Categories Earnings Call Transcripts, Industrials

Barnes Group, Inc. (B) Q4 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

B Earnings Call - Final Transcript

Barnes Group, Inc. (NYSE: B) Q4 2021 earnings call dated Feb. 18, 2022

Corporate Participants:

William E. Pitts — Vice President, Investor Relations

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

Julie K. Streich — Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Analysts:

Louis Raffetto — UBS — Analyst

Matt Summerville — D. A. Davidson & Co. — Analyst

Pete Skibitski — Alembic Global Advisors — Analyst

Pete Osterland — Truist Securities — Analyst

Presentation:

Operator

Good morning. My name is Rob, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Barnes Group, Inc. Fourth Quarter 2021 Earnings Conference Call and Webcast. [Operator Instructions] Thank you.

Bill Pitts, Vice President, Investor Relations, you may begin your conference.

William E. Pitts — Vice President, Investor Relations

Thank you, Rob. Good morning, and thank you for joining us for our fourth quarter and full year 2021 earnings call. With me are Barnes President and Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Dempsey; and Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer, Julie Streich. If you have not received a copy of our earnings press release, you can find it on the Investor Relations section of our corporate website at barnesgroupinc.com.

During our call, we will be referring to the earnings release supplement slides which are also posted on our website. Our discussion today includes certain non-GAAP financial measures which provide additional information we believe is helpful to investors. These measures have been reconciled to the related GAAP measures in accordance with SEC regulations. You will find a reconciliation table on our website as part of our press release and in the Form 8-K submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Be advised that certain statements we make on today’s call, both during the opening remarks and during the question-and-answer session, may be forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Please consider the risks and uncertainties that are mentioned in today’s call and are described in our periodic filings with the SEC. These filings are available through the Investor Relations section of our corporate website at barnesgroupinc.com.

Let me now turn the call over to Patrick for his opening remarks, then Julie will provide a review of our financial results and details of our initial outlook for 2022. After that, we will open up the call for questions. Patrick?

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Bill, and good morning, everyone. Barnes closed out 2021 with solid year-over-year revenue growth, a significant increase in earnings per share and good cash performance, backlogs remained healthy, and orders in the fourth quarter generated a book-to-bill of 1.1 times. In the fourth quarter, organic revenues increased 9% versus the prior year period, while adjusted earnings per share increased 53%. Adjusted operating margin was flat to a year ago, though given supply chain challenges, inflation and the impact of COVID on employee absenteeism, the team did a good job to hold margins.

Within our segments, starting with Industrial, fourth quarter organic sales grew 3% versus prior year period, while organic orders declined 2%. From a macro standpoint, our European end markets were soft through the quarter across the segment, the Omnicom variant coupled with ongoing supply chain disruptions impacted demand and shipments. We saw COVID-related absenteeism jump as we exited the fourth quarter and that carried over into January. Automotive end markets remain challenged as global auto production was down throughout the fourth quarter and ended with 2021, up only modestly. Global auto production is expected to increase high single digits in 2022, and we expect an uptick in auto program releases as OEMs continue to accelerate their investment in electric vehicles.

Timing of improved semiconductor availability will play a key role in overall production levels and the industry’s ability to meet strong consumer demand. Regarding the global manufacturing environment, PMIs in the U.S. and Europe remain well in expansion — expansionary territory, while China continues to hover around neutral 50 mark. So overall good news with respect to the demand environment for 2022.

Within Molding Solutions, organic orders were up 3% year-over-year with automotive and personal care driving the positive comparison. Medical and packaging orders while at respectable levels, were down compared to a year ago due to difficult comps. Organic sales increased 4% led by strong medical and automotive new program launches. Closing out 2021, we have lined up additional medical market wins in vision care and glucose monitoring applications anticipated to benefit 2022 revenue. These orders reflect a combination of multiple technologies within Molding Solutions being brought to the market as an integrated solution that creates even greater value for our customers. As we look to the upcoming year, we expect Molding Solutions organic growth to be up mid single digits.

At Force & Motion Control, organic orders were up 6% with organic sales up 19%. Sheet metal forming, our largest end market for FMC has seen an increased pipeline of new opportunities with the launch of electric vehicle projects driving the activity. For this business we anticipate mid single-digit organic sales growth for the year.

