Simpson Manufacturing Co., Inc. (NYSE:SSD) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript

Simpson Manufacturing Co., Inc. (NYSE:SSD) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript February 6, 2023

Operator: Greetings, and welcome to the Simpson Manufacturing Co. Fourth Quarter 2022 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A brief question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Kim Orlando with ADDO Investor Relations. Thank you, Kim. You may begin.

Kim Orlando: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Simpson Manufacturing Company's fourth quarter and full year 2022 earnings conference call. Any statements made on this call that are not statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements. Such statements are based on certain estimates and expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual future results may vary materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. We encourage you to read the risks described in the company's public filings and reports, which are available on the SEC's or the company's corporate website. Except to the extent required by applicable securities laws, we undertake no obligation to update or publicly revise any of forward-looking statements that we may make here today, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Please note that the company's earnings press release was issued today at approximately 04:15 PM Eastern Time. Earnings press release is available on the Investor Relations page of the company's website at Today's call is being webcast and a replay will also be available on the Investor Relations page of the company's website. Now, I would like to turn the conference over to Mike Olosky, Simpson's President and Chief Executive Officer.

Mike Olosky: Thanks, Kim. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining today's call. With me today is Brian Magstadt, our Chief Financial Officer. 2022 marked a year of strong financial and operational performance for Simpson despite a challenging operating environment. I'd like to thank our team for their dedication towards our mission of building safer, stronger structures and their commitment to executing on our growth strategy. I'd also like to acknowledge Karen Colonias for her immense contributions to Simpson during her time as CEO and throughout her 38-year tenure with the company, including laying the foundation for this next chapter of growth. I assumed the role of Simpson's Chief Executive Officer at the start of the year, and I am humbled and excited to lead the team as we continue to focus on our company ambitions.

I worked closely alongside the Simpson management team as we put together these ambitions, which we unveiled in the spring of 2021, and remain committed to achieving these goals. As a reminder, our ambitions are to: first, strengthen our values-based culture; second, be the partner of choice; third, be an innovation leader in the markets we operate; fourth, continue above-market growth relative to U.S. housing starts; and fifth, continue expanding our operating income margin and return on invested capital within the top quartile of our proxy peer group. Almost two years in, we are making solid advancements. We remain dedicated to being the partner of choice by maintaining our focus on customer service, which included a 97% product fulfillment rate in North America in 2022.

This helped us earn business with new customers in several of our market segments. Our commitment to providing innovative solutions included the rollout of many new products, and in line with the ambition number four, I am pleased to report that we grew our North American volumes above U.S. housing starts in 2022. Our progress has been fueled by our key ambitions and has been made possible by our strong business model, which is built on five key foundational elements: first, our longstanding reputation, relationships and engagement with building code committees, engineers and architects to improve construction practices and (ph) Simpson solutions; second, our commitment to innovation, exceptional service and education for engineers, builders and contractors; third, our rapid delivery standards on a very broad product line across multiple channels with delivery to our distribution partners or job sites in typically 24 to 48 hours; fourth, our extensive product engineering and testing capabilities at our state-of-the-art labs; and fifth, our increasing diverse portfolio of solutions and products resulting in a one-stop shop for our customers.

I'll now turn to an overview of our financial results, key growth initiatives and capital allocation priorities. Brian will then walk you through our Q4 financials and fiscal 2023 business outlook in greater detail. For the full year of 2022, Simpson generated net sales of $2.1 billion and earnings of $7.76 per diluted share. Our sales results reflect new customer wins, the impact of product price increases implemented throughout 2021 to offset rising material costs and $212.6 million contribution from ETANCO Group. We are pleased to have delivered these results, which reflect strong execution despite ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty, inflationary pressures and political unrest in Europe. In the fourth quarter of 2022, net sales totaled $475.6 million, an increase of 13.6% over prior year.

