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EnerSys (ENS) Hit by Escalating Commodity Costs, Expenses

Last week, EnerSys ENS reported its first-quarter fiscal 2018 results, wherein it ended its five-quarter long earnings streak with a marginal miss. The company continues grappling with the headwinds that have marred its performance since the fourth-quarter fiscal 2017. We anticipate that lead price fluctuations, among other factors, will continue to thwart growth in the short run.

Mirroring these headwinds, the stock has had a dismal performance on the bourse.  Over the past six months, EnerSys’ shares have lost 19.0%, wider than the industry’s average decline of 3.4%. Also, earnings estimates have moved south in the past couple of months, indicating bearish analyst sentiment.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2018 earnings moved down from $4.89 to $4.69, over the past 60 days, led by two downward revisions versus none upward. Read on to find the major factors thwarting the Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) company’s growth and why it may be a prudent decision to avoid the stock at the moment.

Escalating Lead Price

Historically, fluctuations in the lead price has been a pressing concern for the premium lead-acid battery maker. To offset this volatility, most often the company resorts to price increases, passing on the additional costs to the customers. This had led to massive fluctuations in its selling price. EnerSys estimates that 35% of its revenues are subject to adjustments based on a lead price index, which renders it vulnerable to price changes.

The continuous increase in the price of lead and other raw materials including steel, plastic and copper has become a major concern for the company. Rising cost of raw materials are expected to inflate the cost of goods sold, thus eroding profitability. It is to be seen whether EnerSys’ inflated prices, to offset the commodity price hike, will help the company turn around. 

Long-Term Investments Impacting Margins

EnerSys is in the midst of a transformation, wherein the company has been resorting to multiple long-term investments to boost growth. However, this is impacting the company’s gross profit percentage adversely in the short term. Also, higher spending on Lean initiatives, Digital Core installation and new products development are also weighing  on the margin and bottom line.  Also, rising costs in relation to product development is making matters worse.

Currency Fluctuations

A significant portion of EnerSys’ revenues and expenses are denominated in foreign currencies which renders it vulnerable to fluctuations in exchange rates. The company’s statistics show that past fluctuations in Euro have contributed to major issues in production costs. Going forward, the company expects currency fluctuations to put pressure on top-line growth and hamper its flexibility in adjusting costs.

Tough Competition

Operating in a highly competitive industry, EnerSys faces stiff competition from international manufacturers and distributors, as well as a large number of smaller, regional competitors. Some of its major rivals include GS Yuasa Corporation, Exide, Johnson Controls and Yokohama Industries. Moreover, an ongoing trend of consolidation among industrial battery purchasers has been subjecting the company to pricing pressures.

Stocks to Consider

Some better-ranked stocks in the sector are AGCO Corporation AGCO, Barnes Group, Inc. B and Belden Inc BDC. While AGCO and Belden sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Barnes Group carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

AGCO managed to beat earnings every time in the trailing four quarters. It has an impressive positive average surprise of 39.7%.

Barnes Group has excellent earnings beat history, having surpassed estimates every time over the trailing four quarters. It has a positive average surprise of 11.6%.

Belden has a positive average earnings surprise of 3.3% for the last four quarters, having bearten estimates all through.

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