Engineered Components saw organic orders decline 22% as compared to the prior year period, while organic sales decreased 5%. Our automotive production end market was meaningfully impacted by semiconductor challenges impacting revenues by approximately $8 million in the fourth quarter and approximately $21 million for the full year. We anticipate this issue to continue into 2022, with an expectation that chip supply will improve as the year goes on. Meanwhile, general industrial revenues remained very strong with recent investments in sales coverage having a positive impact on new business wins. For Engineered Components, our full year organic sales growth outlook is to be up mid single digits.

At Automation, organic orders improved approximately 4%, while organic sales were approximately flat to a year ago. For full year 2021, our Gimatic business delivered record sales and operating profit. Sales grew 21% organically, capitalizing on favorable trends in industrial automation. While we anticipate a slower first quarter to begin 2022, we foresee organic growth to be in the mid-teens for the full year. To close my industrial discussion, we anticipated supply chain and inflation headwinds into the fourth quarter and those came to pass. In addition, the Omicron COVID-19 variant resulted in higher absenteeism and labor shortages globally.

Through the discipline of the Barnes Enterprise System, we continue to work price actions to mitigate inflation impacts, manage costs, drive productivity and focus on delivering growth from our — from our strategic investments. For 2022, we forecast Industrial segment organic growth in the mid-to-high single digits, with operating margins of 12% to 13%. We do anticipate revenues and operating profit to be weighted towards the second half and expect first quarter 2022 results to be similar to the fourth quarter of ’21.

Moving to Aerospace, sales improved 26% over the prior year period with both original equipment manufacturing and aftermarket businesses delivering strong growth. Adjusted operating margin improved 620 basis points from a year ago. So great results from the Aerospace team. In OEM, orders were once again healthy as our fourth quarter book-to-bill was 1.2 times and [Technical Issues] 18% over the prior year period [Technical Issues] 2022, we anticipate high single-digit growth in OEM supported by increased production levels at both Airbus and Boeing, driven by the ramp in narrow-body platforms.

Relative to the aftermarket, we generated 45% growth with our MRO business up approximately 30% and spare parts up approximately 70%, very strong performance. The positive recovery looks set to continue as airlines are planning for growth in 2022 with incremental flights in their schedules and aircraft retirements remain at low levels. We expect narrow-body activity to propel a solid year for our aftermarket business. Looking forward, we anticipate full year sales for MRO to be up in the high 20% with spare parts up in the mid teens.

Aerospace adjusted operating margin is anticipated to be between 16% and 17% Before concluding, I’d like to reflect upon significant progress made over the past year on several important investments we’ve made in our business. We touched upon a couple of these during our recent Investor Day held in December. During the year, we embarked on a strategic marketing initiative to evolve our corporate brand, including refreshed positioning, refined Barnes values and established a modern identity that better aligns with our transformation goals and strategic growth aspirations.

We intensified our focus on digitalization by integrating our digital initiatives as an essential component within our Barnes Enterprise System, with a view towards consistent scalable solutions that drive value for Barnes and our customers. Our Aerospace business further advanced its smart factory efforts by introducing connected machines and dashboards to track data from our production processes, which will help our operations team improve quality, safety, delivery and cost. Simultaneously, Barnes Industrial leverage digital tools to enhance our customers’ engagement and experience, making advancements in the development of smart products, digital lead generation and e-commerce.

In our quest to deliver persistent ingenuity, our multifaceted innovation efforts are bringing new [Technical Issues] such as the vacuum product line we launched this year at Automation, and the introduction of advanced solutions for medical products like pipettes at our Molding Solutions business. Development also continues to harness the power of Molding Solutions integrated technologies aimed at providing a common platform and suite of capabilities that deliver state-of-the-art process solutions to enhance productivity and the user experience. Additionally, our work too enabled a widespread adoption of environmentally friendly and recycled materials to drive a circular economy is ongoing, reflective of our commitment to sustainability and all aspects of ESG.

And finally with regards to our talent management system, we welcome the first group of participants into our BarnesWORX Community. This program provides Barnes with access to a wide and diverse pool of talented individuals who possess specialized skills and capabilities that will help us address evolving business needs.

