Armstrong World Industries, Inc. (AWI - Free Report) reported fourth-quarter 2018 results, wherein adjusted earnings of 80 cents per share missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 84 cents by 4.8%. However, the reported figure increased 56.3% from 51 cents per share in the prior-year quarter.
Net sales of $238.9 million were almost in line with the consensus mark of $239 million. The reported figure increased 11.4% year over year, driven by higher average unit values ("AUV") in the Mineral Fiber segment from positive pricing and mix, as well as strong volume in the Architectural Specialties segment.
Cost of sales grew 2.3% from the prior-year quarter to $156.8 million. Gross profit increased 34.4% from a year ago to $82.1 million in the reported quarter.
Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses increased 38.1% year over year to $45.3 million.
Operating income grew 21% year over year to $52.5 million. Adjusted EBITDA improved 16.1% year over year to $79 million. Both the improvements were mainly backed by higher sales and increased equity earnings from WAVE. However, higher SG&A expenses and plant closure costs, lower environmental insurance recoveries, along with increased input and manufacturing costs partially offset the positives.
Mineral Fiber (80.1% of total sales): Net sales in the segment were up 7.8% year over year to $191.3 million, backed by higher AUV (up 5%) and volume (up 3%).
Operating income grew 19.9% to $48.9 million in the quarter, attributable to higher sales and equity earnings from WAVE, partly offset by increased SG&A expenses, along with greater manufacturing and input costs. Moreover, adjusted EBITDA grew 17.5% from the prior-year quarter to $71 million.
Architectural Specialties (19.9%): The segment’s sales increased 29.3% year over year to $47.6 million, owing to increased market penetration and new construction activity that contributed to strong volume growth. Acquisitions of Plasterform and Steel Ceilings also led to the upside.
The segment’s operating profit declined 14.1% year over year to $6.1 million, mainly due to higher SG&A expenses. Nonetheless, adjusted EBITDA grew 4.8% from the year-ago level to $8 million.
Adjusted earnings came in at $3.66 per share, reflecting an increase of 21.2% from $3.02 earned in the year-ago period. Full-year net sales advanced 9.1% from the 2017 level to $975.3 million. Adjusted EBITDA came in at $353 million, up 10.7% from $319 million a year ago.
Armstrong World reported cash and cash equivalents of $335.7 million at the end of 2018 compared with $159.6 million at 2017-end.
Net cash flow provided by operations was $203.2 million in 2018 compared with $170.4 million recorded in 2017.
In 2018, the company invested $72 million or more than 7% of sales in capital expenditures. Also, it made acquisitions for a total purchase price of $22 million, initiated 17.5 cents per share quarterly dividend and repurchased $307 million of stock.
Armstrong World expects high-single digit sales growth in the year, backed by volume gains in Architectural Specialties, AUV expansion in Mineral Fiber and acquisitions.
Net sales are expected to grow in the range of 7-10%. This is expected to be fueled by volume gains in Mineral Fiber, new products as well as sales initiatives, continued AUV expansion, organic growth of 15% in Architectural Specialties, and acquisitions.
The company expects adjusted EBITDA to grow more than 10%, backed by higher sales growth, ongoing productivity and earnings from WAVE.
Free cash flow is expected to grow more than 20% from 2017.
Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider
Armstrong World currently has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).
You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Some better-ranked stocks in the Zacks Construction sector include Altair Engineering Inc. (ALTR - Free Report) , Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (JEC - Free Report) and Frontdoor, Inc. (FTDR - Free Report) , each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
Altair Engineering, Jacobs and Frontdoor’s earnings are expected to grow 69.8%, 13.4% and 10.5%, respectively, in the current year.
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