Masco Earnings Call Insights: Program Costs and Focus on New Products

Masco Corporation (NYSE:MAS) recently reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Program Costs

George Staphos – Bank of America Merrill Lynch: Congratulations on the progress in the year. I had two questions. First of all, would you be able to either qualitatively or perhaps more precisely discuss the level of program costs and growth incentives spending you expect in ’13 relative to 2012? How might that (vary) within the segments? Then I had a follow on.

John G. Sznewajs – VP, Treasurer and CFO: George, we expect that the program – kind of that program costs to be about flat for the year. There will be some puts and takes depending on the segment in 2013. I think we’ll be down a little bit in our Paint segment. We launched some new products last year. They had some program costs associated with and also Liberty Hardware some program costs. We had also incurred some program costs in Plumbing in 2013 as we launched a significant number of new products. So those were part of the year where we’re at a high-watermark last year, probably come off that a little bit in 2013 in those two segments.

George Staphos – Bank of America Merrill Lynch: The related question, there was some progress on SG&A to sales in the quarter on a year-on-year basis. I know you’re pleased with the cost reduction progress you had during the year. Having said that, the ratio is still relatively high as compared to other companies that we look at. Can you give us some discrete goals or steps you expect to see in 2013, whereby you might be able to reduce that SG&A to sales ratio?