U.S. Markets open in 3 hrs 27 mins

Edited Transcript of TTMI earnings conference call or presentation 6-Feb-19 9:30pm GMT

Q4 2018 TTM Technologies Inc Earnings Call

SANTA ANA Feb 14, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of TTM Technologies Inc earnings conference call or presentation Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 9:30:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

================================================================================

Corporate Participants

================================================================================

* Sameer Desai

TTM Technologies, Inc. - Senior Director of Corporate Development & IR

* Thomas T. Edman

TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director

* Todd B. Schull

TTM Technologies, Inc. - Executive VP, CFO & Treasurer

================================================================================

Conference Call Participants

================================================================================

* Anthony Venturino

* Matthew John Sheerin

Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - MD & Senior Equity Research Analyst

* Maynard Joseph Um

Macquarie Research - Analyst

* Steven Bryant Fox

Cross Research LLC - MD

* William Stein

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - MD

================================================================================

Presentation

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [1]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Good day, and welcome to the TTM Technologies Q4 2018 Earnings Call. At this time, I'd like to turn the conference over to Sameer Desai, Senior Director of Corporate Development and Investor Relations. Please go ahead, sir.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sameer Desai, TTM Technologies, Inc. - Senior Director of Corporate Development & IR [2]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Great. Thank you. Before we get started, I would like to remind everyone that today's call contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements related to TTM's future business outlook. Actual results could differ materially from these forward-looking statements due to one or more risks and uncertainties, including the factors explained in our most recent annual report on Form 10-K and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements are based on management's expectations and assumptions as of the date of this presentation. TTM does not take any obligation to publicly update or revise any of these statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or other circumstances, except as required by law. Please refer to disclosures regarding the risks that may affect TTM, which may be found in the reports on Form 10-K, 10-Q, 8-K, the registration statement on Form S-4 and the company's other SEC filings.

We will also discuss on this call certain non-GAAP financial measures such as adjusted EBITDA. Such measures should not be considered as a substitute for measures prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP. We direct you to the reconciliation of non-GAAP to GAAP measures included in the company's press release, which was filed with the SEC and is available on TTM's website at www.ttm.com.

I would now like to turn the call over to Tom Edman, TTM's Chief Executive Officer. Please go ahead, Tom.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [3]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you, Sameer. Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us for our fourth quarter 2018 conference call. I'll begin with a review of our business strategy, including highlights from the quarter and fiscal year, followed by a discussion of our fourth quarter results. Todd Schull, our CFO, will follow with an overview of our Q4 2018 financial performance and our Q1 2019 guidance. We will then open the call to your questions.

First and foremost, I would like to thank our employees for delivering an excellent year in 2018 for TTM Technologies. We achieved record revenues during fiscal year 2018 and an EPS of $1.76, the highest level achieved in the history of the company.

We also closed the acquisition of Anaren, Inc. during the course of the year, representing a critical step forward in our differentiation strategy.

Despite softening end markets in the fourth quarter, we delivered non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.52, above the high end of our original guidance. While our forecast for Q1 reflects weakening demand, particularly in cellular, we will continue to remain focused on operational excellence on behalf of our customers and continued cash flow generation.

Our strong 2018 results validated many of the elements of the TTM strategy we've communicated over the past several years. First, the diversification of our end markets helped to reduce quarterly volatility and grow our total company revenues in what was a challenging year in one of our end markets. Specifically, growth in our aerospace and defense, medical/industrial/instrumentation and computing end markets helped to offset the difficult conditions in the cellular end market.

Second, we continue on our path towards differentiation in the automotive and aerospace and defense end markets. Notwithstanding near-term global demand weakness, we view the automotive end market as a core growth driver due to increasing electronics content and the adoption of advanced technologies. We see 4 key megatrends driving automotive PCB content growth. Number one, vehicle safety and autonomous driving; number two, increasing adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles; number three, advanced infotainment; and number four, increased connectivity. Estimates of $67 in PCB content per vehicle in 2017, up from $62 in 2016, are expected to grow to $75 by 2020. Some hybrid and electric vehicles currently employ well over $150 of PCBs per vehicle.

Because of the above trends, there continues to be a tremendous amount of innovation in the automotive electronics industry.

In 2018, for TTM, advanced technology revenue, which includes radar, HDI and rigid-flex, grew 42% year-on-year to 19% of our automotive revenues. Further, our design activity remains robust, which bodes well for future revenues.

In the automotive market, customer engagement begins well before product ramp. We won 53 new automotive designs in the fourth quarter, bringing the total for 2018 to 190, up from 170 in 2017. Of the 53 designs won in the fourth quarter, 21 were ADAS-related compared to 11 in Q3. Designs that we are winning this year will further contribute to revenues in future years.

