U.S. Markets close in 2 hrs 13 mins

Universal Electronics (UEIC) Q1 2019 Earnings Call Transcript

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

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Universal Electronics (NASDAQ: UEIC)
Q1 2019 Earnings Call
May. 02, 2019, 4:30 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Q1 2019 Universal Electronics earnings conference call. [Operator instructions] As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded.  I would now like to introduce your host for today's conference, Kirsten Chapman, LHA investor relations. Kirsten?

Kirsten Chapman -- LHA Investor Relations

Thank you, Nova, and thank you all for joining us for the Universal Electronics first-quarter 2019 financial results conference call. By now, you should have received a copy of the press release. If you've not, please contact LHA at 415-433-3777 or visit the investor relations section of the website.  This call is being broadcast live over the internet.

A webcast will be available for one year at www.uei.com. Any additional material, nonpublic information that might be discussed during this call will be provided on the company's website where it will be retained for at least one year. You may also access that information by listening to the webcast replay.  After reading a short safe harbor statement, I'll turn the call over to management.

More From The Motley Fool

During the course of this conference call, management may make projections or other forward-looking statements regarding future events and future financial performance of the company including the company's ability to anticipate the needs and wants of its customers and timely develop and deliver products and technologies that will meet those needs and wants, including the company's advanced control products, which include continued adoption of our recently announced Nevo Butler, nevo.ai digital assistant, voice remote control and intuitive two-way home entertainment technologies by existing and new customers; the continued incorporation of our QuickSet technologies, including QuickSet Cloud, into customers product as expected by management; the continued acceptance and growth of the company's connected home products and technologies including security and control, temperature controllers and automation and other sensing technologies identified in this call; the timing of new product rollout orders from the company's customers as anticipated by management; the continued trend of the industry toward providing consumers with more advanced technologies; the ability to successfully identify and enter existing and new adjacent markets for our products and technologies; the ability to attract and obtain new customers for our products and technologies; management's ability to manage its business to achieve its net sales margins and earnings as guided including management's ability to provide improved operating costs and efficiencies at acceptable levels through cost containment efforts including moving our administrative operations and manufacturing facilities to lower cost jurisdictions and due to the effects of the changes in laws, regulations and policies that may have on our business during the impact of trade regulations pertaining to importation of products and tariffs imposed on them; and other factors described in the company's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Management wishes to caution you that these statements are just projections and actual results or events may differ materially from those projections. The company entertains no obligation to revise or update these statements to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after today's date.

For further detail on risk, management refers you to the press release mentioned at the onset of this call and the documents the company files from time to time with the SEC, including the annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018, and the periodic reports filed thereafter. These documents contain and identify various factors, which along with the risks identified on this call could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in management's projections or forward-looking statements. In management's financial remarks, adjusted non-GAAP metrics will be referenced. Management provides adjusted non-GAAP metrics because it uses them for budget planning purposes and for making operational and financial decisions.

Management believes that providing these non-GAAP financial measures to investors as a supplement to GAAP financial measures helps investors evaluate UEI's core operating and financial performance and trends consistent with how management evaluates such performance and trends. Management believes these metrics facilitate comparisons with the core operating and financial results and business trends of competitors and other company. A full description and reconciliation of these adjusted non-GAAP measures versus GAAP is included in the company's press release issued today. Additionally, please note we are no longer including the effects of constant currency and ASC 606 revenue recognition in our non-GAAP financial statements.

As a result, the prior year, 2008 non-GAAP figures as previously reported have been adjusted to reflect these changes. On the call today are Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Paul Arling, who will deliver an overview, and Chief Financial Officer Bryan Hackworth, who will summarize the financials. Paul will then return to provide closing remarks.  It is now my pleasure to introduce Paul Arling.

Please go ahead, sir.

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Good afternoon, and thanks for joining us today. During the first quarter, we delivered revenue of 182.7 million, performed well across the board and exceeded our bottom line expectations with EPS of $0.82. We are known for providing innovative wireless control and sensing solutions that help our customers differentiate their offerings and exceed their end users' expectations. As more and more consumers' desire voice-enabled automation in home entertainment and home control, our connected voice-enabled platforms give our business customers a clear path to transition to their next technology.

 Our advanced cloud-enabled products are capturing more opportunities and serving a wider array of customers than ever before. Leading companies across the world from broadband, cable, satellite and telecom service providers to consumer electronics OEMs to new market entrants in home automation are counting on us to develop their next-generation products. I'll provide more details about the first quarter. While there are many wins, we cannot discuss due to confidentiality, I will highlight a few we can mention.

Our net sales include continued penetration within our existing customer base. As many of you know, our subscription broadcasting channel customers are expanding into delivering broadband-enabled, over-the-top video services by advanced streaming set-top platforms based on Android TV and Pebble-enabled platforms, and UEI is at the forefront of many of the advanced voice remote controls that enable seamless interaction with these services.  In our security and home automation channels, our business continues a healthy growth trajectory as we secure more product wins and unit shipments at customers such as Ring, Daikin and Trane. For our consumer electronics channel, licensing of our embedded and QuickSet Cloud services continues to show momentum as we added another major TV platform to our growing customer base, and our existing QuickSet customers, Sony and Samsung, continue to grow within the smart TV market segment.

We recently added Verizon to our list of advanced platform customers. We are proud to be working with them on their new FiOS remote for their recently introduced advanced TV platform. In addition, our development teams across the world continue to work on a growing list of new products for all our market channels that will begin shipping later this year and into next year. Also as you know, in January at CES, we unveiled Nevo Butler, our new smart home hub that leverages nearly all of our innovative developments including QuickSet, nevo.ai and smart home sensors, enabling bring us to enter adjacent markets and expand our offerings to existing and prospective customers.

Nevo Butler is garnering strong customer interest across all our channels. We are currently in alpha release for internal testing. We expect to go into beta late this quarter and to be ready for market introduction later this year. Our commercial teams just went through extensive product training over the past week and are actively engaged with several Tier 1 accounts with the goal of commercial deployment in early 2020, if not sooner.

 As discussed in February, during the first quarter, we began proactively implementing tactics to offset the impact of the Section 301 tariffs, optimize our footprint, streamline our business and reduce general expenses to free resources for strategic investments. Since Q3 of last year, we have been actively engaged in the daunting task of moving 40% of our production volume from China to our facility in Monterrey, Mexico, and the third-party facility in the Philippines. Because this factory transition was driven by punitive tariffs put in place last year, we have been trying to accomplish as quickly as possible what would normally take place over a two-year time period. While this transition has been extremely challenging, we have made significant progress and are still on track to complete our facility transition this summer.

We are extremely proud of the accomplishments to date of our operations teams in these regions and those involved in this transition across the world. I'd now like to turn the call over to our CFO Bryan Hackworth for review of the financials.

Bryan Hackworth -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Paul. As a reminder, our results for the 2019 first quarter as well the same period in 2018 will reference adjusted non-GAAP metrics. First-quarter net sales grew by approximately 11% to 182.7 million from a 165.2 million in the first quarter of 2018. The growth in our top one is driven by the recent launches of higher-end platforms by existing customers, a newly acquired customer and continued strength in home automation.

 Gross profit was 47.2 million or 25.8%, compared to 23.9% in the first quarter of 2018. Operating expenses were $32.6 million, compared to 33.4 million in the first quarter of 2018 as we are utilizing savings from our corporate restructuring effort to invest in future products, technologies and markets. R&D expenses 6.6 million, an increase of 11%, compared to 5.9 million in the first quarter of 2018. SG&A was 26 million compared to 27.5 million.

 Operating income was 14.6 million, up from 6.1 million in the prior year. Our effective tax rate was 14.9%, compared to 17.8% in the prior-year quarter. Net income was 11.3 million or $0.82 per diluted share, compared to 4.1 million or $0.29 per diluted share in the prior-year period. Next, I'll review our cash flow and balance sheet at March 31, 2019.

