HanesBrands announced fourth-quarter 2018 results, including net sales growth of 7 percent and double-digit operating profit growth. Both earnings and sales exceeded Wall Street’s targets. Champion sales increased more than 50 percent outside the U.S. mass channel.
The company also delivered operating cash flow of $502 million, and total debt reduction of $403 million.
The company also declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of 15 cents per share and issued full-year 2019 financial guidance, including midpoint expectations of approximately 2 percent net sales growth, 7 percent GAAP diluted earnings per share growth, 3 percent adjusted diluted EPS growth, and 17 percent operating cash flow growth.
For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 29, 2018, net sales increased 7 percent to $1.77 billion and constant-currency organic sales increased 6 percent, the sixth consecutive quarterly increase for sales from operations owned for at least one year. Wall Street’s consensus estimate had been $1.71 billion.
Also driving results were growth in the Activewear and International segments as well as Innerwear sales in line with guidance.
“We had a strong fourth quarter with organic sales growth, margin expansion, double-digit operating profit growth, strong cash generation, and significant debt and leverage reduction,” said Hanes Chief Executive Officer Gerald W. Evans Jr.
Evans noted: “Our diversification strategy is working. We had strong double-digit global Champion growth, International innerwear growth in Australia, Asia and the Americas, and increased sales for underwear and shapewear in the United States. Adjusted operating profit increased 10 percent, and adjusted operating margin increased 40 basis points. We generated record operating cash flow in the fourth quarter, and we paid down half a billion dollars of debt in the second half to reduce our leverage. Our outlook remains strong, including organic sales growth and significant cash flow growth expected in 2019, which underscores our progress toward achieving our long-term goals and enhancing value creation.”
Fourth-quarter GAAP operating profit increased 95 percent to $245 million, and GAAP EPS increased to 44 cents a share. The year-over-year GAAP EPS comparison was affected by charges related to U.S. tax reform and an earn-out settlement related to the purchase of Champion Europe, both a year ago, and a higher tax rate in 2018 as a result of tax reform.
On an adjusted basis excluding actions, fourth-quarter adjusted operating profit of $260 million increased 10 percent, and adjusted EPS was 48 cents compared with 52 cents a year ago. Wall Street’s consensus target was 44 cents.
Adjusted EPS declined due to a higher tax rate in 2018 as a result of U.S. tax reform. When applying the 2018 fourth-quarter tax rate of approximately 15 percent to 2017 fourth-quarter results on a pro forma basis, 2018 adjusted EPS increased 12 percent.
Callouts for Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year 2018 Financial Results
Strong Organic Net Sales Growth. The 6 percent growth in constant-currency organic sales in the fourth quarter was the highest quarterly growth rate for that measure in eight years. The full-year’s 2 percent growth in constant-currency organic sales was the first annual year-over-year increase since 2014.
Organic growth contributors include global Champion expansion, International diversification, and consumer-direct channel penetration. The company’s coordinated global strategy to elevate the Champion brand resulted in accelerated growth. In the fourth quarter, global Champion revenue in constant currency increased more than 50 percent, excluding the U.S. mass channel. For the year, global Champion sales excluding mass were $1.36 billion, up from approximately $1 billion for 2017.
Revenue in the consumer-direct channel, defined as company-owned retail stores and all online sales, increased 23 percent in the fourth quarter and represented approximately 25 percent of total sales.
Operating Profit Margin Increases. GAAP and adjusted operating profit margins increased in the fourth quarter. GAAP operating margin was 13.9 percent, up 630 basis points, while adjusted operating margin was 14.7 percent, up 40 basis points. The adjusted operating margin benefited from acquisition contributions and lower selling, general and administrative expenses as a percentage of sales.
Strong Cash Flow, Reduced Debt, and Lower Leverage. Hanes generated a record $502 million in net cash flow from operations in the fourth quarter. For the full year, operating cash flow was $643 million. In the past two years, the company has generated nearly $1.3 billion in operating cash flow.
Using its cash flow, Hanes paid down $403 million in total debt in the fourth quarter in addition to the $115 million paid down in the third quarter. The company ended the year with significantly improved debt leverage and expects to reduce leverage further in 2019. At year end, the company’s ratio of net debt to adjusted EBITDA was 3.3 times, down from a ratio of 3.4 times at year end 2017 and 3.9 times in the first quarter following the acquisition of Bras N Things.
Fourth-Quarter Business Segment Summaries
Innerwear Segment Results Consistent with Year Ago and in Line with Guidance. As expected, U.S. Innerwear segment sales and operating profit in the fourth quarter were flat to a year ago. The operating margin was 22.6 percent.
Sales of Innerwear basics increased 2 percent with growth in men’s and women’s underwear. Products that feature comfort innovations continue to perform well and account for 20 percent of basics sales.
Sales of Innerwear intimates decreased 7 percent in the fourth quarter, although shapewear sales realized double-digit growth after the successful relaunch of the Maidenform product lineup featuring cooling innovations. The intimates sales trend was sequentially better than the third quarter.
The company is continuing to execute its revitalization initiatives for the intimates business, which is more concentrated in the midtier and department store channel and is affected by door closings and channel disruption. The company’s ongoing bra turnaround strategy includes expansion within the online and mass channels, increased investment, and speed-to-market initiatives.
Activewear Segment Sales and Profits Increase on Organic Growth. U.S. Activewear segment fourth-quarter sales increased 13 percent and operating profit increased 4 percent. Growth was driven by increased Champion sales and sales growth of American Casualwear, which consists of branded printwear sales to the screen-print industry, seasonal wholesale activewear programs, and Alternative Apparel. The anniversary of the Alternative Apparel acquisition occurred early in the quarter.
Champion sales increased more than 50 percent outside the mass channel with broad-based gains across channels, including sporting goods retailers, midtier department stores, specialty retailers, college bookstores, online, and company-owned stores. As expected, sales of Champion at mass retail declined nearly 3 percent.
American Casualwear sales increased on the strength of branded printwear replenishment sales to the screen-print channel.
The segment’s operating profit growth trailed its sales growth as a result of product mix and planned investments to support growth initiatives.
Strong International Segment Growth Continues. Despite adverse currency exchange rates, International segment sales increased 12 percent and operating profit increased 28 percent. On a run-rate basis, the International segment is now the company’s largest business segment.
In constant currency, International sales increased 16 percent and operating profit increased 33 percent. Constant-currency organic sales increased 9 percent.
International growth came from Champion strength in Europe and Asia and constant-currency organic sales growth for innerwear in Australia, Asia and the Americas. In addition, net sales for Australia-based Bras N Things, acquired in February 2018, were $43 million.
The segment’s operating margin of 16.2 percent increased 200 basis points over the year-ago quarter, benefiting from the acquisition of Bras N Things, organic growth, and integration synergies from past acquisitions. The segment’s operating margin has surpassed the corporate average for two consecutive quarters.
Regular Quarterly Cash Dividend Declared
The Hanes Board of Directors has declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.15 per share to be paid March 12, 2019, to stockholders of record at the close of business Feb. 19, 2019.
The cash dividend will be the 24th consecutive quarterly return of cash to stockholders. To date, the company has returned a cumulative $944 million in quarterly cash dividends to stockholders since initiating its program in April 2013.
2019 Financial Guidance
Hanes has issued initial guidance for 2019 that includes growth expectations for net sales, operating profit, EPS and net cash from operations.
The company expects 2019 net sales of $6.885 billion to $6.985 billion, GAAP operating profit of $900 million to $930 million, adjusted operating profit excluding actions of $955 million to $985 million, GAAP EPS of $1.59 to $1.67, adjusted EPS excluding actions of $1.72 to $1.80, and net cash from operations of $700 million to $800 million.
At the midpoint, the 2019 guidance versus 2018 results represents net sales growth of approximately 2 percent; GAAP and adjusted operating profit growth of 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively; GAAP and adjusted EPS growth of 7 percent and 3 percent, respectively; and operating cash flow growth of 17 percent.
For the first quarter, net sales are expected to be approximately $1.52 billion to $1.55 billion. GAAP operating profit is expected to be $135 million to $145 million, and adjusted operating profit is expected to be $157 million to $167 million. GAAP EPS is expected to be $0.19 to $0.21, and adjusted EPS is expected to be $0.24 to $0.26.
Guidance Assumptions. Key assumptions in the company’s guidance include: a cautious outlook for the U.S. brick-and-mortar market, including continued door closures; continued progress in U.S. Innerwear revitalization initiatives; price increases and a conservative view on elasticity; negative effects of currency exchange rates; and increased marketing investment to support brand plans.
The acquisition of Bras N Things is expected to contribute $17 million to net sales prior to the acquisition’s Feb. 12 anniversary date. Organic sales growth in constant currency for 2019 is expected to be approximately 2.5 percent. Adverse foreign currency exchange rates for the year are expected to reduce net sales as reported by approximately $60 million, primarily in the first quarter.
Segment Guidance. At the midpoint of full-year guidance, International segment net sales are expected to increase approximately 6 percent and constant-currency organic sales are expected to increase approximately 8 percent. Growth drivers are expected to be Champion sales growth in Asia and Europe and increased innerwear sales in Asia, Australia and the Americas, including the Hanes and Bonds brands. For the first quarter, International segment net sales on a reported basis are expected to increase approximately 8 percent, including acquisition contributions from Bra N Things and a $40 million negative effect of currency exchange rates.
U.S. Innerwear net sales for the year at the midpoint of guidance are expected to decrease by approximately 2 percent, while first-quarter net sales are expected to decline 4 percent, reflecting the impact from retail door closings. The company expects an improving trend as it progresses through the year following mid-first-quarter price increases.
U.S. Activewear net sales, at the midpoint of 2019 guidance, are expected to increase by approximately 2.5 percent. Champion sales outside of the mass channel are expected to increase at double-digit rates each quarter, while the Champion mass business is expected to decrease by a low teens percentage, primarily in the second half of the year. American Casualwear sales are expected to decrease primarily in the second half, as the company shifts to higher-margin products. The company expects significant margin expansion for the Activewear segment for the year with expansion in each quarter. For the first quarter, Activewear segment sales are expected to increase 10 percent.
Additional Guidance. The midpoint of 2019 guidance implies approximately 50 basis points of gross margin enhancement and 10 basis points of adjusted operating profit margin expansion.
GAAP operating profit in 2019 is expected to be affected by approximately $55 million in pretax charges, including approximately $22 million in the first quarter, related to acquisition integration and other supply chain actions. Approximately $20 million of the charges will be noncash. The charges reflect the completion of all outstanding acquisition integrations as well as Western Hemisphere supply chain realignment that includes speed-to-market initiatives that are part of the revitalization strategy for U.S. Innerwear.
Hanes expects interest expense and other expenses to be approximately $224 million combined. The company expects capital expenditure investment of approximately $90 million to $100 million. An anticipated pension contribution of approximately $26 million is reflected in operating cash flow guidance.
The company’s priority for use of excess operating cash flow is to pay down debt. The company’s debt leverage on a net-debt-to-adjusted-EBITDA basis is expected to be 2.9 times at year end. Consistent with the company’s seasonality, net cash from operations is expected to be a use in the first half.
The company expects an annual tax rate of approximately 14 percent and expects approximately 366 million shares outstanding, a slight increase versus 2018.
Image courtesy Champion