Emerson Posts 2Q Results, Lowers Outlook

ST. LOUIS — Emerson today reported results for the second fiscal quarter ended March 31, 2020, and announced updated guidance for the fiscal year.

Second quarter net sales were down 9 percent and underlying sales were down 7 percent excluding unfavorable currency of 2 percent and no impact from acquisitions or divestitures. Growth was below management expectations in both business segments due to the unforeseen and rapid deterioration of demand in March. The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated uncertainty, social distancing and business closure mandates negatively affected nearly all of our end markets and geographies, particularly in China, the United States, and Europe. One exception, however, was the surge in demand for products and solutions that support medical and life science end markets. Additionally, our businesses were negatively affected by the dramatic drop in oil and gas prices resulting from geopolitical tensions and a surge in global supply. Second quarter trailing three-month underlying orders were down 3 percent, reflective of customers across industrial, commercial and residential markets cutting costs and spending budgets in response to operating restrictions and a general drop in economic activity from the pandemic.

Second quarter gross profit margin of 42.1 percent was flat compared with the prior year due to effective cost control measures, despite a 9 percent drop in net sales. Pretax margin of 16.6 percent and EBIT margin of 17.4 percent were up 180 bps and 160 bps, respectively. Adjusted EBIT margin, which excludes restructuring and related charges, was 18.4 percent for the quarter, up 240 basis points, on lower sales. This outcome largely reflected lower stock compensation charges due to a significantly lower stock price as well as benefits from aggressive restructuring actions, which began in the third quarter of 2019.

GAAP earnings per share were $0.84 and adjusted earnings per share, which excludes $0.05 of restructuring and related charges, were $0.89, exceeding management’s guidance of $0.79 to $0.83. This adjusted EPS outcome reflects operational declines due to COVID-19 being more than offset by non-operating tailwinds, which included lower stock compensation costs due to a lower stock price, as well as the benefits of aggressive restructuring actions and favorable foreign exchange gains.

Operating cash flow was $588 million, up $55 million or 10 percent, and free cash flow was $477 million, up $63 million or 15 percent, reflecting free cash flow conversion of 91 percent in the quarter.

“The past quarter unleashed unprecedented challenges for not only our people, operations, and customers, but also for national and local governments, health care systems, and certainly families as well,” said Emerson Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David N. Farr. “The rapid spread and far-reaching impact of the COVID-19 virus has been staggering and will likely alter the trajectory of our global economy for the foreseeable future. However, I am tremendously proud of our global team for adapting quickly and executing on difficult – yet necessary – decisions to ensure we are poised for long-term success.

“Our top priority is and always will be the safety and health of our employees, customers, and communities across the globe. We have implemented recommended policies and practices to protect our workforce so they can safely and effectively carry out their vital work with steadfast resolve. While the vast majority of our global office-based team is working from home, we recognize the responsibility we have to support our customers in essential industries that rely on our solutions and services. Such industries include life sciences and medical, water, food and beverage, chemical, energy and power generation. Accordingly, we are driving hard every day to safely and responsibly continue operations to serve our customers in these vital markets. While some of our operating sites remain below full capacity, we are prioritizing the production of Emerson materials and solutions needed on the front lines of the pandemic battle, including solutions used to manufacture respirators, masks and other safety equipment, and life sciences materials.

“As part of our ongoing response to the dynamic market conditions, we maintain regular communications with government officials and other corporate partners involved in the pandemic response. Internally, our leadership team meets daily to review the state of the business, discuss safety, liquidity, and business continuity among other critical management topics.

“The global health crisis, coupled with volatility in the oil markets, has created a significant demand decline in many of our end markets. But we remain confident that our aggressive cost control reset measures already underway, initiated in the third quarter of last year and outlined in detail in February, combined with our strong balance sheet and disciplined operating philosophy, will provide the foundation required to continue to serve our customers and emerge stronger in the long run.”

Business Platform Results

Automation Solutions net sales decreased 10 percent, with underlying sales down 8 percent excluding unfavorable currency of 2 percent and no impact from acquisitions. In the Americas, underlying sales were down 11 percent, with the United States down 12 percent reflecting a broad-based drop in demand. Europe underlying sales were down 3 percent, while Asia, Middle East & Africa underlying sales dropped 6 percent, driven by sharp declines in China of over 20 percent.