Cash and cash equivalents were 44.9 million, compared to 53.2 million at December 31, 2018. Our cash conversion cycle approximated 119 days as of the first quarter of 2019, compared to 118 days in the first quarter of 2018. We expect our cash conversion cycle to improve significantly by this summer, driven by an increase in inventory churns as we complete the transition of approximately 40% of production volume from China to Mexico and the Philippines.  Now turning to our guidance.

We expect our second quarter to reflect strong improvement compared to a challenging second quarter last year when certain customers reduced orders ahead of their platform transitions. For the second quarter of 2019, we expect sales to range between 178 and 188 million representing 10 to 16% growth, compared to 162.4 million in the second quarter of 2018. EPS is expected to range from $0.70 to $0.80, compared to $0.15 in the second quarter of 2018. While we only provide detailed guidance for the next quarter, we would like to make a few general comments on our outlook for the remainder of 2019.

We expect sales in the back half of the year to follow its typical seasonality with sales in Q3 to be greater than Q4. Our goal on gross margin percentage for the year is in the 26% range plus or minus a point. Our expense efficiency should continue. However, as we've said before, we'll continue to invest in technology and product development to continue our long-standing leadership in bringing differentiated solutions to the market, as well as investing in the people that help us succeed.

Our actions to reduce overhead costs may be offset by these important investments as well the variable costs associated with sales growth.  While tax rates may very quarter-to-quarter, we expect the effective tax rate for the year to be in the low 20% range. I'll now like to turn the call back to Paul.

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Brian. We are well positioned to capture increasing demand for advanced products from traditional and new market players. We are making great progress, improving our manufacturing capability to cost effectively support the growing demand for our products and services. Further, our 2019 strategic initiatives to streamline the business are beginning to deliver increased operating efficiencies, allowing us to further invest in our future.

Overall, we believe our continued focus on growth through technology, innovation and best-in-class product quality and delivery should result in continued growth and increased profitability and shareholder value. Stay tuned.  Operator, we now like to open up the call for questions.

Questions & Answers:


Operator

[Operator instructions] Our first question comes from the line of Steve Frankel of Dougherty. Sir, you may begin.

Steve Frankel -- Dougherty and Company -- Analyst

Great. So Paul, let's start with kind of on that transfer of 40% of the production volume out of China. Where do you think you are now along that continuum?

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Well, I don't have the exact percentage, Steve, but it's greater than half at this point, and we expect to be in a better position obviously by the end of this quarter going into Q3.

Steve Frankel -- Dougherty and Company -- Analyst

OK. And maybe an update on how many advanced remote new designs are shipping in the front half of 2019? And how many more scheduled for the back half of '19, assuming these customers stay on plan?

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I don't have the specific number for that. But as we've said before, the number they're shipping, some of which are public. Obviously, Comcast has been out for quite a number of years, but have additional plans. DISH, many of the major operators are out.

Some are not yet. I think it would be a safe bet to say that most, if not all, of the major operators in the higher ARPU countries, here in the U.S., Western Europe, across most of the major markets in the world, have a plan -- either are out or about to come out or have a plan to come out with a next-generation product akin to what we've done with others, two-way, IP and cloud-enabled products. Some of which are delivered over the top with an advanced product that will control it, voice enabled, typically. So if you look in the public sphere for companies, you can probably see many of the products that are out.

Some of them, who are newly out, haven't let us publicize that yet, but you could probably find them. And if you find a major operator in a country like the U.S. that isn't out yet, you should presume that they're probably -- more than likely working on one.

Steve Frankel -- Dougherty and Company -- Analyst

Is there any major operator somewhere in the world that has an advanced remote that's not using you? What's your market share in the advanced remote market -- states?

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

It's nearly 100%. I can't think of one. There may be one, but there -- most of them are working with us. They may have multiple vendors.

We do have situations where we license IP and/or a chip or other technologies to allow customers to have multiple vendors, but in most cases, we're involved with the technical development of the platform.

Steve Frankel -- Dougherty and Company -- Analyst

OK. And are you still breaking up the business between business and consumer? I think you, Bryan, mentioned those numbers.

Bryan Hackworth -- Chief Financial Officer

Well, I did. I mean consumers is the smaller percentage of the total, and I just -- I felt -- but nowadays, this is not as relevant as it was -- once was.