I'm also proud of our employees' efforts in the aerospace and defense area, which have been further enhanced by the Anaren acquisition. Our organic aerospace and defense revenues grew 17% in 2018 over 2017, achieving a new record level. This strength is the result of our team's focus on supporting customer Build to Print and design to specification requirements across a broad base of major defense programs.

The Anaren acquisition represents another critical step in our differentiation strategy. The addition of Anaren has increased our presence in the aerospace and defense end market and greatly enhanced our focus on the high-growth radar and satellite portions of the market. Anaren's wireless components are also leveraged the adoption of 5G technology, which will lead to a substantial increase in our future addressable market for these components.

As I've mentioned before, the addition of Anaren moves TTM higher up in the value chain, allowing us to engage with customers earlier in the design cycle. Our customers can now rely on TTM to deliver a completely designed RF solution to meet their needs.

Now I'd like to review our end markets. For TTM, the aerospace and defense end market represented 24% of total fourth quarter sales compared to 15% of Q4 2017 sales and 23% of sales in Q3 2018. In addition to the contribution from the Anaren acquisition, we grew 12% year-over-year organically in the fourth quarter.

Total program backlog at the end of Q4 was $481 million, a new record versus $448 million in Q3. We expect sales in Q1 from this end market to represent about 27% of our total sales.

For the full year, aerospace and defense increased 17% organically and reached a record high as TTM benefited from increased defense spending and demand for multiple new programs. In 2019, we expect growth to continue to outpace market projections of 2% to 4%.

Networking/communications accounted for 18% of revenue during the fourth quarter of 2018. This compares to 17% in the fourth quarter of 2017, and 17% of revenue in the third quarter of 2018. Dollar sales were up on a year-over-year basis due to the inclusion of Anaren, where we enjoyed robust wireless sales for early stages of 5G development, while core TTM revenues were down 11% year-on-year. In Q1, we expect this segment to be 18% of revenue.

For the full year, networking/communications grew 2% year-over-year due to the inclusion of Anaren. With the expected early phases of 5G ramp activity in 2019, we expect this market to be in line with longer-term forecasts of 2% to 4% growth.

Automotive sales represented 16% of total sales during the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to 18% in the year-ago quarter and 15% during the third quarter of 2018. Automotive sales were weaker than expected in Q4 and down year-over-year due to the softness in global demand, particularly in China and Europe. We expect automotive to contribute 19% of total sales in Q1.

For the full year, automotive declined 2% as softer units volumes in China and Europe more than offset gains in PCB content. In 2019, we expect the market to be below longer-term forecasts of 5% to 8% growth, reflecting ongoing softness in unit demand.

The cellular phone end market accounted for 14% of revenue in the fourth quarter compared to 27% in Q4 of 2017 and 17% in Q3 of 2018. The sequential decline was primarily due to weaker-than-expected sales and more conservative ordering from our cellular customers. We expect cellular to represent 6% of first quarter sales in Q1 as the market digest inventory built in the fourth quarter.

For full year 2018, cellular declined 21% as cellular customers managed inventory and reduced demand in a slowing smartphone market. Due to the softer start in 2019, we expect this market to be below longer-term forecasts of 4% to 7%.

The medical/industrial/instrumentation end market contributed 14% of our total sales from the fourth quarter compared to 12% in the year-ago quarter and 13% in the third quarter of 2018. The strength in the quarter came from some of our top medical and industrial customers.

For the first quarter, we expect this market to be 15% of revenues due to weakness in the semiconductor test segment, partially offset by strength in the industrial and medical segments.

For the full year, MI&I grew 10% due to strength from our top customers and significant growth in the number of new customers. In 2019, we expect growth to be in line with a 3% to 5% forecast, with year-on-year momentum driven by business development activities with new customers.

Sales in the computing/storage/peripherals end market represented 13% of total sales in the fourth quarter compared to 10% in Q4 of 2017 and 14% in the third quarter of 2018. We saw revenue grow year-over-year by 25%, driven primarily by high-end data center servers and laptops. We expect revenues in this end market to represent approximately 13% of first quarter sales, with growth driven by high-end laptops and tablets.

For the full year, computing grew 10% as we saw growth across our data center server customers. And in 2019, we expect to be below the expected end market growth of 0% to 2%, due to a digestion period for high-end data centers.

Next, I'll cover some details from the fourth quarter. During the quarter, our advanced technology business, which includes HDI, rigid-flex, substrate and RF subsystems and components, accounted for approximately 38% of our company's revenue. This compares to approximately 44% in the year-ago quarter and 40% in Q3. The sequential and year-over-year decline were driven by softness in the cellular end market.

For the full year 2018, advanced technology accounted for approximately 36% versus 37% in 2017. We are continuing to pursue new business opportunities and increase customer design engagement activities that will leverage our advanced technology capabilities in new markets.

