Rockwell Automation Earnings, Sales fall amid Industrial Slowdown

Thursday, Nov 12, 2015

Rockwell Automation Inc. reported that its fourth-quarter earnings fell 19% as the company missed Wall Street expectations amid a slowdown in industrial markets.

Looking ahead to the 2016 fiscal year, CEO Keith D. Nosbusch said he was expecting “a particularly weak start,” and didn’t foresee any growth until the later part of the year.

Shares fell 4.4% in recent premarket trading.

The company gave annual guidance for organic sales growth in the range of flat to down 4% and sales at $6 billion with adjusted earnings per share between $5.90 and $6.40. Analysts most recently forecast $6.4 billion in sales and $6.72 in EPS.

The Milwaukee-based company provides industrial automation and information services for manufacturers and energy producers. Its results rely heavily on investments in factories, chemical plants and in oil and gas fields.

“Heavy industry end markets including oil and gas have not yet stabilized, and we see continued softness in key emerging markets,” Mr. Nosbusch said.

During the latest quarter, Rockwell also continued to face currency pressures with foreign exchange volatility reducing sales by 7.6%.

“Both sales and earnings were below our expectations in the quarter,” Mr. Nosbusch said. “Sales softened through the quarter and September was especially weak, particularly in the U.S.”

For the period ended Sept 30, Rockwell reported a profit of $201.3 million, or $1.50 a share, down from $248.7 million, or $1.79 a share, a year earlier. Excluding certain items, per-share earnings fell to $1.57 from $1.86.

Revenue decreased 9.8% to $1.6 billion. Organic sales, which exclude currency impacts and acquisitions, fell 2.3%.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected adjusted per-share profit of $1.79 and revenue of $1.68 billion.

Total segment operating margin decreased to 20.9% from 22.2%.

The control-products unit’s sales dropped 10.7% to $923.6 million. Architecture-and-software segment sales fell 8.5% to $683.9 million.

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