Highlights of 2015/16 Half-Year Results
- Group sales US$1,022 million — down 5% compared to the first half of prior financial year. Excluding currency effects, sales increased by 2%
- Gross profit margin decreased to 27.6% from 30.2%
- EBITDA US$163 million or 16.0% of sales (15.9% in prior year)
- Operating margin 11.2% (11.6% in prior year)
- Net profit attributable to shareholders down 11% to US$98 million or 11.1 US Cents per share on a fully diluted basis
- Total debt to capital ratio of 13% and cash reserves of US$678 million as of 30th September 2015
- Interim dividend increased by 7% to 15 HK Cents per share (1.92 US Cents per share)
- Acquisition of Stackpole International completed on 27th October 2015
Johnson Electric Holdings Limited (“Johnson Electric”) (HKSE: 179), a global leader in electric motors and motion subsystems, today announced its results for the six months ended 30th September 2015.
Group sales for the first half of the 2015/16 financial year totaled US$1,022 million, a decrease of 5% over the first half of the prior financial year. Excluding currency effects, underlying sales increased by 2%. Net profit attributable to shareholders decreased 11% to US$97.8 million or 11.1 US Cents per share.
The Group’s business strategy of strengthening its technology capabilities and expanding its global operating footprint continues to make excellent progress. During the first half, Johnson Electric announced the acquisition of Stackpole International, a leading manufacturer of highly-engineered pumps and powder metal components, as well as the opening of a second manufacturing facility in Mexico. Notwithstanding the difficult current macro-economic environment, these and other strategic initiatives are positioning Johnson Electric for sustained success.
Overview of Financial Results
The Automotive Products Group (“APG”), which contributed over two-thirds of total sales, increased sales by 5% on a constant currency basis compared to the first half of the prior year. The division continues to perform well overall with particularly encouraging underlying performances achieved in the Engine & Transmission, Powertrain Cooling and Actuation Systems business units. However, the significant market presence that these businesses enjoy in Europe means that their reported sales were negatively affected by the weak Euro compared to the US Dollar. During the second quarter of the financial year, APG’s sales to Asian based customers also showed signs of softening as the slowdown in China’s economy and other developing economies began to impact automotive sales volumes.
In the face of an especially challenging market in China, sales of the Industry Products Group (“IPG”) declined by 4% in constant currency terms compared to the same period in the prior year. End-market demand for many of our customers’ products remains rather tepid and this combined with intense price competition for lower-end product applications resulted in a disappointing performance by IPG’s Asian-based business units. On the other hand, those business units focused on more technology-differentiated motion solutions, including MedTech and Meter & Circuit Breakers, fared much better and recorded healthy double-digit sales increases.
Significant productivity improvements and lower raw material costs helped to minimise the negative impact of reduced sales revenue and higher wage rates, particularly in China. The investment in building out our manufacturing footprint in Mexico and Eastern Europe is also acting as a drag on near term profitability as anticipated. As a result, gross margins in the period declined to 27.6% from 30.2% in the first half of the prior year. A reduction in selling and administrative costs combined with gains from foreign currency hedging and increased other income resulted in operating profits of US$114.9 million or 11.2% of sales (11.6% in the prior year).
Johnson Electric maintained its strong financial condition with a total debt to capital ratio of 13% and cash reserves of US$678 million as of 30th September 2015.
Increased Interim Dividend
The Directors have today declared a 7% increase in the interim dividend to 15 HK Cents per share, equivalent to 1.92 US Cents per share (2014 interim: 14 HK Cents per share). This is consistent with the previously announced intention to increase gradually the ratio of interim dividends such that it represents approximately one-third of the prior financial year’s total dividends paid. The interim dividend will be payable on 6th January 2016 to shareholders registered on 28th December 2015.
Acquisition of Stackpole International
In August 2015, Johnson Electric announced plans to acquire Stackpole International, a leading manufacturer of highly-engineered automotive engine and transmission pumps and powder metal components. The transaction, which valued Stackpole at C$800 million on an enterprise value basis, was completed on 27th October 2015 and was financed by a combination of Johnson Electric’s cash balances and existing revolving credit facilities.
Improving fuel economy and reducing emissions are pivotal drivers of automotive technology today — and Johnson Electric is a market leader in supplying key motion subsystems to support these imperatives. The addition of Stackpole’s pumps technology and powder metal expertise is an excellent fit that will enable the Group to provide integrated motorised pumps to customers in a rapidly growing market for electrically controlled solutions in engine and transmission applications. In addition, the acquisition significantly increases Johnson Electric’s exposure to the North American automotive market which is presently experiencing strong demand.