Capacity utilization in Asia Pacific was 73% in Q4 compared to 92% in the year-ago quarter and 80% in Q3. The sequential and year-over-year declines were due to softness in several of our commercial end markets.

Our overall capacity utilization in North America was 57% in Q4 compared to 53% in the year-ago quarter and 60% in Q3, as our A&D and computing end markets continue to drive strong utilization levels in North America.

Our top 5 customers contributed 35% of total sales in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to 44% in the year-ago quarter and 36% in the third quarter of 2018. Our largest customer accounted for 17% of sales in the fourth quarter versus 28% in the year-ago quarter and 20% in Q3.

For fiscal 2018, our largest customer was 15% of sales versus 20% in 2017. For fiscal 2018, our top 5 customers were 32% of revenues versus 37% in 2017. At the end of Q4, our 90-day backlog, which is subject to cancellations, was $458.4 million compared to $481.9 million at the end of the fourth quarter last year and $514.8 million at the end of Q3. Our PCB book-to-bill ratio was 0.96 for the 3 months ending December 31.

As we look forward at Q1, we expect the mobile market demand weakness in particular to impact utilization rates in our advanced technology facilities.

At TTM, we always act to reduce cost in order to mitigate the effect of softening demand cycles. At the same time, these advanced technology facilities will continue to focus on preparing for the next ramp in the cellular phone market, while we work to further diversify our cellular customer base. In addition, we are taking steps to prepare our advanced technology facilities for the longer-term, anticipating the demand of advanced technologies into other markets, such as automotive, medical, industrial and networking/communications. These markets will increasingly demand advanced technologies due to the coming 5G rollout, new advanced chipset designs and ongoing miniaturization, all of which will require printed circuit boards with denser circuits.

In the longer term, our strategic focus on diversification, differentiation and operational discipline will pay off for TTM, our investors and our customers.

Now Todd will review our financial performance for the fourth quarter. Todd?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Todd B. Schull, TTM Technologies, Inc. - Executive VP, CFO & Treasurer [4]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks, Tom, and good afternoon, everyone. I'll point out some of the highlights for the quarter and the year. Revenue in the quarter was $711 million. Revenue for the year was $2.85 billion, a record, and up 7% from 2017.

Non-GAAP operating margin was 10.3% in the quarter. Non-GAAP operating margin for the year was 9.4%. Non-GAAP EPS was $0.52 in the quarter. Non-GAAP EPS for the year was a record of $1.76, up from $1.57 in 2017. Adjusted EBITDA was at $117.4 million in the quarter. Adjusted EBITDA for the year was $438.8 million, up from $388.6 million in 2017. Cash flow from operations was $151.8 million in the quarter.

In addition, we paid down $70 million of principal on our Term Loan B in the fourth quarter and additional $30 million on February 1 of this year. Since the acquisition of Anaren in April of 2018, we have now repaid a total of $144 million or approximately 24% of the additional debt that we incurred to purchase Anaren.

For the fourth -- onto the details. For the fourth quarter, net sales were $711 million compared to net sales of $739.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, and compared to third quarter 2018 net sales of $755.8 million. The year-over-year decrease in revenue was due to declines in the cellular and automotive end markets, partially offset by the inclusion of Anaren and growth in our core aerospace and defense, computing and medical/industrial/instrumentation end markets.

GAAP operating income for the fourth quarter of 2018 was $42.8 million compared to $71 million in the fourth quarter of 2017 and $54.6 million in the third quarter of 2018.

On a GAAP basis, net income in the fourth quarter of 2018 was $52.5 million or $0.42 per diluted share. This compares to $49.2 million or $0.40 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of last year and $27 million or $0.22 per diluted share in the third quarter of 2018. Our GAAP net income reflects the release of a tax valuation allowance of $43.6 million.

The remainder of my comments will focus on our non-GAAP financial performance. Our non-GAAP performance excludes acquisition-related costs, certain noncash expense items and other unusual or infrequent items as well as the associated tax impact of these items. Additionally, we exclude nonoperational changes in our tax expense, such as the release this quarter of a tax valuation allowance. We present non-GAAP financial information to enable investors to see the company through the eyes of management and to provide better insight into the company's ongoing financial performance.

Gross margin in the fourth quarter was 17.5% compared to 17.9% in the fourth quarter of 2017, and 17.5% in the third quarter of 2018. The year-over-year decrease in gross margin was primarily due to the lower volumes in our cellular end market, partially offset by the addition of Anaren and growth in our A&D end market.

Selling and marketing expense was $18 million in the fourth quarter or 2.5% of net sales versus $16.6 million or 2.2% of net sales a year ago and $18 million or 2.4% of net sales in the third quarter.

Fourth quarter G&A expense was $33 million or 4.6% of net sales compared to $31.6 million or 4.3% of net sales in the same quarter a year ago and $35.5 million or 4.7% of net sales in the previous quarter. The year-over-year increases in selling and marketing and G&A expenses were due to the addition of Anaren, partially offset by reduced incentive compensation expense.

