Pump and spray equipment giant Graco said it will stay the course despite profits falling 16% in the first quarter as China and European factories had to shut down and its markets cratered because of the coronavirus.
Graco CEO Patrick McHale said the “wheels fell off the wagon in March” because of the unprecedented global economic slowdown. The company, though, is trying not to close any plants it can keep open or furlough workers.
McHale said Minneapolis-based Graco will continue its plans for $70 million in capital expenditures this year and will explore opportunities for acquisitions and share buybacks.
McHale withdrew Graco’s prior earnings forecast for the full year because of the economic uncertainty. The company also drew down $250 million in revolving credit to boost cash reserves. The company’s balance sheet remains strong, officials told analysts.
However, while the short term will be difficult, McHale said he fully expects the company to stay the course, which should position it well to capitalize on growth when it can.
“You should not expect any major expense reductions. … We will obviously trim discretionary spending around the edges where we can. And we have some expenses that will reset themselves at lower levels,” McHale said.
RBC Capital analyst Deane Dray said Graco’s plans are typical for the company.
“It is no surprise you [Graco] are not taking any head count out,” he said. “That is so typical of Graco to look at the longer term.”
Graco, which makes paint and foam sprayers, food processing and contractor equipment, saw sales drop 8% to $374 million while profits were $72.3 million, or 42 cents a share, for the first quarter ended March 31.
Excluding one-time expenses, adjusted earnings were $65 million, or 38 cents a share.
Analysts were expecting $391.4 million in revenue.
Graco’s shares lost $1.02 in trading Thursday to close at $44.52.