U.S. Markets open in 31 mins

Methode Electronics Inc. (MEI) Q1 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

Motley Fool Transcribers, The Motley Fool
Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Methode Electronics Inc. (NYSE: MEI)
Q1 2020 Earnings Call
Aug 29, 2019, 11:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Methode Electronics Fiscal Year 2020 First Quarter Conference Call. For this quarterly conference call, the company has prepared a PowerPoint presentation entitled Fiscal 2020 First Quarter Earnings which can be found at methode.com in the Investor Relations section. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

This conference call does contain forward-looking statements which reflects management's expectations regarding future events and operating performance and speaks only as to the date hereof. These forward-looking statements are subject to a Safe Harbor protection provided under the securities laws. Methode undertakes no duty to update any forward-looking statements to conform these statements to actual results or changes in Methode's expectations on a quarterly basis or otherwise.

Forward-looking statements in this conference call include a number of Risks and Uncertainties. The factors that cause these actual results to differ materially from our expectations are detailed in Methode's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, such as our annual and quarterly reports.

Such factors may include without limitation, the following. Number one, dependence on a small number of large customers include including two large automotive customers; Two, dependence on the automotive appliance, commercial vehicle, computer and communications industries; Three, international trade disputes resulting in tariffs and our ability to mitigate tariffs; Four, timing, quality and cost of new program launches; Five, the ability to withstand price pressure, including pricing reductions; Six, ability to successfully market and sell Dabir Surfaces products; Seven, currency fluctuations; Number eight, customary risks related to conducting global operations; Nine, the ability to withstand business interruptions; 10, recognition of goodwill impairment charges; 11, ability to successfully benefit from acquisitions and divestitures; 12, investment in programs prior to the recognition of revenue; 13, dependence on the availability and price of materials; 14, the fluctuations in our gross margin; 15, dependence on our supply chain; 16, income tax rate fluctuations; 17, ability to keep pace with rapid technological changes; 18, breach of our information technology systems; 19, ability to avoid design or manufacturing defects; 20, ability to compete effectively; 21, ability to protect our intellectual property; 22, success of Grakon and/or our ability to implement and profit from new applications of the acquired technology; 23, significant adjustments to expense based on the probability of meeting certain performance levels in our long-term incentive plan; And 24, costs and expenses due to regulations regarding conflict materials.

[Operator Instructions] At this time it is my pleasure to turn the over to your host for today. Mr. Don Duda. Sir, the floor is yours.

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Jess and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us today for a fiscal 2020 first quarter financial results conference call. I'm joined today by Ron Tsoumas, our Chief Financial Officer. Both Ron and I have comments and afterwards, we will take your questions.

To start, I will ask you to turn to Slide 4. Our strong first quarter results, which includes record sales, as well as record EBITDA or a treadmill to both sales growth and operational efficiencies. The Automotive segment outperformed relative to the global automotive market, which continued to weaken during the quarter. Importantly, the segments organic revenue declined, lowered to just 1.4% year-over-year, the lowest level in four quarters versus the global automotive decline of about 10%. Additionally, we saw the benefit of the initiatives we took last year to reduce costs and improve profitability as well as successful tariff recovery efforts. Ron, will cover this more in his detailed remarks.

Also during the first quarter, new business wins and business development efforts of both automotive and industrial segments continue to capitalize on important trends, including safety and electrification. Finally, at Dabir, we continue to add new customers and made significant progress in lowering the average evaluation time.

Turning to Slide 5 for a few comments on our key financial metrics, year-over-year consolidated sales improved 21% in line with our internal expectations. Additionally, GAAP net income improved 19%, while adjusted net income, which excludes expenses for initiatives to improve operations and acquisition related expenses in the applicable period improved 14%.

On Slide 6, you can see our Automotive segment is successfully navigating some significant industry and macro headwinds. While our Asian operations affected by the decline in passenger car sales and the ongoing trade and tariff dynamics, the fact that our exposure to domestic Chinese OEMs is limited to 8% of sales has somewhat mitigated the impact of these macro factors.

