Acuity Brands, Inc. (AYI - Free Report) reported impressive results in third-quarter fiscal 2020. Earnings and revenues surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate but declined year over year. Strength in go-to-market channels, product portfolio and supply chain allowed the company to effectively serve customers.
Backed by strong results and solid gross margin improvement, investors’ sentiments might have got a boost. Consequently, the stock recorded 7.2% growth on Jun 30.
Neil Ashe, president and chief executive officer of Acuity Brands, said, “We are demonstrating the durability of our business and our continued ability to generate cash. However, there is still great uncertainty around demand and the timing of any economic recovery. Also, we expect pricing pressure and continued costs related to tariffs in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020. As we look forward, we plan to continue to balance the management of our costs with the investment in our transformation and we have a robust new product portfolio that is positioned to benefit from a recovery in demand.”
The company reported adjusted earnings of $1.94 per share that comfortably surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.29 by 50.4%. However, the said metric declined 23.3% from the year-ago reported figure, primarily due to lower pre-tax income.
Acuity Brands Inc Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
Net sales during the quarter totaled $776.2 million, which marginally topped the consensus mark of $774.63 million. However, the reported figure declined 18.1% from $947.6 million in the prior-year quarter. The downside was caused by a 20% decline in volume, mainly due to lower demand owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, partially offset by 2% contribution from acquisitions.
Gross margin improved 170 basis points (bps) on a year-over-year basis to 42.2% despite lower volume. The improvement can be attributed to benefits from acquisitions, favorable channel mix and lower input costs, partly offset by reduced average selling prices.
Adjusted selling, distribution and administrative or SD&A expenses — contributing 28.7% to net sales — grew 250 bps from the year-ago figure. The increase was due to higher acquisition-related costs. Adjusted operating profit margin came in at 13.5%, down 80 bps year over year.
As of May 31, 2020, Acuity Brands had cash and cash equivalents of $520.6 million compared with $461 million at the end of fiscal 2019. In the first nine months of fiscal 2020, cash provided by operating activities totaled $378.3 million, reflecting an increase from $312 million in the prior-year period.
Acuity Brands — which shares space with Orion Energy Systems, Inc. (OESX - Free Report) , Energy Focus, Inc. (EFOI - Free Report) and LSI Industries Inc. (LYTS - Free Report) in the same industry — currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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