ST. LOUIS — Emerson today reported results for the third fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2020 and announced updated guidance for the full year.
Third quarter GAAP net sales were down 16 percent and underlying sales were down 15 percent excluding unfavorable currency of 1 percent. Revenue declines were in-line with management expectations, as COVID-19 negatively affected nearly all end markets and geographies throughout the quarter. The company continued to see particular weakness in North American markets while China grew by 3 percent. Third quarter trailing three-month underlying orders were down 19 percent, reflective of customers across industrial, commercial and residential markets cutting costs and budgets in response to COVID-19 related operating restrictions and a general drop in economic activity.
Third quarter gross profit margin of 41.3 percent was down 140 basis points from 42.7 percent due to manufacturing plant deleverage. Pretax margin of 11.7 percent and EBIT margin of 12.9 percent were down 470 basis points and 440 basis points, respectively. Adjusted EBIT margin, which excludes restructuring and related charges, was 15.3 percent for the quarter, down 240 basis points, reflecting deleverage, foreign exchange losses, and the effect of a higher stock price, which was mitigated by aggressive cost reductions and favorable price cost.
GAAP earnings per share was $0.67 and adjusted earnings per share, which excludes restructuring and related charges, was $0.80 and exceeded management’s guidance of $0.56 to $0.64. These results reflected the benefits of aggressive restructuring and cost control actions, and a lower effective tax rate than expected in the quarter.
Operating cash flow was $842 million, down $104 million or 11 percent for the quarter. Year-to-date operating cash flow was $1.85 billion, up $52 million or 3 percent. Free cash flow was $738 million, down $87 million or 11 percent, resulting in free cash flow conversion of 181 percent in the quarter. Year-to-date free cash flow was $1.53 billion, up $118 million or 8 percent.
“Like many organizations, Emerson has been forced to rapidly adapt to the COVID-19 reality during the quarter, and I’m extremely proud of how the team rose to the challenge.” said Emerson Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David N. Farr. “Amidst all of the shifting dynamics and uncertainties, we remained steadfast in our primary focus of keeping employees safe and healthy, and serving customers in their essential industries with the vital technologies and services they rely upon. I want to personally thank our entire Emerson organization, and especially our front-line employees serving essential industries, for their diligence, professionalism, and unwavering commitment to supporting our customers and one another in this rapidly evolving and challenging environment. I also want to thank my fellow Office of the Chief Executive team members who remained in our offices every day throughout the third quarter to lead the company through these particularly challenging and ever-changing past 125 days.
“While sales results were in-line with expectations, profitability for the third quarter came in well above expectations, primarily driven by our ongoing aggressive cost actions and as Emerson remained at work around the world. Overall orders and revenue declines were in-line with management expectations, as most end markets were heavily impacted by COVID-19. Geographically, North America was down 20 percent and remains the key near-term challenge from a demand perspective. Cash flow in the quarter was strong, and we have provided updated guidance for the year as markets begin to stabilize and reopen, and our aggressive cost actions deliver significant savings.”
Business Platform Results
Automation Solutions net sales decreased 14 percent, with underlying sales down 13 percent excluding unfavorable currency of 1 percent. In the Americas, underlying sales were down 19 percent, with North America down 20 percent, reflecting continued broad-based industrial weakness. Europe underlying sales were down 8 percent as both Western and Eastern European markets showed early signs of stabilizing. Asia, Middle East & Africa underlying sales dropped 6 percent, as solid growth in China of 9 percent was more than offset by weakness in the rest of Asia and the Middle East. Longer cycle businesses of final control and systems saw declines of high-single and mid-single digits respectively, while the shorter cycle instrumentation business had a sharper decline.
June trailing three-month underlying orders were down 19 percent, reflecting weakness across most end markets, with the exception of life sciences and medical. Geographically, the Americas dropped sharply, down 28 percent, while Europe declined by 12 percent. Asia, Middle East & Africa showed the most modest decline, down 9 percent. China orders were up 1 percent as the economy reopened. Backlog was unchanged from last quarter at approximately $5.1 billion.
Segment EBIT margin decreased 3.7 points to 12.0 percent, driven by deleverage and mix. Adjusted segment EBIT margin, which excludes restructuring and related costs, decreased 120 basis points to 15.1 percent while adjusted segment EBITDA margin decreased 30 basis points, to 20.4 percent. Total restructuring in the quarter was $80 million, and totals $192 million year-to-date.
Commercial & Residential Solutions net sales decreased 20 percent with underlying sales down 19 percent excluding unfavorable currency of 1 percent. Underlying sales in the Americas were down 20 percent, reflecting a broad-based decline, particularly in commercial end markets. Europe was down 12 percent as air conditioning weakness more than offset demand in heat pump markets. Finally, Asia, Middle East & Africa was down 18 percent, with China down 9 percent.
Order rates varied dramatically during the quarter, from down 35 percent in April year-over-year, to positive 1 percent in June. June trailing three-month underlying orders were down 19 percent, as the OEM and distribution-based businesses saw significant declines in business activity. Businesses more exposed to big box and do-it-yourself retail performed better but were still negative in the quarter. Geographically, North America dropped by 19 percent as commercial and professional tools markets were particularly weak. Asia orders declined by 20 percent, while China was down 7 percent. Europe dropped by 12 percent, as general weakness was somewhat offset by residential heat pump demand.
Segment EBIT margin decreased 3.3 points to 19.1 percent driven by deleverage. Adjusted segment EBIT margin, which excludes restructuring and related costs, decreased 270 basis points to 20.0 percent, and adjusted segment EBITDA margin dropped 160 basis points to 24.7 percent. Total restructuring in the quarter was $12 million, with a total of $31 million year-to-date.
Management has updated the full year 2020 outlook to reflect the dynamic demand environment associated with global economic reopening and the stronger cost savings impacts. GAAP earnings per share guidance is $2.80 to $2.95. Adjusted earnings per share guidance, which excludes restructuring actions and related costs, is $3.20 to $3.35, compared to prior guidance of $3.00 to $3.20. This increase primarily reflects the aggressive restructuring reset actions and COVID-19 related cost containment actions positively impacting profitability. Total restructuring actions for the year are now expected to be approximately $300 million, an increase of $20 million from the previous guidance. Share repurchases remain suspended, and total approximately $950 million. There is no change in the dividend outlook. Lastly, capital expenditures remain unchanged at $550 million.