Minneapolis, MN - Tennant Company, a world leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing of solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world, reported net earnings of $5.8 million, or $0.31 per diluted share, on net sales of $184.0 million for the first quarter ended March 31, 2014. In the 2013 first quarter, Tennant reported net earnings of $5.1 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, on net sales of $168.1 million. The 2013 first quarter included two special items: a restructuring charge of $0.05 per diluted share to rightsize the European operations and a $0.03 per diluted share tax benefit related to the retroactive reinstatement of the 2012 U.S. Federal R&D Tax Credit. Excluding these special items, adjusted 2013 first quarter earnings totaled $5.5 million, or $0.29 per diluted share.
Commented Chris Killingstad, Tennant Company's president and chief executive officer: “We are pleased to report record revenues for a first quarter and double-digit organic growth, with higher sales across all of our geographies. The implementation of our growth strategy is off to a strong start in 2014, as we strive to reach $1 billion in revenues by 2017. All of our key drivers to reach this target performed well in the first quarter, and we anticipate continued sales gains and improved profitability as the year progresses.”
First Quarter Operating Review
The company's 2014 first quarter consolidated net sales of $184.0 million rose 9.5 percent compared to the prior year quarter. Unfavorable foreign currency exchange reduced consolidated net sales by approximately 1 percent. Organic net sales, which exclude the impact of foreign currency exchange (and acquisitions when applicable), increased approximately 10.5 percent.
Contributing to 2014 first quarter results was continued demand for newly introduced products, especially the T12 rider scrubber, which is the first new product in Tennant’s redesigned modular large equipment portfolio, as well as strong sales of industrial equipment and sales through distribution and to strategic accounts. Sales of scrubbers equipped with ec-H2O™ technology grew 11.7 percent compared to the first quarter of 2013.
Geographically, sales increased 8.1 percent in Tennant’s largest region, the Americas, or 10.1 percent organically, excluding an unfavorable foreign currency exchange impact of about 2.0 percent. Sales in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) were up 9.9 percent, or 5.4 percent organically, excluding a favorable foreign currency exchange impact of about 4.5 percent. EMEA results benefited from higher sales through distribution, as well as increased sales of Green Machines™ outdoor sweepers. Sales in the Asia Pacific region (APAC) increased 18.3 percent, rising approximately 25.8 percent organically, excluding an unfavorable foreign currency exchange impact of about 7.5 percent. The APAC organic sales gain was broad based and included continued strong sales performance in China, which had approximately 50 percent organic sales growth in the 2014 first quarter.
Tennant's gross margin in the 2014 first quarter was 41.8 percent compared to 43.1 percent in the prior year quarter. Gross margin in the 2014 first quarter was impacted by the mix of products sold, and also the selling channel mix, with strong sales through distribution and sales to strategic accounts. The company anticipates gross margin for the 2014 full year will be in its target range of 43 percent to 44 percent due to expected benefits from recently enacted selling price increases.
Research and development (R&D) expense for the 2014 first quarter totaled $7.5 million, or 4.1 percent of sales, compared to $7.5 million, or 4.5 percent of sales, in the prior year quarter. The company continued to invest in developing innovative new products for its traditional core business, as well as in its Orbio Technologies Group, which is focused on advancing a suite of sustainable cleaning technologies.
Selling and administrative (S&A) expense in the 2014 first quarter totaled $60.2 million, or 32.7 percent of sales. S&A in the 2013 first quarter was $58.1 million, or 34.6 percent of sales, and $56.7 million as adjusted, or 33.7 percent of sales as adjusted. Tennant continued to gain leverage in S&A spending due to cost controls and operating efficiencies.
Tennant's 2014 first quarter operating profit was $9.2 million, or 5.0 percent of sales, versus an operating profit of $6.9 million, or 4.1 percent of sales, in the year ago quarter. As adjusted, Tennant’s operating profit in the prior year quarter was $8.3 million, or 5.0 percent of sales.
