Allegion (ALLE) Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call Transcript

ALLE earnings call for the period ending December 31, 2018.

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Allegion (NYSE:ALLE)
Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call
Feb. 19, 2019 8:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Hello, and welcome to the Allegion Q4 earnings call. [Operator instructions] Please note, this event is being recorded. I'd now like to turn the conference over to Michael Wagnes, vice president, investor relations, and treasurer. Please go ahead, sir.

Michael Wagnes -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Thank you, Keith. Good morning, everyone. Welcome, and thank you for joining us for Allegion's fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 earnings call. With me today are Dave Petratis, chairman, president and chief executive officer; and Patrick Shannon, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Allegion.

Our earnings release, which was issued earlier this morning, and the presentation, which we will refer to in today's call, are available on our website at allegion.com. This call will be recorded and archived on our website. Please go to Slides No. 2 and 3.

Statements made in today's call that are not historical facts are considered forward-looking statements and are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of federal securities law. Please see our most recent SEC filings for a description of some of the factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from our projections. The company assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements. Today's presentation and commentary include non-GAAP financial measures.

Please refer to the reconciliation in the financial tables of our press release for further details. Dave and Patrick will now discuss our fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 results and provide an outlook for 2019, which will be followed by a Q&A session. [Operator instructions] We will do our best to get to everyone, given the time allotted. Please go to Slide 4, and I'll turn the call over to Dave.

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Mike. Good morning, and thank you for joining us today. Allegion saw another quarter of strong top-line revenue growth with strength across all regions. The Americas saw strong volumes in the nonresidential business as end market fundamentals continue to be positive, particularly in institutional verticals.

EMEIA and Asia Pacific saw organic growth rates in the mid-single digits. Acquisitions continue to be -- to contribute to the total company revenue growth. Electronics growth moderated in the fourth quarter, with the Americas seeing approximately 7% growth. Residential electronics performed well.

However, the nonresidential electronics growth decelerated due to the timing of large orders. We had full-year electronics growth of high-teens in the Americas, with strength in both parts of the business. We see the electronics outlook continue to be a long-term positive trend as more and more products become connected for ease of access. As I stated earlier, nonresidential U.S.

end markets remain healthy with particular strength in institutional verticals. We do see residential new construction softening, but we expect this to be mitigated by electronics and channel initiatives to drive above-market growth. The quarter saw continued inflationary pressures, which we believe will ease in 2019. Commodities have leveled off, and we project to have another solid year in price realization with particular strength in our Americas nonresidential businesses.

In the fourth quarter, we delivered nearly 10% adjusted EPS growth, bringing the full-year expansion to approximately 14%, as we drove a robust 37% increase in available cash flow, which totaled more than $400 million for the year. Overall, I am extremely pleased with the revenue performance in both the quarter and the full year. Additionally, while operating margin could have been better, I'm satisfied with the growth in EPS that we delivered in the quarter and the full year. Please go to Slide 5, and I'll walk through the fourth-quarter financial summary.

In Q4, Allegion delivered strong top-line revenue growth. Revenue for the fourth quarter was $702.4 million, an increase of 12.4%, inclusive of organic growth of 6.7%. Acquisitions also contributed to the top-line revenue expansion, offsetting the slightly unfavorable currency impact. All regions grew organically.

Americas led the way with organic growth of 7.6% in the quarter, driven by strength in our nonresidential business. The EMEIA region saw organic growth of 4.3%, driven by performance in the SimonsVoss and Interflex businesses. Asia Pacific had a nice quarter of organic growth coming in at 4.6% against a tough comparable. Adjusted operating margin decreased by 130 basis points due to the dilution related to acquisitions made in 2018.

Excluding the impact of these acquisitions, the base operating margins were up 20 basis points. Inflationary headwinds continued to pressure margins and exceeded price and productivity in the quarter. The company is committed to driving price realization and productivity actions, such that for 2019 the price productivity inflation dynamic is expected to be positive, helping to drive margin expansion across all regions of the business. Adjusted earnings per share of $1.22 increased $0.11 or nearly 10% versus the prior year.

The increase was driven by higher operating income along with a favorable year-over-year tax rate. Available cash flow for the year came in over $408 million, an increase of more than 37% versus prior year. Increased earnings and the nonrecurring 2017 discretionary pension funding drove the increase. Please go to Slide 6.

Before I turn the call over to Patrick, I want to talk a little about some of the things we are doing in the Connected Home space. In 2015, Schlage with the first smart lock to respond to "hey Siri, open my lock." Now Schlage Encode is the first lock to work with the Key by Amazon app and Ring devices without needing a Wi-Fi hub. It's built right into the lock. With Schlage Encode, we took a different approach to development, starting first with the Connected Home platform and developing the lock around the desired user experience.

The user-first approach is part of our strategic plan to develop and integrate with leaders in Connected Home platforms. In addition, we recently announced the Schlage Connect Z-Wave Plus enhancement and its compatibility with Ring, and Schlage Connect Zigbee-certified locks with support home automation systems. Our deep experience in connected home security has made us a go-to partner for a wide variety of platforms and home automation solutions, including Amazon, Ring, Alarm.com, Google and Apple. We will continue to build relationships to benefit consumers and accelerate adoption of Schlage smart products.

Patrick will now walk you through the financial results, and I'll be back to update you on our full-year 2019 outlook.

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Dave, and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining the call this morning. If you would, please, go to Slide No. 7.

This slide depicts the components of our revenue growth for the fourth quarter as well as the full year of 2018. I'll focus on the total Allegion results and cover the regions on their respective slides. As indicated, we delivered 6.7% organic growth in the fourth quarter. This performance reflects another strong quarter in the Americas region, which delivered 7.6% organic growth, led by the nonresidential markets.

EMEIA and Asia Pacific saw continued momentum with mid-single digit organic growth. Pricing for Allegion in the quarter came in at 1.5%. The company will continue to take necessary pricing actions to help mitigate the impact of ongoing inflationary pressures and any additional tariff impacts. Also during the fourth quarter, acquisitions contributed more than 7% growth, and foreign currency was a slight headwind in all three regions.

With the fourth-quarter performance, you can see where we ended up for the full year on revenue growth. We delivered more than 13% total revenue growth, with double-digit top-line growth in all three regions. Organic growth came in at 6%, led by the Americas at nearly 7%. Please go to Slide No.

8. Reported net revenues for the fourth quarter were $702.4 million. As stated earlier, this reflects an increase of 12.7% versus the prior year, up 6.7% on an organic basis. Adjusted operating income of $145.2 million increased nearly 6% over the same time frame from last year.

Adjusted operating margin of 20.7% decreased 130 basis points with a decrease driven by dilution from acquisitions. Excluding the 2018 acquisitions, adjusted operating margin on the base business was up 20 basis points year over year. Total inflation exceeded price plus productivity by approximately $2.5 million and was dilutive to adjusted operating margins by 70 basis points. We are committed to driving the price, productivity, inflation dynamic positive in 2019 through the following actions: price realization; improve productivity and operational efficiencies; acquisition integration performance; and softening inflation during the year.

Other headwinds to margin performance were incremental investments, which had a 40-basis-point impact on adjusted operating margins. As discussed, these incremental investments accelerate top-line growth. Please go to Slide No. 9.

This slide reflects our EPS reconciliation for the fourth quarter. For the fourth quarter of 2017, reported earnings per share was $0.10. Adjusting $1.01 for the prior-year restructuring expenses, integration costs related to acquisitions, charges related to U.S. Tax Reform and debt refinancing, the 2017 adjusted earnings per share was $1.11.

Operational results increased earnings per share by $0.10 as favorable price, operating leverage on incremental volume and productivity more than offset inflationary impact. Favorable year-over-year tax rate drove another $0.07 with the favorability driven primarily by lower tax rates associated with tax reform along with favorable discrete items. Acquisitions were a $0.01 drag in the quarter, reflecting worse-than-anticipated performance associated with the QMI acquisition in Europe. The impact of incremental investments in the quarter was a $0.02 reduction.

These incremental investments for new product development, channel strategies and demand creation spending continue to drive above-market growth and are providing solid returns on our investment. The combination of interest expense, other income and noncontrolling interest decreased earnings per share by $0.03. This results in adjusted fourth-quarter 2018 earnings per share of $1.22, an increase of $0.11 or nearly 10% compared to the prior-year period. Lastly, we have a $0.17 per share benefit primarily driven by adjustments to the provisions related to the enactment of tax reform, which more than offset reductions for charges related to acquisitions and restructuring.

After giving effect to these onetime items, you arrive at fourth-quarter 2018 reported earnings per share of $1.39. Please go to Slide No. 10. Fourth-quarter revenues for the Americas region were $492.7 million, up 13% on a reported basis and 7.6% organically.

The organic growth was driven by strong volume in the nonresidential business as well as continued pricing benefit. The electronics growth for the quarter was approximately 7%. Residential electronics in the quarter performed well. However, nonresidential electronics growth decelerated due to timing of large orders.

For the full-year, growth in electronic products was solid coming in at high-teens, with strength of both residential and nonresidential products. Price realization in the quarter was 1.5%. Pricing in the nonresidential business was strong, offset by residential promotional activities. The nonresidential business grew low double digits excluding acquisitions.

Residential growth was flat in the quarter with strength in electronics, offset by some cannibalization of the mechanical business. Acquisitions added nearly 6% to total revenue. Americas adjusted operating income of $131.8 million increased 5.3% versus the prior-year period, and adjusted operating margin for the quarter decreased 190 basis points. The 2018 acquisitions continue to be dilutive, as expected, and had a 120-basis-point impact.

Inflation and incremental investments exceeded price plus productivity in the quarter. Strong volume leverage and positive mix partially offset these impacts. Please go to Slide No. 11.

Fourth-quarter revenues for the EMEIA region were $157.4 million, up 4.4% and up 4.3% on an organic basis. The organic growth was driven by solid pricing for the quarter and strength in electronics led by the SimonsVoss and Interflex businesses. The impact of acquisitions offset currency headwinds. EMEIA adjusted operating income of $22.5 million decreased approximately 10% versus the prior-year period.

