Users of products like Rust-Oleum and DAP might not be familiar with the name of the company that manufactures them, but RPM International (NYSE:RPM) has given long-term investors sizable gains over the past five years. 2015 was a bit of a letdown for RPM, however, and coming into Wednesday's fiscal second-quarter financial report, shareholders wanted to see signs that the company could overcome some of the economic headwinds that have plagued it in recent quarters. For its part, RPM's results gave investors hope that even as factors like the strong dollar continue to weigh on its performance, the company has potential for growth in 2016 and beyond. Let's look more closely at exactly how RPM International did during the quarter and whether its shares will be able to start off the New Year on a strong note.
RPM International returns to growth mode
RPM International's fiscal second-quarter results showed vast improvement over last quarter's less robust performance. Revenue climbed 7.9% to $1.16 billion, exactly matching the consensus forecast among those following the stock. RPM produced even better net income growth of almost 20%, and that produced earnings of $0.62 per share, up a dime from year-ago levels and topping expectations by a nickel per share.
Looking more closely at the numbers, RPM continued to suffer headwinds from the strong dollar. Sales took a hit of 6 percentage points due to foreign currency impacts, cutting $0.06 per share off RPM's earnings. In the key industrial segment, sales fell almost 6% due to a negative currency effect of 8 percentage points that effectively masked a 2% gain in organic sales.
Results in the specialty segment were once again puffed up by corporate reconsolidation that brought businesses back into the reporting entity. Segment sales soared 165%, but organic growth amounted to just 3.8%. Pre-tax earnings for the specialty business doubled from year-ago levels.
In the consumer segment, sales rose 1.8% to $359.1 million, with organic growth at roughly double that rate taking a hit from the strong dollar. Pre-tax earnings climbed 6% despite negative foreign-currency translation effects.
CEO Frank Sullivan summed up the situation quite succinctly. "Our great entrepreneurial businesses generating growth in local currencies are seeing those positive results erased by foreign currency translation," Sullivan said, pointing in particular to Europe and the nearly 12 percentage point hit to sales that RPM saw in its second largest market area. Sullivan also pointed to the slowdown in oil and gas drilling, which sent sales from RPM's industrial businesses serving the energy industry down by nearly 10%.
Can RPM International keep growing?
RPM maintained a relatively cautious outlook for the remainder of its fiscal year. In the industrial segment, the strength of the U.S. commercial construction market should be enough to keep sales flat to up slightly for the rest of the year, offsetting currency effects in its foreign businesses. Specialty segment sales should climb by a mid- to upper-single-digit percentage, while the consumer segment expects mid-single-digit percentage increases as well.
RPM expects the strong dollar will keep adversely affecting RPM's results. The company expects the second-half hit to amount to about a nickel per share. Nevertheless, RPM repeated its past earnings guidance of $2.50 per share for the full fiscal year.
Investors can expect to see some new growth initiatives that RPM hopes will drive sales. In the consumer segment, for instance, RPM pointed to several product rollouts that should come in the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2016. Similarly, the specialty segment has seen good performance in food coatings, wood protection products, and marine coatings, and those businesses have potential for further gains in the future.
RPM shareholders didn't react much to the company's news, with the stock remaining close to unchanged during the first hour of trading following the announcement. For long-term investors, RPM seems to be on course to execute its overall strategic plan, and as long as the company can find opportunities in the industries it serves, shareholders should see the benefits in time.