Cash from operations, which is typically negative in the first quarter due to the seasonality in the business, totaled a negative $3.9 million compared to a positive $7.3 million in the year earlier quarter. The company's total debt was $28.2 million, down from $31.8 million at the end of the prior year quarter. Cash on the balance sheet rose to $63.4 million, up from $49.8 million a year ago. Reflecting Tennant’s ongoing commitment to enhancing shareholder return, the company paid cash dividends of $0.18 per share in the 2014 first quarter and repurchased 58,158 shares at a cost of $3.6 million.
New Product and Technology Pipeline
Tennant Company continues to have the most robust new product pipeline in its history. The company plans to launch more than 63 new products and technologies between 2014 and 2016, on top of 37 new products that were introduced from 2012 to 2013.
“The introduction of new products and technologies is important to our revenue growth. We are encouraged by customers’ responses to our new and expanded product lines, and we are excited to add a variety of new core equipment models and sustainable technologies to our portfolio this year and into the future,” said Killingstad.
In 2014, Tennant is launching nine products in the first half of the year, followed by seven new products in the second half. Among the 2014 first quarter new product highlights, Tennant introduced a line of walk-behind burnishers. These new core equipment offerings are engineered to improve the customers’ cleaning performance and operator safety, lower operating costs and reduce environmental impact.
In April, the Orbio Technologies Group from Tennant Company introduced the Orbio® os3, which uses Split Stream™ Technology to deliver on-site generation of an anti-microbial solution, as well as an effective multi-surface cleaner, for use in a wide variety of customer segments. The Orbio os3 is small enough to fit inside most janitorial closets.
Tennant remains committed to being an industry innovation leader and aims to set the standard for sustainable cleaning around the world.
Tennant Company Targets $1 Billion in Revenues By 2017
Earlier this year, Tennant announced its growth strategy to reach sales of $1 billion by 2017. The plan reflects the fact that over the past five years, Tennant has been building a scalable business model capable of delivering improved operational efficiency and profitability. To take full advantage of that effort, the company has shifted its focus to organic revenue growth to increase market share and enhance the organization’s ability to reach a 12 percent or above operating profit margin.
Stated Killingstad, “We have identified opportunities to increase our market coverage and customer penetration in underserved markets where our value proposition is compelling. The robust organic sales gains we saw in the first quarter are an early indication that we are on the right path. We have been investing in additional direct sales, distribution and marketing capabilities to accelerate growth.”
Tennant plans to meet its objectives through a strong new product pipeline in both the core business and in the Orbio Technologies Group, continued gains in emerging markets, growth in Europe, focus on strategic accounts and an enhanced go-to-market strategy designed to significantly expand its global market coverage and customer base.
Based on its 2014 first quarter results and expectations of future performance, Tennant Company continues to estimate 2014 full year net sales in the range of $780 million to $800 million, up 4 percent to 6 percent, and earnings in the range of $2.50 to $2.80 per diluted share, an increase of 11 percent to 24 percent, compared to 2013, as adjusted. The company anticipates that its 2014 earnings will be stronger in the second half of the year, as its growth investments gain further traction and generate incremental revenues and profits. For the 2013 full year, adjusted diluted earnings per share totaled $2.26 on net sales of $752 million. (See the Supplemental Non-GAAP Financial Table.)
The company's 2014 annual financial outlook includes the following expectations:
- Modest economic improvement in North America and Europe, and steady growth in emerging markets;
- Unfavorable foreign currency impact on sales for the full year of approximately 1 percent;
- Gross margin performance in the range of 43 percent to 44 percent;
- R&D expense of approximately 4 percent of sales, as the company continues to invest in its core products and in water-based cleaning technologies; and
- Capital expenditures in the range of $20 million to $22 million.
“We will continue to focus on growth, building on an excellent start to 2014 with the first quarter results,” said Killingstad. “At the same time, we are committed to operational excellence and strong cost controls, in order to deliver improved profitability.”