In closing, we delivered good fourth quarter and full year financial performance, while overcoming multiple headwinds. We generated solid sales and earnings growth and we achieved these results while making significant investments in strategic marketing, innovation, digitalization and our people, including expanding our sales force. We see the demand environment holding up across our end markets and coupled with the benefits from our growth investments look to drive another good performance here in 2022. Lastly, I would like to thank our 5,100 employees across the globe for their significant contributions to the company’s overall success in 2021, a solid year of business recovery, evolution and accomplishments for Barnes.

Now, let me pass the call over to Julie for a discussion on the financial details.

Julie K. Streich — Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Good morning, everyone, and thank you, Patrick. Let me begin with highlights of our fourth quarter results on Slide 5 of our supplement. Fourth quarter sales were $311 million, up 8% from the prior year period, with organic sales increasing 9%. Foreign exchange negatively impacted sales by 1%. Adjusted operating income was $35.4 million this year, up 8% from an adjusted $32.9 million [Phonetic] last year. Adjusted operating margin of 11.4% was flat to the prior year period.

Net income was $28.1 million or $0.55 per diluted share compared to $17.7 million or $0.35 per diluted share a year ago. On an adjusted basis, net income per share of $0.55 was up 53% from $0.36 a year ago. Adjusted net income per share in the fourth quarter of 2021 excludes a small amount of net restructuring charge, while the fourth quarter of 2020 excludes a penny of residual restructuring charges from previously announced actions with most of the impact reflected in other expense, not operating profit.

Moving to our 2021 full year highlights on Slide 6 of our supplement. Sales were $1.26 billion, up 12% from the prior year. Organic sales were up 11%. Foreign exchange had a positive impact of 2%, while the Seeger divestiture negatively impacted sales by 1%. On an adjusted basis, operating income was $151.1 million this year versus $144 million last year, an increase of 5%. Adjusted operating margin decreased 80 basis points to 12%, in part a result of our significant growth investments.

For the year, interest expense was approximately $16 million, an increase of $300,000 as a result of higher average interest rates, partially offset by decreased borrowings. Other expense was $6 million, similar to last year. The company’s effective tax rate in 2021 was 21.9% compared with 37.6% last year. While several factors contributed to the decrease, the largest impact items were from a change in the mix of earnings between high and low taxing jurisdiction, a benefit related to a realignment of Italian tax basis [Technical Issues] and intangibles and the absence of tax on the divestiture of Seeger.

For 2021, net income was $99.9 million or $1.96 per share compared to $63.4 million or $1.24 per share a year ago. On an adjusted basis, 2021 net income per share was $1.94, up 18% from $1.64 in 2020. Adjusted EPS for 2021 excludes a $0.04 benefit due to foreign tax matters and $0.02 of restructuring charges, while 2020 excludes $0.27 of restructuring charges and $0.13 of Seeger divestiture adjustments.

Now I’ll turn to our segment performance beginning with Industrial. Fourth quarter Industrial sales were $210 million, up slightly from a year ago, while organic sales increased 3%. Unfavorable foreign exchange decreased by sales by approximately 2%. Excluding a small favorable net restructuring adjustment in the current year and in aggregate $200,000 of restructuring charges and Seeger divestiture adjustments last year, adjusted operating profit was $19 million [Phonetic] down 23% from the prior year period and adjusted operating margin of 9% was down 280 basis points.

The decrease in operating profit was primarily driven by higher labor, raw material and freight costs, as well as costs incurred in support of segment growth initiatives. In addition, our productivity was unfavorably impacted by the higher level of COVID-related absenteeism experienced in our businesses. We saw an approximate $3 million net inflation impact for raw materials and freight and we forecast a similar level in first quarter 2022.

For the year, Industrial sales were $896 million, up 16% from $770 million a year ago, with organic sales up 14%. The Seeger divestiture had an unfavorable sales impact of 1%, while favorable foreign exchange had a positive impact of 3%. On an adjusted basis, operating profit was $97.8 million, an increase of 15% from last year, while adjusted operating margin was 10.9%, down 10 basis points.

