Late start to spring could cost Briggs & Stratton $40 million

Selling season delayed by a month, CEO says

Briggs & Stratton headquarters
The Briggs & Stratton headquarters in Wauwatosa.

Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. estimates the unseasonably late start to spring could cut its sales by $40 million in the current fiscal year and is cutting its guidance as a result.

Briggs & Stratton headquarters
The Briggs & Stratton headquarters in Wauwatosa.

The maker of small engines, lawn mowers and other outdoor equipment said Wednesday it now expects full year net sales for fiscal 2018 to be in a range of $1.89 billion to $1.94 billion, down from $1.91 billion to $1.96 billion.

Adjusted net income guidance was also cut from a $62 million to $70 million range down to a $57 million to $65 million range. The guidance excluded any impact from unseasonable weather, costs from an ongoing business optimization program or tax reform related charges.

The projected drop was attributed to lower engine sales and production because of channel partner inventory reductions and higher freight costs.

Unadjusted net income for the third quarter was down 11 percent to $31.9 million and earnings fell from 83 to 74 cents per diluted share.

Briggs did report $604 million in net sales for the third quarter, up 1.2 percent from last year. The company attributed the improvement to favorable momentum in commercial sales, up 13 percent over the last 12 months. Unseasonable spring weather cut lawn and garden sales by about $10 million in the quarter, but also led to higher generator sales with East Coast power outages.

“The unseasonable spring weather has not yet abated; in fact, there has been record snowfall across much of the Midwestern portion of the U.S. into the middle of April and continued cool temperatures which have effectively delayed the start of the spring growing season by over a month,” said Todd Teske, Briggs & Stratton chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Although the season has been delayed, we do expect a solid grass growing season as there is adequate ground moisture in the areas where lawns are prevalent.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at 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.

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