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Littelfuse Sees Growth Slowdown Ahead

Circuit-protection product manufacturer Littelfuse (NASDAQ: LFUS) reported its third-quarter results before the market opened on Nov. 1. Both revenue and earnings grew at a double-digit pace, driven by growth across all the company's segments. Guidance for the fourth quarter called for a meaningful slowdown in growth, but the pending acquisition of IXYS should provide a boost in 2018. Here's what investors need to know about Littelfuse's results.

Littelfuse results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q3 2017

Q3 2016

Year-Over-Year Change

Revenue

$317.9 million

$280.3 million

13.4%

Net income

$42.8 million

$30.8 million

39%

GAAP EPS

$1.87

$1.35

38.5%

Non-GAAP EPS

$2.11

$1.87

12.8%

Data source: Littelfuse. Chart by author.

Image source: Littelfuse.

What happened with Littelfuse this quarter?

  • Excluding acquisitions, divestitures, and currency effects, organic revenue grew by 9% year over year.
  • Electronics revenue rose 19% year over year to $175.9 million. Revenue was up 11% on an adjusted basis.
  • Automotive revenue rose 7% year over year to $113.8 million. Revenue was up 5% on an adjusted basis.
  • Industrial revenue rose 7% year over year to $28.2 million. Revenue was up 15% on an adjusted basis.
  • Electronics segment operating income jumped 28% to $44.3 million. Automotive segment operating income rose 12% to $16.8 million. Industrial segment operating income was $3.7 million, up from roughly breakeven in the prior-year period.
  • Littelfuse announced the $655 million cash and stock acquisition of IXYS Corp. in August. IXYS focuses on the power semiconductor and integrated circuit markets, with $322 million of revenue in fiscal 2017.
  • Littelfuse declared a $0.37 per-share dividend, payable on Dec. 7 to shareholders of record on Nov. 22.

Littelfuse provided the following guidance for the fourth quarter:

  • Revenue is expected between $292 million and $304 million, up 5% year over year at the midpoint. Organic revenue is expected to grow by 2% year over year.
  • Non-GAAP EPS is expected between $1.58 and $1.72. That compares to $1.57 in the fourth quarter of 2016.

What management had to say

Littelfuse CEO Dave Heinzmann reassured investors that demand remained strong despite fourth-quarter guidance calling for sluggish growth: "While we are seeing a typical seasonal slowdown in order rates, end-market demand remains strong across electronics. We expect continued top-line growth in the fourth quarter across all of our businesses, with normal sequential declines in both sales and margins for the quarter."

Heinzmann talked up the IXYS acquisition back in August:

As the largest acquisition in our 90-year history, this is an exciting milestone for Littelfuse. IXYS' extensive power semiconductor portfolio and technology expertise fit squarely within our strategy to accelerate our growth within power control and industrial OEM markets. The combination of Littelfuse and IXYS unites complementary capabilities, cultures, and relationships.

Looking forward

Littelfuse's third quarter was a lot like its second quarter, featuring double-digit revenue growth and even stronger bottom-line growth. The electronics segment was responsible for the bulk of the company's growth, but all three segments grew both revenue and operating income.

Littelfuse's fourth-quarter guidance wasn't nearly as impressive. A 2% organic growth rate represents a significant slowdown compared to the third quarter, and non-GAAP EPS would be roughly flat if the company hits the low end of its guidance range. When it closes during the first quarter of next year, the IXYS acquisition will provide a major boost to revenue. But investors need to keep an eye on the organic growth rate.

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Timothy Green has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Littelfuse. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.