Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Neogen Corp (NASDAQ:NEOG)
Q2 2020 Earnings Call
Dec 23, 2019, 11:00 a.m. ET


  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Welcome to the Neogen's Second Quarter Earnings Results Conference Call. My name is Sylvia and I'll be your operator for today's call.

[Operator Instructions] I will now turn the call over to John Adent, CEO of Neogen. Mr. Adent, you may begin.

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Sylvia. Good morning, and welcome to our regular quarterly conference call for investors and analysts. Today we'll be reporting on the second quarter of our 2020 fiscal year, which ended on November 30th.

As usual, some of the statements made here today can be termed as forward-looking statements. These statements, of course, are subject to certain risks and uncertainties. The actual results may differ from those that we discuss today. The risks associated with our business are covered in part in the Company's Form 10-K as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition to those of you who are joining us by live telephone conference, we also welcome those of you joining us via the Internet.

Following our prepared comments this morning, we will entertain questions from participants who've joined this live conference. I'm joined this morning by our Chief Financial Officer, Steve Quinlan, who'll provide more detail on our results for the quarter.

Earlier today, Neogen issued a press release announcing the results of our second quarter. As stated in the release, our net income for the quarter was approximately $16.3 million or $0.31 a share, up slightly from the prior year quarter when we reported $0.31 per share.

Our year-to-date net income was approximately $31 million or $0.59 per share, down from the same period a year ago when we reported $0.60 a share. Our revenue for the quarter were up 1% from our prior year to about $108 million. On a year-to-date basis, our revenues improved 1% over $209 million.

We had a number of strong performances in the quarter at our international locations, as our revenues from international sources grew 41% of our total revenues, up from 39% in the prior year second quarter. However, like most American companies with significant international sales, Neogen continues to be adversely affected by the recent strength of the dollar against most other currencies.

In a neutral currency environment, sales would have been approximately $1 million higher in the second quarter. As we previously stated, we believe that two-thirds of our growth potential exists outside the US. We see significant opportunities throughout the more than a 120 countries we have served in the past year.

In some cases, these opportunities come through meeting expanded regulatory requirements as with the recent introduction of our test for ergot alkaloids to meet expect the new regulations in the European Union. Other even more significant opportunities exists on meeting the needs of the expanding middle classes in China and India who are demanding the same high quality food products available in other parts of the world.

I just returned from visiting our teams in Australia and despite the current difficult environment of extreme heat, fires and floods, they're really excited about numerous growth opportunities we have. I also met with several customers and distributors to discuss new offerings that were developed specifically for the Australian market.

In meeting after meeting, I saw our Neogen team is providing unique and valuable solutions to help our customers meet their needs. At this point, I'm going to turn it over to Steve for more detail on the quarter. Steve?

Steven J. Quinlan -- Chief Financial Officer, Vice President

Thanks, John, and welcome to everyone listening this morning. John's reported the overall sales and profit performance for the second quarter and first six months of our fiscal year. In the next few minutes, I'll give you some color behind those results. As John mentioned, we continue to be negatively impacted by currency fluctuations in the countries in which we operate. Revenues would have been $1 million higher for the quarter in a neutral currency environment with the euro 4% lower than this time last year and the Pound 3% lower.

On a positive note, the Pound was 6% higher at the end of the second quarter than at the beginning of the quarter, on optimism regarding a possible Brexit dilution. The Brazilian Real continues to hurt our comparative results as that currency was 6% lower than a year ago and the Aussie dollar was 5% lower.

About $875,000 of the comparative revenue shortfall is in the Food Safety segment as the majority of our international business is reporting through this segment.

Revenues for the Food Safety segment were $56.9 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2020, an increase of 6% compared to $53.7 million in last year's second quarter. Our Brazilian Food Safety operations had a 15% increase in sales of diagnostic products, led by continued market share gains in aflatoxin sales during the country's corn harvest and a 15% increase in dairy antibiotic test kit sales.

Additionally, we recorded a $900,000 non-recurring sale of insecticides to the Nicaraguan Government and two smaller sales of insecticides totaling about $300,000 to Brazilian government agencies. Now, these sales are non-recurring and that they are tenders or bids that are won for a set period of time with no assurance that the business will be put out for bid the next year. This business is somewhat opportunistic and it is what we characterize as lumpy business, resulting in tough year-over-year comparison, but it is good profitable business.

