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$AYI said it has been relatively acquisitive over its last 7 or 8 years and sees that is still a fundamental part of a way to deploy this excess cash flow. With regard to stock buyback, the company did buy back 2MM shares last year and $AYI has the authorization from the Board for another 2MM shares.
$AYI expects the price of certain LED components to continue to decline so at decelerating pace, while certain other costs, including certain components and commodity costs, especially steel prices, as well as certain employee-related costs due to further investments in associate headcount, wage inflation and health care costs all to rise somewhat.
$AYI said it has additional borrowing capacity of $244.7MM at Nov. 30, 2017 under credit facility, which does not expire until August 2019. $AYI now has authorization to repurchase up to 2MM shares of its common stock. $AYI will continue to seek the best use of its strong cash generation to enhance shareholder value.
$AYI said that its specific issues in the home center/showroom channel and certain international markets, the company was still able to grow its net sales in the U.S. and Canada by about 2% in 1Q18 far outpacing the negative growth rate of the overall lighting industry.
$AYI now sees its blended consolidated effective income tax rate for FY18 to approximate 26-28% before discrete items, compared with nearly 35% for the prior year. $AYI sees tax rate for 2Q18 to be significantly lower than the estimated full-year blended tax rate to cumulatively adjust for the 35.5% tax rate recorded for 1Q18.
$AYI expects certain headwinds in the home center/showroom channel to continue in the near term, giving way to growth in calendar 2H18 as the company brings new solutions to key customers and expand its access to market in this important sales channel.
$AYI's gross profit for 1Q18 declined 2.6% year-over-year. This was due primarily to lower sales, unfavorable price/mix, and higher input costs for certain commodity-related items, such as steel, which were partially offset by lower costs for certain LED components and productivity improvements. Adjusted gross margin fell 80 basis points to 41.6%.
$AYI's sales for 1Q18 declined 1% year-over-year. This was primarily due to a 1% decrease in sales volume and a 1% net unfavorable change in product prices and mix of products sold (price/mix), partially offset by a 1% favorable impact from changes in foreign exchange rates.
$AYI CEO Vernon Nagel said 1Q18 sales results were below its expectations but once again better than market level performance as initial industry data suggests that the growth rate of its key end markets in North America was down low-single digits, which was in line with previous expectations.
$AYI reported a 12.5% drop in 1Q18 earnings due to lower sales as well as last year's gain from sale of an investment in unconsolidated affiliate. Net income fell to $71.5MM or $1.70 per share from $81.7MM or $1.86 per share last year. Net sales declined 1% to $842.8MM. Adjusted EPS decreased 3% to $1.94.
Lighting solutions provider $AYI has appointed Laurent J Vernerey as its EVP and President of the recently formed Acuity Technology Group. Earlier, Vernerey served as President and CEO of Schneider Electric, North American. At Schneider, Vernerey held various senior leadership positions for over three decades.
$AYI's board reviews its dividend policy each quarter and the company feels comfortable with where the dividend is now. $AYI continues to see really significant growth opportunities, when looking at over the last 6-7 years, the company has deployed in acquisitions using both cash and stock, but close to a range of a billion or two.
$AYI's adjusted selling, general and administrative expenses for 4Q17 decreased by 15.2MM from last year. The decrease was primarily due to lower incentive compensation expense, partially offset by greater salary and healthcare cost due to continued investment in additional head count that support and drive its tiered solution strategy.
$AYI expects growth rate for lighting and building management solutions in the North American market, which includes renovation and retrofit activity and comprises over 97% of revenues, will be up low single-digits for FY18, reflecting expected rebound in 2H18. $AYI sees FY18 tax rate of about 35.5% and capital expenditures of about 2% of sales.
$AYI remains bullish regarding the company's prospects for continued future profitable growth. The company expects to see some volatility in demand among certain sales channels and geographies, including possible short-term volatility due to the recent hurricanes that hit Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico.
$AYI's gross margin for 4Q17 declined 100 basis points to 42.5% from last year. Higher warranty expense and labor costs were primarily responsible for the lower gross profit margin. Adjusted selling, distribution & administrative expenses lowered 250 basis points due to a decline in incentive compensation expense.
$AYI reported a 9% jump in 4Q17 earnings driven by higher sales. Net income rose to $90.5MM or $2.15 per share from $82.9MM or $1.89 per share last year. Net sales grew 3.5% to $957.6MM, on a 4.5% increase in volume, partially offset by a 1% net unfavorable change in product prices and mix of products sold. Adjusted EPS increased 15.4% to $2.55.