Badger Meter Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2020 Results
January 29, 2021 at 08:30 AM EST
Fourth Quarter 2020 Highlights
Full Year 2020 Highlights
“Badger Meter delivered another quarter of strong performance and an outstanding year in light of the many and varied challenges associated with managing through the pandemic,” said Kenneth C. Bockhorst, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our performance is the direct result of the durability of our business model and the efforts of our employees across the globe who have helped us safely maintain our operations and serve customers.”
Fourth Quarter Operating Results
Operating margins of 15.1% were 10 basis points lower than the prior year’s 15.2%. Gross margin increased $2.9 million year-over-year, and gross margin percent increased 100 basis points to 39.2% from the prior year’s 38.2%. The quarter benefitted from favorable sales mix with higher SaaS, cellular radio and ultrasonic meter sales and favorable facility utilization. Margins were also supported by positive price/cost dynamics, the result of strategic pricing initiatives in advance of rising brass input costs. These benefits were partially offset by a discrete network sunset provision associated with future equipment upgrades for early-stage Code Division Multiple Access (“CDMA”) radio endpoints for a limited number of North American customers, along with the acquisition-related fair value step-up of acquired s::can inventory.
Selling, engineering and administration (“SEA”) expenses in the fourth quarter of 2020 of $27.1 million increased $2.3 million from the prior year’s $24.8 million with the inclusion of s::can and resulting acquisition-related intangible amortization along with higher personnel costs, partially offset by lower travel and other pandemic-impacted expenses. SEA leverage was 24.1% up from 23.0% in the comparable prior year quarter. The tax rate of 22.6% was modestly lower than the prior year’s 24.3%.
Full Year Recap and Outlook
“While we anticipate the overall economic environment will remain uncertain, we are confident in our strategic growth plans and the fundamental long-term drivers of our offerings. Leveraging our industry-leading ORION® Cellular endpoints, along with current and future communication and software technologies, we are creating robust digital solutions to operationalize real-time data into actionable insights that drive better results and optimize operations. The inclusion of the recently acquired s::can and ATi portfolio of comprehensive and scalable water quality monitoring solutions will now allow us to deliver real-time water quality data to our customers. Access to real-time, on demand water quality parameters will enable water utilities to improve operational security, awareness and efficiency, while our industrial customers will benefit from process and discharge water quality monitoring.”
“Our order backlog, sales momentum, and encouraging pipeline of potential business gives us confidence as we start the new year. Our teams continue to focus on what we can control as we serve our customers and maintain safe operating environments. While strategic pricing initiatives have and continue to be implemented, the recent rapid and significant escalation in brass costs may be an impediment to near-term margin expansion opportunities.”
Bockhorst concluded, "Badger Meter is a company that has successfully managed through challenges over its 115-year history, and this pandemic is no exception. We are fortunate to navigate through this environment from a position of strength. We believe that the combination of our talented team, resilient portfolio of solutions and strong balance sheet uniquely position Badger Meter for success in 2021 and beyond as we work to protect the world’s most precious resource.”
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