Additionally, we believe new products launching during fiscal 2020 should help us offset these headwinds. In fact, in Europe, the new launches have nearly offset the effect of the economic uncertainty and revised GDP forecasts. Grakon's sales of Tesla, as well as new launches and the strong mix to products for SUVs and pickup trucks have bolstered the North American operation. It is important to note that the new launches, I just mentioned will continue to ramp throughout the next three quarters.

Please turn to Slide 7. Our booked business and sensors grew 11% year-over-year and is anticipated to grow from $56 million this year to over $94 million by fiscal 2022, further validating our strategy to move the company into higher margin technology business. Our highly patented Magneto-elastic technology also provides steering assist on sport and recreational vehicles, and clutch plate position for automobiles as well as active-role control to improve safety.

Moving to Slide 8. Our portfolio of technologies and solutions for the hybrid and electric vehicle market in RGB, LED-based ambient and direct lighting led to a solid quarter of new business awards totaling $30 million. European Automotive was awarded Jaguar Land Rover's common architecture program. JLR's strategy to create common modules and standardize an all-future electric and hybrid vehicles within their portfolio utilizes our power operated tailgates -- tailgate switches, steering paddle shift as well as glove box and instrument panel switches. With a five-year program lines, annual revenue was $5 million launching in the second quarter of fiscal 2021.

Grakon was awarded additional content in Rivian's Electric pickup and Electric SUV models. The reading council lamp, and the footwell and floor tray lamps launching in the second quarter of fiscal 2021. With these new awards, total content per Rivian vehicle between Grakon and Pacific Insight is $188 for the pickup truck and $228 for the SUV. Grakon was also awarded of the Tesla Model Y combination reading light with estimated annual revenue of $3 million launching in the third quarter of fiscal 2020. With this award, total content per vehicle across all Methode businesses for the Tesla Model Y is $160. Notably for the Tesla model S and X, Methode's total content per vehicle has grown to $300.

Our Automotive group in Asia was awarded [Technical Issues] on two current electric transmission programs, both beginning in the third quarter of fiscal 2022. The both bars are for these PSA's new DS 3 Crossback and Hyundai's Lafesta and [Indecipherable] vehicles. Additionally, Nissan, Mitsubishi awarded a bus bar program for an electric vehicle with average annual revenue of $11 million launching the second quarter of fiscal 2021.

Pacific Insight and Grakon's lighting technologies and capabilities, together with Methode's expertise in both power distribution solutions and automotive manufacturing, will provide opportunity for market share gains and increased content across Methode.

Moving to an update on Dabir. During the first quarter, we added five new customers, including our third pediatric hospital. Additionally, our evaluation time for systems at hospitals average 48 days in the first quarter, down from 77 days in the first quarter of last year. We also began the first evaluation using our Gen 2 system at our Midwest hospital network in the ICU. Our Gen 2 system was designed from the patient care areas of the hospital, that is care areas outside the operating room. It had the same therapeutic characteristics as a Gen 1 system, yet is more compact and lightweight and provides the best eye clinician with more display information such as remaining surface life. It also has an auto brightness feature, so patients can sleep better at night.

In closing, our performance in the first quarter gives us confidence in our full year outlook and ability to execute in a very challenging macro environment.

At this point, I'll turn the call over to Ron, who will provide additional detail of our financial results and give you guidance.

Ronald L.G. Tsoumas -- Vice President of Corporate Finance & Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Don and good morning, everybody. Please turn to Slide 9. First quarter sales improved 20.9% or $46.8 million to $270.2 million in fiscal '20 from $223.4 million in fiscal '19. Sales from Grakon and new automotive launches more than offset overall market weakness in Europe and China, as well as lower radio, remote control, appliance and data solutions sales. Foreign currency exchange continue to be a headwind as the euro and renminbi exchange rates were weaker than the prior year.