Adjusted operating margin for the quarter decreased 230 basis points, driven primarily by dilution from acquisitions. As stated earlier, the poor acquisition performance was driven by our QMI business, which experienced reduced revenues in a challenging market environment, a significant mix shift to lower-margin business along with some operational inefficiencies. We have identified areas of opportunity and have commenced plans to get the QMI business back to profitability. Operational performance improvement will gradually occur throughout the course of 2019.

In addition, inflation and incremental investments slightly exceeded price plus productivity. Strong volume leverage offsets some of these unfavorable impacts. Please go to Slide No. 12.

Fourth-quarter revenues for the Asia Pacific region were $52.3 million, up 44.9% versus the prior year. Organic revenue continued to rebound, growing nicely at 4.6% against a tough comparable. Total revenue growth was driven by the GWA Door & Access business acquisition. Foreign currency was a headwind for the quarter.

Asia Pacific adjusted operating income for the quarter was $6.5 million, an increase of nearly $2 million, with adjusted operating margins down 60 basis points versus the prior-year period. Dilution from acquisitions drove the margin decline. The base business adjusted operating margins were up 120 basis points with price and productivity more than offsetting the unfavorable impacts from inflation and incremental investments. Good volume leverage was able to offset negative mix.

Please go to Slide No. 13. Available cash flow for 2018 came in at $408.7 million, which is an increase of $110.8 million compared to the prior-year period. The increase was driven by higher net earnings along with the nonrecurring $50 million discretionary pension funding payment that was made in the first quarter of 2017.

Available cash flow continues to remain strong and exceeded prior estimates. Working capital, as a percent of revenues, increased slightly in fourth-quarter 2018 when compared to the prior-year period. The increase is primarily driven by working capital related to the recently acquired businesses. And while working capital, as a percent of revenue, saw a slight increase, we did see a reduction in the cash conversion cycle.

As always, we remain committed to an effective and efficient use of working capital, and we'll continue to evaluate opportunities to minimize investments in working capital and increase available cash flow. I will now hand the call back over to Dave for review on our full-year 2019 outlook.

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Patrick. Please go to Slide No. 14. We continue to see favorable trends in our primary end markets in 2019.

And it's our expectation that the organic investments, combined with our ability to execute, will, again, deliver better-than-market growth. We also believe the electronic portfolio will continue to outpace mechanical in all regions, and we are well-positioned to continue to take advantage of this industry trend. In the Americas, we see continued positive fundamentals in our nonresidential verticals led by the institutional markets. We expect the general trend toward electronic products to continue, which will help mitigate the softening that we are expecting in residential new construction.

With these expectations, we project organic revenue growth in the Americas of 5% to 6%. We are projecting Americas total revenue expansion to also be 5% to 6% with any remaining impact from the 2018 acquisitions to be offset by currency headwinds. For the EMEIA region, we expect strength in our electronics business to more than offset weaknesses in Southern Europe and the United Kingdom. For the region, we project organic growth of 2.5% to 4.5%.

Currency headwinds are expected to more than offset acquisition benefits, bringing expected total revenue growth in EMEIA region to flat to 2%. In Asia Pacific, we continue to see a healthy growth in China with softening markets in Australia and New Zealand. Organic growth in the region is estimated to be 4% to 6%, and total revenue growth is estimated to be 22% to 24%, reflecting the full-year impact of the acquisition of Gainsborough Hardware and API. All in, we are projecting total growth of the company at 5% to 6% and organic growth also at 5% to 6%.

Please go to Slide 15. Our 2019 outlook for adjusted earnings per share is $4.75 to $4.90, an increase of approximately 6% to 9%. As indicated, the earnings increase is driven by revenue growth and operational improvements as adjusted operating earnings are expected to increase 10% to 14%. Inflationary pressures will continue to be a headwind in the first half of the year, but we anticipate pricing and productivity actions to help drive margin expansion for 2019.

Incremental investments continue to be a headwind as we continue to focus on accelerating new product development and channel initiatives, which, we believe, enable us to keep delivering above-market growth and allowing us to take advantage of the shifting customer preferences to electronic products. Other expense is expected to be a drag on EPS, primarily driven by pension expense. Our outlook assumes a full-year effective tax rate of approximately 16%, an increase from 13.5% in 2018, and outstanding diluted shares of approximately 95.5 million. The outlook also includes a $0.15 per share impact from restructuring charges and acquisition-related costs during the year.

As a result, reported EPS is estimated to be $4.60 million to $4.75. We are projecting our available cash flow for 2019 to be in the $430 million to $450 million range. Please go to Slide 16. We are very pleased with our 2018 top-line growth that delivered organic revenue expansion of 6%, driven by electronics, which we see is a positive trend for us in the future.

While operating margin could have been better, we did deliver full-year adjusted EPS growth of nearly 14% in 2018, and we saw a robust 37% increase in available cash flow to more than $400 million. As we look to 2019, we expect to drive continual organic growth above market. We also expect to deliver solid growth in adjusted EPS and generate substantial available cash flow. We are well-positioned for 2019 and are committed to make the world safer, securing the places where people thrive.