Chairman’s Comments on Results and Outlook
Commenting on the first half results, Dr. Patrick Wang, Chairman and Chief Executive, said, “Johnson Electric recorded somewhat weaker financial results for the six month period ended 30th September 2015 against a backdrop of adverse foreign currency movements and a weakening global economic environment.”
“In the face of such difficult conditions, Johnson Electric remains focused on those parts of the business where management has a reasonable degree of influence. First, this means directing our energies to serving customers whose products are aligned to the key underlying trends that will drive long-term consumer demand — including the imperatives to reduce emissions, lower fuel consumption, improve health and safety, and increase mobility and controllability. Second, it requires a relentless effort to improve efficiency and continue to eliminate waste from our operations. Third, we are aggressively expanding a global operating footprint that provides greater customer responsiveness and reduced exposure to foreign currency volatility or single country risk. And lastly, it means continuing to invest in building a team of people who are committed to making our customers successful and to growing a world-class company that can share in that success.”
Concerning the outlook for the remainder of the current financial year, Dr. Wang commented, “We expect underlying sales levels to be broadly similar to the first half with the weak Euro and slowdown in China’s economy continuing to exert pressure on both the top and bottom lines. Full year results will also include a five month contribution from the acquisition of Stackpole International and consequently will be affected by one-time transaction expenses. We look forward to Stackpole making a positive impact on the Group’s earnings base over time.”
“Looking further ahead, I remain confident that despite the challenging operating environment Johnson Electric is pursuing a strategy that will strengthen its competitive position and form the basis for an improved long-term growth and profit trajectory.”
Note to Editors and Securities Analysts: The full text of the Half-Year Results announcement, including additional financial information, is available through the Investor Relations section of Johnson Electric’s website at www.johnsonelectric.com.
About Johnson Electric Group
The Johnson Electric Group is the global leader in electric motors and motion subsystems. It serves a broad range of industries including automotive, building automation and security, business machines, food and beverage equipment, home technologies, HVAC, industrial equipment, medical devices, personal care, power equipment and power tools. The Group is headquartered in Hong Kong and the total global headcount stands at over 37,000 individuals located in Asia, the Americas and Europe. Innovation and product design centres are located in Hong Kong, China, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Israel, Japan, the UK and the USA. Johnson Electric Holdings Limited is listed on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (Stock Code: 179). For further information, please visit: www.johnsonelectric.com.
Not company earnings, not data but vaccines now steering investor sentiment
By Marc Jones and Dhara Ranasinghe
LONDON (Reuters) – Forget economic data releases and corporate trading statements — vaccine rollout progress is what fund managers and analysts are watching to gauge which markets may recover quickest from the COVID-19 devastation and to guide their investment decisions.
Consensus is for world economic growth to rebound this year above 5%, while Refinitiv I/B/E/S forecasts that 2021 earnings will expand 38% and 21% in Europe and the United States respectively.
Yet those projections and investment themes hinge almost entirely on how quickly inoculation campaigns progress; new COVID-19 strains and fresh lockdown extensions make official data releases and company profit-loss statements hopelessly out of date for anyone who uses them to guide investment decisions.
“The vaccine race remains the major wild card here. It will shape the outlook and perceptions of global growth leadership in 2021,” said Mark McCormick, head of currency strategy at TD Securities.
“While vaccines could reinforce a more synchronized recovery in the second half (2021), the early numbers reinforce the shifting fundamental between the United States, euro zone and others.”
The question is which country will be first to vaccinate 60%-70% of its population — the threshold generally seen as conferring herd immunity, where factories, bars and hotels can safely reopen. Delays could necessitate more stimulus from governments and central banks.
Patchy vaccine progress has forced some to push back initial estimates of when herd immunity could be reached. Deutsche Bank says late autumn is now more realistic than summer, though it expects the northern hemisphere spring to be a turning point, with 20%-25% of people vaccinated and restrictions slowly being lifted.
But race winners are already becoming evident, above all Israel, where a speedy immunisation campaign has brought a torrent of investment into its markets and pushed the shekel to quarter-century highs.
