Eaton Reports Fourth Quarter Earnings Per Share of $1.18

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Feb 2, 2021

Eaton announced that earnings per share were $1.18 for the fourth quarter of 2020. Excluding charges of $0.06 per share related to acquisitions and divestitures and $0.04 per share related to a multi-year restructuring program, adjusted earnings per share were $1.28.

Sales in the fourth quarter of 2020 were $4.7 billion. Organic sales were down 5 percent, and the divestitures of the Lighting and Automotive Fluid Conveyance businesses reduced sales by 8 percent, partially offset by 2 percent growth from acquisitions.

Craig Arnold, Eaton chairman and chief executive officer, said, “Our fourth quarter was stronger than expected, with organic sales down 5 percent, at the high end of our guidance range and up 3 percent over the third quarter. We are pleased with our solid results, as our businesses have managed through the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic well.”

“Fourth quarter segment margins were 17.4 percent, reflecting a decremental on lower revenues of 21 percent,” said Arnold. “Our decremental margin performance was better than expected. This was the result of strong execution and continued focus on cost controls to offset pandemic-driven volume declines.”

“We generated strong cash flow in the fourth quarter,” said Arnold. “Operating cash flow totaled $943 million and free cash flow totaled $845 million.”

“For full year 2020, sales were $17.9 billion, down 11 percent organically from 2019. The divestitures of the Lighting and Automotive Fluid Conveyance businesses reduced sales by 7 percent and negative currency translation reduced sales by 1 percent, which was partially offset by 2 percent growth from acquisitions,” said Arnold. “Segment margins were 16.4 percent, reflecting a strong decremental margin of 23 percent.”

“Earnings per share for 2020 were $3.49. Excluding charges of $0.33 per share related to acquisitions and divestitures and $0.42 per share related to our multi-year restructuring program, adjusted earnings per share were $4.24,” said Arnold. “Operating cash flow was $2.9 billion, and free cash flow was $2.6 billion, at the top of our guidance range. Free cash flow as a percentage of revenues was 14.3 percent, 90 basis points over 2019 and an all-time record.”

“During 2020, we returned $2.8 billion to our shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases,” said Arnold. “Dividends totaled $1.2 billion, and share repurchases totaled $1.6 billion, representing 4 percent of our shares outstanding at the beginning of 2020.” 

“We also took significant portfolio actions during 2020,” said Arnold. “In the first quarter, we completed the sale of our Lighting business and announced the sale of our Hydraulics business.”  

“Looking at 2021, we expect our organic revenues to grow between 4 percent and 6 percent versus 2020, with growth in all segments. The divestitures of our Hydraulics and Lighting businesses are expected to reduce our sales by 8 percent partially offset by positive currency translation of approximately 1 percent,” said Arnold. “We anticipate segment margins between 17.6 percent and 18.0 percent, representing at the midpoint a 140 basis point improvement over 2020 and above the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.”

“We are pleased that we have recently signed agreements to acquire Tripp Lite and Cobham Mission Systems, allowing us to deploy $4.5 billion into high growth and high margin strategic businesses,” said Arnold.

“In 2021, we are revising our definition of adjusted earnings to add back amortization of intangibles. We believe this will provide investors with a more accurate measure of our performance and will make it easier to compare our performance to peers,” said Arnold. “For full year 2021, we expect adjusted earnings per share to be between $5.40 and $5.80, up 14 percent at the midpoint over 2020 adjusted to add back intangible amortization. We anticipate adjusted earnings per share for the first quarter of 2021 to be between $1.17 and $1.27.”

Business Segment Results

Sales for the Electrical Americas segment were $1.7 billion, down 18 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019, driven by a 19 percent reduction from the divestiture of the Lighting business and a 1 percent decline in organic sales, partially offset by 2 percent growth from the acquisition of Power Distribution, Inc. Operating profits were $359 million. Excluding the divested Lighting business, operating profits were down 1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019.

“Operating margins were a strong 21.1 percent, up 120 basis points over the fourth quarter of 2019,” said Arnold. “The twelve-month rolling average of our orders in the fourth quarter, excluding Lighting, was down 1 percent. Despite the slight decline, we saw particular strength in residential and data center orders, and the backlog at the end of December remained strong, up 12 percent over December 2019.”

“We were pleased to sign an agreement last week to acquire Tripp Lite,” said Arnold. “The acquisition adds complementary products to serve data centers, users of industrial and medical equipment, and edge computing.”

Sales for the Electrical Global segment were $1.3 billion, down 5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019. Organic sales were down 7 percent, at the high end of our guidance range, partially offset by positive currency translation of 2 percent. Operating profits were $208 million, down 7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019.

“Operating margins were 16.6 percent, a decrease of 40 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2019,” said Arnold. “The twelve-month rolling average of our orders in the fourth quarter was down 6 percent, driven by declines in oil and gas and industrial markets. We saw particular strength in data centers and residential markets. The December backlog grew 14 percent over December 2019.”

“In mid December, we signed an agreement to buy 50 percent of HuanYu High Tech,” said Arnold. “HuanYu manufactures and markets low-voltage circuit breakers and contactors in China and throughout Asia Pacific. The investment provides us access to a strong portfolio of products, which opens up significant opportunities to grow our business throughout Asia Pacific.”

Hydraulics segment sales were $485 million, up 2 percent over the fourth quarter of 2019, driven entirely by growth in organic sales. Organic revenue growth was driven by strength in mobile equipment end markets. Operating profits were $51 million, up 70 percent over the fourth quarter of 2019.

“Operating margins in the fourth quarter were 10.5 percent, up 420 basis points over the fourth quarter of 2019,” said Arnold. “Orders in the fourth quarter increased 25 percent over the fourth quarter of 2019, driven by strength in mobile equipment end markets.”

Aerospace segment sales were $542 million, down 13 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019, driven by the continued downturn in commercial aviation, partially offset by growth in military sales. Organic sales were down 25 percent, while the acquisition of Souriau-Sunbank added 11 percent and positive currency translation added another 1 percent. Operating profits were $99 million, down 34 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019.

“Operating margins in the quarter were 18.3 percent, representing strong performance in light of the impact of the pandemic on sales,” said Arnold. “The twelve-month rolling average of orders in the fourth quarter was down 33 percent, driven by the downturn in commercial markets. Backlog at the end of December was down 14 percent compared to December 2019.”

“We are excited by the agreement we announced yesterday to acquire Cobham Mission Systems (CMS),” said Arnold. “CMS is a technological leader in important defense aerospace product lines and has attractive margins.”

The Vehicle segment posted sales of $620 million, down 7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019. Organic sales were down 1 percent, well above the high end of our guidance range driven by better than expected recovery in NAFTA Class 8 and global light vehicle production. The divestiture of our Automotive Fluid Conveyance business at the end of last year reduced revenues by 5 percent, and currency translation was negative 1 percent. Operating profits were $103 million, down 9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019, excluding the clutch warranty issue reported in the fourth quarter of 2019.

“Operating margins in the quarter were a strong 16.6 percent,” said Arnold. “Conditions have markedly improved in vehicle markets. Sales in the fourth quarter were up 8 percent over the third quarter and we expect this sequential growth trend to continue well into 2021.”

eMobility segment sales were $85 million, up 13 percent over the fourth quarter of 2019, driven by organic sales growth of 11 percent and positive currency translation of 2 percent. The segment recorded an operating loss of $5 million reflecting continued investment in research and development for new programs.

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