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Garmin's Earnings Call: 3 Big Takeaways

By Demitri Kalogeropoulos – Updated Aug 5, 2021 at 4:29PM

Key Points

  • Management says it is operating near capacity today thanks to soaring demand for outdoor-activity products.
  • Sales should increase at a double-digit percentage rate for a third straight year in 2021.
  • Look for profit margins to expand as new factories come online and the aviation segment rebounds.

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The GPS device-making giant got a big boost in demand over the past two years and it's still booming.

Garmin (GRMN 0.47%) is finding its way to another year of market-thumping operating results. The maker of GPS navigation devices recently announced surprisingly strong sales growth across its portfolio thanks to booming demand for outdoor living, plus a flood of popular product releases.

The good times might just be getting started.

CEO Cliff Pemble and his team sounded optimistic in a recent conference call with Wall Street analysts as they hiked their growth outlook and provided a forecast for faster earnings gains in 2021. Let's look at three highlights from that presentation.

A woman jogging while wearing a smartwatch.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Steadiness beneath the surge

Garmin's 53% year-over-year sales spike in Q2 was better than most investors had predicted, but executives tried to cut through the noise from the pandemic to describe a strong but steady industry. Sales are up 18% over the past two years, Pemble noted, "which is very much in line with recent trends during quarters less impacted by the dynamics of the pandemic." Pemble said that big-picture momentum "indicates that the underlying market is healthy and continues to grow."

Still, Garmin made its own luck in the period by releasing dozens of hit products across niches like smartwatches, adventure watches, fitness trackers, and aviation navigation. "The highly diverse business model provides a rich set of opportunities and reduces our reliance on single markets and product lines," CFO Douglas Boessen said.

2. The aviation business takes flight

Garmin's aviation business had been a promising growth story before the pandemic struck, with the potential to boost the entire business's profitability. Gross profit margin in that segment was 74% in 2019, compared to 59% for the entire portfolio.

While the division took a big hit from COVID-19, it has rebounded to 2019 sales levels and again looks likely to lift the broader business. It's a nice balance against the more consumer-driven niches like fitness trackers, too. "We're pleased with how the aviation segment has recovered," Pemble said.

3. Betting on bigger growth

Garmin lifted its outlook across the board and now expects sales to jump 17% in 2021 even after rising 12% in 2019 and expanding 11% last year. That result should be the sixth straight year of strong revenue growth for this attractive business. Operating profit margin, which had been improving for several years heading into the pandemic, is running roughly steady due to management's investments in areas like the supply chain.

But Garmin is betting big on the fact that its wider sales footprint will be a valuable competitive asset. In fact, the company just secured its fourth factory, in Taiwan, which will roughly double its global capacity.

That expanding production capability is another reason to like this growth stock over the long term since it should provide an earnings lift in the coming years. But it also solves an immediate problem tied to Garmin's struggle to meet existing needs for its products.

"I would say we're almost at 100% capacity," Pemble said, "keeping up with this market growth and demand." The new factory should start helping by late 2021, and not a moment too soon. "We've been busting at the seams," he said.

Demitri Kalogeropoulos has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Garmin. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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