Textron 2018 Q3 Earnings Results
Textron, Inc recently reported fiscal year 2018 third quarter earnings. They point to a struggling Arctic Cat brand which was acquired in early 2017. The company embedded the Arctic Cat brand under their new Textron Off Road brand in their Specialized Vehicle business, which is part of their Industrial segment. Specialized Vehicles also includes E-Z-GO golf cars, Cushman utility vehicles, towing tugs among other small, task-oriented vehicles. Management reported that poor Specialized Vehicle results hurt the Industrial segment that in turn reduced overall quarterly performance for the company.
Weak Performance but Faith in the Product
The Q&A part of the earnings call pointed to problems with products formerly sold under the Arctic Cat brand. CEO Scott Donnelly remarked that “…the most fundamental challenge in the business is around particularly the dirt side, the consumer side of that business and that’s the area that where we need the most work”. Furthermore he noted that,
” Industrial, segment profit was breakeven primarily due to unfavorable operating performance in specialized vehicles. Specialized vehicles has undergone significant change over the past two years, as we have expanded the product portfolio. While we’ve seen increasing revenue in the segment, we haven’t seen the planned level of growth or do the operating levers necessary to support the expected returns.”
Nevertheless, management remained positive about future performance and confident of the products they are putting on the market. Donnelly further stated,
“We’ve got great feedback from customers, the performance side we don’t have a product problem I mean we have still gaps which again as I said we’re working on it as we go forward but I think the progress on what the product is and how the product is performing we’re very pleased with.”
The management expects better performance in the fourth quarter.
Sales Channel Issues
Additional management comments indicated other issues in the sales channel may be limiting performance. Management noted the need to manage the channel but that some dealers are doing very well. Overall the retail sell through did not meet expectations. Furthermore, management allocated more funds to product discount programs to reduce inventory. In addition, management expressed a desire to improve the sales tools that help customers get to the product.
Pricing Changes Reflect Sales Issues
The pricing changes across the Textron Off-Road vehicle lineup from 2018 to 2019 reflects the poorer than expected retail performance. Management reduced prices for nearly every model, slashing prices for the Wildcat side-by-sides the most. Wildcat price cuts ranged from $500 to $2,500 with most at least $1,000. In contrast, many other manufacturers maintained pricing or slightly increased pricing by around $200 in most cases.
Textron Earnings Call (Seekingalpha.com)
If management likes the product and some dealers are doing well, it sounds like it may possibly be a dealer issue. Either dealers are in the wrong location or they are not performing well. The management’s comments about getting customers to the product raise additional potential issues.
“I think in general how we manage that channel is something that frankly we just haven’t done as well as we should have. And our sales tools and how easy we make it for perspective customers to figure our product, have access to the dealers, have a natural way to help customers move to our product is just something we didn’t do well.”
This could cover a lot of ground from advertising to website performance to in-store marketing material to how dealership personnel interact with customers from first contact to sale.
Marc Cesare, SVR