Garmin stock soars as results top forecasts

By Sarah Very

Shares of Garmin Ltd. surged Wednesday after the company reported fourth quarter results that dramatically bested Wall Street expectations.

The Switzerland-based provider of GPS navigation technology said net income sank 37 percent to $132.4 million, or 70 cents per diluted share, from $210.2 million, or $1.09 per diluted share, in the year-earlier quarter.

On the other hand, the company’s top line fell 3 percent to $781.4 million from $803.3 million a year ago.

Excluding certain tax effects, Garmin said adjusted earnings per share dipped 3 cents to 74 cents from 77 cents in the year-ago quarter. The latest quarter’s per-share earnings landed 26 cents above the 48 cents that analysts surveyed by Yahoo Finance were expecting.

As a result, Garmin’s stock price shot higher: in late-afternoon Nasdaq trading Wednesday, Garmin shares were trading up $5.06, or 14.4 percent, at $40.29.

Garmin Stock Price Surges Post-Earnings Release

[field name=”chart”]

After being relatively stable, Garmin Ltd. shares jumped on Feb. 17 following the company’s Q4 earnings results. (Sarah Very/MEDILL)

“Despite the challenging global economic environment and the intensified competitive landscape of 2015, we finished strong with revenue and margins exceeding our expectations,” said CEO Cliff Pemble in a press release accompanying Garmin’s earnings data. “We believe we have strong products across all of our business segments and are well positioned as we enter 2016.”

Garmin officials expect revenue growth to come in part from Garmin’s fitness, aviation and marine segments, which grew 11 percent over the year-ago quarter and contributed 66 percent of the company’s total revenue.

By diversifying its products, the company bolstered sales in the fitness segment by 14 percent in the quarter, though margins were hurt by holiday promotions and competition in fitness devices and smartwatches. Garmin also spent heavily on advertising and engineering to expand its fitness portfolio and outperform competitors.

In 2015, Garmin introduced Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate products and made “significant advancements to Garmin Connect Mobile,” said Himble in a conference call accompanying the earnings release. “These developments have strengthened our position in the market and positively influenced our results for the year.”

The company recently introduced a new product category that provides cyclists with in-sight display to enhance road awareness. Company officials in the press release said the product category is very strong, and they “look forward to another year of growth from the fitness segment.”

Garmin also diversified its outdoor wearable product category, which strengthened revenues by 6 percent in the quarter. Its pending acquisition of DeLorme, a private company that produces personal tracking, messaging, and two-way satellite and navigation capabilities, is expected to provide new areas for growth. The aviation segment saw revenue growth of 12 percent, delivering 62 percent to operating income growth due to strong gross margins of 76 percent. Garmin is expecting long-term market share gains in this segment.

On the other hand, Garmin’s largest segment, automotive products, posted a revenue decline of 21 percent. “The firm is highly exposed to the automotive market,” said Morningstar analyst Peter Wahlstrom in a report. “And while Garmin acknowledges that this market is maturing, the company’s profitability is vulnerable to disruptions in the sector.”

In addition to declines in auto sales, “global currency shifts created significant revenue and margin headwinds,” said Himble during the conference call. Garmin saw a foreign currency loss of $9.3 million compared with a gain of $16 million a year ago. The company also paid $20.2 million in income taxes compared with a benefit of $10.3 million, contributing to lower net income.

On Wednesday, Garmin predicted increased growth for full-year 2016, with per-share earnings in the neighborhood of $2.25 — in line with current expectations. The company forecasts that revenues will be flat at $2.82 billion.

For the full 2015 year, Garmin reported net income of $456.2 million, or $2.39 per diluted share, up 25 percent from $364.2 million, or $1.88 per diluted share, in the previous year. Revenues fell to $2.82 billion from $2.87 billion.

Photo at top: Garmin smartwatches at the 2015 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. (FLICKR)