Heavy industries pull Rockwell earnings down

Outlook positive for consumer, auto verticles

Rockwell Automation
Rockwell Automation's Milwaukee headquarters.

Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation, Inc. reported a drop in revenue and earnings during the third quarter, but new president and chief executive officer Blake Moret said the results generally matched the company’s expectations.

Rockwell Automation
Rockwell Automation’s Milwaukee headquarters.

The company reported net income of $191 million, down 7.3 percent from last year. Earnings were down 6 cents per diluted share to $1.46. Revenue for the quarter was down 6.4 percent to $1.47 billion.

Moret highlighted weakness in heavy industries, particularly oil and gas, which was down 30 percent, for the decline in sales. The weakness was particularly felt in the U.S. and Canada, he said.

Moret said business in China had largely stabilized with revenue down but orders up. Revenue in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region was up on strength from machine builders and revenue in Latin America was up based on strength in Mexico.

The company did lower its guidance heading into the fourth quarter, projecting revenue would be down around 7 percent and diluted earnings per share to be in a range of $5.43 to $5.63.

“Globally, we expect heavy industries to remain weak and see a continued positive outlook for the consumer and automotive verticals,” Moret said during the company’s earnings call.

The call was Moret’s first as CEO of the company, after taking over for Keith Nosbusch earlier this month.

He said he would share more on his vision for the company at an analyst day in November, but also said the company would continue to focus on helping customers be more effective and efficient in their work.

Asked if the company needed to be more active in making acquisitions, Moret said creating organic growth is the first priority, but acquisitions that help strategic growth are second.

“We’re not going to get into acquisitions that get us into lines of business that we don’t understand, but to speed up activities that we’ve already begun internally, I see it as an important part of our overall growth plan,” Moret said. “We have a strong pipeline now. We’re pursuing acquisitions now. And we’re not constrained by any small size limit. The ones we’ve done recently have been on the smaller side, but we’ll look at bigger ones too if they make sense and they fit that model.”

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.