Moving on to Slide 10. On a GAAP basis, first quarter net income increased $4.6 million to $28.3 million or $0.75 per share from $23.7 million or $0.63 per share in the same period last year. First quarter GAAP net income benefited from the results of Grakon and the net benefit we received from initiatives to reduce costs and improve profitability from last year which included the absence of the expense for those actions we have had. Negatively impacting first quarter GAAP net income were lower radio remote control, appliance and data solutions sales, higher expenses for net interest, intangible amortization, income tax, stock-based compensation and net tariffs as well as the impact of foreign currency translation. Our first quarter tax rate of 20.5% was impacted by discrete items recorded during the period.

Excluding the impact of these discrete items, our first quarter tax rate would have been approximately 16.5% which is comparable to the first quarter of last year. Our expected rate for the remainder of the fiscal year is expected to be lower than we experienced in the first quarter. Therefore, in spite of a higher than anticipated effective tax rate in the first quarter, we now estimate that our tax rate will be in the range of 18% to 20% in fiscal 2020, slightly lower than the 18% to 21% rate announced in June.

China tariffs continue to be a headwind, although we're aggressively working to mitigate the impact on our results. In the first quarter, our net tariff expense of $0.3 million also included tariff revenue reimbursement offsets related to fiscal '19, which were agreed to during the first quarter by some of our customers. Therefore, the amount recognized in the first quarter does not represent a run rate for the remainder of the year. We expect the net impact of tariffs to be higher for the remaining quarters of fiscal '20, but lower than the $8.5 million net expense we estimated during our fiscal '19 earnings call. We also are closely monitoring the announcement from last week, that tariffs could increase to 30% from 25% beginning on October 1. Currently, we believe tariffs for the fiscal year will be in the range of $4.5 million to $5.5 million at the current 25% tariff rate.

Moving to margins on Slide 11. First quarter GAAP gross margins and non-GAAP adjusted gross margins improved 120 basis points year-over-year in fiscal '20. Gross margins improved due to Grakon sales, partially offset by the negative impact of foreign currency translation and reduced Hetronic sales. Non-GAAP adjusted gross margins, exclude expenses for initiatives to reduce costs and improve profitability in the applicable period.

First quarter GAAP selling and administrative expenses as a percentage of sales decreased 120 basis points year-over-year, positively impacted by the absence of the expense for operational improvements and the benefit of those improvements, lower acquisition costs and foreign currency translations and by selling and administrative expense attributable to Grakon which is lower as a percentage of sales than Methode as a whole.

Non-GAAP selling and administrative expenses as a percentage of sales which exclude acquisition related costs and expense for operational improvements still improved 60 basis points year-over-year in the first quarter of fiscal '20.

Shifting to EBITDA on Slide 12. The company generated a record $50.3 million in the fiscal '20 first quarter or 18.6% of sales versus $36.8 million or 16.5% of sales in the same period last year. However, adjusting for expenses for initiatives to reduce overall costs and improve operational profitability and acquisition related costs in the applicable period, first quarter 2019 adjusted EBITDA was $38.2 million or 17.1% of sales.

A few additional items to review. Year-over-year intangible asset amortization expense in the fiscal '20 first quarter increased $2.9 million or 152.6% to $4.8 million, primarily due to the amortization expense related to the Grakon acquisition. In the fiscal '20 first quarter, we had invested approximately $13 million in capex, mainly to support programs and launches in North America and Europe. Expense for depreciation and amortization for the fiscal '20 first quarter was $11.8 million.

Let's move to Slide 13. Free cash flow for fiscal '20 first quarter was $26.9 million. Our debt to EBITDA ratio, which is used for our bank covenants is approximately 1.6. We paid down nearly $11 million in debt during the quarter. And since purchasing Grakon, we've reduced our debt by $85 million. We ended the quarter with just over $73 million in cash.