Moving now to Aerospace. Fourth quarter sales were $101 million, up 26%, driven by an 18% increase in our OEM business and a 45% increase in our aftermarket business. Excluding a small amount of restructuring in the current and prior year period, adjusted operating profit was up 101% from a year ago. Like last quarter, adjusted operating profit benefited from the contribution of higher sales volumes, offset in part by higher personnel costs, including incentive compensation. Adjusted operating margin was 16.4%, up 620 basis points from last year. For the full year, aerospace sales were $362 million, up 2% from $354 million a year ago. On an adjusted basis, operating profit was $53.2 million, down 10% and adjusted operating margin was 14.7%, down 2 basis — 200 basis points. The year-over-year decline was primarily driven by softer first half 2021 demand, which was impacted by the global pandemics effect on aerospace end markets. The aerospace environment improved throughout the year and we exited 2021 with positive momentum. Aerospace OEM backlog ended the year at $680 million, down 2% from the end of the third quarter and up 19% as compared to last year end. We expect to convert approximately 40% of this backlog to revenue in 2022.

With respect to cash flow performance, year-to-date cash provided by operating activities was $168 million versus $215 million last year, with free cash flow up $134 million, down from $175 million last year. Capital expenditures were $34 million, down approximately $7 million from a year ago. As a reminder, 2020 operating cash flows saw a significant benefit from working capital.

Regarding the balance sheet, our debt-to-EBITDA ratio as defined by our credit agreement was 2.4 times at year end, down from 2.6 times at the end of the third quarter and down from 3.1 times at the beginning of the year. Our fourth quarter and full year average diluted shares outstanding were both $51.1 million. During the fourth quarter, we did not repurchase shares and approximately 3.6 million shares remain available under the Board’s 2019 stock repurchase authorization.

Turning to Slide 7 of our supplement, let’s discuss our initial 2022 outlook. We expect organic sales to be up 8% to 10% for the year. Foreign exchange is expected to have a 2% negative impact on sales. Adjusted operating margin is forecasted to be between 13% and 14%. Adjusted EPS is expected to be in the range of $2.20 to $2.45, up 13% to 26% from 2021s adjusted earnings of $1.94 per share. We expect a $0.02 impact on EPS for residual restructuring charges, primarily in our Aerospace segment, split evenly in the first and second quarter.

With ongoing supply chain and semiconductor issues persisting into the first half of 2022, we do see a higher weighting of adjusted EPS in the second half with a 40% first half, 60% second half split. Like last year, we see the first quarter of 2022 being the low quarterly point with EPS in the range of $0.36 to $0.40 per share.

A few other outlook items. Interest expense is anticipated to be approximately $14 million, other expense approximately $7 million, an effective tax rate of 25.5% to 26.5%, capex of approximately $60 million, average diluted shares of approximately $51 million [Technical Issues] of greater than 100%.

In closing, we delivered a good fourth quarter and full year, demonstrating resilience and agility to rapidly respond to dynamic market conditions. Cash generation and conversion remained solid and our balance sheet continues to improve, allowing us to act upon value-enhancing acquisitions as these opportunities arise. Significant investments in digitalization, innovation and talent are expected to propel us forward as we look to profitably grow the company.

Operator, we will now open the call for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from the line of Myles Walton from UBS. Your line is open.

Louis Raffetto — UBS — Analyst

Hey, good morning, Louis Raffetto on for Myles.

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, how are you.

Louis Raffetto — UBS — Analyst

Good, good. Maybe I’ll just go to, I know Julie’s favorite conversation with us is around the cash flow guidance. So I guess, what is the step up in capex?, if we kind of start there. Is there anything notable going on, going from $34 million to $60 million [Phonetic] I mean, obviously, having spent $16 million [Phonetic] several years, so just curious.

Julie K. Streich — Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, I think more than anything we wanted to allow a sufficient capital envelope to make the investments we, we may desire to make to keep the business going in the right direction. We did have lower-than-expected capex in 2021, largely in the second half, driven by the fact that we were focused on continuing to drive performance in the organization. We’ve seen a number of capital requests come through already this year and we look to accelerate our level of spend to make those investments for long-term growth.

Louis Raffetto — UBS — Analyst

Okay. And if we just sort of step up to working capital, just any comments you can make there as you are looking at 2022?

Julie K. Streich — Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

We continue to stay focused on our working capital management. We would anticipate a slight uptick in our working capital as sales increase in terms of days and dollars. But otherwise, not a real material change over what we’ve seen in 2021.