I want to finish by saying that 2018 also marks Allegion's first five years as an independent company. From the beginning, we told customers, shareholders and employees we would deliver sustained profitable growth and greater value. We have delivered industry-leading organic growth at a five-year CAGR of 5.6%. We had industry-leading margins.

We have focused on the safety of our employees, health of our employees and employee engagement. We invested in the business, especially in electronics, and are positioned nicely for the future. Allegion is a company our shareholders can be proud to own. Now Patrick and I will be happy to take your questions. 


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Questions and Answers:

Operator

Yes. Thank you. [Operator instructions] And this morning's first question comes from Tim Wojs with Baird.

Josh Chan -- Robert W. Baird and Company -- Analyst

This is Josh Chan on for Tim. I just wanted to ask about the Americas segment, the pricing versus productivity and inflation comparison seems to be more challenging this quarter. I know you mentioned the residential price dynamic, but just wondering what were some of the important drivers behind that. Did the higher raw material costs start to flow through the balance sheet? Just kind of give us some color on that, it would be great.

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So Josh, I would characterize it as follows; we commented really good strength in pricing in the commercial area. Pricing on residential was lower than it's anticipated, primarily due to promotional activities and some rebates and those types of things, and that ebbs and flows during the course of the year occasionally. So a little bit lower pricing than anticipated in the residential side.

On the productivity, continue to get good productivity, particularly on materials. Inflation was more than anticipated, not so much on the raw materials, but more on the nonmaterial side. So inefficiencies associated with nonmaterials on manufacturing, those type of things. As we look forward to 2019, we believe, we have a very strong pipeline in terms of productivity, on both material and productivity projects from a manufacturing perspective.

The dynamic will become positive in 2019 and it will continue to get better during the course of the year, particularly on the inflation side, where, as you know, the commodities have kind of stabilized today relative to where they were in Q3. But the -- it starts to almost become deflation in the second half of the year. So that will benefit us as we progress throughout 2019.

Josh Chan -- Robert W. Baird and Company -- Analyst

OK, great. Thanks for the color there, Patrick. And my -- for my follow-up, could I ask about the electronics growth? You mentioned a larger order within the commercial side. I guess, is it one large project in the prior year or some distributor dynamics, just some color on what drove that? And how to think about electronics growth kind of going into next year?

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So really good continued strong growth in resi electronics. It was more of a tough comp relative to last year on the nonresi side. But as we look forward, again, to 2019, don't see any reason why we can't sustain kind of mid-teens electronics growth across our portfolio.

Feel really good where we're positioned, particularly when we look at some of our new products that we've introduced earlier this year. We -- Dave talked about Encode. I think that's going to go well for us this year. We've got some other things in the pipeline going forward.

So think we're well-positioned to continue to take advantage of this trend. And as you know, it's still low penetration rates, overall, from a residential adoption and new homes, and so we think that will continue to drive our performance going forward.

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Josh, I would just add, in the institutional commercial, you can get some relatively large projects where you go in and retrofit an entire building or campus. This is what we saw. We continue to be extremely motivated by the growth that we see in electronics and Allegion's position as we go forward.

Josh Chan -- Robert W. Baird and Company -- Analyst

OK, great. Thanks for the color and I'll hop back in queue.

Operator

Thank you. And the next question comes from Julian Mitchell with Barclays.

Julian Mitchell -- Barclays Investment Bank -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning. Maybe my first question just around following up on pricing. I think pricing was a bit less than the gross tailwind in Q4 than Q3.

It was up, I think, 1.5 points the prior quarter, it was up about just over 2% year on year. So maybe just give a bit more color on why that happens on the extent of those promotional activities that you just mentioned? And whether you've seen any change in competitive dynamics in any portion of the market in the Americas?

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So Q4 pricing was anticipated to be sequentially down relative to Q3. And the reason for that is, because in Q3, we basically had the effect of two price increases. And then remember, we pulled forward the price increase at the beginning of the quarter; in 2017, you had a price increase that went into effect in August, and so you had effect of two price increases, if you will, for one of the months in the quarter.

So the expectation was that the pricing was going to come down sequentially. 1.5% is still pretty strong, when we look at how the rest of the market is performing. Commercial, we continue to perform extremely well, very pleased with how the team is pushing price there and remaining competitive on bid quote activity. The decline may be a little bit lighter than expected, and again, it relates to the residential business on the promotional activities and the sell-through to the consumer.

So I don't look at that as necessarily a longer-term impact. Going into 2019, would expect pricing to remain robust and would expect us to be able to deliver kind of the 1.5% increase year over year in 2019 relative to 2018.

Julian Mitchell -- Barclays Investment Bank -- Analyst

Thank you. And then my second question would really be about the residential business in the Americas in terms of market landscape. Maybe just clarify how much of your Americas business for 2018 as a whole was residential? And what do you expect the residential piece of your business to grow in 2019?

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

So think about our residential position about 30%. As we look to '19, the new construction elements of the residential market will be softening, I think that's well understood. We have -- in the retrofit side of it, which is our strongest position with our new electronic products, we believe that will give us good opportunities for growth, and it's really how we've been positioning the company. In a single-family, multi-family, electronic penetration is low single digits, and we're growing well above that, and we think it's sets us up nicely.

