Nearly two years into the pandemic, it looks like the crisis is far from over and speculation is rife over its future. Acuity Brands, Inc. (NYSE: AYI), a leading provider of lighting products and building management solutions, is currently riding the housing boom and rise in renovation activities. The company delivered better-than-expected earnings in each of the past six quarters.
Interestingly, the Atlanta-headquartered company’s stock ended a prolonged losing streak in early 2020, when the coronavirus outbreak wreaked havoc across markets, and hit the recovery path. If experts’ bullish view is any indication, currently the stock is a hot pick that has the potential to offer decent long-term returns. The consensus rating on AYI is strong buy.
Of late, high component and freight costs have been a drag on the company’s financial performance. The management responded to the cost pressure by increasing prices in a phased manner. The market will be closely tracking the upcoming earnings announcement and CEO’s comments to see how the price hike has influenced performance. The recent uptick in sales can be linked, in part, to contributions from Osram Digital Systems, whose North American arm recently joined the Acuity fold.
Taking a cue from elevated costs, Acuity executives recently issued cautious guidance for gross margin. Meanwhile, adjusted earnings climbed to $3.27 per share In the final three months of fiscal 2021 from $2.35 per share in the prior-year quarter. The growth was driven by an 11% increase in net sales to $992.7 million. The numbers also topped expectations.
“As we look forward, we expect to continue this performance. We are strategically positioned at the intersection of sustainability and technology. We have assembled a world-class team. We have demonstrated the ability to both build and acquire businesses. We have strong organic cash generation and we have demonstrated that we know what to do with it to create value,” said Neil Ashe, chief executive officer of Acuity Brands.
Meanwhile, there has been a dip in retail channel sales, which is attributable to a temporary drop in orders from leading customers. The company is scheduled to publish first-quarter results on January 7 before the regular trading hours. Experts have predicted a double-digit increase in earnings to $2.42 per share, on revenues of $880.30 million.
In the past six months, Acuity Brands’ stock rose a whopping 77%, with most of the gains coming after the release of the fourth-quarter report in October. The shares also stayed above the 52-week average since then.
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