Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE:PII) reported net income of $6.75 per diluted share for the year ended December 31, 2015, a two percent increase compared to $6.65 per diluted share for the year ended December 31, 2014. Net income was $455.4 million for the full year 2015, approximately flat to previous year’s net income of $454.0 million. Sales for the full year 2015 totaled a record $4,719.3 million, an increase of five percent compared to sales of $4,479.6 million for the full year 2014.
For the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2015, Polaris reported net income of $1.66 per diluted share, a decrease of 16 percent compared to the prior year’s fourth quarter net income of $1.98 per diluted share. Net income was $110.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2015, down 18 percent from the previous fourth quarter’s net income of $135.4 million. Sales for the fourth quarter of 2015 totaled $1,105.6 million, a decrease of 13 percent over last year’s fourth quarter sales of $1,275.0 million.
“While 2015 was a difficult year, we did manage to grow market share in each of our businesses and increased sales and earnings per share for the sixth consecutive year. That said, our performance failed to meet our earlier projections, as both external and internal challenges restrained growth and profitability. The strengthening dollar and weakening oil markets combined with an unseasonably warm winter constrained demand for off-road vehicles and snowmobiles, placing pressure on dealer inventory and forcing us to curtail shipments in the fourth quarter. While our execution to plan did not meet our historically high standards, we have taken numerous actions to position Polaris for better performance in 2016,” commented Scott Wine, Polaris’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
“Our outlook for 2016 reflects another volatile year in powersports driven by near-term growth pressures from weak end markets as the threat of a worldwide economic slowdown looms. However, we have been in this situation before, and we know how to manage through difficult economic climates. We will continue to optimize dealer inventory, aggressively manage operating costs and other risk exposures, and provide our end-consumer with products and services that exceed their expectations. Concurrently we will continue to invest in projects that accelerate future growth and our lean journey, such as the Huntsville, Alabama plant which is scheduled to begin production in the second quarter of this year. I believe we have the best team in powersports, a strong and diverse portfolio of brands and products, broad capabilities across all our disciplines, and a proven strategy that will continue to create value for our stakeholders in the years to come.”
2015 Product and Operations Highlights
Introduced 20 new MY‘16 ORVs in 2015, including the all-new RZR XP 1000 Turbo — the most powerful recreational side-by-side available, the all-new POLARIS GENERAL 1000 — the new standard in off-road work and play versatility
The new moto-roadster, Slingshot, significantly exceeded our sales expectations in its first full sales year
Added to the iconic Indian Motorcycle line-up with the introduction of the all-new Indian Scout Sixty, a 999cc premium motorcycle at the lowest MSRP in the Indian Motorcycle line to-date at $8,999
Expanded the award winning AXYS platform into seven new MY’16 RMK mountain sled models
Introduced more than 500 new PG&A accessories
Continued to add to the Polaris family with five acquisitions; Brammo’s electric motorcycle business, Hammerhead Off-Road Vehicles in China, Timbersled Products – the maker of snow bikes, the purchase of a paint facility in Spearfish, S.D., and 509 – an aftermarket leader in snowmobile helmets and goggles
Added several new MY’16 vehicles in the Company’s adjacent markets including the completely redesigned GEM with better ergonomics and refreshed styling
Eicher/Polaris JV began production and retail of its new Multix utility 3-in-1 personal vehicle
Broke ground on the new ORV manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Alabama which will provide additional capacity and flexibility to the Company’s current manufacturing footprint. Production is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2016
Renewed the Polaris Acceptance joint-venture agreement with GE Commercial Distribution Finance Corporation, a business of GE Capital, through 2022 and extended retail credit agreements with Sheffield and Synchrony Banks (both through December 2020)
2016 Business Outlook
Given the anticipated ongoing weak industry trends in North America, particularly in the oil and gas regions and continued volatility in the currency markets, the Company expects full year 2016 net income to be in the range of $6.20 to $6.80 per diluted share, compared to the $6.75 per diluted share reported in 2015. Full year 2016 sales are anticipated to be in the range of down two percent to up three percent over full year 2015 sales. Ongoing currency volatility and industry retail sales uncertainty are the major reasons for the wider guidance range for sales and earnings per share for 2016.
