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TMCNet:  Valmont Reports 4Q and Fiscal Year 2012 Results

[February 18, 2013]

Valmont Reports 4Q and Fiscal Year 2012 Results

Feb 18, 2013 (Close-Up Media via COMTEX) -- Valmont Industries, Inc., a provider of engineered products and services for infrastructure and mechanized irrigation equipment, reported fourth quarter sales of $815.0 million compared with $752.7 million for the same period of 2011.



In a release dated Feb. 12, the Company said that fourth quarter 2012 operating income was $111.7 million versus $77.4 million in 2011. When comparing this year's $2.43 fourth quarter diluted earnings per share to last year's reported fourth quarter diluted earnings per share of $4.33, it should be noted that included in last year's fourth quarter was $2.50 per share of favorable one-time items recognized as a result of a reorganization of the Company's legal structure. Excluding those favorable one-time items, fourth quarter 2011 diluted earnings per share were $1.83.

For fiscal 2012, sales were $3.0 billion versus $2.7 billion in 2011. Operating income for fiscal 2012 was $382.3 million versus $263.3 million in 2011. Valmont's fiscal year net earnings were $234.1 million, or $8.75 per diluted share compared with 2011 fiscal year earnings of $228.3 million, or $8.60 per diluted share, which included the aforementioned $2.50 per share of favorable one-time items in the fourth quarter of 2011.

"The main drivers of record fourth quarter operating results were the substantial sales increases in the Utility Support Structures and Irrigation Segments," said Mogens Bay, Valmont's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Increased sales of wireless communication products and intercompany sales of utility products contributed to improved results in the Engineered Infrastructure Products Segment. In the Coatings Segment, a decline in Australian demand was the main reason for lower sales. Those businesses reported in "Other" had improved operating margins despite lower sales.

"Increased volumes in both the Utility Support Structures and Irrigation Segments allowed us to realize significant fixed cost leverage during the quarter. This led to a 13.7 percent operating margin for the quarter, compared with last year's 10.3 percent." Fourth Quarter Segment Review: Utility Support Structures Segment (30 percent of 4th Quarter Sales) Steel and concrete structures for the global electric utility industry.

Sales of $252.6 million were 25 percent higher than 2011, mostly as a result of increased large-project demand from North American utility customers. Electric utilities continued to invest in structures for the transmission grid to improve reliability, add physical capacity and increase the interconnectivity of regional transmission grids. International utility sales increased, primarily due to higher export sales from China.

Valmont believes the transmission infrastructure needed to meet the objectives of improved reliability and interconnectivity will drive a multi-year period of high demand for utility structures. Consequently, in addition to capacity expansions announced earlier in the year, the Company made an additional investment in manufacturing capacity by purchasing a facility in Columbus, Nebraska during the fourth quarter.

Operating income rose 60 percent to $47.1 million, which represents 18.7 percent of sales. The increase in operating income was due to an improving mix of orders and the positive impact of volume and SG&A leverage.

Irrigation Segment (24 percent of 4th Quarter Sales) Center pivot and linear move mechanized irrigation equipment and parts for agriculture in global markets.

Sales rose 13 percent to $203.4 million, with gains in North America more than offsetting a decline in international sales. While sales increased in most regions, total international sales declined due to a reduction in project business in North Africa.

North American demand was supported by a couple of factors. Historically high crop prices resulted in high levels of farm income. In addition, last summer's drought impacted many growing regions of the U.S. Following periods of drought, in addition to the inherent benefits of mechanized irrigation, the economic benefits of irrigation during a drought becomes an additional driver. As a result, a large number of growers are seeking the benefits of irrigation. This led to record order rates and greatly improved sales during the fourth quarter.

Long-term drivers remain strong for the irrigation market. World population growth and dietary improvement create a long-term increasing demand for food. Water availability concerns will pressure agriculture to reduce its water consumption over time. Valmont's mechanized irrigation equipment helps to provide a solution to this global dilemma by improving farm productivity and using water efficiently.

