Continued Investments in Customer-Focused Technologies; Acquisitions Drive Network Expansion by 35 Locations; Cultural Investments in Long-term Equity and Employee Wellness Programs
MIAMI, FLORIDA – (GLOBENEWSWIRE), February 13, 2020 – Watsco, Inc. (NYSE: WSO) reported its annual and fourth quarter 2019 results. The Company achieved record results in annual sales, net income attributable to Watsco, earnings per share (EPS) and operating cash flow. Watsco also announced today that its Board of Directors approved an 11% increase in its annual dividend to $7.10 per share to be reflected in the Company’s next regular quarterly dividend payment in April 2020. Watsco continues to invest in its industry-leading technology platforms designed to revolutionize its customer-experience and further enhance its offerings to HVAC/R contractors. The Company believes the pace of innovation and adoption of technology is accelerating and its customer-focused solutions, scale and leadership position provides significant long-term value. To date, nearly 20,000 customers have embraced Watsco’s technology solutions and the Company has intensified its effort to add functionality and drive widespread adoption. Technology spending increased $5.0 million in 2019 or 11 cents per diluted share ($0.7 million or 2 cents per diluted share for the fourth quarter). The current annual run-rate for technology spending (included in SG&A expenses) is $32 million.
Watsco completed several transactions in 2019, investing $148 million of capital in strong, market-leading businesses. Results of acquired businesses were accretive to 2019 results and are expected to provide new sources of growth as more capital is deployed to support their growth plans. Despite these investments, the Company’s debt-to-total capitalization ratio remains low, consistent with the Company’s core philosophy to maintain a conservative, risk-averse financial position, while possessing a strong balance sheet that can invest in most any opportunity at a low cost of capital.
Watsco also invested more in its people and culture during 2019, including incremental investments in its unique equity and employee wellness programs. The Company believes these investments are important to performance along with the continuity of its culture, which empowers employees to think and act longterm. Incremental SG&A related to these programs was approximately $3 million (7 cents per diluted share) in 2019, including:
- a 33% increase in the annual 401(k) matching contribution, which is made in Watsco common stock. The Company’s 30-year compounded total shareholder return of 18% has benefited shareholders and employees alike, particularly the Company’s 3,500+ 401(k) participants, many of whom have spent their careers with the Company;
- expansion of Watsco’s ownership culture to more employees through a variety of unique, equitybased programs, including stock options and the innovative use of restricted stock that vests at the end of an employee’s career, and implementation of an enriched wellness program, including greater incentives for employees to learn more about their health, identify risks and promote preventive care.
Albert H. Nahmad, Watsco’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said: “2019 marked a year of continued investments in technology, the expansion of our network and in our organization, all with a longterm perspective. We are pleased with our record cash flow and the resulting dividend raise to reward our shareholders with consistent returns as we move through this transformative period.”
Key performance metrics:
- 5% sales growth to a record $4.77 billion (2% increase on a same-store basis)
- Record EPS of $6.50 with net income attributable to Watsco increasing 1% to a record $246 million
- Operating profit of $367 million with operating margins of 7.7% (7.9% on a same-store basis)
- Gross profit increased 3% a record $1.16 billion (gross margins declined 30 basis-points)
- SG&A expenses increased 6%, reflecting new or acquired locations
- Same-store SG&A improved 20 basis-points as a percentage of sales (a 1% increase)
- Record operating cash flow of $336 million or 114% of net income
Sales trends (excluding acquisitions):
- 3% growth in HVAC equipment (68% of sales), including 4% growth in residential products
- 1% decrease in other HVAC products (28% of sales)
- Flat sales of commercial refrigeration products (4% of sales)
Fourth Quarter Results
Key performance metrics:
- 8% sales growth to a record $1.07 billion (1% increase on a same-store basis)
- EPS of 92 cents with net income attributable to Watsco of $37 million
- Operating profit of $52 million with operating margins of 4.9%
- Gross profit increased 4% to a record $261 million (gross margins declined 90 basis-points)
- SG&A expenses increased 10% reflecting 35 new or acquired locations
- Same-store SG&A improved 10 basis-points as a percentage of sales (a 1% increase)
- 38% increase in operating cash flow to $138 million