In North America, our net sales of $368.1 million decreased 1.4% year-over-year. And as a reminder, during the fourth quarter, we fully lapped the impact of our product price increases implemented throughout 2021. In addition, volume in North America was down compared to the prior year quarter due to ongoing macroeconomic challenges. Looking at our distribution channels in greater detail. Volume for our contractor distributor and dealer distributor customers was down due to primarily moderating housing starts, which was partially offset by a slight year-over-year improvement in volumes from our home center channel. This includes both our home center and co-op customers, and is where we see much of our repair, remodel and DIY business. Turning to Europe.

Fourth quarter sales totaled $103.7 million, which include a $64.9 million contribution from ETANCO and a negative impact of the strengthening U.S. dollar. The balance of our European operations experienced higher selling prices, partially offset by lower volumes resulting from the uncertain macroeconomic climate. Returning to ETANCO, we are pleased with the team's 2022 financial performance, which was in line with our expectations. We continue with our integration efforts, which remain mostly on track, and we look forward to continuing to benefit from our shared learnings in the coming year. We believe we remain well positioned to capture meaningful future gains from our previously identified synergies, however, the persistent macroeconomic climate in Europe will delay some of our offensive synergy opportunities.

Despite macroeconomic headwinds, we are still confident our European business will continue to progress given how we now offer a broader solution set to our customers, along with the ongoing transition to wood construction and regulatory requirements that encourage new construction solutions. Our consolidated gross margin for the fourth quarter was 42.2% compared to 47. 4% in the prior-year period. Compared to prior-year quarter and before considering the addition of ETANCO, our gross margin declined, as expected, as our average raw material costs increased and also partly due to higher factory, overhead and labor costs. Brian will further elaborate on the key drivers of our margin performance as well as our margin expectations for the upcoming year.

I'd now like to turn to a discussion on our end use markets, which encompass our key growth initiatives. We made solid traction throughout the fourth quarter in a challenging economic environment. Beginning with our commercial market. We are awarded a structural steel opportunity for a healthcare center in which our products will provide a means for bolted attachment of glass facades and temporary guard railings. As we had mentioned in the past, we anticipate our structural steel initiative will take longer to manifest versus our other initiatives as we continue to build the market. As part of our progress on this front, we held three large scale educational webinars during the quarter, which reached over 2,300 industry professionals to help increase awareness of our structural steel solutions among the specifying community.

In the OEM market, one of our focus areas is mass timber. We are pleased to have been awarded a project in Connecticut for a four-storey mixed use building for apartments and retail space. The building will feature cross-laminated timber walls and floors, utilizing Simpson's Strong-Tie mass timber fasteners and connectors. Within the national retail space, as part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we worked to replace slow-moving SKUs with innovative new and existing products in stores, as well as make great strides in our-e commerce initiative. In building technology, we've made a couple of strategic investments focused on creating solutions to help our customers be more efficient. These investments are strong additions to our existing portfolio of technology solutions and reinforce our ambition to be the partner of choice by providing solution sets to our customers that help both reduce construction timelines and address skilled labor shortages.

Now, turning to capital allocation. In 2022, we invested in the growth of our business, including $62.4 million in capital expenditures and returned 36.2% of our free cash flow to stockholders through the payment of $43.9 million in dividends and a repurchase of $78.6 million of common stock. In 2023, our capital allocation priorities will remain unchanged. We remain focused on organic growth opportunities, returning value to our stockholders via quarterly dividends and opportunistic share repurchases, and paying down the debt we incurred to finance the acquisition of the ETANCO. In regard to organic growth, we are focused on key investments to strengthen our business model, including our growth initiatives and the integration of ETANCO. We are also continuing to evaluate expansion opportunities, such as our previously announced Ohio manufacturing and distribution facility, as well as equipment investments to drive productivity and maintain our best-in-class customer service.

As it pertains to M&A, while the continued integration of ETANCO remains our priority, we remain open to potential M&A opportunities that would accelerate our key growth initiatives and strengthen our business model. In summary, we are pleased with our strong fourth quarter and full year financial and operational performance. Looking ahead to 2023, in North America, the combination of increasing interest rates, ongoing inflation, labor shortages and macroeconomic uncertainty has resulted in softer market forecasts for housing. In addition, while we benefited from the impact of product price increases in fiscal 2022, based on current pricing conditions, we enacted a price decrease on the majority of our products in North America earlier this year.

