Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ:CTAS) Q4 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Jul 16, 2019 • 05:00 pm ET
EPS increased 16.9%. We are pleased with these fourth quarter results which conclude a very successful year. A year ago in our prepared remarks, we shared our expectations for fiscal '19. We provided revenue and earnings per share guidance, we committed to an estimated amount of synergies from the G&K acquisition and the continued conversion of operations to a new ERP system. We shared our excitement for with returning to our debt to EBITDA target ahead of schedule and we committed to returning to our historical priorities for deployment of cash. We are happy to report that we not only achieved but exceeded these expectations.
For the ninth consecutive year, our organic growth rate was in the mid to high single digits. This means, we've been able to grow consistently in multiples of GDP and employment growth. Due to our strong growth, innovative products and services and hard work and dedication of our employee partners, we moved up 41 places to Number 459 in the Fortune 500 ranking. For the ninth consecutive year, we achieved double-digit earnings per share growth from continuing operations when adjusted for one-time special items. We paid an annual dividend of $220.8 million that increased 26.5% over the prior year. We've now increased the annual dividend paid to our shareholders for the 35th consecutive year and the Company deployed excess cash by purchasing 4.8 million shares of Company stock for a total amount of $953.4 million. Fiscal '19's achievements were especially noteworthy given that they were accomplished in a period of extreme change management in which we were integrating our largest acquisition to-date and implementing a new enterprise resource planning system, namely SAP.
The integration of a very large acquisition require the extra effort of everyone in the organization. Our partners executed our playbook and made the right adjustments when necessary. Better revenue retention and more cost synergies have resulted in a higher return on investments and plan. In many respect, the implementation of an ERP system is like an integration of a very large acquisition. It impacts hundreds of operations and require the involvement of experts from all departments of the Company. The conversion of each operation to SAP is an 8-month process of planning, changing business processes and employee mindsets, training and certification and customer communication. In implementing SAP, we are moving from a decades old platform to new technology that provides powerful information and data designed to help us improve our business.
Through fiscal '19 about 65% of the operations are now in SAP. We will complete the rollout to the remaining locations in fiscal '20. The Cintas story is one of growth. We have grown both revenue and profit 48 of the past 50 years. The only exceptions were the Great Recession years. Our successful financial formula is organic revenue growth in the mid to high single digits, double-digit earnings per share growth, significant cash generation and prudent deployment of excess cash. Our priorities for uses of cash are investing in the