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Gentex Corp. Earnings Reflect Further Market Penetration

By Steve Symington - Jul 23, 2015 at 11:20AM

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Once again, the auto mirror specialist accelerated growth despite falling light vehicle production.

Gentex Corporation (GNTX 1.26%) just announced another better-than-expected quarter. But similar to investors' muted reaction to solid first-quarter results three months ago, Gentex stock simply isn't reflecting the auto-dimming mirror specialist's outperformance.

To be sure, shares traded flat in Thursday's early trading after Gentex revealed second-quarter revenue climbed 12% year over year to $379.3 million. That translated to 12% growth in adjusted net income to $77.2 million, and a 10.6% increase in adjusted net income per share over the same period to $0.26. Similar to last quarter's buyback activity, the latter figure was bolstered in part by Gentex's decision to repurchase 1.4 million shares during the quarter for roughly $25.1 million. At quarter's end, Gentex still had roughly 3.4 million shares available for repurchase under its current authorization.

In any case, analysts were less optimistic going into the report, with consensus estimates calling for lower earnings of $0.25 per share on revenue of $375.5 million. 

A closer look in the mirror
On one hand, the Automotive business unsurprisingly remained at Gentex's core; Automotive segment net sales grew 12% year over year, to $370.5 million, thanks to an 11% increase in shipments of auto dimming mirror units.

Revenue from Gentex's much smaller "other" segment, on the other hand, decreased a modest 1.1% over the same year-ago period, to $8.8 million. For reference, this primarily encompasses sales of dimmable aircraft windows and fire protection products.

Meanwhile, gross profit margin came in at 38.4%, a sequential decline from 38.8% last quarter, and down from 39.7% in the same year-ago period. Gentex's noted purchasing cost reductions helped lessen the severity of the year-over-year decline, but couldn't completely offset the negative effects of annual customer price reductions, unfavorable product mix, and foreign currencies.

The road ahead
Going forward, Gentex now anticipates a 1% increase in calendar year 2015 light vehicle production, which is an improvement from its expectation three months ago for a slight year-over-year decline.

Assuming continued market penetration as newer vehicles increasingly adopt its products, Gentex sees 2015 net sales in the range of $1.52 billion to $1.55 billion, up from its previous range of $1.47 billion to $1.54 billion. At the same time, for the reasons described above, Gentex also reduced the top end of its expected gross margin range by 50 basis points, resulting in new gross margin guidance in the range of 38.5% to 39%.

But Gentex also lowered the upper end of its operating expense guidance by $3 million, good for a new range of $148 million to $151 million. Finally, Gentex expects its full-year tax rate to be 31.5% to 32%, representing a 50 basis-point reduction on the top end of its old range.

All things considered, while Gentex's beat and raise wasn't exactly overwhelming, it was a beat and raise nonetheless. Despite the sluggish increases in light vehicle production, Gentex has continued to grab market share as older vehicles are replaced by newer ones, which increasingly incorporates its products to improve vehicle safety at a reasonable cost. Over the long term as this trend continues, it seems fair to say Gentex should also continue to extend its industry leadership position while rewarding patient investors in the process.

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Gentex. The Motley Fool owns shares of Gentex. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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