We have also, in our channel initiatives, had some success, winning some large contracts with top builders, and we think overall will setup for a nice year in a softer residential environment.

Julian Mitchell -- Barclays Investment Bank -- Analyst

Great. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. And the next question comes from Joshua Pokrzywinski with Morgan Stanley.

Joshua Pokrzywinski -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Just to follow up on the resi question there. Did you see anything in the fourth quarter in terms of destock around the shifting landscape in that channel? Just it seems like the market share landscape is shifting a little bit notably that a competitor has had some success with some of their offerings. So I'm just -- I'm wondering how much of what you're seeing is response to the new market versus some channel fill by some other folks. Just trying to get my hands around how much of this is short-term noise versus something that's more of a market-driven weakness over time.

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

I think, in terms of the big box, there was some shifting in terms of the timing of orders as they saw deceleration in the res side of the market. We do see new competitors coming into the electronic space around res. I think if you walk through the consumer electronics show, there's many new entries. I think the number of announcements and enhancements that we made to our product portfolio in terms of connectivity as well as our channel initiatives, it positions us nicely for 2019.

Joshua Pokrzywinski -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Got it. That's helpful. And then on the 2019 implied margin guidance, Patrick, it looks like relative to the way you guys have framed up operating leverage historically that there is, call it, an extra 10 points of incremental margin or maybe $10 million of EBIT. Should we think about that as kind of the catch up from 4Q? If I were to include that in 4Q and say that price cost or some of the other irritation items wouldn't have happened, you would have had more normal incremental in 4Q? It looks like you're catching that up in '19.

Is that directionally fair?

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes, I think that's absolutely fair. And as we've indicated on the guidance for 2019, all of the EPS growth is operational related. And it's the pressure on the below items that we're getting lower-than-expected earnings-per-share growth. So the idea here is we're going to continue to press price to the extent we can in the market remain competitive, and we believe we're well-positioned to do that in 2019.

The inflation dynamic is subsiding, particularly on the material side, that will benefit us as well. We've got a strong pipeline of productivity actions that we're going to implement. We've got some areas of opportunity for improvement, I'd call self-help, on the M&A integration that we performed lower than anticipated. And then we've initiated some restructuring activities that will help reduce our cost base as well.

So collectively, when you add all that together, I think we're well-positioned to execute on margin improvement across all regions of the business. And I feel pretty good and relative to the guide, it should help us get back to kind of the 2017 margins that we enjoyed in that year.

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Josh, so I'd add to that, I think, I put a lot on the business in 2018, seven acquisitions. We really pressed hard on the digitization. And as we prepare to refresh our strategic plan and went through our budgets to prepare for 2019, and really a heavy emphasis on execution and focus, and I think we'll get that leverage back to our 2017 OI -- operating margins.

Joshua Pokrzywinski -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Got it. Thanks for the color. I'll leave it there.

Operator

Thank you. And the next question comes from Andrew Obin with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Andrew Obin -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Hi, yes. Good morning, guys. Just a question on cash flow. You guys are generating quite a bit of it, and I would imagine I think part of the debt leverage has to do with your tax structure, so maybe you're not going to delever.

Should we expect more emphasis on M&A because you did raise dividend very nicely, but that's still fairly small? Or how do you think about in 2019 M&A versus buybacks given where the stock price is? Thank you.

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So you know I would start off by saying from a capital structure perspective, as you guys know, we ended the year in the best position since spin in terms of our leverage ratio, which provides us with a lot of optionality and flexibility going forward. I just think we're well-positioned there. If you look at our capital allocation strategy, three pillars: organic investments; M&A; shareholder distribution.

On the organic investments, we talked about that, we're going to continue to invest in the business for opportunities that will expand our channel presence, getting more of the wallet from our distribution base as well as expanding new products through R&D efforts and those type of things, promotional items, demand creation. That's baked in our earnings per share, and we'll continue to manage that with nice earnings growth going forward. So your question on the M&A, I mean, as Dave mentioned, we executed a lot of acquisitions in 2018. There's opportunities to continue to drive performance in those and spend maybe a little bit more time continuing to integrate those.

And if you look at our history, in terms of acquisition performance, they really start to perform nicely kind of two to three years out, so you have to look at these more on a long-term basis, and we'll continue to drive that execution. Having said that, we will continue to remain active and looking at opportunities to expand our business either through new products or geographic expansion. Our pipeline remains robust. But the key is we'll be disciplined.

And we'll only do transactions that we believe will provide a good return on invested capital going forward, of course. Shareholder distribution, we're not going to forward cash. And we've always said, we're going to utilize the capital that we generate to either do M&A or shareholder distributions through the incremental dividend. You mentioned 29% increase this year, and you can probably see us being more active on share buyback right now, and we're going to execute our capital allocation strategy to provide the best return we can for our shareholders going forward, and that could be either M&A or shareholder distribution or a combination of there -- of those.

Andrew Obin -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

And I'll leave the question on digital strategy for the Analyst Day, but just a question on European growth. What would it take for Europe to get to consistent double-digit margins over time? And I guess, EMEIA, not Europe, sorry.

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

I think continued expansion in the electronics portfolios, extremely pleased with the SimonsVoss, Interflex performance. And I think, the European market, especially in the res side of things, in its infancy, the slowest growth market. As that picks up acceleration, we think we're in a good position to benefit from that.

Andrew Obin -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

But you don't need -- you don't feel like you need to scale up significantly in Europe through M&A to fill capacity. Do you think you can get it with existing product lines?

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So I would characterize it this way. As Dave said, continuous improvement to get to kind of our top competitor in that market landscape would require either significant facility rationalization and/or scale, getting more back-office synergies, those types of things would certainly facilitate that. But there's still opportunities for continuous improvement, and we will continue to drive that.

Andrew Obin -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Fantastic. Thanks a lot.

Operator

Thank you. And the next question comes from Rich Kwas with Wells Fargo Securities.

Rich Kwas -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning, everyone. Just a clarification with regard to the electronic lock. So 30% growth in Q3 and 7% this quarter.

You referenced some weakness on the nonresi side. So was it really more the project side or the comp side? I'm a little confused because your comps have been pretty steady, mid-teens, high-teens over the last couple of years. So it seemed to be more project related. Did you have some come in Q3 and then something fall out in Q4.

Is that the right way to think about it, or can you clarify that?

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

You should think about it as project related. Remember, we put up a 30% in Q3, which was pretty impressive, the steam came out of that. I think, when you think about our electronics growth, I'd look at it on multiple quarters. We continue to be at the high-teens level in a market that we think is converting at maybe 7% to 8%.

Rich Kwas -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

OK. But the way to think about is Q3 had some projects come in that you -- maybe you didn't anticipate in Q4 had the ops. Is that on the nonresi side?

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

That's right. Correct.

Rich Kwas -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

OK. And then just on the inflation side, so on the raw side, it was -- in finished components side, it would seem like you're going to get some tailwind here starting sometime in the first half. Is this really more a labor freight issue? It's -- that's what it sounds like and the productivity initiatives I imagine you're gearing it toward that. Is there some more color around that?

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So on the inflation side, on materials specifically, commodity is kind of a mix bag, still -- steel still remains higher than prior-year levels. However, zinc and brass, some other major inputs into our products are lower. And so it's -- collectively, Rich, it's not -- we're not quite at a point right now where the year over year is going to show significant improvement. It's going to be more back-end loaded, I would say, on materials.

And then you do have the continued inflation just on the normal operational stuff. So think about it across the board whether it'd be salaries, on personnel, freight, packaging, all these type of input costs throughout the supply chain to get our product to customers are -- we are experiencing increased cost relative to the prior year. So we'll continue to manage that through cost containment and/or driving productivity whether it'd be through CAPEX spending or other measures to get continued efficiencies in our manufacturing footprint.

Rich Kwas -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

OK. And then one last clarification. With regards to the guide, is there a number you can think about in terms of M&A EPS contribution from 2018 in the 2019. I assume it's within this $0.62 to $0.70 of operations, but just curious what you expect the '18 acquisitions to add?

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So minimal because most of them have already lapped, OK. So most of the acquisitions for Americas has now lapped itself. Europe, there's like one month -- additional month in there.

So there's not any really incremental benefit in 2019 related to 2018 acquisitions. I think the key point to mention in the guide, it doesn't assume any additional M&A activity, which would be accretive to earnings and/or share purchase. So that's kind of look at it as an organic basis and that could be, if executed appropriately, some additional earnings growth.

Rich Kwas -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

OK. Thanks. I'll pass it on.

Operator

Thank you. And the next question comes from John Walsh with Credit Suisse.

John Walsh -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Just wanted to get a little more color around the $0.15 of incremental investments kind of where they lived as we think about the segments? And I know you talked about broadly new product and channel initiatives, but maybe you could also specifically speak about some of those channel initiatives in residential, if that's growing a broader presence in certain retailers or how you think about those strategies?

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So the $0.15 on the incremental investments is distributed really basis on the size of the region. So therefore, you would have a higher emphasis in investment in Americas relative to Europe and Asia. They are specific around driving new product development, so putting more emphasis on resources and engineering to accelerate new products and get products out to the market faster.

The channel initiatives, so think of demand creation really trying to accelerate electronics growth, whether it'd be both in the resi and/or nonresidential segments, we'll continue to do that. Those would be the key items. As you kind of look at phasing in 2019, a little bit more front-end loaded in our plan for 2019 than what you might have historically seen. So we'll continue to invest in the business.

We believe they provide good growth opportunities, good cash on cash payback as well as return on capital.

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

I would say, in terms of specific initiatives to grow in resi, more segmentation in the market, I mentioned earlier that we're picking up some wins with the big builders. We think that's driven by our electronic capabilities. Multi-family will continue to be strong in 2019. And this, again, is where electronic access is a value creator for those residential operators.

And then working with the big box, in terms of point of display and inventory stocking to make sure that we've got the products on the shelves that will help pull through sales of our Schlage products.

John Walsh -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Gotcha. Thank you. And then as a follow-up, you've talked about investments kind of being front-end loaded here. When we think about the price cost productivity, you mentioned that in the back half, it kind of actually looks like deflation on some of the material costs.

How should we think about the quarterly cadence through the first half, second half, relative to normal history? I mean, I think you normally do about 47% of your OP and EPS in the first half. Given those dynamics, should we think that that deviates a little bit? Or is that still a normal seasonality is still the right way to think about the year?

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Maybe a little bit more back-end loaded, I think. It's interesting on the growth side of things, which we get pretty good operating leverage on growth. Coming out of the gate, Q1 is always a little bit lighter relative to our overall growth and then it accelerates in Q2, Q3, kind of relative to the seasonality of our business.

We saw some good acceleration in Q4. So I would kind of think about in the same type of pattern, but from a margin contribution perspective, with the inflation kind of subsiding more in the back end of the year, so look at a heavier mix of operational improvement in the second half relative to the first half.

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

I would add to that, we are very intentional in our 2019 budgeting. I think we've got the activities that will drive margin expansion throughout the year. But the nature of it, some of these projects will go over multi-quarters and will pick up momentum as the year goes on.

John Walsh -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Great. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. And the next question comes from David MacGregor with Longbow Research.

Rob Aurand -- Longbow Research -- Analyst

Rob Aurand on for David this morning. Can you talk about the month-to-month cadence of growth within the quarter? And then I guess coming into January, can you talk about the government shutdown. Do you see any impact from that at all?

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

I'd say in terms of the month-to-month growth, we naturally slow down with the construction cycle as we go through the fourth quarter. We saw some of that. I think, you also saw, I'd say, particularly in res, our big box partner maybe backing off some orders because of the softness that was projected in the overall res market.

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

The only thing I would add and then you probably discuss with us just across the landscape of various businesses, the cold weather has impacted a little bit. We've had some occasions of factory shutdowns, just because of the extreme cold temperatures in certain regions of the U.S., and so a little impact there as well.

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

I'd say, government shutdown, we were more heavily impacted by weather; when mechanical installers can't get on the job site, you see that. And there are parts of the country that are having some pretty tough challenges, and we'll see that as it envelopes -- develops. But I'd hang that on the weather versus government shutdown.

Rob Aurand -- Longbow Research -- Analyst

OK. And then just can you remind us about your tariff exposure and what's built into the guidance?

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So all tariff exposure is built to the guidance basis of what we know today. We'll see and monitor how that develops going forward. I think, you've heard us talk previously that we don't have a lot of exposure because we source, manufacture and sell pretty much in region. For products that we do import from China to the extent that they're exposed to tariffs beginning in March, that is baked in our guidance.

However, as we've indicated, we are mitigating the impact of that either through price increase that we instituted late last year and/or productivity resourcing, those type of things, to minimize those impacts. But all of that is baked in. So a favorable outcome could be some upside going forward.

Rob Aurand -- Longbow Research -- Analyst

All right. Thank you very much.

Operator

Thank you. [Operator instructions] And the next question comes from Jeffrey Sprague with Vertical Research Partners.

Jeffrey Sprague -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Hey. Thank you. Good morning, everyone. First, maybe just housekeeping one for me on -- for Patrick.

Patrick, you're guiding that the tax rate up year over year, but I think, down, certainly relative to what I was thinking, I don't -- I'm not sure where The Street was, but the nature of my question is, we've seen a number of non-U.S. domicile companies here recently signaling that they're tripped up on the deductibility of interest expense and are kind of suggesting their tax rates are going to be going up, doesn't seem like that's caught you here in 2019, but do you have any color on that? And why that may or may not be impacting your situation?

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So I can't really, obviously, comment on other companies and their particular tax situations, but maybe the general comment is relative to some of these proposed regulations that were issued at the end of the year. They're extremely complex, and, as we say, can impact foreign domicile companies as well as multinational companies. And so maybe your commentary is kind of caught up in that.

I think there's going to be a lot of commentary, and we'll see kind of where that ends up. But relative to Allegion, we've evaluated those extensively with our outside advisors, and we've made some necessary tweaks necessary to kind of feel pretty good relative to our 16% effective tax rate guide for 2019. We'll see where it goes going forward, but I think we're OK for '19. And as it relates to interest deductibility, relative to the U.S.

tax reform in 2017, that does impact us a little bit from a cash tax perspective, and that's baked in our available cash flow numbers. So our cash taxes, because of some of that limitation, will always be higher than our book provision.

Jeffrey Sprague -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Thank you. That's helpful. And then, you mentioned cannibalization as it relates to electronics growth and that, obviously -- I mean, it sounds fairly obvious, right, the outgrowth you're having there. But is there anything that is starting to impact your manufacturing costs or footprint? How your plans are lined up as this mix shifts? Anything that's disruptive to margins or is going to require restructuring or anything of size or scope that we should be aware of?

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

I don't see that, Jeff. We've gotten a nice position out of the Baja that we think sets that up nicely. Our res electronics are built there, and we think the superior access to market and be able to get those in production quickly really helps us. So feel good about our position.

Jeffrey Sprague -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. And the next question comes from Joe Ritchie with Goldman Sachs.

