Gentex Corp. Keeps Moving Forward

By Steve

Gentex Corporation just reported another solid quarter. But as per usual, the market effectively shrugged its shoulders at the auto-dimming mirror specialist's results. Though shares initially declined as much as 3% after the report Wednesday, Gentex stock largely recovered Thursday as investors digested the news.

More specifically, Gentex's third-quarter revenue increased 11.1% year over year, to $389.8 million, including a 1% headwind from the negative effects of foreign exchange. Net income rose 8% over the same period, to $78.3 million, or $0.27 per diluted share. Analysts, on average, were anticipating roughly the same earnings per share, and slightly higher revenue of $393.4 million.

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Take a closer lookGentex's per-share results were bolstered by the company's repurchase activity, including 2.1 million shares of common stock bought back in Q3 alone, and 4.9 million shares repurchased through the first nine months of 2015. Gentex's board also approved the repurchase of an additional 5 million shares on top of its remaining authorization, leaving roughly 6.3 million shares available for repurchase going forward.

Within its top line, Automotive revenue continued to lead the way, increasing 11% year over year, to $379.9 million. For that, Gentex primarily credits a 15% increase in auto-dimming mirror unit shipments, despite flat vehicle production in its primary markets. Meanwhile, revenue from Gentex's "other" segment -- which encompasses dimmable aircraft windows and fire-protection products -- rose 9% year over year, to $9.9 million.

Trending toward the bottom line, gross margin increased sequentially, to 39%, up from 38.4% in last quarter, and down from 39.5% in the same year-ago period.The sequential improvement is mostly due to increased purchasing cost reductions and favorable shifts in product mix, while a combination of foreign exchange, and to a lesser extent, annual customer price reductions, are to blame for the year-over-year decline.

In addition to Gentex's usual scheduled principle repayment on its term loan, the company also paid down $25 million on its revolver loan. Gentex generated $91.3 million in cash flow from operations last quarter alone, and is very methodical in the way it uses cash -- first, to ensure its dividend grows along with earnings, next, to fund complementary share repurchases, and finally, to use remaining cash to strategically pay down debt above and beyond its obligations. With around $227.5 million in long-term debt remaining, and more than $564.5 million in cash and equivalents on its balance sheet at the end of the quarter, Gentex was well within its comfort zone to utilize that third option to further improve its financial position.

Looking forwardBased on the latest IHS Automotive production forecasts, Gentex now anticipates total light-vehicle production in the current quarter to rise only slightly from the same year-ago period, to 12.63 million units. At the same time, while 2015 production is still expected to rise around 1% from 2014 levels, IHS' exact full-year production figure has been increased slightly, to 51.34 million, up from 51.27 million three months ago.

Nonetheless, based on current foreign-exchange headwinds, and its first three-quarters' results, Gentex reduced the top end of its full-year 2015 revenue guidance slightly, resulting in a new range of $1.52 billion to $1.54 billion (compared to $1.52 billion to $1.55 billion previously). At the same time -- and for the second time in as many quarters -- Gentex reduced its estimate for 2015 operating expenses to a range of $145 million to $147 million, down from the prior range of $148 million to $151 million.

Finally, in light of concerns over recent controversy, and the company's relationship with Volkswagen -- which last year was one of four key customers to account for 10% or more of Gentex's total sales --Gentex CFO Steve Downing offered the following context:

Gentex's slight top-line shortfall relative to expectations notwithstanding, this was another solid report from a top-notch company that continues to further penetrate its core markets. As Gentex's products are increasingly considered must-haves in newer vehicles, it seems fair to say that momentum should only continue as the overall size of those markets gradually increases in the coming years.

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Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Gentex. The Motley Fool has the following options: short December 2015 $15 puts on Gentex. 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.

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