Our operating margin in Q4 was 10.3%. This compares to 11.4% in the same quarter last year and 10.5% in the third quarter of 2018.

Interest expense was $18.1 million in the third quarter, an increase of $7.4 million from the same quarter last year due to the incremental term loans associated with the Anaren acquisition and higher interest rates.

During the quarter, we recorded $0.3 million of foreign exchange gain. Government incentives has brought the total gain to $2.3 million or approximately $0.02 per share. This compares to a net loss of $3.6 million in Q4 last year.

Our effective tax rate was 4.8% in the fourth quarter, down from 12.2% a year ago. For the full year, our effective tax rate was 10.4%.

Fourth quarter net income was $55 million or $0.52 per share. This compares to fourth quarter 2017 net income of $61.2 million or $0.57 per diluted share and third quarter 2018 net income of $55.1 million or $0.50 per diluted share.

Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter was $117.4 million or 16.5% of net sales compared to fourth quarter 2017 adjusted EBITDA of $121.7 million or 16.5% of net sales. In the third quarter, adjusted EBITDA was $122.3 million or 16.2% of net sales.

Cash flow from operations was $151.8 million in the fourth quarter versus $152.7 million in the same quarter last year. Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the fourth quarter totaled $256.4 million versus $208 million in the third quarter. Depreciation for the fourth quarter was $41.5 million. Net capital spending for the quarter was $33.7 million.

Now I'd like to turn to our guidance for the first quarter. We expect total revenue for the first quarter of 2019 to be in the range of $610 million to $650 million. As a reference point, our first quarter revenue last year was $663.6 million.

We expect non-GAAP earnings to be in the range of $0.14 to $0.20 per diluted share. This compares to an EPS of $0.26 per diluted share we reported in Q1 of last year.

The year-over-year decline in EPS is due to decreased volumes in our cellular end market and certain networking/communications and automotive-focused facilities, partially offset by the acquisition of Anaren and growth in our aerospace and defense end market.

This guidance includes a reduction in revenue and gross profit of $8.9 million and $6.2 million, respectively, reflecting the estimated first quarter impact of ASC 606, the new revenue recognition standard. The EPS forecast is based on a diluted share count of approximately 107 million shares. Our share count guidance includes dilutive securities such as options and RSUs, but no shares associated with our convertible bonds, which can change based on our future stock price. As a reminder, for every dollar increase in the average share price above $14.26 during a quarter, our shares outstanding would increase by approximately 1.5 million shares.

We expect that SG&A expense will be about 7.8% of revenue in the first quarter. We expect interest expense to total about $18.2 million. Finally, we estimate our effective tax rate to be between 13% and 17%.

To assist you in developing your financial models, we offer the following additional information. We expect to record during the first quarter amortization of intangibles of about $17 million, stock-based compensation expense of about $4.1 million, noncash interest expense of approximately $3.5 million and we estimate depreciation expense will be approximately $41 million.

Finally, I'd like to announce that we'll be participating in the JPMorgan Global High Yield and Leverage Finance Conference in Miami on February 26.

That concludes our prepared remarks. And now, we'd like to open the line for questions. Jessica?