If you recall, we discussed on our first quarter call a $1 million sale on last year's first quarter, which did not repeat this year. Overall, our Brazilian business has achieved revenue growth of 20% in the quarter, even after taking into account a $700,000 sales shortfall from their loss of the forensic testing customer we also talked about in the first quarter call.

Our European operations had solid results for the quarter, with revenues up 10% in local currency and growth across the entire product portfolio with particular strength in the culture media line which is up 15%; a 9% increase in cleaners, disinfectants and vet instruments; and a 48% increase in aflatoxin test kit due to increased business and an outbreak in Africa. Now this was a nice recovery off of fairly sluggish first quarter.

Genomics revenues, which grew at a double-digit pace throughout 2019 and 30% in last year's second quarter, rose 3% in the second quarter of this year in Europe. The 10% growth overall in Europe was reduced to 7% after currency conversion.

Neogen Latinoamerica; our business based in Mexico City had strong 20% growth in sales of our food safety products with sales up across all of the diagnostic product lines. Sales of cleaners, disinfectants and rodenticides declined 15%, due primarily to continued sluggish demand from our largest distributor in Central America and this resulted in an overall increase in revenues of 5% for the quarter for this Group.

Our operations in China reported a revenue increase of 40%, aided by increased sales of cleaners and disinfectants, driven by increased awareness of the importance of biosecurity products to counter the African swine fever outbreak in that country. Our domestic food safety diagnostic business grew by 6% for the quarter, with nice areas of growth within the business.

Revenues for our industry-leading product line to detect inadvertent allergen contamination, which includes diagnostic tests to determine the presence of milk, peanuts and processed soy among others, were up 17% domestically in the quarter.

Gliadin, egg and milk test kit sales were particularly strong, up 27%, 21% and 15% respectively for the period. And we've continued to strengthen our allergen test kit portfolio and have seen commercial success with our recently introduced test to detect coconut contamination which grew nicely for the quarter.

Our AccuPoint line, which is used to detect general sanitation and cleanliness in food processing environments had a strong 21% increase in revenues during the quarter on strength in both equipment and disposable sampler sale. Year-to-date this line is up 16%.

Our domestic natural toxin product sales declined 7% compared to last year's second quarter. This year's crop was planted late due to the severe spring weather and is not yet fully harvested and has been relatively clean with only small pockets of deal and outbreaks.

Revenues for our tests to detect the presence of antibiotics in milk declined by 30% in the quarter and are down 18% for the year-to-date due primarily to lower demand from a large European distributor.

Now, to address this loss in business which has been steadily occurring over the past few years, we've modified our contract with the distributor to make them non-exclusive and we'll begin direct sales in these markets in the third quarter.

Our domestic culture media business, which had declined 13% in the first quarter of this year recovered somewhat to post a 2% gain for the quarter. Now there is still weakness in this market, resulting from lower end-market demand from a number of our larger customers, particularly those in animal vaccine production and orders have been pushed into the second half of the year.

The Animal Safety segment continued to be adversely impacted by the trade impasse between the US and China during the second quarter and recorded revenues of $50.9 million for the quarter, down 4% from the $53.3 million achieved in last year's second quarter. There appear to be a truce called in the trade war near the end of the quarter with an agreement signed to increase agricultural exports to China. As yet, it's too soon to have seen positive impact on our market.

Animal care products sold out of our Lexington, Kentucky based manufacturing and distribution center, such as small animal supplements, wound care and antibiotic, decreased 13% and vet instruments declined 10% for the quarter, primarily the result of lower sales for our largest US distributors due to lower end market demand and related destocking efforts by these distributors.

Rodenticide sales declined 8% in the quarter and insecticide revenues were down 30% for the same period due primarily to lower rodent and insect pressure in certain areas of the country. Domestic cleaner and disinfectant sales also declined 14% during the quarter due to reduced demand from our larger US distributors as they work to reduce their inventory levels.

Partially offsetting the weak market conditions in the majority of our animal safety market was a robust 18% increase in service revenue at our domestic genomics testing and bio informatics business located at Lincoln, Nebraska, with market share gains in the companion animal parentage and wellness testing markets which more than doubled during the quarter, a 21% increase in revenues to the porcine market and continued strength in the commercial beef and dairy cattle market.

Worldwide, genomics revenues rose 17% with strong growth in the US, Australia and Canada, offset by slower growth in Europe. Gross margins were 47.3% for the quarter, compared to 46.7% in last year's second quarter. Improved margins are due to a shift in mix toward food safety products which have higher gross margins and margin improvements at our domestic genomics business resulting from a product mix shift toward higher margin companion animal services and efficiencies achieved with the higher volume. For the year-to-date, gross margins are at 47.4% versus 46.8% last year.

