John Bean Technologies Accelerates Its Sales, Earnings Growth

By Markets Fool.com

The food and beverage industry encompasses a wide range of experiences for customers, and John Bean Technologies (NYSE: JBT) specializes in a couple of very different areas in providing technology solutions for that industry. Between providing food processing equipment and offering air-transportation related services and equipment, John Bean Technologies has diversified exposure that can give it some protection against cyclical downturns. Coming into Wednesday's third-quarter financial report, JBT investors were already looking for solid growth from the company, but even they didn't expect the breakout quarter that it actually achieved. Let's take a closer look at the latest from John Bean Technologies and whether it can keep building momentum into the future.

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John Bean Technologies provides equipment for use in aircraft food-service operations. Image source: John Bean Technologies.

John Bean Technologies flies higher

John Bean's third-quarter results were nothing short of spectacular. Revenue soared by 28% to $349.6 million, nearly doubling the growth rate that most investors were expecting to see from the company. On the bottom line, net income rose by nearly two-thirds to $20.6 million, and that produced earnings of $0.69 per share. That figure was far above the consensus forecast among investors for $0.57 per share in earnings.

Taking a closer look at the company's numbers, John Bean enjoyed success on multiple fronts. Acquisitions were a major component of JBT's growth, providing 11 percentage points of the rise in revenue. Yet even the remaining organic growth of 17% was stronger than the company has seen in some quarters in the past.

Looking at JBT's segments, the FoodTech business once again led the way forward with a 33% rise in revenue and a nearly 40% jump in pre-tax operating profit. However, the AeroTech segment, which provides food-service items and equipment for aircraft operations, also held up well. Segment sales were up a healthy 18%, and pre-tax operating profit rose by more than a quarter compared to the year-ago period.

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FoodTech also had a better experience in looking at inbound orders. The 27% rise there outpaced the the 9% gain for the AeroTech business. Nevertheless, the overall increase brought the order total to $346.8 million, and growth in backlogs was fairly balanced as well in climbing by about a quarter for the overall business.

John Bean CEO Tom Giacomini couldn't have been happier with the company's performance. "We are very pleased to report another quarter of robust earnings growth and expanded profitability," Giacomini said, and "our investments in the business, including selective strategic acquisitions, have made us a stronger equipment and service provider, deepening relationships with our customers."

What's ahead for JBT?

John Bean Technologies hasn't slowed down at all in its efforts to build up its business. Earlier this month, the company completed the acquisition of Cooling and Applied Technologies, a $90 million buy that will help the company flesh out its offerings of equipment systems for chilling, marinating, freezing, and refrigerating food, especially poultry items. In addition, the company said it would spend $160 million to buy production and packaging solutions provider Tipper Tie. Giacomini characterized both purchases as "add[ing] highly complementary product lines to JBT's protein platform, enabling us to offer customers a more complete production solution to their operating challenges."

JBT also boosted its guidance for the full 2016 year. The company now expects 20% revenue growth for 2016, with roughly two-thirds of it coming from acquisitions. With operating margin figures expected to climb, JBT believes that adjusted earnings will come in between $2.30 and $2.40 per share, which is $0.05 higher than the company's previous guidance.

John Bean shares gained slightly after the news came out, climbing a bit more than 1% in after-hours trading following the announcement. With so many things looking good for the company, John Bean Technologies has the potential to keep growing at a rapid pace and making its business look even more attractive in the long run.

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Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends John Bean Technologies. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.