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Raven Industries Reports $100 Million in Quarterly Sales
South Dakota Ag Connection - 12/02/2019

Raven Industries, Inc., Sioux Falls, S.D., reported financial results for the third quarter that ended October 31, 2019.

Net sales for the third quarter of fiscal 2020 were $100.5 million, down 4.1 percent versus the third quarter of fiscal 2019. Each division experienced a modest year-over-year decline in net sales. Applied Technology was unfavorably impacted by the continued challenges in the North American ag market, while the decline in Engineered Films' net sales was primarily driven by lower sales into the Industrial market. Aerostar achieved growth in its radar platform, but prior year net sales of approximately $2 million in aerostats, along with unfavorable timing of stratospheric balloon contracts resulted in a year-over-year decrease in net sales.

Operating income for the third quarter of fiscal 2020 was $11.3 million versus operating income of $13.6 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2019, decreasing 16.7 percent year-over-year. The year-over-year decline was primarily driven by increased investments in research and development and selling activities and negative operating leverage as a result of lower sales volume. Operating income included a pre-tax gain of $1.9 million on the sale of Applied Technology's facility in Austin, Texas. During the third quarter, the Company also recognized $0.4 million of transaction expenses related to the acquisition of Smart Ag and controlling ownership in DOT.

Net income for the third quarter of fiscal 2020 was $9.9 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, versus net income of $13.0 million, or $0.36 per diluted share, in last year's third quarter. The Company's effective tax rate for the third quarter of fiscal 2020 was 13.0 percent, increasing 4.4 percentage points year-over-year. The year-over-year volatility in the effective tax rate was primarily due to timing of discrete tax items related to the settlement and vesting of equity compensation awards. The Company's effective tax rate, excluding discrete items, was 15.3 percent, and 3.4 percentage points lower than the third quarter of last year.

The Company recently announced details of its five-year strategic plan, which includes significant investments in two targeted areas in order to drive a step change in long-term earnings growth. These two strategic growth platforms, Raven Autonomy and Raven Composites, are directly aligned with the Company's business model, which is to serve market segments with strong growth prospects in both the near and long term. Raven Autonomy is expected to enable Applied Technology to capitalize on the rapidly developing market for autonomous agriculture solutions, while Raven Composites is expected to position Engineered Films to execute on near-term opportunities in the ever-expanding composites market.

Raven Autonomy is expected to propel the Company's Applied Technology Division to become the industry leader in autonomous agricultural solutions. The Company recently announced two transactions -- acquisition of Smart Ag and investment in the controlling ownership interest of DOT -- as part of the execution of the Raven Autonomy strategy. These acquisitions will allow the division to build upon its existing machine control technology while innovating smart machine platforms and implements to achieve fully-autonomous solutions across the farming enterprise. Integration efforts are underway for both transactions.

The Company's Engineered Films Division is an industry leader in both high-performance plastic films and sheeting. Raven Composites will build on the division's core strengths and expand Engineered Films to become an industry leader in the adjacent reinforced composites market. By leveraging the division's reinforced materials expertise, Engineered Films will innovate solutions that deliver thinner, lighter and stronger composites within the transportation, construction, automotive and packaging markets.

Execution of the strategy will include increased investment in research and development, acquisitions, partnerships, capital expenditures and business development activities in order to execute the Company's specific initiatives and strategies for the advancement of Raven Autonomy and Raven Composites. Given the significance of the planned investments, it is expected that operating income for the Company will be lower during the next two fiscal years (FY 2021 and FY 2022) while Raven Autonomy and Raven Composites become established and sales ramp. The investment in Raven Autonomy, excluding acquisition-related expense, is expected to add $4 to $5 million in incremental expenses in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020.

At the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2020, cash and cash equivalents totaled $77.1 million, increasing $8.0 million from the prior quarter. The sequential increase in cash was driven primarily by improved net working capital and facilities optimization.

During the third quarter of fiscal 2020, the Company repurchased 169 thousand shares at an average price of $29.50 per share for a total of $5.0 million. Year-to-date, the Company has repurchased $10.8 million of shares. The Company's remaining repurchase authorization is approximately $17 million.

Net sales for Applied Technology in the third quarter of fiscal 2020 were $28.5 million, down 4.2 percent year-over-year. Unfavorable weather and poor yield conditions during this year's growing season in North America negatively impacted end market demand more than the Company had anticipated. This weakness in end market demand resulted in additional OEM plant shutdowns during the third quarter, which drove a 13.5 percent decrease in sales to the OEM channel. Despite these end market challenges, the Aftermarket channel showed signs of strength and grew 4.8 percent year-over-year aided by the first shipments of VSN, the Company's best-in-class visual guidance technology.

Division operating income in the third quarter of fiscal 2020 was $7.0 million, down $0.7 million or 9.1 percent versus the third quarter of fiscal 2019. The year-over-year decrease was driven by negative operating leverage as a result of lower sales volume, temporarily higher warranty expenses and increased investments in research and development to support the division's continued commitment to innovation. Operating income also included a pre-tax gain of $1.9 million from the sale of Applied Technology's facility in Austin, Texas.

Net sales for Engineered Films in the third quarter of fiscal 2020 were $56.4 million, down $1.8 million or 3.1 percent year-over-year. The division achieved impressive gains in the agriculture, construction and installation end markets; however, these gains were offset by lower sales into the industrial market and challenges in the geomembrane market (specifically in the energy sub-market).

Division operating income in the third quarter of fiscal 2020 was $8.5 million, down $0.8 million or 8.3 percent versus the third quarter of fiscal 2019. Negative operating leverage on lower sales volume reduced operating income compared to the prior year.

Net sales for Aerostar in the third quarter of fiscal 2020 were $15.7 million, down $1.4 million or 8.0 percent versus the third quarter of fiscal 2019. The division achieved growth in its radar platform; however, the year-over-year decrease of approximately $2 million in aerostat sales and the unfavorable timing of stratospheric balloon contracts resulted in a year-over-year decrease in net sales. Aerostar's sales to government agencies often involve large contracts subject to frequent delays and protracted negotiation processes. The timing and size of aerostat contract wins can create volatility in Aerostar's results.

Division operating income in the third quarter of fiscal 2020 was $2.5 million, down $1.4 million versus the third quarter of fiscal 2019. Higher selling expenses and increased investment in research and development drove a reduction in operating income as the division continued its investment in advancing its radar and stratospheric balloon technologies. Additionally, operating income was unfavorably impacted by negative operating leverage on lower sales volume year-over-year.

The North American ag market continues to be negatively impacted by unfavorable weather and low commodity prices, while U.S.-China trade developments continue to drive uncertainty in the marketplace and negatively impact farmer sentiment. These factors have reduced farm income, and OEMs have responded with lower production of new machines. In the short term, the Company does not anticipate improvement in ag market conditions nor an increase in demand for precision agriculture equipment.

The energy market in the third quarter experienced slower demand compared to prior year's third quarter, as West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil prices and Permian Basin rig counts were down 21 percent and 14 percent year-over-year, respectively. The Company expects energy market related demand for Engineered Films to follow Permian Basin rig count trends for the remainder of the year.

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