Overall, operating expenses were up 3% compared to last year's second quarter and 4% for the year-to-date. Sales and marketing expenses decreased 3% and are down 1% for the year-to-date, from lower commissions, shipping and other variable expenses tied to revenues and a reduction in bad debt expense due to the reversal of reserves for collected receivables.

General and administrative expenses rose 9% for the quarter due primarily to increased non-cash stock-based compensation, higher legal and professional fees, and increased depreciation expenses resulting from our ongoing investments in information technology infrastructure.

R&D expenses increased $615,000 or 19% over the prior year, as we continue development spending on a number of new products, which are scheduled to be launched in late fiscal 2020 or early 2021. The $3.8 million we spent this quarter is similar to the run rates for the past two quarters and this run rate will continue to be elevated throughout fiscal 2020.

Operating income for the second quarter was $18.3 million compared to $18.2 million in last year's second quarter. Expressed as a percent of revenues, operating income was 16.9% compared to 17% last year. We recorded $1.3 million in interest income for the quarter compared to $1 million last year, reflecting our higher cash and marketable securities balances and higher interest rates on those balances.

Yields on our investments have a dropped in this quarter compared to the first, due to the impact on fixed income investments from the Fed lowering the prime rate three times this year. Foreign currency losses totaling $350,000 in the second quarter compares to $70,000 in the same period last year. Our pre-tax profit of $19.2 million compares to the $19.7 million in last year's second quarter.

Our effective tax rate for the second quarter was 15.3% compared to 18.5% in last year's second quarter with reduction in rate driven primarily by the recognition of tax benefits of $1.2 million from the exercise of stock option. In last year's second quarter, those benefits totaled $484,000.

As I've mentioned on previous calls and will continue to point out, the volume of option exercises, the strike price and the stock price at time of exercise can all result in large fluctuations in the effective tax rate for these comparative periods.

On the balance sheet; our inventory levels at $86.4 million are essentially flat with year-end levels and we continue to work on improving our inventory turn. We generated $40.5 million in cash from operations during the first half of the year and have invested $12.8 million of that in property, plant and equipment and other asset. Included in that total are investments in companies and technologies which we believe will give us competitive edge going forward.

I'll stop here to say that although the numbers were sluggish, we were encouraged that we were able to get back to growth in the Food Safety segment and also capitalize on some significant growth opportunities in the genomics business. We know what we need to do to return to growth in the rest of the animal protein markets we serve.

Our more than 1700 employees worldwide believe in our cause, are excited about our future, and appreciate your support.

At this point, I'll turn it back to John for further comments.

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Steve. While we didn't meet all of our performance expectations for the quarter, I'm really optimistic about where we're going from here. First and foremost, Neogen is in the right markets. Helping our customers improve the safety of the worldwide food supply is a dynamic and growing market. And with our products and services that reach from behind the farm gate all the way to the dinner plate, we're uniquely positioned in that market.

The demand for our products are only going to increase going forward. For example, I just want to report this data, that more than 650 food products were recalled last year in the United States alone. And one of the leading causes might just be the easiest to prevent, that's food allergens.

According to the report, undeclared allergens are the leading cause of US food recalls, accounted for about 48% of the food recalls from the FDA and 63% of the food pounds recall by the USDA. You know that stat becomes even more alarming when you consider that roughly 11% of the adults in the US have a food allergy. So we can do even more to help the global food industry protect its consumers.

We'd recently signed up our first major users for our Neogen Analytics product, a world-class food safety and risk management system that will allow our customers to reduce their food safety risks. We believe combining Neogen Analytics with our leading food safety diagnostics creates a powerful combination that provides Neogen a distinctive competitive advantage.

The success that we've had in developing and marketing food safety tests has led to an almost overwhelming amount of data that our customers must sort through to protect their consumers and businesses. Our new platform will help our food safety diagnostic customers efficiently aggregate, analyze and act on all the data.

We've also made recent advancements in the development of blockchain technology that's going to benefit our customers and their customers. As consumers are increasingly demanding transparency on the origin and supply chain processes of the products they purchase, Blockchain technology is being developed to deliver just that.

For example, let's consider a production of premium beef products. Our customer is a cattle rancher who is going to start with the DNA data produced by Neogen Analytics test for an animal and then we're going to connect additional blocks of information on that animal which could include it's health, it's medical history, what it ate, it's diet, the ranch environment, and other production variables. Information on that animal could then be shared with processors, retailers or even consumers who are seeking that level of transparency.