Steve Frankel -- Dougherty and Company -- Analyst

OK. And how about 10% customers during the quarter?

Bryan Hackworth -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, we had two this quarter. We had Comcast at 15.7 and DISH at 10.7.

Steve Frankel -- Dougherty and Company -- Analyst

And the cash flow was better on a year-over-year basis, but still not positive in terms of free cash flow. When do you think you can get to generating cash? Is that in the back half as production situation normalizes?

Bryan Hackworth -- Chief Financial Officer

Correct. I think if you want to believe in the path we've had strong cash flow from operations for the full year, Tier 1 is always late. We typically stretch out vendors toward the end of the year and then you end up paying in Q1 a little earlier. I think what's going to happen with us is with the transition from China to Mexico for about approximately 40% of production, that's going to help improve inventory and that's going to free up significant amount of cash in the back half of the year.

Steve Frankel -- Dougherty and Company -- Analyst

OK. And then Paul, on Nevo Butler, could you characterize a couple of different use cases of how people and your customer base or new customers to UEI might leverage Butler?

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Yeah, there's a variety of ways that they're doing it. Obviously, at the core of it is an AV platform, voice-enabled AV platform. Some are considering it one of the features, maybe not the only feature, but one of the main features is that it will allow systems to voice enable what was once nonvoice-enabled.

I guess it's the best way to say it. So there's customers that have platforms in the field that are not hardware enabled for voice and this would allow them to become voice enabled. There are other players who are interested in this, because they haven't developed their voice platform as completely yet and they realize that the world is moving this direction, so they feel that this would be a -- maybe a faster and easier way for them to adopt voice more quickly. That stretches across market segments or channels, meaning it's not just cable, satellite, broadband, telecom, but also some of the other channels we serve.

So those are probably the main ones. There's is a great deal of interest in this. Obviously, this is a major movement in the industry toward voice-enabled entertainment. And that the addition of additional products that can go along with it to enable services is also of interest to a lot of the channels that were -- with the Tier 1 accounts that have become very interested in this.

Because they may not have had the ability or plans to add those additional services, which can generate revenue for them and this would enable them to do that.

Steve Frankel -- Dougherty and Company -- Analyst

OK. And then last one. Any update on new customer or new wins in the home automation sector?

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I mean, I think, we've mentioned a few names here. I can't speak always about specific projects, because some of them again aren't public, but we did mention Ring, Daikin and Trane. Those are not all new, but obviously the way these customer relationships work is that there are often new projects within those accounts.

That get one and either we have begun shipping them or we'll soon. So on home automation side, those would be the big names.

Steve Frankel -- Dougherty and Company -- Analyst

All right. Thank you so much

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Jeff Van Sinderen from B. Riley & Company.

Jeff Van Sinderen -- B. Riley and Company -- Analyst

Yeah, first, I'd like to just say congratulations on the progress you're making on a number of fronts. Maybe you can just touch on Mexico. What the remaining hurdles are there to get to the targeted levels during this summer? And do you feel like the risk of getting to those levels is reduced at this juncture?

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Well, yes. I mean we're starting to feel more confident in our ability as we go through this. I don't know that there aren't still a lot of challenges and risks; there certainly are. It's just more or less -- you have to get up to capacity, so when we move a program, you have to make sure that the new facility is getting up to efficiency, because any new project at a factory, and this is true when we move our projects within China, when they go to the new location, the project usually isn't as efficient as it was in the old location, because it was a well-drilled-out process in the old location and it's new to the new location.

So just getting up to capacity, getting the processes, machines in place and then having the workers move up the experience curve to get it to a well-worn process within the new facility. That's what we're going through right now. Many -- most of the projects have been transferred already, major customers for certain, but we're still going through the process of getting them all up to capacity at the new location.

Jeff Van Sinderen -- B. Riley and Company -- Analyst

OK, fair enough. And then just turning back to the home security and automation segment. Anything you can give us in terms of order of magnitude on revenues that we might be thinking about this year? And then if you could, Nevo Butler, just wondering, I know you talked about it a bit, but just think about, I guess, the sequence of development start getting initial orders and how you envision the product being deployed at first, if there is any, you could say about that?

