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IDEX (IEX) Beats on Q1 Earnings, Raises 2016 Guidance

Despite a challenging macroeconomic environment, industrial goods manufacturer IDEX Corporation IEX reported solid first-quarter 2016 results with a healthy year-over-year increase in earnings. GAAP earnings for the reported quarter were $68.1 million or 89 cents per share compared with $65.9 million or 84 cents per share in the year-ago quarter.

Although revenues were relatively flat, earnings improved due to a fall in operating expenses and lower provision for income tax. The reported earnings comfortably beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 8 cents.

Revenues

Net sales in the reported quarter were $502.6 million compared with $502.2 million in the year-earlier quarter. Net sales for first-quarter 2016 were well ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $494 million. The flat revenue trajectory was largely due to 3% decrease in organic growth owing to depressed oil prices and contraction in the Chinese economy and 1% negative contribution from foreign currency translation, offset by an inorganic growth of 4%.

By segments, Fluid and Metering Technologies (FMT) recorded a 3% decline in revenues from the prior-year quarter to $211.8 million due to lower organic growth of 5% year over year. The Health and Science Technologies (HST) revenues were $186.3 million, up 4% from the prior-year quarter as both organic and inorganic growth improved 2% and 3% respectively, partially offset by 1% adverse currency translation effect. The Fire and Safety/Diversified Products (FSD) recorded sales of $104.6 million, down 2% year over year, as it saw a negative organic growth of 6%.

Margins

Operating income for first-quarter 2016 was $102.6 million compared with $101.8 million in the year-ago quarter. Earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) came in at $123.3 million versus $122.0 million in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 44.4%, down 60 basis points from the prior-year quarter owing to an inventory step-up charge related to the Akron Brass acquisition. Operating margin was 20.4%, up 10 basis points year over year.

The FMT segment recorded an operating margin of 24.3% in the reported quarter, down 130 basis points from the year-ago quarter due to lower volume related to the energy and agriculture businesses.

The HST segment’s operating margin came in at 21.8%, up 90 basis points from the prior-year quarter largely attributable to higher volume and productivity improvement.

The FSD segment’s operating margin was 24.3%, down 120 basis points from the year-ago quarter owing to the Akron Brass acquisition.

Acquisition

During the reported quarter, IDEX acquired Akron Brass Holding Corporation for $224.2 million cash. Operating under the Akron Brass and Weldon brands, the acquired firm manufactures various products for the safety and emergency response markets, including apparatus valves, monitors, nozzles, specialty lighting, electronic vehicle-control systems and fire-fighting hand tools. Akron Brass will form an integral part of the FSD segment.

Balance Sheet & Cash Flow

As of Mar 31, 2016, IDEX had cash and cash equivalents of $358.4 million with long-term debt of $1,094.2 million. Cash flow from operating activities aggregated $70.4 million in first-quarter 2016, compared with $49.4 million of the prior-year period. Free cash flow generated during the quarter totaled $61.7 million versus $42.5 million in the year-ago quarter.

IDEX repurchased 628,000 shares for $46 million in the reported quarter. The company increased its quarterly dividend by 6% to 34 cents per share. The company plans to continue with its share repurchase and dividend programs as part of its long-term strategy, to provide attractive risk-adjusted returns to its stockholders.

Outlook

IDEX anticipates soft demand patterns in its energy and agriculture businesses to be offset by improving demands in water, scientific fluidics and dispensing businesses. Consequently, the company reiterated its flat organic revenue growth for 2016 with operating margins between 20.5–21%.

However, IDEX increased its earnings guidance for 2016 from $3.60–$3.70 per share to $3.70–$3.75, driven by the tax benefit associated with new accounting guidance for share-based compensation. Second-quarter 2016 earnings are expected to be in the range of 91 cents to 93 cents per share with a flat organic revenue growth.

IDEX expects its restructuring plan to generate around $12 million in savings in 2016. These steps are expected to boost the company’s operational efficiency and strengthen its bottom line in 2016.

IDEX carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some stocks that are worth a look in the industry include Altra Industrial Motion Corp. AIMC, Colfax Corp. CFX and Parker-Hannifin Corp. PH, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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