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A.O. Smith Releases Financial Results, Outlook
Jan 21, 2003
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The positive effects of cost reduction actions in its electric motor business and the progress of the integration efforts in its water heater business contributed to significantly improved full year and fourth quarter earnings, A.O. Smith Corporation said today.

The Milwaukee, WI, U.S.-based manufacturer today announced 2002 net earnings of U.S. $51.3 million or $1.86 per share, significantly more than the $14.5 million or $0.61 per share earned in 2001. Sales for the same 12-month period increased 28 percent to $1.47 billion compared with sales of $1.15 billion in 2001, primarily due to the acquisition of State Industries in December 2001.

Net earnings for the quarter ended Dec. 31 were $11.2 million or $0.38 per share, compared with a fourth quarter 2001 loss of $5.1 million or $.21 per share. Earnings for last year's fourth quarter and full year included a restructuring charge of $6.1 million or $.25 per share.

Fourth quarter sales of $359 million were said to reflect the positive impact of the State Industries acquisition, the July acquisition of hermetic motor manufacturer Athens Products, and higher sales in both electric motor and water heater businesses.

"Both of our operating units finished the year on a positive note compared with a weak fourth quarter last year," Robert J. O'Toole, chairman and CEO, said. "More importantly, Electrical Products surpassed its cost-reduction objectives and Water Systems exceeded the cost-savings goals it set following the State acquisition."

Electrical Products


Fourth quarter sales of $178 million were approximately six percent higher than the corresponding quarter in 2001. Sales were positively influenced by the acquisition of Athens Products, a manufacturer of hermetic motors for residential air conditioning compressors, and strong demand in the pump and garage door opener markets. For the full year, motor sales declined approximately $12 million to $790 million.

A.O. Smith said higher volumes, significantly reduced expenses, and the elimination of goodwill amortization resulted in an operating profit of $11.7 million compared with a fourth quarter loss of $2.2 million in 2001. For the full year, the unit's operating profit was $57.6 million, twice the 2001 operating profit of $28.9 million. Results for 2001 have been adjusted to exclude the impact of a fourth quarter restructuring charge of $8.1 million pre-tax.

In December, the company announced it had acquired a second electric motor manufacturer in the People's Republic of China. It purchased the electric motor operations of Changheng Group, a manufacturer of air-moving motors for the Chinese air conditioning market with 2002 revenues of approximately $14 million. While Changheng has an existing customer base in China, the primary purpose of the acquisition is to further expand A.O. Smith's ability to manufacture products for the U. S. market. The business is located 100 miles west of Shanghai and employs approximately 500 people.

Water Systems


Fourth quarter sales of $181 million reflected the impact of $82 million in revenues from State Industries as well as a 14 percent sales increase in the base water heater business and higher sales in China. For the full year, Water Systems sales were $679 million, $330 million higher than the prior year. The State Industries acquisition represented approximately $313 million of the sales increase.

Fourth quarter operating earnings of $14.9 million were 40 percent higher than the 2001 fourth quarter. Increased volume, improved manufacturing performance, and cost reductions associated with the integration of State Industries contributed to the improved earnings. Full-year operating earnings were a record $58.4 million, approximately $19 million higher than 2001.

Outlook


"The company's overall cost structure has improved significantly over the last 12 months," Mr. O'Toole commented, "and our operating units will continue to aggressively manage cost in the new year. Consequently, we remain confident in our full-year 2003 earnings estimate of between $2.05 and $2.25 per share."

"While we are confident in the full-year estimate, earnings improvement will occur primarily in the last half of the year. Cost increases, including pension, employee medical costs, and liability insurance will impact us throughout the year. Operating improvements, however will build up incrementally during the year, and are weighted to the last half of the year. These improvements include the continued success of the motor repositioning programs, the ongoing impact of the State integration activities, and the introduction of new water heater products. For the first quarter of 2003, net earnings are projected to modestly surpass last year's $12.1 million result. However, given the impact from our second quarter 2002 stock offering, our first quarter earnings forecast of $.41 to $.45 per share will fall short of last year's figure of $.50 per share," Mr. O'Toole continued.

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