Joe Ritchie -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Hi. Thank you. Good morning, guys. Maybe just kind of touching on the Americas organic guide for a second.

Is there a way to maybe parse that out a little bit further? You guys talked a little bit about softening in new construction, resi new construction, but any -- is the expectation in that resi new is going to be down? And then just any other color around, like, the different end markets and the build up to that guide would be helpful.

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

So our view on residential new construction is softer in 2019 versus '18. I think we mitigate that somewhat through our electronic offerings and our strong position in retrofit. As we move to the noninstitutional, we continue to see strength in the education markets, which is K through 12, and college campuses. That's one of our strongholds.

Two things work in there, you've got continued investment and electronic conversion. We think healthcare continues to be a good opportunity for the company, not so much in the big hospitals, but in the trend to go to smaller medical suites, diagnostic centers, those types of things that you see happening nationwide. And then commercial offices continue to be OK. As I travel around the country, and I have extensively in the last 75 days, I feel a good pulse in the commercial and institutional campuses, and that's reflected in how we see our growth in '19.

Joe Ritchie -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

OK, that's helpful, Dave. And if I can maybe follow-up on just talking about EMEIA for a second. Any other additional color you can provide on QMI, specifically? And as it relates to the broader margin kind of target in that business for '19, should we expect just like this reacceleration or improvement in margins, can we get to double digits in '19? Just any thoughts there would be helpful.

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So obviously, the QMI performance was disappointing in the quarter, tough market conditions and that business is a longer earnings process. So think of installation work and when jobs get deferred, for whatever reason, you're kind of saddled with some fixed costs that hit us in the quarter. We're taking action to mitigate some of those costs going forward, and we'd expect sequential improvement continuous throughout the year to get back to profitability.

So that will start being reported, obviously, in base business beginning this quarter for Europe. So think of Europe in aggregate along with the rest of the business with continuous margin improvement during the course of the year, either through better performance on this QMI business, specifically, and/or productivity, the price inflation dynamic getting better. And so you'll see us back close to that double-digit operating profit margin for the full year.

Joe Ritchie -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

OK. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. And the next question comes from Jeff Kessler with Imperial Capital.

Jeff Kessler -- Imperial Capital -- Analyst

Thank you, and thank you for taking the question. With regard just getting back to the institutional markets in the U.S. in the healthcare markets, realizing that they've been in a lot of people's pipelines for long time, but nothing has really broken out yet. Does it appear to you right now that these businesses -- that these verticals are about to accelerate in terms of your ability to and -- from whether you're getting it from the channel or whether you're getting it directly from them, not just educational institutions, but other institutions that maybe have been part of a discussion pipeline for a while? Is that pipeline about to be turned really into, you want to call it back -- if you want to call it, forelook or backlog?

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

I believe, as I look at our backlogs, they remain healthy. More importantly, the spec and quote remain healthy on both of these verticals. I wouldn't characterize it as an acceleration. I just think, as we continue to drive portfolio expansion through new products and acquisitions, like AD and TGP, we -- as well as superior execution on working these more complex application, we tend to get more than our fair share.

And I look at these markets as solid and our execution to be good, and it's going to benefit us in the next 12 months.

Jeff Kessler -- Imperial Capital -- Analyst

OK. A follow-up is just against your two major competitors over in Europe, you're somewhat of a newbie with regards to the commercial door manufacturing business. Do you feel that it was any -- it was -- do you feel that you've learned something on QMI? Or was that -- is that so much of a one off that it is not indicative of the dynamics of the door manufacturing market either in EMEIA or in the United States?

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

So we have been in the hollow metal business since 1970. So this is something under the Steelcraft brand, we're pretty knowledgeable of the space. I think as we moved into the Middle East and look back on that acquisition: number one, you've got market turbulence with some of the political instability in the Middle East; number two, there was a pretty big change in the mix of business under the previous ownership that was target on prisons, that moved; and then third, you've got to be mindful. I don't care if you look at the wood or hollow metal business, these are tough areas to operate.

So we're mindful of that. We believe that the acquisition of QMI, Republic and what we've done with AD Systems, which is a sliding door capability, complements our strategy, will get those integrated and they'll perform to our satisfaction in the future.

Jeff Kessler -- Imperial Capital -- Analyst

OK. Thank you very much.

Operator

Thank you. And as there are no more questions, this concludes the question-and-answer session. I would like to return the conference back over to Michael Wagnes for any closing comments.

Michael Wagnes -- Vice President, Investor Relations

We'd like to thank everyone for participating in today's call, and please contact me if you have any further questions. Have a great day.

Operator

[Operator signoff]

Duration: 64 minutes

Call Participants:

Michael Wagnes -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Dave Petratis -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Patrick Shannon -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Josh Chan -- Robert W. Baird and Company -- Analyst

Julian Mitchell -- Barclays Investment Bank -- Analyst

Joshua Pokrzywinski -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Andrew Obin -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Rich Kwas -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

John Walsh -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Rob Aurand -- Longbow Research -- Analyst

Jeffrey Sprague -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Joe Ritchie -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Jeff Kessler -- Imperial Capital -- Analyst

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