================================================================================

Questions and Answers

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [1]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Operator Instructions) We'll go to our first questioner, Matt Sheerin with Stifel.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Matthew John Sheerin, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - MD & Senior Equity Research Analyst [2]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have a multipart question on the cellular businesses. So you're -- basically, you're guiding down 60% sequentially after you're down 20-plus percent. And I know, Tom, that you talked about growing below market. The market sounds like it's still going to grow. If you just sort of do the math on seasonality, you're looking down at least double digits for the year. So do you think -- I mean, in terms of how you look at that market this year with your top customer, how do you see seasonality playing out? Or is that too early to tell here?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [3]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, thanks, Matt. Obviously, as we wind down the cycle for this generation of phones, I think the sell-through has been disappointing and that's impacted. And I would say it's going to impact our Q1 and most likely our Q2. Of course, what we always hope is that the inventories get worked through in Q1 and that we're flat up in Q2, but always hard to forecast. And we really don't get a good look at that until after Chinese New Year. As far as the next ramp goes, it's really too early to predict. As we get into that ramp cycle, what I can tell you is that we have, as you would expect and very actively prototyping and positioning for the third quarter and fourth quarter ramp. And so far, it's a relatively predictable process, standard process in terms of what we're following.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Matthew John Sheerin, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - MD & Senior Equity Research Analyst [4]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And in terms of your share with your top customer, have there been any share shifts at all? Because if you look at where your numbers are relative to other suppliers, I mean, everybody's down a lot. It just seems a little bit more severe than others, and I'm just wondering if that has to do with the mix of the products that you're in or any share shifts?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [5]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, so no share shifts of size. I think it's always hard to comment on what others might be seeing. I think what we see and what we usually see is there's an allocation in terms of PCB, PCB operations between phones and then what the other work that we do in computing. And as you -- as we mentioned, computing was certainly up in Q4 and looks to be strong in Q1. So there's an allocation impact there. And when we look at share, we sort of look across programs and across product types. I think we're still very much in a strong position there.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Matthew John Sheerin, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - MD & Senior Equity Research Analyst [6]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. And just lastly on that segment. As you pointed out, your advanced technology is down a lot because of the cellular business. And you also talked, Tom, about adding other end markets as those technologies advance. How close are you? Are we talking like a 1- to 2-year time frame for things like medical and automotive adapting to those technologies? Or is it longer than that?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [7]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, so actually, we have -- so we have 2 large advanced technology facilities. And one of those facilities has been very active in terms of qualification process. That's one of the facilities we've been gearing more and more towards those other markets. And what I can say is there are parts that have already ramped in those areas. Small volumes, admittedly, but ramping. And if you think about particularly in the automotive side, the infotainment type applications, the less critical applications that really are demanding in terms of miniaturization or form factor requirements, those -- some of those applications have already shifted over into advanced technologies. And so we're shipping. Volumes there are still small, but gradually ramping. And so as you look forward, I would look at this as a gradual but regular increase in terms of the volume that we do out of those facilities for other markets.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Matthew John Sheerin, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - MD & Senior Equity Research Analyst [8]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. But it just sounds like until volumes in your core cellular business come back, I mean, you're just going to be underutilized there, at least for much of this year, which is negative leverage, obviously. Okay.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [9]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, I think, to be specific, Matt, I think the Q1, Q2 that -- I think your point is well-taken. I think Q3 will be back into a ramp, and that will be a much higher utilization of the advanced technology facilities with Q3, Q4.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [10]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Operator Instructions) We'll go next to William Stein with SunTrust.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

William Stein, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - MD [11]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tom, every couple years, maybe it's every 3, I'm not sure of the cadence, I think your largest customer has a sort of shift in technology that they demand from you that winds up driving -- I think it drives ASPs higher, maybe yields temporarily lower and sort of changes that dynamic like in that end market for the year. I think it typically makes it better. Is 2019 one of those years? I think 2018 was not where it was instead a similar technology from 2017. Maybe 2017 was the last time you had one of these transitions. Can you refresh my memory on that, please?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [12]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, sure. Yes. And it's more -- well, so always careful to project the past into the future. But if you think about the significant transitions in terms of PCB technology, most of it has to do with lines and spacing requirements. So circuit density requirements. And so if you look at where we were in 2011, there was a significant shift in that time period into advanced High Density Interconnect technology. About 3, 4 years later, we had another shift that was of less magnitude, but moved in terms of lines and spacing requirements. And then, we had the move in 2017 into substrate like PCBs. And that brought us into the state where we are today, which is in the, think about the 30 micron, 30 micron territory in terms of lines and spacing. And what that gives us is pretty much, from a technology standpoint, a roadmap down towards 20/20, 20 micron, 20 micron lines and spacing, which is a pretty significant process window, if you will, in lines and spacing. So as we look at 2019, I think this will be a year where we're going to see a similar use of substrate like printed circuit boards. The good news there is that, yes, you're right, there is usually a significant move in terms of ASP with the new technology shift, but you also have much more significant yield challenges with those shifts as well. What we are, of course, working with our facility on in this next-generation where we're not expecting a significant of a technology shift, we're working very closely on how we can maximize yields right from the get-go and then, of course, improve during the course of the ramp. And that becomes the critical area of focus. I would not anticipate a significant shift in PCB technology until we get well into that 5G-enabled phone territory where you actually start seeing circuit requirements driven by chipsets go below the 20 micron area.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

William Stein, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - MD [13]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