Company, Construction materials, Construction
Company, Construction materials, Construction

Photo by Mikita Yo on Unsplash

At the same time, we continue to operate in a higher cost environment, including factory, labor and overhead expenses. As Brian will discuss in more detail, these factors, as well as ongoing integration costs for ETANCO, will continue to pressure our operating margins in the year ahead, (ph) we are expecting our margins will be ahead of the pre-COVID run rate. Nevertheless, we are committed to ongoing expense management and executing the areas of business that we can control. While the operating environment will prove challenging, we continue to believe that Simpson remains well positioned for success given our ongoing focus on expansion into new markets, the majority of which is not directly tied to U.S. housing starts, along with our strong balance sheet, solid market position and culture of Simpson colleagues who remain deeply passionate about our mission of providing solutions to help people design and build safer, stronger structures.

We are confident in our ability to continue to achieve our company ambitions, including our goal to grow above-market relative to U.S. housing starts with profitability in the top quartile of our proxy peer group. Now, I'd like to turn the call over to Brian, who will discuss our fourth quarter financial results and 2023 outlook in greater detail.

Brian Magstadt: Thank you, Mike, and good afternoon, everyone. I'm pleased to discuss our fourth quarter financial results with you today. Before I begin, I'd like to mention that unless otherwise stated, all financial measures discussed in my prepared remarks today refer to the fourth quarter of 2022 and all comparisons will be year-over-year comparisons versus the fourth quarter of 2021. Now, turning to our fourth quarter results. As Mike highlighted, our consolidated net sales increased 13.6% to $475.6 million. Within the North America segment, net sales decreased 1.4% to $368.1 million, primarily due to lower sales volumes, partly offset by prior year product price increases. In Europe, net sales increased 150.3% to $103.7 million, primarily from ETANCO, which contributed $64.9 million in net sales, along with product price increases, partly offset by lower volumes and the negative effect of approximately $5.6 million in foreign currency translation.

Wood Construction products represented 85% of our total fourth quarter sales, down slightly from 87%, and Concrete Construction products were 15% of total sales, up slightly from 13% Consolidated gross profit increased 1.2% to $200.7 million due to ETANCO and our gross margin was 42.2% compared to 47.4% last year. On a segment basis, our gross margin in North America decreased to 45% compared to 49.3%, primarily from higher raw material costs, factory and overhead and labor as a percentage of net sales, partly offset by prior year product price increases. Our gross profit dollars in Europe totaled $33.9 million and included $20.9 million from ETANCO, which is net of the $1.4 million fair value adjustments for inventory costs as a result of purchase accounting.

From a product perspective, our fourth quarter gross margin on Wood products was 41.9% compared to 47.5% in the prior year quarter, partly due to the addition of ETANCO and was 42.3% for Concrete Products compared to 42.7% in the prior-year quarter. Now turning to our fourth quarter costs and operating expenses. Total operating expenses were $119.3 million, an increase of $17.9 million or approximately 17.7%. Operating expenses included $18 million attributable to ETANCO and another $2.7 million for integration costs. As a percentage of net sales, total operating expenses were 25.1%, a slight increase of approximately 90 basis points compared to 24.2%. Our fourth quarter research and development and engineering expenses increased 15% to $18.5 million, primarily due to increased personnel costs and professional fees.

Selling expenses increased 25% to $44.9 million, primarily due to $6.7 million from ETANCO as well as advertising and trade show, personnel and travel-related expenses. On a segment basis, selling expenses in North America were up 9% and, in Europe, they were up 107.1%. General and administrative expenses increased 13.3% to $56 million, primarily due to $10.5 million from ETANCO, which includes $4.4 million in amortization, of the acquired intangible assets, partly offset by lower North America operating expenses, including stock-based compensation and professional fees. As a result, our consolidated income from operations totaled $78.7 million, a decrease of 18.9% from $97.1 million due to higher operating expenses. In North America, income from operations decreased 16.6% to $85.6 million, primarily due to lower gross profit, partly offset by lower operating expenses, including cash profit sharing, sales commissions and stock-based compensation.