Sales trends (excluding acquisitions):
- 3% growth in HVAC equipment (67% of sales)
- 2% decrease in other HVAC products (29% of sales)
- 4% increase in commercial refrigeration products (4% of sales)
Watsco grew its network by 35 locations during 2019 primarily through the acquisition of long-standing businesses. Since 1989, Watsco has acquired more than 60 businesses to become the established industry leader. This strategy has produced a 30-year compounded annual growth rate for total-shareholder-return of 18%, which ranks Watsco among the best performing public companies over this time period. Key components of its buy-and-build strategy include:
- identify and partner with great businesses
- retain the leadership team, honor their culture and empower them
- ask for aggressive growth plans and help them achieve their ambitions
- motivate the team with long-term equity and establish an ownership culture
- deploy the industry’s most comprehensive suite of technologies
- solicit and collaborate on big ideas to foster a spirit of innovation and growth
Watsco completed the following transactions during 2019:
- The acquisition of Dasco Supply in April 2019. Dasco sells HVAC products from seven locations in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Dasco was founded in 1974 and had revenues of $58 million in 2019;
- The purchase of an additional 1.8% ownership interest in Russell Sigler, Inc. (RSI) in April 2019. RSI sells HVAC products from 30 locations throughout the Western U.S. Watsco owns 38.1% of RSI and has the exclusive right to purchase ownership interests held by members of the Sigler family, at their discretion, subject to the terms and conditions set forth in a shareholder agreement. RSI was founded in 1950 and had revenues of $799 million in 2019;
- The purchase of 20% of Homans Associates from Carrier Corporation in June 2019, which raised the Company’s ownership from 80% to 100%. Homans Associates sells products from 16 locations in the Northeastern U.S. and now operates as a stand-alone subsidiary. Founded in 1952 and acquired by Watsco in 1999, Homans had sales of $215 million in 2019;
- The acquisition of Peirce-Phelps, Inc. in August 2019, one of the largest HVAC distributors in North America operating from 19 locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Peirce-Phelps was founded in 1926 and had sales of $214 million in 2019;
- The acquisition of N&S Supply in November 2019, which sells HVAC and plumbing products operating from seven locations in the Hudson Valley of New York and Connecticut. N&S Supply was founded in 1946 and had sales of $45 million in 2019.
Mr. Nahmad further commented, “This year’s acquisitions deepened our presence in the Northeast market, an important and fast-growing region that adds to Watsco’s geographic diversity. More importantly, these are simply terrific entrepreneurs that have joined our family, and we are proud to have joined theirs. We know that progressive contractors will make technology part of their daily life and that partnering with Watsco will allow historical distributors like these to protect and grow their businesses. Watsco is active in the marketplace and we look forward to partnering with other great companies as the technology wave becomes increasingly necessary.”
Watsco has launched various technologies and process enhancements to transform how HVAC contractors are served. Speed, productivity and scale are critical factors in the digital era and Watsco is making investments to ensure an unparalleled customer-experience. The most notable is the digitization of Watsco’s interactions with its customer-base through e-commerce and mobile apps, supported by the industry’s richest depository of product information.
Watsco has also launched internal-facing technologies, including (1) a business intelligence platform to provide insights to 700+ P&L managers and their teams, (2) proprietary order fulfillment software to deliver speed, convenience and order accuracy to customers and (3) demand planning and inventory optimization software to improve fill-rates and inventory turns and to reduce real estate requirements.
As summarized in the financial information, Watsco’s full-year SG&A on a same-store basis and excluding incremental technology investments was flat year over year and declined 30 basis-points as a percentage of sales. Efficiency gains in 2019 marks progress following the Company’s launch of a variety of innovations to enhance operational excellence throughout its network.
AJ Nahmad, Watsco’s President said: “We continue to be inspired by our progress and we are investing heavily to drive adoption to a growing number of customers. In terms of scale, we serve approximately 300,000 contractors and technicians and complete over 7 million transactions per year. In other words, we are scratching the surface of what is possible, yet we can readily see the benefits that our platforms are providing to our most active users.”