That's really helpful. Maybe one other broader question on the cycle where you're not providing guidance for the full year, but Q1 guidance. It feels to me like this has to be a low point. We've heard this from at least a couple of -- they're not exactly like you, but let's say semiconductor suppliers. Would you be calling Q1 as the bottom for your business? Would you -- the count, let's say, at least that? And maybe what sort of pace of recovery are you thinking about as we go through the year?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [14]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sure. I think it's -- I think, where we are -- and of course, this is dependent on where our end markets end up. And I think, certainly, we have been seeing customers work through inventory, short-term inventory situations. I talked about the cellular inventory and I think the same case in automotive. And if you look at our Q1 guidance, we're actually looking sequentially better in automotive in terms of our forecast. That's a decent indicator. But if you look at our other markets, I think we're going to see a balance here. Networking/communications, very interesting situation where we've seen service spending and some of the data center pauses. It seemed to have impacted that market. And so we haven't seen the networking strength that we were expecting. And on the other hand, I've seen really encouraging 5G early stages ramp. So you take that market, there's some interesting dynamics going on there that I would expect to continue here through Q1 into Q2 anyway. And in the ramp, 5G ramp continuing to pick up pace. So -- and medical/industrial/instrumentation, as I spoke about, I think that market has continued to be a good, nice, strong market for us where we service a number of different players in that space. And with that diversity, there's nice protection and also strong growth prospects. So what I can say, Will, is as we look out, I think the biggest wild card out there is really what happens with the macroeconomic situation. And certainly, as that impacts our customers, that has an impact on us. I think the inventory situation seems to be working itself out. There's some good dynamics here, and we've got some very nice trends that we're working into with our advanced technologies. But overall, that lies this macroeconomic situation. And certainly, would love to see the tariff issues with China get worked out. That would be a help, but then -- and beyond that, to see how that shakes out in terms of macroeconomic growth.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [15]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Operator Instructions) We'll go to Maynard Um with Macquarie.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Maynard Joseph Um, Macquarie Research - Analyst [16]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

That was great color on the puts and takes for 2019. If we put it all together, do you think that 2019 is a year of -- do you think you'd still get slight revenue growth in the current macro environment? And then, I guess, is that sort of -- what assumptions are you making in terms of any stimulus for the year?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [17]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, I think -- so as we look at these different markets, and I think as you put together the forecast that we provided to you, and as you think about how we grew last year, we had about a 7% growth rate year-on-year last year. And as we look at this year and as you look at those end markets, again, I think you're looking at -- and certainly, TTM would like to grow in that mid-single digit area. I think if you put the growth forecast together, what we're seeing, we're somewhere -- I think we're somewhere in that neighborhood in terms of growth. And as you pointed out, that's predicated on what we see today in terms of the macro economics associated with each of these end markets.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Maynard Joseph Um, Macquarie Research - Analyst [18]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Great. And then on the 5G side, can you just talk about what parts are you in? Is that in the base stations? Is it in small cells, the backplane assemblies, the different parts there? And how meaningful could this be? I mean, I've heard some people talk about more meaningful revenues starting in calendar Q4. I'm just wondering if that's around the same time we should be thinking about more material revenues from 5G?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [19]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. Sure. Yes, so let me give you a couple of pointers on this. We are actually -- in terms of the networking/communications space, we play in 3 different aspects of this. One is on the wireless component side, business that came over to us from Anaren. As that business came over to TTM, it was approximately $60 million in size. And as we look at that piece of the business, we're looking at content in both base stations and more importantly, antenna. We believe that's why we're seeing the strength -- the 5G strength at least initially come into our wireless component business more than our other areas. And there, you're looking at a content opportunity of about 3x the 4G opportunity. And I think that's conservative, given the density of antennas required to carry the signal for 5G. So that's wireless components. The other 2 pieces are our printed circuit boards and backplane assemblies that primarily go into the base station side of the business. I think base stations will pick up more slowly. We've been doing initial shipments in both areas and have been gradually ramping with customers. But I think your forecast, what you're hearing from others about the fourth -- third, fourth quarter, late 3Q into 4Q is probably appropriate when you start thinking about those areas and the volume ramp in networking/communications. And then, to give you a feel for the size of that, if you go back to 4G, we do expect 5G to be a little bit lengthier cycle, given, again, the density of the signal-carrying requirements. So a longer cycle, a slower build out. But to give you a feel, in 4G, as we peaked, we peaked at networking/communications climbing to about 25% of our revenue at the time. And telecom as a portion of that business moving up to about 50% of that business from the 1/3 of the business, which it really constitutes at a low point in the cycles. So hopefully, that gives you a feel for it.