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Sure, yeah. As far as home automation, we haven't provided a breakout on that yet. We did last year. Obviously, we updated that our home control sales had reached over 130 million.

We do expect further growth in that this year, but haven't provided any specific guidance to that. We may as the year progresses, but we aren't currently providing any numbers on that, except to say that it is continuing to grow. As far as Nevo Butler is concerned, it will vary by customer. Obviously, there is a hardware sale component to it, the Butler itself.

But there are also potential, with every relationship, potential other products that would be associated with the system that would be sold into. That could be either other AV control products or sensing devices. For instance, if they were enabling those services through their new implementation, those details will get further into as this year progresses. As we said in the earlier remarks, the product will be ready later this year, but we expect to have something in the year 2020, maybe sooner.

So we'll roll out details of those relationships and the architecture of those systems as we get closer to the date of rollout.

Jeff Van Sinderen -- B. Riley and Company -- Analyst

OK. Great. And then just on the move to Arizona, just wondering if you feel like at this point, you pretty much are through the hiring and the changes that you needed to make and that's pretty much behind you. Is that the case?

Bryan Hackworth -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, I would say we're probably 85% to 90% of the way through the transition to Arizona in terms of initial phase. So all the departments, finance, accounting, HR and IT were far long, and I feel like we're again by 90% of the way through. And maybe two more people we need to hire, but the hard part is over with. And we're well-situated.

Jeff Van Sinderen -- B. Riley and Company -- Analyst

OK great. Thanks for taking my questions and best of luck this quarter.

Operator

[Operator instructions] Our next question comes from the line of Greg Burns from Sidoti & Company.  Your line is open.

Greg Burns -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

[Audio gap] chain constraints that resulted in some orders being -- the shipments and some orders being delayed. Did you have a similar dynamic this quarter?

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, Greg, I think we missed the front part of your question, but I think your question is revolving around delayed orders from quarter-to-quarter. Is that correct?

Greg Burns -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

Yes, yes. I just want to see if you had a same dynamic?

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, we did, obviously, last quarter on this call three months ago, were still probably at that point where there were some orders that we were not able to ship in Q1, will be in Q2. We think we'll be largely caught up with that at the end of this quarter.

Greg Burns -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

OK. Great. And then, looking at the pipeline for your advanced remote rollout. You called out a number at the end of -- a few rollouts at the end of last year.

As we look at the balance of the year, what's your visibility on just maybe, not specific customers, but maybe the pipeline or the number of rollouts that you might have over the next six months?

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, there will a few more, but I think that the bigger impact will be from the volume as we get with these. The rollout of these systems usually go slowly at first and then accelerate. So we do see -- there still are obviously active projects that we're working on that have not been introduced yet, but we're also feeling the impact of some of the ones that have already launched currently.

Greg Burns -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

OK. And I guess, last quarter, with some of the rollouts, I guess, you didn't give a specific name, but you talked about a net new North American customers. Is that Verizon? Or is that FiOS?

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. We did mention Verizon and FiOS. We are more proud to be working with them on their new FiOS advanced platform.

Greg Burns -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

OK. So that's the same one you referenced last quarter.  OK. Thank you.

Operator

And sir, I'm showing no further questions in the queue at this time, and I would now like to turn the call back to Paul Arling, CEO and chairman, for closing remarks.

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

All right. Thank you for joining us today and your continued support of Universal Electronics. A couple of things, in May, we will present at B. Riley's 20th Annual FBR institutional investor conference in Beverly Hills, and in June, we'll be at the Baird 2019 global consumer technology and services conference in New York.

Hope to see you at one or both of those. Thank you very much for being on the call today, and have a great day.

Operator

[Operator signoff]

Duration: 31 minutes

Call participants:

Kirsten Chapman -- LHA Investor Relations

Paul Arling -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Bryan Hackworth -- Chief Financial Officer

Steve Frankel -- Dougherty and Company -- Analyst

Jeff Van Sinderen -- B. Riley and Company -- Analyst

Greg Burns -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

More UEIC analysis

All earnings call transcripts

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 Transcribing 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.