings, etc and leave summaries of quotes in the company notes section which can be found here.  Below is a digest of some of the best insights that I’ve gathered from the calls during the last week.

Tiffany Earnings Call:

Weakness in the middle class?

  • “We saw a pronounced softness in sales of entry-level-priced silver jewelry.”

Darden Earnings Call:

Still seeing frugality

  • “for many guests, affordability is a particularly important need.”

But business improving

  • “the turn in March has been significant.”

Dollar General Earnings Call:

Making excuses already for the upcoming quarter?

  • “We’re up against our stiffest quarter of the year last year in terms of sales comp. And my chief merchant was reminding me just this morning that last week (sic) [year] the temperatures in United States were about 70 degrees, and this year they’re about 38.”

Retailers use Tobacco to drive traffic

  • “tobacco is a low margin and then that’ll get into the consumable overall margin.”

Thomson Reuters Analyst Day:

Complexity is a headache

  • “we had 13 — we were going to market with 13 platforms. 13 platforms. As you know, our competitors go to market with 1, maybe 2. 13 platforms, clearly not a recipe for success”

When all else fails hire Google alums…

  • “My name is Philip Brittan, and I am the Global Head of our Desktop Platform. I joined Thomson Reuters a little under 2 years ago…I was previously at Google, where I was the Global Head of Google Finance. And before that, I was at Bloomberg for a number of years”

…because they are fanatical about making good products

  • “Delighting our customers is the absolute core thing that we’re all about”

Focus Media Earnings Call:

Near term uncertainty in China:

  • “given the change in the government, in China for the most part, we believe that there will be a transition phase in terms of when a lot of the policy that’s been talked about will start to take in”

General Cable Analyst Day:

Making cables is a tough business:

  • “we’re in a fast-moving local business,” “[we’re] in a very tough business.” (some form of this statement showed up about a dozen times)

If you’re going to be good in a bad business you have to be tenacious:

  • “lean was one of the big legs that help carry us through that ’02, ’03 timeframe”
  • “We’re not going to run away from businesses that are thought as commoditized.”
  • “we want those problems to surface, because those are opportunities”
  • “Lean is not a plug-and-play model.”

And be viewed as a partner

  • “the long-standing relationships, we’re tough on each other because we’ve got to be successful in a tough business. So this is nothing taken for granted. But we really know these folks well. We meet at the highest levels, at my level to be sure we’re pointing the right direction together. If we have issues, we need to get them out on the table, as well as integrate right through it operationally. And this isn’t just about lowest price. This is about can you run the material? What’s the quality of the material, or how is the supply chain running?”

The Chinese are evolving

  • “I think the Chinese are getting serious about standards and quality, and doing business the right way.”

Merrill Lynch Auto Summit:

The Chinese are evolving:

  • “Chinese domestic companies are going to get stronger and better and better, and I think they’re going to get a lot of support for that” (Borg Warner)

Be viewed as a partner:

  • “The way we interact with the customer is almost always as a system-type approach…what leads us to the solution with the automaker is our system know-how” (Borg Warner)
  • “We believe the role of the Tier 1 supplier is becoming increasingly more important. OEMs rely on system integrators like ourselves. And there are only a few Tier 1 suppliers like us that are focused on innovation” (Delphi)

Can tech companies crack the auto market?:

  • “being able to make that technology, automotive grade and make it work in a car, then that’s a different story, and that’s where we come in at Delphi. Those companies don’t know cars like we do, so we work very closely with companies like Microsoft, NVIDIA and Google” (Delphi)

Zillow Analyst Day:

There’s more to life than making money

  • “We’re not focused yet on monetization in the rentals marketplace, as we continue to improve the set of free apps that we provide to both consumers and to suppliers.”
  • “Zillow Digs is still an infant. And today, our focus for Zillow Digs is on building out the product to be the best it can be for consumers.”

But we do know there is potential to make money:

  • “a reasonable estimate for what these industries spend on an annual basis in advertising alone is $34 billion.”

Accenture Earnings Call:

It might be worthing keeping an eye on Japan:

  • “Q2 included a decline in Japan, which was primarily in CMT [communications, media and technology], where certain clients in the high tech industry there in particular have significant challenges in their businesses right now.”

The holy trinity of tech is still driving business:

  • a convergence of social media, mobile computing, analytics and the cloud…is transforming the way businesses operate”

Gamestop:

Maybe consoles aren’t totally dead?:

  • “the real benchmark is the fact that our PowerUp members are saying that they’re much, much more likely, and more excited about buying a PlayStation 4, even than around getting a new smartphone, a new tablet, a new laptop, all the other things they could buy.”

It might not be in developers’ best interest to kill the trade in model:

  • “Don’t forget that trade credits make video gaming a billion-dollars bigger business, because we provide that trade credit back.”

WiiU has had a rough go, but there’s still value at Nintendo:

  • “And don’t forget, Nintendo has a massive IP” <—-Note to Disney