In Europe, income from operations was $0.8 million compared to a loss of $1.5 million, which includes ETANCO's operating income of $0.3 million, which is net of the aforementioned $1.4 million in inventory adjustments, $4.4 million of amortization expense on acquired intangible assets and $2.7 million for integration costs for a total of $8.4 million. As we continue to integrate ETANCO into our European operations, we expect to incur additional costs in 2023. On a consolidated basis, our operating income margin was 16.6%, a decrease of approximately 660 basis points from 23.2%. I will discuss our operating margin outlook for fiscal 2023 shortly. Our effective tax rate increased to 26.3% from 25%. Accordingly, net income totaled $57.6 million or $1.35 per fully diluted share, which is inclusive of $2.7 million of net interest expense.

This compares to $69.8million or $1.61 per fully diluted share. Now, turning to our balance sheet and cash flow. Our balance sheet remained healthy. At December 31, 2022, cash and cash equivalents totaled $300.7 million, down $8.5 million from our balance as of September 30. Our inventory position at December 31 was $556.8 million, which was up $16.8 million compared to our balance at September 30, 2022. We'll continue to focus on effective inventory management to ensure we retain our strong levels of customer service and on-time delivery standards, especially given the rapidly changing economic environment. During the fourth quarter, we generated cash flow from operations of approximately $137 million. As Mike highlighted earlier, our primary uses of cash will be utilized to support the growth of our business while simultaneously repaying the debt we incurred to finance the acquisition of ETANCO, as well as returning value to our stockholders through dividends and share repurchases.

Given our solid balance sheet position, and in line with our capital allocation priorities, during the fourth quarter, we repaid $100 million worth of the $250 million drawn on our revolving credit facility. At year-end, our debt balance was approximately $577 million and $300 million remained available for borrowing on our primary line of credit. During the fourth quarter, we invested approximately $20.8 million for capital expenditures, paid $11.1 million in dividends to our stockholders and repurchased approximately 47,800 shares of our common stock in an average price of $84.95 per share for a total of $4.1 million. In 2022, we repurchased $78.6 million of our common stock under our $100 million share repurchase authorization, which expired at the end of 2022.

Further, our Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of up to $100 million of our common stock, which went into effect at the start of the year through the end of December 2023. Additionally, on January 24, our Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.26 per share, which will be payable on April 27, 2023 to stockholders of record on April 06, 2023. Next, I'd like to discuss our 2023 financial outlook. Based on business trends and conditions as of today, February 6, we are initiating guidance for the full year ending December 31, 2023 as follows. We expect our operating income margin to be in the range of 18% to 20%. Key assumptions include: some anticipated softness in our top-line given slowing housing starts in the U.S.; the aforementioned price decrease on the majority of our connector products in the U.S. to most of our customers; cost of goods sold, which reflect steel costs coming down moderately from our weighted average peak in Q3 2022; increased operating expenses, we believe, are needed to continue to position the company to make meaningful share gains in our markets and growth initiatives not associated with U.S. housing; and a slightly lower ETANCO operating margin profile than the rest of the company, including intangible amortization, as well as $6 million to $8 million in expected ETANCO integration costs.

Next, we expect interest expense on the outstanding $150 million revolving credit facility and $433.1 million outstanding term loan to be approximately $9.7 million, including the benefit from interest rate and cross-currency swaps, mitigating substantially all the volatility from changes in interest rates. Our 2023 effective tax rate is expected to be in the range of 25% to 26%, including both federal and state income tax rates, and assuming no tax law changes are enacted. Lastly, we expect capital expenditures to be in the range of $90 million to $95 million, including approximately $22 million to $25 million to be utilized for the previously discussed Columbus, Ohio facility expansion. In summary, we were pleased with our strong finish to the year as we continue to integrate ETANCO and make progress on our key growth initiatives to position Simpson for long-term sustainable growth and to increase stockholder value.

While 2023 will have its challenges, we remain dedicated to our long-term strategy and strategic plan. With that, I would like to turn the call over to the operator to begin the Q&A session.

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