Off-Road Vehicle (“ORV”) and Snowmobile segment sales, including their respective PG&A related sales, decreased 18 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014 to $862.0 million. ORV vehicle sales decreased 20 percent, snowmobile vehicle sales were down 25 percent and ORV and snowmobile related PG&A sales, combined, decreased five percent in the 2015 fourth quarter compared to the same period last year. For the full year 2015, Polaris ORV and snowmobile segment sales decreased one percent compared to full year 2014.
ORV wholegood sales decreased 20 percent reflecting weak North American retail sales, particularly in regions heavily dependent upon the oil markets including Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and western Canada. Polaris North American ORV unit retail sales were down low-single digits percent from the 2015 fourth quarter, with both consumer purchases of side-by-side vehicles and ATV retail sales lower than prior year. While the Company experienced modest market share loss in the 2015 fourth quarter, Polaris outpaced the ORV industry, gaining market share in both ATVs and side-by-sides for the full year 2015, building on its #1 position.
Snowmobile wholegood sales declined 25 percent due to timing of shipments in the 2015 fourth quarter compared to the prior year’s fourth quarter as the Company was able to manufacture and ship its snowmobiles earlier in 2015. The Company continued to outperform the overall snowmobile market with increased market share season-to-date ending December 31, 2015.
Motorcycle segment sales, including their respective PG&A related sales, increased 33 percent in the 2015 fourth quarter to $162.6 million primarily due to continued strong retail sales for Indian motorcycles and Slingshot. For the full year 2015, Polaris motorcycle segment sales increased 67 percent compared to the prior year.
North American consumer retail demand for the Polaris motorcycle segment, including Victory, Indian Motorcycle and Slingshot, was up low-single digits percent during the 2015 fourth quarter while the overall motorcycle industry retail sales, 900cc and above, declined high-single digits percent in the 2015 fourth quarter. During the 2015 fourth quarter, the Company began retailing its newest addition to the Indian Motorcycle line-up, the new 2016 Indian Scout Sixty, which shares many elements of the award-winning Indian Scout released in 2014, but starting at a sub-$9,000 price point that brings industry-leading mid-sized performance within reach of every rider. Additionally, interest in the new Slingshot moto-roadster continued strong as the Company completed its first full year of retailing the new moto-roadster which far exceeded the Company’s expectations for sales and profitability. Product availability for Indian Motorcycle and Slingshot improved considerably in the 2015 fourth quarter as throughput at the Company’s Spirit Lake, Iowa motorcycle plant increased and the new paint facility purchased in Spearfish, South Dakota, began production. Victory Motorcycles retail sales were down mid-teens percent in the 2015 fourth quarter primarily due to continued low product availability. For the fourth quarter and full year 2015, Polaris’ motorcycle business gained a significant amount of market share.
Global Adjacent Markets segment sales along with their respective PG&A related sales, decreased 20 percent to $81.0 million in the 2015 fourth quarter compared to the 2014 fourth quarter. For the full year 2015, Global Adjacent Markets segment sales decreased two percent compared to the prior year.
Work and Transportation group wholegood sales were down 12 percent during the fourth quarter of 2015 due to ongoing currency pressures and tough comparison as the Company began shipping the new co-developed Ariens Gravely Atlas JSV side-by-side vehicles in the fourth quarter last year. Additionally, sales for the Company’s defense business were down significantly due to U.S. military budget constraints pushing the timing of shipments for current orders into the future.
Parts, Garments, and Accessories (“PG&A”) sales, which are included in each of the three respective reporting segments, experienced a seven percent decline during the 2015 fourth quarter. All segments experienced lower PG&A sales during the quarter. The lower PG&A related sales were the result of lower vehicle sales and poor snow conditions which impact in-season snowmobile related PG&A sales. For the full year 2015, Polaris PG&A related sales increased five percent compared to the prior year.
International sales to customers outside of North America totaled $181.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2015, including PG&A, down eight percent from the same period in 2014. International sales on a constant currency basis were up three percent in the 2015 fourth quarter. For the full year 2015, international sales decreased five percent to $651.6 million compared to the prior year (sales were up ten percent on a constant currency basis). Europe, Middle East and Africa (“EMEA”) reported sales declined 13 percent in the 2015 fourth quarter and Asia Pacific reported sales were up three percent while Latin American reported sales were up 26 percent. International reported sales by reportable segment in the fourth quarter compared to last year were as follows: ORV/Snowmobiles segment sales were down 16 percent, Motorcycles segment sales were up 58 percent, and Global Adjacent Markets segment sales declined 14 percent.
