Sierra Wireless (NASDAQ:SWIR)(TSX:SW) released fourth-quarter 2015 results Thursday after the market close. Investors were unfortunately treated to more of the same from the Internet of Things specialist.
With last quarter's painful post-earnings drop still lingering, Sierra Wireless stock fell as much as 20% in Thursday's after-hours trading, when it announced that Q4 revenue fell 2.8% year over year, to $144.8 million. This was below the low-end of guidance, which called for revenue of $148 million to $151 million.
That result was driven by a 6.2% decline at Sierra Wireless' core OEM solutions segment, to $121.5 million, a 15.3% drop in enterprise solutions revenue, to $16.5 million, and $6.8 million in revenue from the newer cloud and connectivity services business. Up until October 1, 2015, the latter was formerly rolled into the enterprise solutions segment, as cloud and connectivity services revenue was immaterial before the company completed several managed connectivity acquisitions last year.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell 50.4%, to $6.3 million. And based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), that translated to a net loss of $0.4 million, or $0.01 per diluted share, which narrowed from the $1.7 million net loss Sierra Wireless incurred in last year's fourth quarter. On a non-GAAP basis -- which means excluding items like share-based compensation and acquisition expenses -- Sierra Wireless' net income was $2.5 million, or $0.08 per diluted share, down from adjusted net income of $9.1 million, or $0.29 per share in the same year-ago period.
Meanwhile, Sierra Wireless remains debt free. It also generated reasonably healthy cash flow from operations of $13.1 million during the quarter, and increased its cash and equivalents by $5.5 million sequentially from Q3, to $93.9 million.
A wider (but still temporary) scope
You might recall that, last quarter, Sierra Wireless largely blamed its underperformance on "temporary headwinds" crimping demand for 4G-enabled enterprise notebooks, primarily as the industry transitions to Intel's new Skylake processor platform. This time, however, the headwinds facing Sierra Wireless are more broad-based.
Sierra Wireless CEO Jason Cohenour explained: "In the fourth quarter of 2015, our revenue was slightly below expectations, as we experienced softer demand at select OEM customers. We believe this reflects increased caution on the part of some customers in the face of an uncertain macro-economic environment."
A big repurchase authorization
Sierra Wireless also revealed it has received approval from the Toronto Stock Exchange of its "Notice of Intention to Make a Normal Course Issuer Bid." Think of this as a kind of controlled share-repurchase authorization.
Beginning February 9, 2016 and ending February 8, 2017, per the terms of the bid, Sierra Wireless may purchase and retire up to 3,149,199 common shares of stock, representing 10% of the public float, and roughly 9.7% of common shares outstanding as of today. Apart from block purchases allowable under TSX rules, these purchases will be made at market price, and will be subject to a daily ceiling of 22,269 common shares, or around 25% of the stock's average daily trading volume during the past six months. Sierra Wireless, of course, maintains the flexibility to determine the timing of these purchases.
The way forward
During the subsequent conference call, CFO Dave McLennan revealed that the company expects first-quarter 2016 revenue to be $135 million to $145 million. That's flat to lower on a sequential basis, and well below Wall Street's consensus estimates for revenue of $155.1 million.
Similar to last quarter, Sierra Wireless' management noted that this was primarily due to the continued shifts in the timing of orders from a single large-automotive customer, as well as the continued transition by OEMs to the new processor platform for enterprise notebooks. But further compounding weakness in the current quarter was the above-described demand headwinds given today's economic uncertainty. As a result, Sierra Wireless expects first-quarter adjusted EPS to be "slightly positive to slightly negative."
Finally, for the full year 2016, Sierra Wireless expects revenue of $630 million to $670 million, good for growth of 3.7% to 10.2% over 2015, and adjusted earnings per share of $0.60 to $0.90.
Despite the slow start in the first quarter, however, Cohenour elaborated, "[W]e expect our business to gain strength over the course of the year as we enter commercial production on a number of new customer programs, and continue to bring new industry-leading products and solutions to market."
Nonetheless, analysts' consensus estimates predicted full-year revenue and earnings would be $673.7 million and $0.98 per share, respectively -- both well above the high ends of Sierra Wireless' guidance ranges. At the same time, this should give Sierra Wireless an opportunity to take advantage of its newly authorized Course Issuer Bid, especially if management fulfills its promise that the business will only gain strength as 2016 progresses.
For now, however, given its top- and bottom-line miss in Q4, and light guidance for the year, it's no surprise to see Sierra Wireless stock pulling back today.