(Graphic: Vaccinations per 100 people by country, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/azgvolalapd/Pasted%20image%201611247476583.png)
SHOT IN THE ARM
Others such as South Africa and Brazil, slower to get off the ground, have been punished by markets.
Britain’s pound meanwhile is at eight-month highs versus the euro which analysts attribute partly to better vaccination prospects; about 5 million people have had their first shot with numbers doubling in the past week.
Shamik Dhar, chief economist at BNY Mellon Investment Management expects double-digit GDP bouncebacks in Britain and the United States but noted sluggish euro zone progress.
“It is harder in the euro zone, the outlook is a bit more cloudy there as it looks like it will take longer to get herd immunity (due to slower vaccine programmes),” he added.
The euro bloc currently lags the likes of Britain and Israel in terms of per capita coverage, leading Germany to extend a hard lockdown until Feb. 14, while France and Netherlands are moving to impose night-time curfews.
Jack Allen-Reynolds, senior European economist at Capital Economics, said the slow vaccine progress and lockdowns had led him to revise down his euro zone 2021 GDP forecasts by a whole percentage point to 4%.
“We assume GDP gets back to pre-pandemic levels around 2022…the general story is that we think the euro zone will recover more slowly than US and UK.”
The United States, which started vaccinating its population last month, is also ahead of most other major economies with its vaccination rollout running at a rate of about 5 per 100.
Deutsche said at current rates 70 million Americans would have been immunised around April, the threshold for protecting the most vulnerable.
Some such as Eric Baurmeister, head of emerging markets fixed income at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, highlight risks to the vaccine trade, noting that markets appear to have more or less priced normality being restored, leaving room for disappointment.
Broadly though the view is that eventually consumers will channel pent-up savings into travel, shopping and entertainment, against a backdrop of abundant stimulus. In the meantime, investors are just trying to capture market moves when lockdowns are eased, said Hans Peterson global head of asset allocation at SEB Investment Management.
“All (market) moves depend now on the lower pace of infections,” Peterson said. “If that reverts, we have to go back to investing in the FAANGS (U.S. tech stocks) for good or for bad.”
(GRAPHIC: Renewed surge in COVID-19 across Europe – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/xegvbejqwpq/COVID2101.PNG)
(Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe and Marc Jones; Additional reporting by Karin Strohecker; Writing by Sujata Rao; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
BlackRock to add bitcoin as eligible investment to two funds
By David Randall
(Reuters) – BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest asset manager, is adding bitcoin futures as an eligible investment to two funds, a company filing showed.
The company said it could use bitcoin derivatives for its funds BlackRock Strategic Income Opportunities and BlackRock Global Allocation Fund Inc.
The funds will invest only in cash-settled bitcoin futures traded on commodity exchanges registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the company said in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.
A BlackRock representative declined to comment beyond the filings when contacted by Reuters.
Earlier this month, Bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, hit a record high of $40,000, rallying more than 900% from a low in March and having only just breached $20,000 in mid-December.
Bitcoin tumbled 10.6% in midday U.S. trading Thursday.
Other U.S.-based asset managers will likely follow BlackRock’s lead and add exposure to bitcoin in some form to their go-anywhere or macro strategies as the cryptocurrency market becomes more liquid and developed, said Todd Rosenbluth, director of mutual fund research at CFRA.
“It’s easy to see how strong the performance has been of late and look at a historical asset allocation strategy that would have included a slice of crypto and how returns would have been enhanced as a result,” he said. “Large institutional investors are going to be able to tap into the futures market in a way that a retail investor could not do.”
There is currently no U.S.-based exchange-traded fund that owns bitcoin, limiting the ability of most fund managers to own the cryptocurrency in their portfolios.
BlackRock Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink had said at the Council of Foreign Relations in December that bitcoin is seeing giant moves every day and could possibly evolve into a global market. (https://bit.ly/2XXFHrB)
(Reporting by David Randall; Additional reporting by Radhika Anilkumar and Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Lisa Shumaker)
Bitcoin slumps 10% as pullback from record continues
LONDON (Reuters) – Bitcoin slumped 10% on Thursday to a 10-day low of $31,977 as the world’s most popular cryptocurrency continued to retreat from the $42,000 record high hit on Jan. 8.
The pullback came amid growing concerns that bitcoin is one of a number of financial bubbles threatening the overall stability of global markets.
Fears that U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration could attempt to regulate cryptocurrencies have also weighed, traders said.
(Reporting by Julien Ponthus; editing by Tom Wilson)
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