Louis Raffetto — UBS — Analyst

Okay, great. And Patrick, I think you’ve covered just a little bit on the industrial side, but maybe just a little bit more than in Aero. Can you give us any sense as to what you’ve seen so far through the first 45 days of 2022 versus the end of 2021?

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, well, it’s relevant to both, I would say that the year started off a little bit like the year ended in ’21, which was that the biggest challenge I think we faced across our businesses was absenteeism and the Omnicom variant as it hit seemed to cause significant disruption not only within our shops, but within our customer shops as well. To that end, there was deliveries that were not able to be shipped as a result of our customers in some instances not being able to accept, but — so operationally, a lot of disruption in that regard. And so that, of course, had an impact on productivity. But with respect to the backdrop of demand, I would say that we still remain very positive in terms of our end markets, whether it’s general industrial, continues to be strong with strong on a year-over-year basis and that momentum continues.

We see the medical end markets, we had some really nice wins coming up to the end of the year that we feel will have a number of follow-on orders as well into 2022 in terms of vision and glucose monitoring. We saw softness across the quarter and particularly in December in Europe. And again I think because Europe was impacted by the Omicron variant as much as we were here in the U.S. But Aerospace just continues the momentum into the New Year. One thing I’ll highlight is that our aftermarket business which continues to improve quarter-over-quarter, it’s — is never linear. So I never see there is variations between week-to-week and month-to-month, but the trend continues to be robust and we’re looking forward to a strong 2022.

The OEE side, the production for 2022 pretty much set, and so the teams are working diligently to make the necessary adjustments for the ramp that we expect over the course of the year on the narrow-body in particular, and so I’d say the year off to a slow start in January particularly because of the disruptions, but the demand factor at the backside of it all remains I think positive and as the year progresses, we expect Automotive also to continue to improve production wise as this chip shortage continues to alleviate.

Louis Raffetto — UBS — Analyst

Great, thank you. And just Julie, one quick follow-up. Did you say that for the first quarter you expected EPS of $0.36 to $0.40, is that what I heard?

Julie K. Streich — Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Yes, that’s correct.

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

That’s correct.

Louis Raffetto — UBS — Analyst

Great. Thank you, guys.

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Matt Summerville from D.A. Davidson. Your line is open.

Matt Summerville — D. A. Davidson & Co. — Analyst

Hey, thanks. Several questions. First, how, what’s your estimate in terms of how much revenue pushed out of ’21 into ’22 across the two segments?

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, the number that we — is particularly with respect to auto production and there the impact was primarily on our Engineered Components business of approximately $21 million in revenue, topline. That said, I do think that there was other revenues that were deferred even in the fourth quarter because we saw push outs as a result of some of the challenges in terms of disruption across our Industrial business. In Aerospace, I don’t, I wouldn’t suggest that we saw that many push outs. I think the rates whilst they’re lower than previously are pretty consistent. The one variable, of course, being the aftermarket which is a little bit less linear as I just highlighted, because it’s seems to be a little bit more up and down, so to speak, but nonetheless continues to be from strength to strength as you saw with Q4’s performance.

Matt Summerville — D. A. Davidson & Co. — Analyst

So when you look at the industrial business, I think you mentioned that you had about $3 million of net unabsorbed inflation pressure on profit in Q4, and I guess I’m wondering what other unabsorbed items maybe hit that P&L, whether it’d be growth investment, etc. I mean, at the end of the day I’m looking at it and if I heard you correctly, margins in Industrial are going to be around 9% again in Q1, yet you’re guiding to 12% to 13% for the full year, which clearly implies a big ramp in the second half. How are we supposed to get comfortable with that? I mean, this margin performance in Industrial is like the lowest it’s been in like a decade.

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, so definitely fourth quarter was a tough quarter for margins and I think to some of the areas you’ve just touched on, under absorption was a factor and what you had was disruption in terms of productivity. So what happens is, if — if you have a part of your production line which perhaps is impacted by employees becoming positive with the variant, then what happens is it ends up taking out a complete section of the shop, and so it’s not evenly spread. So what happens is you start reallocating your labor around the shop to try to fill in those gaps. The point being is that there was a lot of disruption in general to our [Technical Issues] performance productivity wise. And so there was that. And then I’d also highlight the fact that we continue to make the necessary investments into the business that we believe position it for future strength going forward. There, as we launched new product lines, I would highlight that they come with heavy upfront engineering involvement and what the benefit there is, is that there is follow-on orders, which all of that heavy lifting is done in the first articles, if you like. So there’s been a number of different things.

