It has been said that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. As such, both are seen as unstoppable, even by the weather. That would certainly seem to be the case looking at cemetery owner and operator StoneMor Partners LP's (NYSE:STON) strong first-quarter results -- announced this morning -- as many braved severe winter weather conditions in the Northeast to prepare for the inevitable parting of either themselves or of a loved one. Here's a look at StoneMor's strong results and what these results mean for 2015.
A glimpse at StoneMor's results
StoneMor reported GAAP revenue of $67.4 million, which was 4.7% higher than the first quarter of last year. The company also reported non-GAAP production-based revenue of $94.5 million, which was 10.3% higher than the previous year's first quarter. Production-based revenue was driven by 19.7% growth in pre-need cemetery revenue, a 30.1% jump in at-need cemetery revenue, and a 31.4% increase in funeral home revenue. The primary driver behind this growth was acquisitions the company made in 2014.
Despite that strong revenue growth the company's profitability declined. Adjusted operating profit fell from $22 million in the prior year's first quarter to just $16 million in this year's first quarter while distributable cash flow slumped to $15.6 million from $22.1 million year over year.
However, this was primarily due to the fact that StoneMor was going up against a tougher comparable quarter as it had two large items in the first quarter of last year. Last year the company recorded a land sale of $4.5 million and the income from its trusts was $3.6 million higher. These skewed last year's first quarter higher as land sales are very unpredictable while trust income varies greatly from quarter to quarter. So, if we adjust for these variables the company actually increased its adjusted operating income by 15.7% year over year.
A look ahead
StoneMor expects this strong growth to continue in 2015. The company's primary focus is to further integrate its newly acquired properties, which it expects will drive growth in pre-need sales. This will lead to stronger profitability and cash flow growth in the year ahead. As a result, the company expects that it will be able to grow its distribution by about a penny per unit in each quarter this year.