March trailing three-month underlying orders were down 1 percent, reflecting initial momentum in the early portion of the quarter, particularly in the longer cycle businesses of Final Control and Systems, up 3 percent and 7 percent respectively. In contrast, our instrumentation business was down 9 percent, impacted more severely due to the deteriorating environment driven by COVID-19 and oil demand. Geographically, the Americas and Asia declined 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively, while Europe was flat as early quarter momentum quickly faded in March as the pandemic took hold. Middle East & Africa grew double digits on easy comparisons from the prior year and some previous project wins being booked. China orders dropped by 12 percent. Overall, we saw customers slow their acceptance and approval processes. Sequential backlog grew 3 percent to $5.1 billion.

Segment EBIT margin decreased 40 basis points to 14.4 percent. Adjusted segment EBIT margin, which excludes restructuring and related costs, increased 50 basis points to 15.5 percent while adjusted segment EBITDA margin increased 130 basis points, to 20.6 percent. This outcome reflected previously initiated aggressive restructuring and cost reset actions beginning to take effect. Total restructuring in the quarter was $29 million, and was $112 million in the first half of 2020.

Commercial & Residential Solutions net sales decreased 7 percent with underlying sales down 5 percent excluding unfavorable currency of 1 percent and the impact of divestitures which subtracted 1 percent. In the Americas, underlying sales were down 3 percent, reflecting a broad-based decline in demand as the quarter unfolded. Europe was down 1 percent as air conditioning market weakness more than offset demand in heat pump markets. Finally, Asia, Middle East & Africa was down 15 percent, driven by a significant drop in China of over 30 percent.

March trailing three-month underlying orders were down 5 percent, with the HVAC, Cold Chain, and Tools businesses each down mid-single digits. Geographically, we saw Asia orders drop by over 14 percent, driven by China, which dropped 27 percent. A strong early growth trend in Europe was held to 4 percent as the pandemic spread and businesses reduced operations in March.

Segment EBIT margin was flat at 21.0 percent. Adjusted segment EBIT margin, which excludes restructuring and related costs, increased 40 bps to 21.6 percent, and adjusted segment EBITDA margin was up 90 basis points to 26.1 percent, driven by aggressive restructuring and cost reset actions which began to yield savings as well as favorable price-cost dynamics. Total restructuring in the quarter was $9 million, and was $19 million in the first half of 2020.

2020 Outlook

Management has updated the fiscal year 2020 outlook to reflect the changing demand environment associated with COVID-19 and the concurrent unfolding energy market dynamics. GAAP earnings per share guidance is $2.62 to $2.82. Adjusted earnings per share guidance, which excludes restructuring actions and related costs, is $3.00 to $3.20, compared to prior guidance of $3.55 to $3.80. This drop in guidance reflects the negative impact of reduced global demand, partially offset by aggressive cost containment actions, reduced stock compensation and other non-operating items. Total restructuring actions for the year are now expected to be approximately $280 million, an increase of approximately $65 million compared to the previous plan. Share repurchases, now complete for the year, will be approximately $950 million, compared to the previous guidance of $1.5 billion. There is no change in the dividend plan. Lastly, we expect capital expenditures to be $550 million, compared to the previous guidance of $650 million.

The following table presents the updated 2020 guidance framework:

Sales Growth Guidance EPS and Cash Flow Guidance
GAAP EPS $2.62 – $2.82
Net Sales Growth (11%) – (9%) Adjusted EPS $3.00 – $3.20
Automation Solutions (10%) – (8%) Tax Rate ~22%
Commercial & Residential Solutions (13%) – (11%) Operating Cash Flow ~$2.75B
Underlying Sales Growth (9%) – (7%)

Free Cash Flow

Automation Solutions (8%) – (6%) Capital Expenditures ~$550M
Commercial & Residential Solutions (11%) – (9%) Share Repurchases ~$950M

This updated guidance assumes, among other items, continued significant demand deterioration in the third quarter, and demand remaining negative through the first half of 2021. It also assumes oil prices stabilize in the $20-$30 range during that time period.

“Despite evolving challenges, we will continue to be proactive and rapidly adapt where needed to ensure we are making the best use of our resources,” Mr. Farr concluded. “Everyone at Emerson – our Board of Directors, our leadership team and our teammates around the world – has displayed an unwavering commitment to serving our customers and defeating this common enemy. I thank them for their hard work, agility, dedication, and passion as we all work together in the fight against this horrible disease and to position Emerson for continued future success.”

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