Move to Slide 14. I'll finish up my remarks with guidance. As a reminder, the guidance ranges for fiscal '20 are based upon management's expectations regarding a variety of factors and involve a number of risks and uncertainties which have been detailed in this morning's release, and the Form 10-Q and our Form 10-K.

As we announced this morning, we affirmed fiscal '20 sales in the range of $1.13 billion to $1.17 billion, pre-tax income in the range of $150.3 million to $164.3 million and earnings per share in the range of $3.25 per share to $3.55 per share.

As discussed during our last earnings call, the majority of our new automotive and e-bike program launches will not be in full production volumes until the second half of the fiscal year. Additionally, the laundry care program is anticipated to launch in our fiscal third quarter.

While our estimated tariff expense is now potentially lower than originally anticipated, market choppiness related to a number of industry wide and macro headwinds will continue to impact our fiscal year. These include the shift away from sedans and traditional passenger cars, the dollar strengthening against most major currencies and the anticipated softening in the commercial vehicles markets in the second half of our fiscal year.

For fiscal '20, we are estimating capital investment to be in the $48 million to $54 million range and depreciation and amortization to be between $51 million and $54 million. Lastly, we expect our fiscal '20 free cash flow to be between $122 million and $136 million.

In conclusion, please move to Slide 15 to look at the key drivers of our anticipated EBITDA performance for fiscal '20. Looking at EBITDA based on our $155 million EBITDA in fiscal '19, adding EBITDA from new automotive and laundry program launches of about $19 million, adding EBITDA from a full-year of Grakon, which is about $21 million, subtracting the impact of the loss EBITDA from reduced passenger car production, which we estimate to be around $14 million, adding the benefit of the initiatives to reduce costs and improve profitability of about $11 million and adding back the one-time costs we incurred in fiscal 2019 for acquisitions and restructuring of about $29 million.

Don, that concludes my comments.

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

Ron, thank you very much. And Jess, we are ready to take questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] We'll go first to Chris Van Horn of B. Riley FBR.

Chris Van Horn -- B. Riley FBR -- Analyst

Good morning. Thanks for taking my call and congrats on the quarter.

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Chris.

Chris Van Horn -- B. Riley FBR -- Analyst

I just want to dig a little bit deeper, if we could, on the award activity, because it seems like you had a strong quarter in terms of awards across the Board here. Any any sort of drivers that stuck out to you either from a competitive standpoint or just from a customer -- customer pickup perspective?

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure. We've said this in the past. Methode is somewhat unique and that we are seasoned automotive manufacturer and we are in the bus bars business. And so our awards, in other words, at the cash probably were in electrification, come from that fact where we supplied Tesla for a number of years, we've got a good track record there. So it's not necessarily surprising that we are getting other business we've announced, with Volkswagen, and now we've got Rivian and several others. So I think that makes us somewhat unique. Then some of the lighting wins is just, Grakon doing a good job of booking business and Methode as well. And some quarters are better than others. This was a good booking quarter. I think last quarter was a little lighter, but that was a nice quarter, $30 million wins hitting $21 million and $22 million, will definitely help offset organic growth.

Chris Van Horn -- B. Riley FBR -- Analyst

Okay, got it. And then maybe on that point, I remember when you made the Grakon acquisition, there was a lot of -- there was a lot of possibilities or opportunities, if you will, to get with your existing customers, who you were supplying, as well as kind of showcase some of the, maybe traditional Methode capabilities to some of Grakon's great customers. Have you seen that come to fruition?

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

We've done that, I think we talked about it last quarter, we've done the Tech Days for many of the key customers that has given us opportunities. We've got some, some opportunities that we're working on, but at this point, nothing major to announce, but we are we're seeing progress there for sure.

Chris Van Horn -- B. Riley FBR -- Analyst

Okay, OK. I did notice during the quarter, which was like acquisition-related costs and profitability improvement costs came down, almost eliminated, if you will. Are there other -- do you see that coming back up in the other quarters or for the year or do you feel like you've kind of made all the moves that you need to make in that department?

