For every product that you have in your home or garage, there's a company that gives you a potential investing opportunity. RPM International (RPM 0.34%) is one such opportunity, as the maker of Rust-Oleum protective coatings and DAP sealants and adhesives has offered investors healthy dividends and business stability throughout its history. Coming into Monday morning's fiscal fourth-quarter financial report, investors wanted to see more of the same from RPM, and the company actually fared even better than most had expected, with another quarter of record results. Let's look more closely at how RPM International finished its fiscal year and what's next for the company.
RPM International keeps its growth smooth
RPM International had another solid quarter of performance, with revenue climbing 7.5% to $1.37 billion. That was only a bit above the $1.36 billion that most investors had expected to see, but on the bottom line RPM really stood out, with net income jumping nearly 18% from the year-ago quarter to $128 million. That produced diluted earnings of $0.94 per share, which was a full dime higher than the consensus estimate among those following the stock.
Unfortunately, RPM's growth wasn't uniform across its business segments. The industrial segment stood out as the strong performer, with sales climbing 14% due to a combination of organic growth and the impact of putting the results from its Specialty Products subsidiaries back into its consolidated financial reporting. The strong dollar once again weighed on the unit, costing the industrial business 8.5 percentage points of potential revenue growth during the quarter. Domestically, RPM's industrial segment fared especially well, but Europe was fortunate simply to hold local-currency revenue flat because of the poor economic conditions there.
Meanwhile, RPM's consumer business struggled, as revenue dropped 2.5%. Tough comparisons to the year-earlier quarter were a big part of the declines, but the company also said that weather issues had an impact on retail interest from customers.
As we've seen in past quarters, RPM executives were happy about how the company did, even as they continued to see challenges in the current environment. CEO Frank Sullivan said that despite "the very strong U.S. dollar and sluggish conditions in many international regions, including much of Europe and Latin America ... our operating companies continue to compete and win in their respective markets." Sullivan also pointed to the internal organizational progress that RPM has made throughout the year in helping to move the company forward.
What fiscal 2016 could bring for RPM International
Going into 2016, RPM is staying positive about its prospects, although investors might not be satisfied with its early guidance. The company expects the consumer segment to rebound with sales gains of between 4% and 5%, even though the poor beginning to summer will hold back fiscal first-quarter revenue growth. In the industrial segment, growth in sales of 8% to 10% should help drive the company forward, with strong prospects in Brazil helping to offset some of the weakness RPM is seeing from the energy sector.
Nevertheless, earnings guidance for $2.55 per share for fiscal 2016 is well below the $2.73 per share consensus among investors. RPM tried to explain that the guidance includes a dime per share from a higher tax rate and $0.07 per share from the strong dollar, but it's likely that investors had already incorporated their own expectations about those factors at least to some extent.
Still, RPM believes that fiscal 2015 has been a historic year for the company. Specialty Products had long-standing issues due to potential asbestos liability from its Bondex unit, but with those having been resolved favorably, RPM believes that its products will start pulling their weight and helping to add to the company's overall success.
RPM shareholders didn't react too strongly to the report, sending the stock up less than 1% in pre-market trading following the announcement. What's important, though, is that even with the challenges that the company is facing, RPM International continues to press onward to find new opportunities for growth wherever it can find them.