Gross profit decreased 16 percent to $310.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $367.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. As a percentage of sales, gross profit margin declined 77 basis points to 28.1 percent of sales for the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to 28.8 percent of sales for the same period last year. While currency movements from a year ago, primarily the Canadian dollar, were expected to negatively impact gross margins during the fourth quarter of 2015, the amount of impact was higher than originally anticipated as the Canadian dollar continued to weaken sequentially from the 2015 third quarter. The negative currency impact during the quarter along with higher promotional costs and negative product mix, were partially offset by lower commodity costs, cost savings from product cost reduction efforts and higher selling prices. For the full year 2015, gross profit as a percentage of sales decreased 108 basis points to 28.4 percent.
Operating expenses declined four percent to $169.1 million or 15.3 percent of sales for the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $176.9 million or 13.9 percent of sales for the fourth quarter of 2014. The decrease in dollars was driven largely by ongoing investments in research and development, offset by operating cost control measures and the reduction in incentive compensation plan expenses resulting from the Company’s lower stock price and lower profitability in 2015. For the 2015 full year, operating expenses, as a percent of sales, decreased 20 basis points to 14.7 percent.
Income from financial services was $18.0 million during the fourth quarter 2015, a decrease of seven percent compared to $19.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. The decrease is attributable to lower shipments and weak retail in the 2015 fourth quarter. For the full year, income from financial services was $69.3 million, a 12 percent increase compared to $61.7 million for the full year 2014.
Equity in loss of affiliates was $2.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to $1.2 million last year, which represents the Company’s portion of the operating results related to the Polaris/Eicher joint venture in India. In the third quarter of 2015, the Company began production and consumer sales of the new jointly developed Multix personal vehicle in India. For the 2015 full year, equity in loss of other affiliates was $6.8 million compared to $4.1 million for the full year 2014.
Non-operating other expense, net, which primarily relates to foreign currency exchange rate movements and the corresponding effects on foreign currency transactions related to the Company’s foreign subsidiaries, was $3.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to $3.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. For the 2015 full year, non-operating other expense was $12.1 million compared to $0.0 million for the full year 2014.
The provision for income taxes for the fourth quarter of 2015 was $40.4 million or 26.7 percent of pretax income compared to $67.1 million or 33.1 percent of pretax income for the fourth quarter of 2014. The lower income tax provision rate in the fourth quarter 2015 is primarily due to the extension of the research and development credit by the U.S. Congress in the 2015 fourth quarter. The provision for income taxes for the full year of 2015 was $230.4 million or 33.6 percent of pretax income compared to $245.3 million or 35.1 percent of pretax income for the full year of 2014.
Financial Position and Cash Flow
Net cash provided by operating activities was $440.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2015, compared to $529.3 million for the same period in 2014. The 17 percent decrease in net cash provided by operating activities for the 2015 period was due to increased working capital required as the Company reduced shipments in the 2015 fourth quarter. Total debt at the end of 2015, including capital lease obligations and notes payable, was $463.3 million. The Company’s debt-to-total capital ratio was 32 percent at December 31, 2015, compared to 21 percent a year ago. Cash and cash equivalents were $155.3 million at December 31, 2015, up from $137.6 million for the same period in 2014.
Share Buyback Activity
During the fourth quarter 2015, the Company repurchased and retired 427,000 shares of its common stock for $45.8 million, bringing total share repurchases to 2,179,000 shares or $293.6 million for the full year 2015. As of December 31, 2015, the Company currently has authorization from its Board of Directors to repurchase up to an additional 2.9 million shares of Polaris stock.
Non-GAAP Measure – Constant Currency Reporting
This release and our related earnings call include a discussion of the Company’s 2015 fourth quarter and full year results and 2016 expectations on a constant currency basis, which is a non-GAAP measure, as well as on a GAAP basis. For purpose of comparison, the results on a constant currency basis uses the respective prior year exchange rates for the comparative period to enhance the visibility of the underlying business trends, excluding the impact of translation arising from foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations.