What to Expect When Nordson Corporation Reports Earnings

Chances are you've benefited from Nordson's packaging products. Credit: Nordson Corporation.

Nordson Corporation is set to release fiscal third-quarter 2015 results this Thursday after the market close. With shares down around 10% since last quarter's reasonably solid performance, now's a great time for investors to start thinking about what to expect.

That's not to say Nordson typically offers big surprises during earnings season; more than anything, theadhesive dispensing products company is a slow and steady creator of shareholder value. Nordson regularly generates healthy free cash flow ($72 million before dividends last quarter), and just last week its board raised its quarterly cash dividend 9% to $0.24 per share -- good for an annual yield of roughly 1.3%, and marking52 consecutiveyears of annual dividend increases.

Survey says ...For this week's report, consensus estimates predict that Nordson's revenue will grow 3.9% to $476.3 million, while earnings are expected to rise 4.2% to $1.25 per share. Similarly, three months ago Nordson told investorsfiscal Q3 sales would increase 2% to 6% and translate to earnings of $1.19 to $1.30 per share. At the time, Nordson CEO Michael Hilton called the forecast indicative of a "very good start to the second half of our fiscal year based on our backlog and current 12-week order rates."

Specifically, Nordson ended last quarter with a backlog of roughly $287 million. That's 26% higher than at the same year-ago point, including 23% organic growth, and a 3% boost from acquisitions. The midpoint of Nordson's guidance also assumes solid organic volume growth of 8%, a more modest 2% increase from acquisitions made in the past year, and operating margin of 24%. And these results should come amid broad-based growth, with positive order rates in most product lines and geographies.

Almost certain to continue leading the way will be Nordson's core Adhesive Dispensing Systems segment, revenue from which fell 12.4% (down 2.3% on a constant currency basis) last quarter to comprise almost 51% of Nordson's total sales. Coming in a distant second should be the Advanced Technology Systems, where revenue rose1.5% (5.3% at constant currency) in fiscal Q2 to just over 32% of Nordson's total. Finally, making up the remainder will be the smaller Industrial Coating Systems business, which incidentally saw the most impressive year-over-year growth last quarter at 17.4% (23.3% at constant currency) to 17% of total revenue.

A sticky (but temporary) macro situationSimilar to so many other globally operating businesses of late, however, Nordson also suggested that those currency headwinds will persist in fiscal Q3, with foreign exchange negatively affecting the top line by 6%.And to be fair, Nordson did have one significant potential order fall through the cracks last quarter, because of what Hilton described as "changing [requirements]" for one customer's "unique application."

Consequently -- and keeping in mind that Nordson doesn't typically provide full-year guidance because of short lead times for much of its business -- Nordson reduced its expectation for full-year organic growth to be in the mid-single-digit range, down from its previous fiscal 2015 outlook for high-single-digit organic growth. At least in part, this explains Nordson's recent gradual decline in share price. And while a relatively minor adjustment that didn't significantly affect Nordson's solidly profitable status, the market will undoubtedly have its eyes peeled for similar downward revisions in this week's report.

The article What to Expect When Nordson Corporation Reports Earnings originally appeared on Fool.com.

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Nordson. 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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