Blockchain technology enables our customers to tell the story of their brand, mitigate the risks in their supply chains and as well as enhance our operational efficiencies. We believe our markets are moving quickly toward more informed, data-driven decisions and we're working to be at the movement's forefront. As we work to improve and expand, what we can offer our customers, we're also looking to acquire additional technologies and capabilities. While I'm not ready to announce anything, we have an active acquisition program and a number of acquisition targets under investigation.

As shown on our balance sheet, we're perfectly positioned, there is plenty of dry powder, as Jim Herbert used to say, to pursue any of our growth strategies going forward. But I can do is encourage you today to stay tuned for upcoming announcements from us. I'm excited about our future and I look forward to stronger performances going forward.

Let me stop at this point to entertain any questions from those of you who've joined us on the call.

Questions and Answers:


Thank you. We will now begin the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] And our first question comes from Paul Knight from Janney Montgomery.

Paul Knight -- Janney Montgomery Scott LLC -- Analyst

Hi, John, could you give us some granularity on these distributors? Specifically, you mentioned on vet instruments and animal care within the animal safety market, your distributors are destocking. Could you tell us what's going on with those distributors for them to take these kind of actions?

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Sure. So, Paul, I think when you look at some of the results, as you've seen on move out and I saw the Patterson results, our livestock business was down 1% [Phonetic]; MWI's livestock business was down, their companion animal is up; but what matters to us is their livestock business.

And what's happening is, as their sales are slowing to their customers' distributor margins are very thin, they need to make sure they're controlling their operating working capital and they're forcing their management groups who are looking at their businesses and they're tightening up their inventory days. And that's something that we've seen happen before, when markets are a little soft, distributors tighten up inventory; when markets grow, they loosen up inventory.

So that's what's happening on the animal safety side in the US. Steve also mentioned fall of distributor with our food safety product in Europe. And we worked with them for a long time. They're a good company. They just have not had the growth that we've seen across all of our other businesses for that same line and we've been working with them to try to find ways to grow and we ultimately sat down and worked out a solution. They're going to continue to be a distributor, but it's going to be on a non-exclusive basis.

Paul Knight -- Janney Montgomery Scott LLC -- Analyst

In this weak demand that they're facing, is it a commodity driven event? Is it the trade restrictions that they're seeing in the pork markets due to China? What do you think are those key factors?

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

I think its profitability for the producer. You've got to look at it, again, by segmentation. I saw today exports report were actually up in the quarter they are still down versus last year, but I saw a tweet the other day that said, watch out for a big, big news on ag export. So this could be something that would help those customers reopen an ag market, specifically for pork.

Dairy business is still an interesting challenge. We continue to see smaller and smaller dairy farmers going out of business which -- number of cows are staying the same, it's just move into larger farms, but that has an impact on how those type of entity spend money. So I think the thing to watch is really trying to understand what are the producers' profitability. I mean if they're making money, they tend to expand and grow. If they are losing money and it's a cash flow issue, even though they know it makes good economic sense to use our products, from a cash flow standpoint, they just tighten their belt.

Paul Knight -- Janney Montgomery Scott LLC -- Analyst

Okay. And then lastly on -- my last question would be your cash and investments totaling $313 million. Is your pipeline getting richer due to this blockchain and IT outlook that you have or what's your view on this building cash that isn't being deployed of the note?

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Paul, you're talking to a guy that's just as disappointed as you about deploying cash. I mean, I want to go buy stuff. And we looked at -- in the last six months, we looked at 15 different businesses and said no on 13. So we're shaking the trees. We're looking at opportunities, but we're still going to be judicious in what we want to buy.

And I think it goes back to what Jim had talked about all along is, do we understand it, can we make it, do we have a market for it? And those types of things -- those questions still resonate us when we look at acquisition opportunities. So we are looking at some right now that are very exciting to us that answer yes to all three of those things and we're executing -- we're working to execute to get those deals done.

Paul Knight -- Janney Montgomery Scott LLC -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks, John.

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

You bet, thank you.


Our following question comes from Kevin Ellich from Ace [Phonetic] Research.

Kevin Ellich -- Ace Research -- Analyst

Hey, John, thanks for taking the questions. Just wondering with African swine fever in China, you guys saw some pretty strong growth there. How much benefit did you see from increased sales of disinfectant and cleaners with biosecurity measures?