An update of key technology metrics are as follows:
- E-Commerce and App Usage Progress in 2019 versus 2018
- Growth in e-commerce sales 17% growth to $1.4 billion
- E-commerce transactions 20% increase in transactions to over 1 million
- Unique iOS or Android app weekly users 60% increase in weekly active users
- Retail value of sales for OnCallAir.com 146% increase to over $185 million
- Products (SKUs) digitized and available on-line 6% increase to 728,000 SKUs
- Line items per order on-line versus in-store 32% more line items per order
- Sales attrition rate for e-commerce users 60% less attrition than non-users
Warehouse Efficiency & Supply Chain Progress in 2019 versus 2018
- Locations with Order Fulfillment (OF) software 555 locations versus 369 last year
- Number of orders filled with OF 3.3 million versus 2.6 million last year
- Locations with express pickup 292 locations versus 164 last year
- Locations with supply chain/inventory optimization Domestic (excluding acquisitions) now installed
- Change in branch-level SG&A as a % of sales 15 basis-points decrease (same-store basis)
- Real estate 5-year reduction in organic square feet 1.1 million square feet (167,000 during 2019)
Cash Flow & Dividends
Operating cash flow for the year increased 97% to a record $336 million or 114% of net income. Since 2000, Watsco’s operating cash flow was approximately $2.7 billion compared to net income of approximately $2.6 billion, surpassing the Company’s goal of generating cash flow in excess of net income. Watsco has paid cash dividends for 46 consecutive years. Dividends paid during 2019 increased 15% to $241 million. The Company’s philosophy is to share increasing amounts of cash flow with shareholders through higher dividends while maintaining a conservative financial position.
In February 2020, Watsco’s Board authorized an 11% increase in Watsco’s annual dividend to $7.10 per share effective at its next scheduled payment date on April 30, 2020. Future dividend increases will be considered in light of investment opportunities, cash flow, general economic conditions and the Company’s financial condition.
Adoption of Lease Accounting Standard
Effective January 1, 2019, we adopted the Financial Accounting Standards Board Accounting Standards Update 2016-02, Leases, which requires the recognition of lease assets and lease liabilities by lessees for those leases classified as operating leases under previous guidance. We have recorded lease right-of-use assets and lease liabilities and presented these amounts separately on our Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheet as of December 31, 2019. The adoption of this standard did not have a material impact on our Condensed Consolidated Statement of Income or Condensed Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows for the year ended December 31, 2019.
Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call Information
Date: February 13, 2020
Time: 10:00 a.m. (EDT)
Dial-in number: United States (844) 883-3908 / International (412) 317-9254
A replay of the conference call will be available on the Company’s website.
Use of Non-GAAP Financial Information
In this release, the Company discloses non-GAAP measures on a “same-store basis”, which exclude the effects of locations closed, acquired, or locations opened, unless they are within close geographical proximity to existing locations, during the immediately preceding 12 months. The Company believes that this information provides greater comparability regarding its ongoing operating performance. These measures should not be considered an alternative to measurements required by U.S. GAAP.
Watsco is the largest distribution network for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R) products with locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico, and on an export basis to Latin America and the Caribbean. Watsco estimates that over 300,000 contractors and technicians visit or call one of its 606 locations each year to get information, obtain technical support and buy products.
HVAC/R products provide comfort to homes and businesses regardless of the outdoor climate. Older systems often operate below today’s government mandated energy efficiency and environmental standards. Watsco has an opportunity to accelerate the replacement of these systems at a scale greater than its competitors as the movement toward reducing energy consumption and its environmental impact continues. This is especially important since heating and cooling accounts for approximately half of the energy consumed in a typical U.S. home. Additional information about Watsco may be found at http://www.watsco.com.
This document includes certain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based on management’s current expectations and are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. Actual results may differ materially from these expectations due to changes in economic, business, competitive market, new housing starts and completions, capital spending in commercial construction, consumer spending and debt levels, regulatory and other factors, including, without limitation, the effects of supplier concentration, competitive conditions within Watsco’s industry, seasonal nature of sales of Watsco’s products, the ability of the Company to expand its business, insurance coverage risks and final GAAP adjustments. Detailed information about these factors and additional important factors can be found in the documents that Watsco files with the Securities and Exchange Commission, such as Form 10-K, Form 10-Q and Form 8-K. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date the statements were made. Watsco assumes no obligation to update forward-looking information to reflect actual results, changes in assumptions or changes in other factors affecting forward-looking information.
Link to the 8-K can be found at investors.watsco.com