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

Sorry about acquisitions, first, I mean, obviously, if we did an acquisition, we'd have some additional acquisition cost. But we have nothing pending that would significantly impact the P&L. And last year, very quickly, we took actions to reduce our costs as soon as we saw those declining revenues. Again, we have nothing planned this year, so we don't anticipate any costs there. But it's a very challenging environment, so I wouldn't rule that out, if things went or declined further. But we have nothing, we have nothing planned.

Chris Van Horn -- B. Riley FBR -- Analyst

Okay, OK. And then I guess last for me. The free cash flow profile is looking really strong. Maybe a two part question. One, is that capex number that you gave us, majority growth capex? And then two, with this free cash, what are your kind of plans going forward, dividend, share repurchases, etc.?

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

The majority of -- Ron, will comment on it. But the majority of the $48 million is for growth. And as you know all of the programs take a fair amount of capital to launch and we've got launches going on throughout the year here. So that's a good portion of that. I'm drawing a blank on that one -- but we will use free cash, I mentioned that.

Ronald L.G. Tsoumas -- Vice President of Corporate Finance & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. So we're certainly looking at, this growing our business, and deleveraging until we're going to support organic growth and to support the growth of the business and possible future acquisitions. And until then, just deleverage. So, we pay a quarterly dividend and have for many years and we will continue to return capital to the shareholders in that regard. But mostly, we would focus on future growth, organic and inorganic.

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. And our -- until we find an appropriate acquisition, our mission is to reduce our debt. I think that's the best way of serving the shareholders, let's get our debt down even further.

Ronald L.G. Tsoumas -- Vice President of Corporate Finance & Chief Financial Officer

That's a good point. Then 1.6 adjusted EBITDA ratio we get it to 1.5, we then get some relief on our interest rate and unused line fees. So that's a pretty big number for us that we want to get to do as quickly as we can.

Chris Van Horn -- B. Riley FBR -- Analyst

Okay, great. Thanks so much for the time this morning.

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Chris.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] We'll go next to Steve Dyer, Craig-Hallum Capital Group.

Ryan Sigdahl -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Hey, guys. Ryan Sigdahl for Steve.

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

Good morning.

Ryan Sigdahl -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

So you mentioned the Generation 2 Dabir system for patient care areas outside of operating room. Do you expect a similar ramp, I guess, is a legacy product there, or are there different structural dynamics between an operating room versus other patient care areas of a hospital?

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

No. Gen 2 was developed as we said for the patient care areas, but also to go into post acute and say, I mean, it's just a more advanced system than we had, Generation 1, Generation 1 will continue to be used in operating rooms, we're not obsolete in that. It's just that we felt that we needed a smaller -- and a portion of Gen 2, is a battery operated lithium ion. So I think it doesn't really change the basic therapeutic value, it's just a different controller.

Ryan Sigdahl -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

But there is no reason to believe that you could launch faster or expand into hospitals quicker with this new Generation 2 product?

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

It was designed with a lot of input from post acute and what we learned from Gen 1, I don't think that would accelerate the Dabir's adoption, it's -- Dabir, as we've said, is a design and so you really have to go and prove the efficacy of the product, whether it be Gen 1 or Gen 2.

Ryan Sigdahl -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Can -- yes, go ahead.

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

Let me, just make one more -- another point there. When you go into ICU, you go into med surg, there are more, there are obviously more beds, so there's larger available market. But again, I don't think the Gen 2 enables that, it's just doing the design and we continue to do in the operating rooms. I'm sorry, I interrupted you.

Ryan Sigdahl -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Yeah, no, I was just going to ask one still presumably the Gen 1 in the operating room has proved out the efficacy and et cetera. Will that carry over or do you need to go kind of start from step one here with this product or can you use some of that -- leverage some of that previous experience there with this product?

