For the fourth quarter, Toro reported net earnings of $5 million, or $0.08 per share, on a net sales increase of 12.7 percent to $382.4 million. In the comparable fiscal 2012 period, the company posted net earnings of $0.3 million on net sales of $339.3 million.
The company also announced that its board of directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.20 per share, an increase from its previous quarterly dividend rate of $0.14 per share. This dividend is payable on January 15, 2014, to shareholders of record on Dec. 30, 2013. In addition, the company increased its annual dividend guideline to 30 to 40 percent of its three-year average net earnings per share, up from the previous guideline of 20 to 30 percent. In fiscal 2013, the company paid $32.5 million in dividends and repurchased over 2 million shares of its common stock, returning more than $130 million in total cash to its shareholders.
"The Toro Company completed a record year with new highs for revenues, operating earnings and earnings per share," said Michael J. Hoffman, Toro’s chairman and chief executive officer. "We are particularly excited to have crossed over the $2 billion revenue milestone for the first time in the company’s history, a timely accomplishment as we head down the home stretch to our Centennial in July 2014. In addition, we remain focused on returning value to our shareholders, as demonstrated by the increase in both our annual dividend guideline and quarterly cash dividend."
"Looking across our businesses, Fiscal 2013 was a good year. I am extremely proud of our team and their passion for innovation and serving our customers. Of course we had our share of challenges, but we were able to successfully manage through less than ideal weather conditions in the first half of the year, as well as the phase-in of the Tier 4 diesel engine transition. Our innovative new product offerings helped us to defend and grow our positions in golf equipment and irrigation, landscape maintenance products, residential ZTR mowers and handheld blowers and trimmers. Our recent acquisitions in the rental and construction space are integrated and contributing. Demand for our precision agriculture irrigation products continued to grow and we further expanded our global presence with the closing of our China acquisition in the fourth – Toro Reports Record Results for Fiscal 2013 quarter. And our efforts on productivity are making a positive difference, helping to expand our operating earnings to a record $230.7 million and 11.3 percent and continuing our progress toward our Destination 2014 operating earnings goal."
"For the fourth quarter, even with favorable comparisons to last year when we saw soft preseason demand for our snow products, we delivered solid performance. Practically all of our product lines contributed to our sales growth and our expanded gross margins further evidence the traction we are gaining with our productivity efforts."
"Looking ahead to fiscal 2014, we are mindful of the mild expectations for our world-wide economic environments, as well as the challenges that Mother Nature can create for our businesses and customers. Nonetheless, we are cautiously optimistic about the prospects for our end markets in this Centennial year. Golf course development is progressing in key markets, housing and construction continues to improve."
The company expects revenue growth for fiscal 2014 to be about 4 to 5 percent, and net earnings to be about $2.85 to $2.90 per share. For the first quarter, the company expects net earnings to be about $0.35 per share, with unfavorable year-over-year quarterly comparisons due to increased sales accelerated into the first quarter of last year by the Tier 4 diesel engine transition that will not be repeated this year.
* Professional segment net sales for fiscal 2013 totaled $1,425.3 million, up 7.2 percent over last year. Sales of landscape maintenance equipment increased on strong retail demand for our zero turn radius products and successful new product introductions-including our new TurfMaster heavy duty walk power mower, electronic fuel injection products and turf renovation products.
Worldwide golf and irrigation sales were up as existing golf courses continued to replace aging equipment and irrigation systems with our offerings and new international golf course projects were awarded to us.
Rental and construction equipment sales grew on increased demand for our products and incremental sales from recent acquisitions. Global micro irrigation sales increased with continued demand for more efficient irrigation solutions for agriculture. For the fourth quarter, professional segment net sales were $255.8 million, up 11.9 percent from the comparable fiscal 2012 period.
* Professional segment earnings for fiscal 2013 totaled $254.4 million, up 9.6 percent from the prior year. For the fourth quarter, professional segment earnings were $21.8 million, up 5 percent from the comparable fiscal 2012 period.
* Residential segment net sales for fiscal 2013 were $594.4 million, down 2.1 percent from last year. This slight decline largely was attributable to challenged preseason sales of snow products early in fiscal 2013 and unfavorable spring weather at the beginning of the key selling season.
* Residential segment earnings for fiscal 2013 totaled $62 million, up 7.2 percent from fiscal 2012. For the fourth quarter, residential segment earnings were $10.1 million, up from $6.7 million in the comparable fiscal 2012 period.
Gross margin for fiscal 2013 improved 110 basis points from last year to 35.5 percent. The majority of the margin expansion was due to realized price, product mix and productivity improvement, somewhat offset by unfavorable currency exchange rates. For the fourth quarter, gross margin was up 30 basis points to 33.6 percent.
Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expense as a percent of sales increased 30 basis points to 24.2 percent for fiscal 2013. For the fourth quarter, SG&A expense as a percentage of sales decreased 70 basis points to 31.4 percent.
Other income for fiscal 2013 was $12.3 million, up $4.7 million from last year. The increase primarily was due to a one-time legal recovery, as well as lower foreign currency losses and higher income from our investment in Red Iron Acceptance, our channel financing joint venture.
Operating earnings as a percent of sales improved 80 basis points to 11.3 percent for fiscal 2013 For the fourth quarter, operating earnings improved 100 basis points to 2.2 percent of sales compared to 1.2 percent last year.
Interest expense for fiscal 2013 was $16.2 million, down 4.1 percent compared to fiscal 2012. For the fourth quarter, interest expense totaled $3.9 million, down 5.2 percent from the same period last year.
The effective tax rate for the fiscal year was 31.7 percent compared with 34 percent last year, primarily due to the reinstatement of the Federal Research and Engineering Tax Credit.
Accounts receivable at the end of the fiscal year totaled $157.2 million, up 6.6 percent from the prior year period. Net inventories were $240.1 million, down 4.4 percent from the end of fiscal 2012. Trade payables were $136.2 million, up 9.1 percent compared with last year.
Listen to the Dec. 5 live conference call at www.thetorocompany.com/invest.