Metro Glass shares tumble after weaker-than-expected guidance

Sales have lagged behind due to a faster‐than‐expected slowdown in the Canterbury residential market and a short‐term drop in activity in Wellington

UPDATED: Metro Performance Glass shares dropped 17.5% after the company said annual profit was likely to be similar or lower than the previous year as costs were higher than expected and local sales were behind expectations on dwindling work in Canterbury and a dip in Wellington.

The Auckland-based company, which has more than half the country's glass processing market, said it expects net profit to be in a range of $19-20.5  million in the year ending March 31 versus a profit of $20.5 million a year earlier. Revenue is expected to be $24-245 million versus $188 million in the previous period. The guidance includes seven months of trading from Australian Glass Group with sales estimated to be in a range of $27-29 million. Metro Glass bought AGG in August for $A43.1 million.

The shares, which listed at $1.70 on the NZX in 2014, last traded at $1.56.

Nick Dravitzki, an equity analyst at Devon Funds Management, said the market was clearly disappointed by the earnings number, which was at least 10% below what was expected. "The issue seems to be their cost base is higher than expected," he said.

The company said: "Sales have recently lagged behind the company's expectations due to a faster‐than‐expected slowdown in the Canterbury residential market and a short‐term drop in activity in Wellington following the November 2016 earthquake."

In a conference call with analysts and investors chief executive Nigel Rigby underscored that the company is "going well" in a revenue sense but said a recent learning curve as it scales up production, distribution and technological capability has increased costs.

He expects the situation to improve after the current financial year. "Certainly, over the three months April to June we'd be looking for improvement," he said. He said "it's been an interesting four or five months" with Canterbury slowing, the earthquake in Wellington causing delays and the company's learning curve "but don't see that as a baked-in scenario."

He also underscored that momentum in the commercial project markets has continued to fluctuate, with particular large projects facing protracted installation timetables. "This volatility has resulted in inefficiencies for Metro Glass in production planning and inventory and labour management," according to the company.

Mr Rigby said issues in the commercial sector had definitely impacted the company's earnings, in particular the delays. He noted, however, "it's the reality of the sector" and something the company is going to have to get used to, in particular in a booming market.

He was upbeat about AGG. "We are now five months into the acquisition and it is tracking to expectations ... There are no surprises to date," he said. 

Earlier, chairman John Goulter said the supportive construction market outlook would ensure revenue growth for several years but the company needs to focus further on automation, process and cost saving across manufacturing, logistics and glazing.

(BusinessDesk)

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