Operating income grew 49 percent to $40.5 million and was 19.9 percent of segment sales. The improvement in operating margin was largely the result of operating leverage, a favorable sales mix and good factory performance.

Engineered Infrastructure Products Segment (27 percent of 4th Quarter Sales) Lighting, traffic and highway safety products, wireless communication structures and components, and industrial gratings and access systems worldwide.

Fourth quarter sales were $229.1 million, a 4 percent increase over 2011. In North America, sales of lighting and traffic products were flat and the market environment was little changed. Intercompany sales to the utility division were higher than last year.

Sales of lighting and traffic structures in Europe were lower due to continued economic weakness and government austerity programs. Lower sales comparisons also reflect the exit in 2011 from certain geographic operations.

In the Asia-Pacific region, sales rose in all product lines, particularly in the Webforge engineered access systems business.

Sales of wireless communication structures and components were higher in North American markets and lower in China.

Operating income was $13.1 million, or 5.7 percent of segment sales. Excluding the impact of one-time charges to reduce the carrying value of certain trade names in the fourth quarter of 2011, fourth quarter segment operating income in 2012 was slightly improved over 2011. The improvement was mostly due to increased performance in wireless communication in North America and broad improvement in the Asia-Pacific businesses, which more than offset decreased profitability in the global lighting businesses.

Coatings Segment (10 percent of 4th Quarter Sales) Hot-dip galvanizing, and other coatings to protect against corrosion of steel and aluminum in global markets.

Sales of $83.2 million were 7 percent lower than last year. Most of the sales decline was attributable to reduced demand in Australian markets reflecting a slowdown in construction in eastern Australia. In North America, sales were comparable to last year with increased internal irrigation and utility demand offsetting lower custom demand.

During the fourth quarter, the Company acquired Pure Metal Galvanizing in Ontario, Canada. This acquisition expands Valmont's North American footprint and complements our global portfolio. The acquisition had minimal impact on fourth quarter results. Integration activities are proceeding on schedule.

Operating income declined 10 percent to $17.1 million, or 20.5 percent of segment sales due to the reduction in Australian volumes.

2012 Fiscal Year Review: "Very strong utility and irrigation market demand were the main drivers of record results in 2012," said Bay. "Looking at results by segment, the Utility Support Structures Segment benefited from significantly increased investments by utility companies in the transmission grid. In the Irrigation Segment, increased demand for feed-grains, strong crop prices and historically high farm incomes led to record demand for mechanized irrigation equipment. In the second half of the year, widespread drought in North America accelerated demand. Sales in international irrigation markets were modestly higher for the year. In the Engineered Infrastructure Products Segment, sales increases in the North American and Asia-Pacific regions more than offset lower sales in Europe. The most significant contributor to increased profitability for the segment was improved performance in the North American wireless communication business. Our coatings business operated well, generating increased profitability on slightly lower sales.

"For the year, operating income as a percent of sales for the Company improved substantially from 9.9 percent to 12.6 percent." Subsequent Event: On Feb. 5, the Company acquired privately-held Locker Group Holdings, a provider in Australia and Asia for the manufacture of perforated and expanded metal for the non-residential market, industrial flooring and handrails for the access systems market, and screening media for applications in the industrial and mining sectors.

2013 Outlook: "We expect another record performance in 2013," Bay said, "The current demand for Utility Support Structures is strong as reflected by our record backlogs at year end. We expect a solid first-half in the Irrigation Segment, which also had record year-end backlogs. In the Coatings Segment we expect solid demand and continued good performance. In the Engineered Infrastructure Products Segment, despite continued restraint in government spending we still expect a modest sales increase and continued profitability gains. While it is still early in the year, we currently expect low teens revenue growth and high teens earnings growth for 2013." ((Comments on this story may be sent to newsdesk@closeupmedia.com))

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