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

We did see increased sales but -- I know Steve is looking right now to see what that number was. So we are seeing that, Kevin, and I think that's going to continue as we can train the smaller customers to understand biosecurity. The larger swine guys in China understand biosecurity and that's what we do really well with.

The smaller backyard is harder because those pigs are one common fence touching noses and that's how that disease spreads really quickly through the backyards in China. So reaching that group is highly fragmented you've got to do a lot of dealers. It's a lot of training. So there is opportunity for that but most of our growth has been with the large swine producer.

Kevin Ellich -- Ace Research -- Analyst

Got you. I mean, while Steve looks that up, can you give us an update you know -- do you think the spread has slowed a little bit or do you think we're still on pace like we've seen in the last six months.

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Kevin, I don't know, I haven't heard anything one way or the other. I mean, I think we talked about this, I think it was last quarter or two quarters ago that we'd seen some large guys repopulate and then get hit again, which is really devastating for them. But I -- I haven't heard anything that kind of changed what's happening over there.

So -- and I think I would take that as a good thing. It doesn't seem like it's continuing to escalate but it's been such a dramatic impact on losing half their animals. You would think we're losing half the animals; it would slow just from a number standpoint. See we have the [Speech Overlap]

Steven J. Quinlan -- Chief Financial Officer, Vice President

Kevin, that was about $0.5 million. Now the only caveat there is it may not all be directly African swine fever related, it's really biosecurity and the importance of having a clean environment to raise your animals not all directly going into the pork production market.

Kevin Ellich -- Ace Research -- Analyst

Sure, OK. And then Steve, while I got you, so sales and marketing expense was actually down in terms of absolute dollar basis, right, for the first time in a while. Just wondering what caused this. I mean should we expect it to continue to decrease.

And then, kind of on the other hand, you talked about going direct I think over a year, wondering if you need to add any salesforce or infrastructure and could that lead to a little bit of higher cost in the second half of the year?

Steven J. Quinlan -- Chief Financial Officer, Vice President

Yeah, I guess I would say, as long as our sales on the animal safety side are sluggish or in this case declining, you'd see related sales expenses would kind of follow along with that. Our goal is to stay positive, we want our sales and marketing expenses to grow, that means our revenues are growing and all the related commissions and shipping and advertising and promotional things. That means the markets are growing and those are good things for us.

We are -- for the distribution business in Europe, we have added staff to market those products there. I don't think it's going to have a material impact on our sales expenses in the second quarter because we are also using our existing salesforce to go after that business.

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Right. We've got -- Kevin, we've got existing teams in lot of those markets. So they weren't allowed to sell those because there was an exclusive relationship, and now they're going to be able to.

Kevin Ellich -- Ace Research -- Analyst

Okay, and then lastly, John, your veterinary instruments and other business in both disposals and animal care, pretty weak this quarter. And I know you had a tough comp on the animal care side with vaccines. Just wondering what's going on there and do you think that's going to continue -- will that continue to decline or should we see a reversal on the second half?

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

I think you know I've got to go back and look, but I think we have pretty strong growth in those, last quarter.

Kevin Ellich -- Ace Research -- Analyst

You did well and instruments was up 9% last quarter?

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, And so I was -- so that's the one that stuck out for me Kevin, as I'm wondering if there is a little bit of -- if you average the two, you're going to see it a little bit as a normalized, somewhat this market is and it was kind of a little bit of timing on we're up one quarter down on the other. I don't think there's anything fundamentally different going on other than it's a tough animal safety market.

Kevin Ellich -- Ace Research -- Analyst

Got you. That's all I have, thanks guys. Have a good holiday.

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you Kev. Yeah you too.


[Operator Instructions] And our next question comes from David Westenberg from Guggenheim Securities.

David Westenberg -- Guggenheim Securities -- Analyst

Hi, thanks for taking the question. So, glad to see the tick up in R&D, I think you guys developed some good product. So, how should we expect on those new products to hit the market? Is that fiscal year '21 is they get to, you said that we expect the spending to continue? And how big are these -- the products that might be coming out in 2021? Should we expect a growth lift in our models to come then?

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Sure, thanks David. Look, we're excited about the R&D. That's why we're doing it. I mean, you saw the ergot testing. That's the only one available for rapid testing today worldwide. We're the only one that has it. We're trying to stay ahead of some of the regulations we think. That's the position that we want to be in. That was driven by our European team. Our R&D group out of Europe did a fantastic job of taking that and driving that with the help of the group here in Lansing.

And we're excited we've got some new products coming in the second half of the year. Now, again, I love for all of them to be blockbuster, but we've got some new things from a technology standpoint that's coming and from a product offering that's coming in the second half of the year and then into next year.

