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Why Shares of Briggs & Stratton Are Plunging Today

By Lou Whiteman - Jan 30, 2020 at 11:19AM

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The company has suspended its dividend as the growth engine continues to sputter.

What happened

Shares of Briggs & Stratton (BGGS.Q) traded down more than 16% on Thursday after the company posted disappointing quarterly results and suspended its dividend effective immediately. The small-engine and outdoor equipment maker has struggled in the year-plus since major customer Sears Holdings filed for bankruptcy, and is now looking to preserve cash while it formulates a turnaround plan.

So what

Before markets opened Thursday, Briggs & Stratton reported a fiscal second-quarter adjusted net loss of $0.20 per share on revenue of $437.9 million, well below the loss of $0.13 per share on sales of $458.9 million that analysts had expected. The company also lowered its full-year fiscal 2020 guidance on earnings to a range of $0.05 to $0.33 per share, down from $0.20 to $0.40.

A lawn mower working on a sunny day.

Image source: Getty Images.

"Areas of market-related softness drove sales below expectations, and we are incrementally more cautious about the second half of the year," CEO Todd J. Teske said in a statement. "Softer-than-anticipated retail activity this fall has left channel inventories of residential mowers elevated in North America and Europe, and channel partners have signaled a conservative approach to ordering for the upcoming season."

Shares have lost more than half their value over the past year, but the company recently completed a review of its portfolio and is devising a plan that could include asset sales aimed at streamlining operations and investing in stronger operations. Ahead of that restructuring, Briggs & Stratton said it was suspending the dividend "in an effort to strengthen the balance sheet and provide additional funds to invest for future initiatives."

Now what

Prior to the dividend suspension, Briggs & Stratton was yielding more than 3%, a reminder to investors focused on dividend stocks of the importance in examining companies that offer a good yield to make sure that yield is sustainable. Given the issues Briggs & Stratton has had over the last year, the dividend cut shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

There is value in these assets, but management faces an arduous task in trying to match inventories to demand and get the business operating profitability again. With the dividend now gone, there's one reason fewer for investors to hang around and see if management is up to the challenge.

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