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

In a hospital that has used Gen 1 in the operating room, no, you don't have to go through another trial, the efficacy is proven now. We're doing a trial now and in a new hospital system and they decided they wanted to use it in ICU first versus operating room and again, that's a new new opportunity. So it's a new trial. But presumably, that trial will be successful if they wanted to use it in [Indecipherable] area, if they wanted to go into the operating room, they wouldn't do another trial.

Ryan Sigdahl -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Got it. I'll leave it there with Dabir. Switching over to industrial, margins were really solid, 37.4% in the quarter. Where do you think that can go over the next few quarters kind of with all the crosscurrents with a bunch of synergy potential, but also a softening in the commercial market, et cetera.

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

That's a very good question. We are going to see softening in a commercial market that's built into our second half, that does impact margins. We have a number of cost improvement programs going on particularly in our Chinese operation for Grakon. Some of those will offset that reduced margin from volume. But I don't -- I wouldn't anticipate that we're going to see higher than what we forecasted. There's just too many headwinds, that may [Indecipherable], but I don't see that -- we'll hold our own, let's put it that way by the initiative, but that was our design. And Ron.

Ronald L.G. Tsoumas -- Vice President of Corporate Finance & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, I would just add to that maybe that product is part of that group too as well. So any headwinds there could degrade the margins a little bit. It was a great quarter, as you noted, 37% -- over 37% margin and I think our target, we had low to mid 30s. So that's, we really -- we crossed it this quarter for sure. And we have seen some softening in electronic European business now, we think that will continue into the second quarter. We'll see what happens in Q3 and Q4. But we've seen some softening there, a very good margin on product for us. So if we see decline, then that obviously affect margins.

Ryan Sigdahl -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

And maybe just to clarify, I think I heard two different things, are that, this year, it relates to all the headwinds, but potentially that margins could expand next year, fiscal '21 and going forward. But I also heard kind of low to mid 30% gross margin. So maybe, I guess...

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

What I think -- well, we've said there.

Ronald L.G. Tsoumas -- Vice President of Corporate Finance & Chief Financial Officer

In the press release we've communicated.

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, we've communicated as our target.

Ronald L.G. Tsoumas -- Vice President of Corporate Finance & Chief Financial Officer

As the target this quarter was obviously higher than that. But as I said there's pressure on that margin.

Ryan Sigdahl -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Got it. Last one for me. And then I'll turn it over. So on Slide 8, I'm showing the content on the two different EV vehicles between $200 to $300. Maybe how does that compare to a different platform, say GM's truck and SUV platform?

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

If I look at the average sale price, and right now we're a combination K2 and T1, it's all $150. So I know a lot of volume. But what we've seen with with PI, with Grakon and our own bus bar business. We've been able to add content to these vehicles quite nicely. Now, again, it's up to 700,000 units, you see from GM. But the their retail price is higher and the margin is better.

Ryan Sigdahl -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Great. Thanks, guys, and good luck.

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Mr. Duda. At this time, I have no other questions holding. I'll turn the conference back for any additional or closing remarks.

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

Alright, thank you, Jess. Thank everyone for listening and have a very safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 32 minutes

Call participants:

Donald W. Duda -- Chief Executive Officer

Ronald L.G. Tsoumas -- Vice President of Corporate Finance & Chief Financial Officer

Chris Van Horn -- B. Riley FBR -- Analyst

Ryan Sigdahl -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

More MEI analysis

All earnings call transcripts

AlphaStreet Logo

More From The Motley Fool

This article is a transcript of this conference call produced for The Motley Fool. While we strive for our Foolish Best, there may be errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in this transcript. As with all our articles, The Motley Fool does not assume any responsibility for your use of this content, and we strongly encourage you to do your own research, including listening to the call yourself and reading the company's SEC filings. Please see our Terms and Conditions for additional details, including our Obligatory Capitalized Disclaimers of Liability.

Motley Fool Transcribers has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

This article was originally published on Fool.com