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Why Garmin Is Projecting a Record Holiday Season

By Demitri Kalogeropoulos - Updated Nov 10, 2019 at 10:22AM

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The GPS device giant sees another strong quarter ahead.

In late October, Garmin (GRMN -0.13%) added another entry in what's becoming a steady string of blockbuster operating results. The GPS device giant's third-quarter earnings benefited from strength across its growing product portfolio, culminating in 15% higher sales and a 33% boost in operating earnings.

Below, we'll look at a few highlights that management had for investors both in the company's conference call with analysts and in its shareholder presentation describing the third-quarter results.

A pilot views his navigation equipment.

Image source: Getty Images.

Broad-based success

Today, Garmin reported another strong quarter of revenue growth of 15% to $934 million. Aviation, fitness, outdoor and marine collectively increased 24% and contributed 85% of total revenues. -- CEO Cliff Pemble

Garmin's automotive division shrank 17% as consumers continued to shift away from dedicated GPS devices for directions. Yet the company's other four segments more than made up for that slump with sharp demand gains across the board. Those successes included a 28% spike in net sales for both the fitness division and the high-margin aviation unit.

Garmin's outdoor segment, home to the Fenix smartwatch franchise, won market share in several niches on the way to a 23% sales increase. "We delivered another quarter of strong growth thanks to our lineup of great products in every market segment," Pemble told investors.

Efficiency gains

All five [operating] segments had strong year-over-year increases in operating income dollars and improved operating margins. -- CFO Doug Boessen

Garmin allocated more cash toward key areas like research and development and marketing. However, its premium industry positioning helped it deliver head-turning profitability gains despite these investments.

In fact, each of the company's five product divisions -- including automotive -- boosted their profit margins in the quarter. These wins combined to push overall gross margin up to 61% of sales from 59% a year ago, and lifted operating income margin to 28% of sales from 24%. As a result, Garmin cranked out $1.27 per share in adjusted earnings for a 27% increase year over year. Executives cited a flood of popular product innovations, plus the excess growth in aviation, for pushing profitability to a new record.

Positive momentum heading into the holidays

We now anticipate revenue of approximately $3.65 billion driven by higher expectations for our aviation, fitness, and outdoor segments. -- CFO Doug Boessen

Garmin raised the sales growth outlook for three of its divisions while leaving the other two unchanged. The net result is that 2019 revenue is now on pace to rise to $3.65 billion compared to the $3.5 billion that management had initially projected following 2018's banner result.

Combine that top-line growth with rising margins, and you have a recipe for market-thumping profit gains. Earnings are set to reach $4.15 per share rather than the prior goal of $3.90 per share as operating margin lands a full percentage point above Garmin's last projection.

Those aggressive targets will depend on Garmin having a strong holiday shopping season for consumer-focused niches like smartwatches and fitness trackers, and continued success in aviation and marine GPS devices. The accelerating growth momentum across these areas puts Garmin in an ideal position, though, and makes it highly likely that the tech stock will post a fourth consecutive year of improving sales and record profit margins in 2019.

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