When we talk about Q4, we referenced approximately $3 million from a net standpoint in terms of the impact of inflation. I’d also point to the fact that the teams have now been diligently working over the latter half of 2021 to put in the necessary processes to push through those prices. And while we all — what we experienced in the fourth quarter is a time lag to where that benefit will come realized into 2022 as we clear out inventory that was, was not — did not have those prices passed on, but now as the new work comes in, those inflationary costs are built into the pricing.

Julie K. Streich — Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

And just to put a fine point on what Patrick is saying. If you look at the quarter-over-quarter, the 280 point decrease from 11.8% to 9% represents about $5.8 million in operating margin. So you have the $3 million that is clearly pointed at the inflationary impacts, the net inflationary impacts and then an additional $3 million, that’s the combination of those productivity impacts, some of the higher costs we have due to investments being made and that — it’s a relatively straightforward story to tell with a lot of, lot of heavy lifting going on underneath to minimize that impact from the productivity disruptions from the absenteeism Patrick spoke to. So hopefully that helps a bit as well.

Matt Summerville — D. A. Davidson & Co. — Analyst

Maybe just a quick follow-up and then I’ll get back in queue. So as we think about, and I want to make sure I didn’t hear you right. The first quarter Industrial margins will be similar to what you saw in Q4, so around 9%. How then would you suggest we model and think about what the right exit rate on margins should look like in Industrial given the pluses and minuses we’re talking about here?

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

So, as you noted, Matt, we’ve guided towards 12% to 13% for the full year and so we see that as a gradual improvement over the course of the year, both in terms of the work that’s been done to mitigate inflationary pressures, the fact that our workforce will come back into full effect with the passing or the continual improvement of COVID and then some of the key projects that we have invested in 2021 becoming, moving into production in 2022.

Matt Summerville — D. A. Davidson & Co. — Analyst

Got it. Thank you, guys.

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Pete Skibitski from Alembic Global. Your line is open.

Pete Skibitski — Alembic Global Advisors — Analyst

Hey, good morning, everyone.

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Pete.

Julie K. Streich — Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Hi, Pete.

Pete Skibitski — Alembic Global Advisors — Analyst

Maybe a little bit of a follow-up to Lou and Matt’s questions or line of questioning. First on Omicron, Patrick. Can you give us, you mentioned it kind of lingering into January, but can you give us any kind of almost a real-time update? It seems like things are getting better pretty fast globally with regard to COVID. So, are you seeing that in February? Has absenteeism gone down in February?

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, we’re seeing it going down. We’re seeing an improvement. We see — we saw the spike I would say, the ramp beginning in the early part of December with it peaking by the end of December. And then when I say peaking, it reached its highest point in fourth quarter at the end of December, but then not carried over into January and we saw a high level of absenteeism, which is why, again, we’re guiding towards the lower Q1 simply because we know the — the impact that was realized in — in the first few weeks of the year. But as we moved into February as you highlight, we’re seeing an improvement. We’re not out of the woods yet, but clearly the teams are working diligently to overcome the challenges that are presented. And we would as the year progresses, of course, every quarter progresses, we expect it to get better and better.

Pete Skibitski — Alembic Global Advisors — Analyst

Okay, okay, great. And then could you speak a little bit more just on your — your ability in Industrial to, to offset inflation or more than offset inflation, whether it be from labor or raw materials or shipping, the ability there and then also should we think about it being kind of a six-month time lag on average to where the new pricing comes through, because I think this is a question for a lot of industrial companies out there, just the ability to pass along pricing or not? Would love to hear your thoughts there.