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Maynard Joseph Um, Macquarie Research - Analyst [20]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Great. That's great. And then, just on the auto side, you did talk about that being up a little sequentially? What's the primary driver? Just refreshing the inventory? Or is there something fundamental...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [21]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, and a good question, Maynard, because I don't -- it's hard, and as I mentioned earlier, it's hard to say that this is -- and given the forecast is really for moderate sequential growth, it's hard to tie a trend to that. I think it's more -- if anything, it's just a little bit of working through inventories and more solid real demand. We'll see how this develops. As I mentioned, we're very excited about the fact that the advanced technology mix for the full year last year moved up to 19%. And that's up from, if you remember, we were in the 10% to 15% range historically. So to move that up now closer to 20%, that's a significant volume shift for us as the advanced technologies, and particularly RF, start to be used now in the ADAS sensor area and then in some of the early work that's going on in autonomous vehicle area. That's an exciting development for us. That's an area that we'll continue to focus on. And certainly, as the year develops, again, our goal is to continue to grow that content as a percent of our automotive revenue.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Maynard Joseph Um, Macquarie Research - Analyst [22]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Great. And then, lastly, just on the housekeeping side, can you talk about why the tax rate is increasing year-over-year and how we should think about the full year?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Todd B. Schull, TTM Technologies, Inc. - Executive VP, CFO & Treasurer [23]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sure. This is Todd. So this year, as we went through the year, the geographic mix of our earnings got more and more favorable, which means we were actually generating better profits out of the U.S. than maybe our historical pattern. And that's consistent with all of Tom's comment about the aerospace and defense business and how strong that business has been for us. So that mix of profit by geography was quite favorable to us here going into the end of the year. Also then, as you go into next year, we started thinking about the new tax law and how that kicks in. And yes, we had some impacts this year, but that tends to be a bit sheltered by our NOLs that we've had. But next year, we're looking at a more conservative mix of profits as well as less optimism, I guess, if you will, in terms of the benefits of the new tax law as additional regulations are published regarding how to apply that law. Most recently, we had proposed regulations come out on the GILTI provisions as well as the tax credit -- foreign tax credit provisions. And like many companies that have made comments in the last couple of weeks, we're seeing that to be a little less favorable than we had originally anticipated based on the headlines that we got about a year ago. So that's really what's playing into the mix.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [24]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We'll now take a question from Steven Fox with Cross Research.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Steven Bryant Fox, Cross Research LLC - MD [25]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I guess, first of all, given that you seem to be comfortable with the capacity levels going forward, I mean, it seems like capital spending into this year could be a lot lower than we've seen in previous years, given the inventory corrections in the early part of the year? And then, secondly, can you give us help with cash flows and also working capital, given how you're working on inventories now, how does working capital look this year versus, let's say, what you just did in 2018? And then, I have some follow-ups.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Todd B. Schull, TTM Technologies, Inc. - Executive VP, CFO & Treasurer [26]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. So a couple of questions there. One was just cash flow and then I think the other was CapEx. So let me take them one at a time. CapEx, so this year, we're looking at a slight decline in CapEx more in the 130 to 150 in terms of million dollars of CapEx. That is cash CapEx. There's always a lag, meaning that procurement leads the cash transaction. So this year, we're still paying off some of the CapEx from last year. Our actual new procurement during the year would be somewhat less than that number that I've quoted you. And you're right, and in fact, (technical difficulty) consistent with kind of the revenue new trends that Tom shared with us during the call suggest that the number that we have is in that range of -- it's close to the 5%, but it's in that 4% to 5% range. Regarding your cash flow question, you're right to observe that when the quarter turns down, you should be squeezing some cash out of your working capital. Now we did have a very strong Q4 cash flow this year of 150-some-odd-million dollars, and that was similar to last year in terms of strong Q4. Last year's phenomena somehow though actually borrowed or brought forward a little bit from Q1. And as you recall, we had a pretty tough Q1 on a cash flow from operations basis last year. I think we're actually negative, about $14 million. This year, as we do our modeling, we're expecting kind of a more normal Q1. We expect to be positive in cash flow for the quarter, which would then represent a pretty significant improvement year-over-year. And then, we'll watch, as we go through the year, if we have the kind of traditional pickup later in the year, that will use a little working capital and we'll go through our cycles. We do tend to have some choppiness quarter-to-quarter. But over the course of the year we delivered some pretty strong numbers. So even in the face of some challenges in 2018, we delivered somewhere around $275 million of cash flow from operations, and that was a pretty good number, and we're certainly looking to have a good number this year as long as the economy hangs in there.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Steven Bryant Fox, Cross Research LLC - MD [27]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

