Food-safety and animal-health product producer Neogen
When I looked at Neogen in January, I mentioned that some of the revenue the company expected to recognize in its second quarter was pushed into its third and fourth quarters because of delays in international sales. So while last quarter's sales were only up 6.6%, this quarter's sales growth was expected to be higher -- and it is. The company reported 22.1% sales growth for its third quarter, and its nine-month sales growth is 12.6% higher year over year.
However, the revenue number isn't entirely clean, because the company acquired a firm that does dairy antibiotic tests in December. Doing some unscientific estimating to back out the growth from the acquired business, it looks like the nine-month sales growth for the company's existing food-safety business was closer to 10%-12% instead of the 16.6% reported. This adjusted number is still healthy growth, and it's pretty close to the 13% comps growth the company cites in its press release for the third quarter.
The company's earnings are more impressive, with diluted earnings per share up an impressive 36% for the quarter and 32% for the first nine months of the year. The company has earned $5.98 million through the first nine months, compared with $4.47 million in the year-ago period.
But it looks like only a little more than half of that $5.98 million will make it through to free cash flow. The company doesn't provide a cash flow statement, but its balance sheet and income statement allow us to estimate the cash flow from operating activities, capital expenditures, and free cash flow. That's just a rough guess, however, and it doesn't take acquisitions into account.
Part of this lackluster free cash flow performance is also due to inventory buildup. The company has shut down one of its plants and will be moving the operations to another facility. Presumably, the move is cost-effective for the company in the long term, but it makes the short term less appealing. I recommend waiting for the company's 10-Q filing to sort through the details and make a full assessment.
Two and a half months ago, I found Neogen to be well-positioned, but not too attractively priced. The price has increased about 10% since then, and I'm not totally blown away with what the company just reported this quarter, so my opinion hasn't changed. Neogen is an interesting company, but I don't feel compelled to own it right now.
For related Foolishness on Neogen: