It has been about a month since the last earnings report for Waters (WAT). Shares have lost about 5.5% in that time frame, underperforming the S&P 500.
Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is Waters due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts.
Waters' Q3 Earnings & Revenues Beat Estimates
Waters has reported third-quarter 2021 non-GAAP earnings of $2.66 per share, which surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 13.7%. Further, the bottom line improved 23% on a year-over-year basis.
Net sales of $659.2 million beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $652.3 million. The figure was up 11% from the year-ago quarter on a reported basis as well as on a constant-currency basis.
Top-line growth was driven by solid momentum across pharmaceutical and industrial end markets. Strong performance in Asia, the Americas and Europe contributed well. Strong performance delivered by the Waters and TA segments was another positive.
However, the company witnessed sluggishness in the governmental and academic end market.
Top Line in Detail
The company’s net sales figure can be categorized in four ways:
By Operating Segment: It operates in two organized segments — Waters and TA.
The Waters segment (88.3% of net sales) generated $581.8 million of sales, up 9% from the year-ago quarter. Sales in the TA segment were $77.4 million (11.7% of net sales), which reflected 28% year-over-year growth.
By Products & Services: The division comprises three segments — Instruments, Services and Chemistry.
Instruments sales (44.9% of sales) were $296.1 million, up 10% on a year-over-year basis.
Service sales (36.4% of the sales) were $240.1 million, increasing 10% year over year.
Chemistry sales (18.7% of the sales) were $123.04 million, up 14% from the year-ago quarter.
Moreover, service and chemistry segments generated recurring revenues of $363.1 million, up 11% from the year-ago quarter.
By Markets: The company serves three end markets — Pharmaceutical, Industrial, and Governmental & Academic.
The Pharmaceutical market (60% of net sales) generated sales of $398.3 million, which increased 16% on a year-over-year basis.
The Industrial market’s (30% of sales) sales were $196.03 million, up 9% from the year-ago quarter.
Governmental & Academic (10% of sales) generated $64.9 million of sales. The figure decreased 9% year over year.
By Geography: The company’s operating regions include Asia, the Americas and Europe.
Asia (38.6% of net sales) generated $254.6 million of sales, up 8% on a year-over-year basis.
The Americas (35% of sales) generated $231 million of sales, increasing 16% year over year. Notably, sales in the United States increased 26% year over year.
Europe (26.4% of sales) generated $173.6 million of sales, up 10% from the prior-year quarter.
In the third quarter, non-GAAP selling and administrative expenses were $150.4 million, reflecting an increase of 16.9% from the year-ago quarter. As a percentage of net sales, the figure expanded 110 basis points (bps) year over year.
Research and development spending was $41.9 million, indicating a rise of 20.1% from the year-ago reported figure. As a percentage of net sales, the figure expanded 50 bps year over year.
The adjusted operating margin was 29.7%, which contracted 140 basis points (bps) year over year.
Balance Sheet & Cash Flow
As of Oct 2, 2021, cash, cash equivalents and investments were $655.2 million, lower than $663.6 million as of Jul 3, 2021.
Account receivables stood at $532.9 million at the end of the third quarter, down from $543.1 million in the last reported quarter.
Waters generated cash from operation of $167.9 million in the reported quarter, up from $143.04 million in the prior quarter.
The company recorded a free cash flow of $140 million in the third quarter.
For fourth-quarter 2021, Waters expects non-GAAP earnings of $3.40-$3.50.per share.
The company anticipates net sales growth of 5-7% on a constant-currency basis.
For 2021, Waters anticipates non-GAAP earnings of $10.94-$11.04 per share.
The company expects 2021 net sales growth of 15-16% on a constant-currency basis.
How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?
It turns out, estimates review have trended upward during the past month.
At this time, Waters has an average Growth Score of C, however its Momentum Score is doing a bit better with a B. Charting a somewhat similar path, the stock was allocated a grade of C on the value side, putting it in the middle 20% for this investment strategy.
Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of C. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.
Estimates have been broadly trending upward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions looks promising. Notably, Waters has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.
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