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

So there, Pete, what I’d point to is the fact that it’s a combination of different approaches that we’re taking. The short cycle businesses allow us the ability to pass through relatively quick. The longer cycle businesses, there is a negotiation that goes on to whether if that’s contractual or whether that has openers depending on particular parameters. So there is a mix, a mixed bag. And I would also point out to the fact that some of our product, if you think about a product that was nine months, if it has a nine-month lead time, the inflation that we saw really ramped into the third and fourth quarter more than it did in the first half of ’21. And so the orders that we took in mid-year, they are — they didn’t necessarily anticipate to the extent that has happened, the inflationary costs that were experienced. So they have to clear through the system, if you like, and then the next batch of product will have that newly negotiated price. There is as we’ve highlighted, it isn’t a absolute 100% pass-through because there are many variables therein. And so whilst we pointed towards in Q3 or Q4 I should say is approximately $3 million of net inflation that we absorbed, and so we expect that inflation will continue into 2022 and that we will put every effort to mitigate it, would that — we’ll all — we’ve already anticipated approximately an additional $3 million into the first quarter and net impact to our bottom line.

Pete Skibitski — Alembic Global Advisors — Analyst

Okay. And could you just remind us within Industrial what your short cycle businesses are versus the longer ones?

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

The short cycle would be automotive molding, it would be FMC, primarily a lot of the business in FMC, you — the longer cycle within — is within Engineered Components on the auto production and then also that being contractual, it may not necessarily be longer cycle, the fact that they are longer-term agreements. And then the mold business would be longer cycle also within Molding Solutions. Automation — Automation I would put into the category of shorter cycle.

Pete Skibitski — Alembic Global Advisors — Analyst

Okay, okay, great. Thanks a lot, guys.

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

William E. Pitts — Vice President, Investor Relations

Thanks, Pete.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Pete Osterland from Truist Securities. Your line is open.

Pete Osterland — Truist Securities — Analyst

Hey, good morning. For Mike Ciarmoli this morning. Good morning, Pete. Yeah, good morning. So within Industrial, just, as supply chain disruptions resolve, would you expect that you would see now a sharp acceleration for sales later in the year, maybe driven by catching up on some of the pent-up demand or you expect it to be more of a gradual improvement throughout the year? And how does that vary across your different product lines or end markets?

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

I think for the most part we think of it as a more gradual, consistently improving quarter-over-quarter as opposed to a heavy spike at the end of the year. We’re planning to across the different businesses anticipating a ramp quarter-to-quarter per se relative to automotive, relative to our mold business, relative to our Engineered Components business. And general industrial has been more consistent and we’ve come out of 2021 with a strong general industrial set of volumes and we can expect that to continue somewhat consistently into ’22, but also improving as, as the year goes on.

I’d point to the, on the Aerospace side our end markets on the numeric side continue to — will be a gradual increase quarter-to-quarter over the course of the year as we expect the aftermarket continuing to improve as well and that both of those trends have been pretty consistent through ’21, and we expect them to continue into ’22.

Pete Osterland — Truist Securities — Analyst

All right, very helpful. Thanks. And then just within Aerospace, what are you planning to your production rates to be relative to underlying OE rates? And how significant or any headwinds you’re experiencing this year related to any specific platforms like the 787?

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, so we — monitor all different and a wide range of different inputs on what we think volumes are going to be over the course of the year. And to that end, we’re receiving feedback from the airframers, or inputs from the airframers, we’re receiving inputs from the engine manufacturers and then of course we’re using third-party data as well. What we have done within Barnes is take all of that information and set a — our internal schedules to meet that demand that even if there is fluctuation from our external customer, we are looking to keep the shops consistently producing at a particular rate and that rate is, as I said, it’s a combination of those various inputs.

In some instances we might build a little inventory, in other instances we might come up a little short. But we continuously adjust it so that we’re meeting the needs of the customer, and invariably I would say that we shy towards building a little more than we do a little less, which has an impact on inventory, but then puts us in a great position with our customers to be at the top of the list in terms of being a reliable consistent performer. And to that end, that’s a strength that we use than to leverage our position where some of the contracts we participate in are volume-based with shares between ourselves and another party and where we perform then, it allows us the opportunity to take greater share.

Pete Osterland — Truist Securities — Analyst

Great. Thanks for the color.

Patrick J. Dempsey — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

And there are no further questions at this time. Mr. Bill Pitts, I turn the call back over to you for some closing remarks.

William E. Pitts — Vice President, Investor Relations

Thank you, Rob. We thank all of you for joining us this morning and look forward to speaking with you next on April 29th with our first quarter 2022 earnings conference call. Operator, we will now conclude today’s call.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

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