I don't know what -- and Steve, I don't think we've ever talked about what we've forecasted for those other than that has always been a key piece of our growth. And we know that it needs to be and that's why we invest in it and it's something that we're focusing on to continue to drive growth in the second half of the year and next year. Steve, do you want to comment along?

David Westenberg -- Guggenheim Securities -- Analyst

No, I think you've...

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

[Indecipherable] some product growth there, OK.

Yeah, yeah.

David Westenberg -- Guggenheim Securities -- Analyst

So, Then in terms of the alternative meat, I know stock price wise, they've been hit. Are you seeing an increase in demand from these producers of alternative meat? How do you see that business playing out as kind of a -- I mean in terms of products -- food producers as kind of a market, let's just say.

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. No, David, I think it's just like any other segmentation. I mean, you remember one organics came on the market and everyone said it's niche and it's grown into a nice mark. I think the plant based proteins is going to continue to be a nice market.

I think it's got consumers who want it and as long as consumers want it, it's going to continue to drive and grow and what's interesting to me is, they have the same issues whether are there making plant base hamburger pattys or meat based hamburger pattys, you still have to check for allergens, you still have the check for E-coli, you still have to check for Listeria, you still have to check for everything.

So whether it's plant based or meat based, we sell the same products into those types of customers. And so it's really around food production and anything around food production, that's where we're there to help those producers make the safest product they can for their consumers.

David Westenberg -- Guggenheim Securities -- Analyst

Got it. No, thank you. And then I know there is not much you can say in terms of M&A here, but can you maybe talk about some of the priorities, whether it's a technology or maybe a product -- or is IT something of interest and then maybe if you can talk about what's more interesting, animal safety versus food safety. I get that you can't be specific, so any sort of generalities might be helpful here. Thank you.

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I mean I think you've seen kind of what we've done on the technology side with Neogen Analytics and blockchain, right? This is something where we heard about it and we heard loud and clear from our customers that they're still keeping -- a lot of our customers still keep paper records for when the FDA comes in to do an audit to provide paper record keeping, which you know you just kind of shake your head and think, we ought to be able to help.

So we got working with different outside groups and vetted, what we felt was the best plant mapping software and risk management software available, and partnered with them to develop Neogen Analytics. Same type of thing for blockchain, right, is I just read about this. I think it was, well, about six months ago McDonald's said that, in the future, and that was the timeline they gave, that half of their meat, beef was going to be antibiotic-free.

Well, how are they going to be able to prove that without a blockchain solution? And really we're on the forefront. We're leading that today to be able to provide that type of transparency for customers and consumers. So the IT side continues to drive, I think you have to, it's -- if you just do tests and you don't give the customers ways to capture and analyze and then act on data, it's kind of a waste. So we're really pushing that.

The other areas we look out to and you mentioned it properly is, where is a technology that we have a hold in the portfolio? So where should we be looking? where is the market going? What are those types of technologies and we have a Scientific Advisory Council where we are constantly vetting new technologies and what's coming down the pipeline that we can -- it's either being done in another market on the human side that we can bring into our segmentation or its brand new and we try to find those types of things and say, OK, how is this going to change the future or the way we do business.

And then lastly, we look at geographic markets, where are we underrepresented? I think that kind of led this discussion, even with our European distributor was -- they did a good job for us, but they weren't growing at the rate that we wanted. They weren't happy with the growth rate, we weren't happy with the growth rate, and we came up with a solution that we think is going to help both parties grow because we were under-represented in specific markets.

So where are we underrepresented and what are the things we can do to accelerate those growth rates and that could be geographically, it could be by a product, it could be in a product segmentation. That's how we look at it.

David Westenberg -- Guggenheim Securities -- Analyst

Got it. Thank you and enjoy your holidays.

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Thanks David, you too.


At this time we have no further questions, I'd like to turn the call back over to Mr. Adent for closing remark.

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks Sylvia. I just want to thank all of you for your time today and I wish everyone on the call and listening a happy holidays and a prosperous New Year. Thank you very much everyone.


[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 37 minutes

Call participants:

John Adent -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Steven J. Quinlan -- Chief Financial Officer, Vice President

Paul Knight -- Janney Montgomery Scott LLC -- Analyst

Kevin Ellich -- Ace Research -- Analyst

David Westenberg -- Guggenheim Securities -- Analyst

More NEOG analysis

All earnings call transcripts

AlphaStreet Logo

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.