St. Louis, MO - Emerson announced that sales for the second quarter ended March 31, 2014 declined 2 percent, with the Artesyn divestiture deducting 5 percent and acquisitions adding 1 percent.
Underlying sales increased 2 percent, as orders timing, disruptive winter weather and weak first quarter GDP growth in the U.S., and slower implementation of large projects in the global process industry hampered growth. By geography, the U.S. grew 3 percent, Asia increased 4 percent, including China up 9 percent, and Europe was up 1 percent, while Middle East/Africa declined 9 percent following robust growth in the prior year. More positively, orders growth of 9 percent reflected stronger market conditions, particularly toward the end of the quarter, driving March up over 15 percent, as orders benefited from large, multi-year industrial projects, recovering demand for capital goods, and improvement in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
Gross profit margin improved 140 basis points from the prior year to 41.2 percent, reflecting portfolio changes and cost containment. Offsetting the margin gains, pretax earnings comparisons were unfavorably affected by $35 million from currency volatility and $34 million from losses in the Artesyn Technologies equity investment (formerly the embedded computing and power business), primarily due to significant restructuring costs. As a result, earnings per share equaled the prior year at $0.77.
Operating cash flow of $575 million was unchanged from the prior year, as strong cash generation offset the Artesyn divestiture impact. Strategic growth and productivity investments increased capital expenditures versus the prior year, resulting in lower free cash flow. Substantial cash returns to shareholders continued in the quarter, with $1.2 billion allocated to dividends and share repurchase year to date, and an equal amount invested in acquisitions. Expectations for full year operating cash flow of $3.4 billion remain unchanged, reflecting solid execution after last year's record performance.
The second quarter results reflect several unanticipated external factors, including unusual weather and weaker business investment in the U.S., and a more cautious approach by customers on large global project execution, said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David N. Farr. âLooking through these issues, operational performance was strong, with improving profitability and solid cash flow. As we had been expecting, order trends accelerated significantly late in the quarter, with momentum expected to continue as global economies strengthen. Demand improvement along with continued technology and capacity investments are expected to drive stronger growth in the second half and next year.
Business Segment Highlights
Process Management net sales grew 4 percent and underlying sales increased 1 percent, as acquisitions added 4 percent and currency translation deducted 1 percent. Global oil and gas, power, and chemical markets continued to support growth, although customers stretched out execution of large projects, slowing down the pace of spending and reflecting a more cautious sentiment. At the same time, customers proceeded with plans for future investment, as orders increased 12 percent in the quarter, driving up backlog and providing momentum for growth into next year. By geography, underlying sales in the U.S. grew 8 percent, Europe was up 4 percent, and Asia declined 1 percent, as softness and difficult comparisons in India and Australia offset continued strength in China. Segment margin of 18.2 percent declined, in large part due to $31 million (150 basis points) in unfavorable currency impact compared to the prior year. As order trends suggest, high levels of investment continue in process automation markets, led by strengthening demand in North America, supporting a solid growth outlook.
Industrial Automation sales increased 2 percent as demand improved for capital goods, particularly in emerging markets, which were up 6 percent. The U.S. and Europe were flat, as sales across mature markets were unchanged from the prior year, while Asia grew 6 percent, with robust growth in China. Modest growth in the fluid automation, motors and drives, electrical distribution, and hermetic motors businesses offset modest declines in the mechanical power transmission and power generating alternators businesses. Segment margin decreased slightly to 15.2 percent. Order trends accelerated significantly in February and March across the segment, led by double-digit growth in the power generating alternators business, supporting the expectation for sales growth improvement in the second half of the year.
Network Power net sales decreased 21 percent and underlying sales grew 1 percent, as the Artesyn divestiture deducted 21 percent and currency translation deducted 1 percent. Underlying sales in the U.S. grew 1 percent, Europe decreased 3 percent, and Asia increased 4 percent. The global telecommunications infrastructure business experienced solid growth, led by North America and Europe. Demand was mixed in data center markets, as growth in Asia and North America was more than offset by weakness in Europe and Latin America. Segment margin expanded 70 basis points to 8.2 percent, reflecting portfolio changes and continued strategic investment programs. Expectations remain unchanged for modest growth in 2014, as robust orders growth in large, multi-year projects strengthened backlog and provides momentum into next year.
Climate Technologies net sales increased 5 percent, led by strength in global refrigeration markets, with transportation particularly robust. Underlying sales grew nearly 6 percent, as currency translation deducted less than 1 percent, with the U.S. up 2 percent, Asia up 11 percent, and Europe up 3 percent. The U.S. air conditioning business increased moderately, with mid-single-digit growth in residential markets and low-single-digit growth in the commercial business. Strong demand in China drove growth in Asia, led by the refrigeration, solutions, and temperature sensors businesses. Market conditions continued to improve in Europe. Segment margin improved 20 basis points to 17.9 percent. Refrigeration markets are expected to remain strong, along with improving market conditions in the U.S.
Commercial & Residential Solutions sales grew 1 percent, as harsh winter weather contributed to 1 percent decline in the U.S., which was more than offset by 8 percent growth in international markets. Strong growth in the professional tools, wet/dry vacuums, and food waste disposers businesses offset declines in the storage businesses. Segment margin of 21.4 percent improved slightly from the prior year quarter. After a slow to start to the year, U.S. residential and commercial construction markets are expected to improve, supporting stronger growth in the second half.
Robust orders growth in the quarter reflects continued improvement in the global macroeconomic environment, although uncertainty persists in some markets, especially the U.S. after anemic GDP growth in the first calendar quarter. Based on current market conditions, the outlook for 2014 is unchanged, with underlying sales growth of 3 to 5 percent and net sales of (1) to 1 percent, reflecting completed acquisitions, divestitures, and currency translation. Margin improvement expectations remain unchanged, excluding the Artesyn equity investment loss, and the earnings per share outlook is reaffirmed at $3.68 to 3.80 on a reported basis.
The slower than expected sales growth in the second quarter increases pressure on the second half of the year, but the strong orders inflection suggests momentum is building, Farr said. âContinued short-cycle orders strength and conversion of elevated backlog will be key for meeting expectations in 2014. Current demand trends indicate the pace of growth should accelerate into next year.