That's helpful. And then, just on the Anaren piece of the business, I know you guys don't break it out, but can you give us some sense for how satisfied you are when you look at what you did in 2018 with the business relative to your sales and margin expectations and directionally a sense for how that business might grow or not grow, I don't know, in 2019?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [28]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. Sure. Approximately -- so Anaren in Q4 was approximately in the $64 million range on revenue. If you think about it separately, as Todd has mentioned before on calls, it's getting -- it's more and more difficult to separate and talk about the Anaren piece because it's so integrated now into what we're doing, both on the commercial side and on aerospace and defense. What we -- I think, on the revenue side, as we look forward, the revenue synergies that we've been looking at as an opportunity here for Anaren, most of those will play into next year because, as you can imagine, aerospace and defense, it takes a while for these programs to build in. But they will be -- what we're working on in terms of program opportunities are significant on the RF side to add to that piece of revenue. On the commercial side, as I mentioned, we -- again, we've been very pleased short-term with the performances. We saw 5G really start to impact the business there positively. And as we go forward, again, we've been working with a number of customers, both in the automotive and on the networking side, on the revenue synergy piece. And here, these are really new efforts that we started as we came together as a company. So those really would not impact revenues until next year and will start relatively small and build from there. But what I can say to you, Steve, I think, from an overall profit impact standpoint, we've just been tremendously pleased with Anaren from an impact on our culture and how we do -- go about business with our customers. We've been really pleased with Anaren. It's allowed us to really deepen that engagement with our customers and open up opportunities for those revenue synergies. So I could not be more pleased with the addition of Anaren and what the Anaren team has brought to TTM.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [29]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We'll now take your question from Tony Venturino with Federated Investors.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anthony Venturino, [30]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tom, I think it was you in your prepared comments, you talked about the auto design wins. How should I think about those design wins roughly growing 10% year-over-year, given the fact that you have long lead time into that? I mean, how should we think about transitioning to revenue over the coming years? And then, I have a follow-up.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [31]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. Sure. So -- and I understand it's 1 metric to look at. As we look at program wins, if you will, it takes -- generally take 18 months to 24 months for a program to ramp. In some cases, it can even stretch beyond that 24-month window. So when we're talking about ramps during the course of the last year, you would start to see that impact our revenues as we go out again 18 to 24 months from the time of the win. And so if you're starting to think about that 10% impact, of course, obviously, when we're talking about advanced technology shift that we're seeing in the business, those are wins that we would have gained the year prior, so in the 2017, 2016, 2017 time frame, which was just as we were coming together with Viasystems. So those are now starting to pay dividends to us. And then, what we're trying to do is give you a picture of what we see here with the wins and the growth that, that will drive as we head through the course -- late into this year and into next year.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anthony Venturino, [32]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. And then, how should I think about that 1 90 in terms of kind of the overall market opportunity? Essentially, what does that represent in terms of your share? Was it even possible to kind of think about it in that way?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [33]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As we think about the 1 90.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Todd B. Schull, TTM Technologies, Inc. - Executive VP, CFO & Treasurer [34]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wins.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [35]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On the wins. Okay. Yes. So if you think about advanced -- let me just characterize because we have different technologies that works here. So there's a portion of the advanced technologies that are tied to High Density Interconnect and product use, primarily in infotainment inside the cockpit, miniaturization requirements. And there, our share, there's approximately 6 to 7 players in that market. And so we're building a position into that market in terms of share. If you think about the RF portion of that share, we're one of the primary go-to's for RF. And as you can imagine, that's been a business that has been building here rapidly over the course of the last 2 to 3 years. And so there, we have a stronger incumbent position, if you will, on RF. So if you take the whole thing together, then hard to give you a characterization of exactly what our share is, but HCI, one of 6 to 7 RF, a significant player in a universe that is 3 or 4 players.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anthony Venturino, [36]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And then, you had another comment on MI&I. You talked about the top customers spending and driving the growth there. Have you quantified the portion of top customers and how you think about that? Is it maybe the top 10% or top 25%? How should we think about top customers there? Because I know it's a pretty broad business.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [37]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, exactly. So less than that. And if you think about what we have said is if you think about the business itself, relatively evenly split here of between medical and industrial is a little bit larger than the instrumentation piece. But there's -- we have a good -- the business is pretty well-split between those. Clearly, as we're heading into a little bit of a weaker instrumentation climate, we're seeing more of a contribution on the medical and industrial side. But overall, in terms of longer-term trends, relatively well-split. In terms of customer concentration, yes, pretty large. A large customer base, pretty well-fragmented. And any major customers are going to constitute less than in that 10%, 10% to 15% for the largest, but not a significant piece of that business.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anthony Venturino, [38]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. And then, maybe last one for Todd. You guys have paid down another $30 million of term loan this quarter -- or sorry, in February. How should we think about your capital allocation and future debt reduction?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Todd B. Schull, TTM Technologies, Inc. - Executive VP, CFO & Treasurer [39]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sure. Our focus and commitment, we've been very public about it, is to drive our net debt leverage ratio as quickly as practical down to 2.0 post -- after the acquisition, we made that commitment. Obviously, we spiked up with the acquisition. We've streamlined. We're focused on cash flow generation and we're now driving that down. And our focus then is to use our free cash flow and apply it against that debt in chunks throughout the year as the cash flow becomes available. But we're trying to drive down to that 2.0 ratio, and then that gives us a pretty comfortable level to then consider various options at that point.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [40]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It appears there are no further questions at this time. I'd like to turn the call back over to Tom Edman for any additional or closing remarks.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas T. Edman, TTM Technologies, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [41]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you. Yes, just to close by summarizing some of the points that we made earlier. First, we delivered solid earnings for our fourth quarter, despite softening end markets. And for the year, we achieved record revenues and non-GAAP earnings. Second, while we are facing a challenging start to the year, we continue to execute well on our core strategies of diversification, differentiation and discipline. And we are really excited by many of our long-term growth drivers as well as the revenue synergies that -- arising from the integration of Anaren. And finally, I'd like to thank again our employees for your contribution last year; our customers, of course; and our investors for your continued support. Thank you very much.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [42]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This concludes today's call. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect.