Curtis Reusser, Esterline's Chief Executive Officer, said, "We're executing well, progressing on our restructuring initiatives, and seeing good trends in our order book, making us increasingly confident that we will achieve our full-year expectations." Reusser said that he expects the positive momentum to continue, adding, "We were pleased to see a 13% increase in orders versus last year and a book-to-bill ratio of 1.1 for the quarter." He noted that during the second quarter, Esterline experienced an improved sequential revenue trend, primarily driven by "...continued expansion in the commercial aerospace market, with build cycles for commercial platforms at historic highs."
Based on its solid second quarter performance and order book, the company reiterated its guidance for fiscal 2014. Excluding integration costs and specific incremental expenses related to improving compliance programs, the company expects adjusted earnings per diluted share for the full fiscal year in a range of $5.40 to $5.70, on a revenue range of $2.0 billion to $2.1 billion. Reusser said, "As we enter the second half of 2014, our business remains healthy, our end markets appear to be performing as anticipated, and we are positioned to benefit from the initial cost savings related to our integration activities and from contributions on developing programs, including the 787, the F-35 and the A400M. We're clearly benefiting from our earlier investments."
Integration and Compliance Activities
During the second fiscal quarter, the company continued to execute on its previously announced integration plans, which include the consolidation of facilities and improved cost efficiency through shared support services in sales and general and administrative functions. During the quarter, the company incurred integration and certain incremental compliance costs of $6.3 million, of which $2.1 million was reported as restructuring charges on the company's income statement, $2.4 million was listed in selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) expense, and $1.8 million was reflected in consolidated gross margin. The company continues to expect total integration costs related to the announced initiatives to approximate $40 million, with $25 million to $30 million expected to be incurred in fiscal 2014 and the balance in 2015. The company also continues to expect these activities to create savings in excess of $15 million annually starting in fiscal 2016.
Results of Operations
In the second fiscal quarter of 2014, sales increased 6.0% -- 3.1% organically -- to $529.6 million, compared with $499.6 million in the prior-year period. This growth reflects continued strength in commercial markets and revenue contributions from investments in key strategic programs, partially offset by lower sales for certain defense products.
GAAP earnings from continuing operations in the second fiscal quarter of 2014 increased 4.9% to $37.2 million, or $1.15 per diluted share, compared with the prior-year period results of $35.5 million, or $1.12 per diluted share. Excluding costs related to the company's integration and incremental compliance activities, adjusted earnings from continuing operations were $41.5 million, or $1.28 per diluted share, an increase of 16.8% compared with the year-ago period.
Gross margin in the second quarter of fiscal 2014 was 34.4%, compared with 36.3% in the prior year. Lower gross margin was primarily attributable to purchase accounting impacts from the acquisition of Sunbank, unfavorable product mix in some areas, and decreased aftermarket sales. Gross margin also was impacted by the inclusion of $1.8 million of integration and incremental compliance costs noted above.
Second fiscal quarter SG&A expense as a percent of sales was 18.6%, an improvement of 110 basis points from the prior-year level of 19.7%. This improvement was achieved despite the inclusion of $2.4 million in incremental compliance expenses and resulted primarily from scale related to the revenue growth in the quarter.
Research, development and engineering spending in the second quarter of fiscal 2014 was $26.8 million, or 5.1% of sales, compared with $25.7 million, also 5.1% of sales, in the year-ago period. Reusser reiterated his expectation for R&D levels "...to remain around this level for the full year."
The company's income tax rate in the second fiscal quarter of 2014 was 19.6% compared with 21.0% for the prior-year period. Cash flow from operations remains strong at $84.0 million through six months.
New orders in the second fiscal quarter of 2014 increased 13.6% to $561.2 million over the prior year. New orders for the first six months of fiscal 2014 were $1.06 billion compared with $0.97 billion for the same period last year. Total backlog at May 2, 2014, was $1.30 billion compared with $1.33 billion at the end of the second fiscal quarter of 2013. The decrease in order backlog primarily reflects the gradual run-off of large, long-term avionics orders booked in fiscal 2012. This was partially offset by higher order rates during the second quarter of fiscal 2014.
For the first half of fiscal 2014, sales increased 8.0% -- 4.1% organically -- to $1.03 billion compared with $0.96 billion in the first half of fiscal 2013. First-half fiscal 2014 GAAP earnings from continuing operations increased 11.0% to $67.3 million, or $2.08 per diluted share, compared with the prior-year period results of $60.6 million, or $1.92 per diluted share. Excluding costs related to the company's integration and incremental compliance activities, adjusted earnings from continuing operations were $76.5 million, or $2.36 per diluted share, an increase of 26.1% compared with the year-ago period.
Conference Call Information
Esterline will host a conference call to discuss this announcement today at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time (2:00 p.m. Pacific Time). The U.S. dial-in number is 866-515-2914; outside the U.S., use 617-399-5128. The pass code for the call is: 95500653.
Non-GAAP Financial Information
This press release includes non-GAAP financial measures -- adjusted earnings from continuing operations and adjusted earnings from continuing operations per diluted share -- that have not been calculated in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the U.S. (GAAP). Adjusted earnings from continuing operations consist of earnings from continuing operations attributable to Esterline plus the costs associated with certain integration activities -- including restructuring charges -- and incremental compliance costs incurred in each period presented. Adjusted earnings from continuing operations per diluted share divide each element of adjusted earnings from continuing operations by the weighted average number of shares outstanding, diluted for each period presented.
In accordance with the SEC's requirements, below is the reconciliation of the non-GAAP financial measures to the comparable GAAP financial measures.
The company provides these non-GAAP financial measures as supplemental information to our GAAP financial measures. Management uses adjusted earnings from continuing operations and adjusted earnings from continuing operations per diluted share to (a) evaluate the company's historical and prospective financial performance and its performance relative to its competitors, (b) allocate resources, and (c) measure the operational performance of the company's business units.
In addition, management believes investors' and financial analysts' understanding of the company's performance is enhanced by including these non-GAAP financial measures as a reasonable basis for comparing the company's historical results of operations.
These non-GAAP financial measures are not meant to be considered in isolation or as a substitute for the comparable GAAP measures. There are limitations to these non-GAAP financial measures, because they are not prepared in accordance with GAAP and may not be comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies due to potential differences in methods of calculation and items that comprise the calculation. The company compensates for these limitations by using these non-GAAP financial measures as a supplement to the GAAP measures and by providing reconciliations of the non-GAAP and comparable GAAP financial measures. The non-GAAP financial measures should be read only in conjunction with the company's consolidated financial statements prepared in accordance with GAAP.
This press release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements relate to future events or our future financial performance. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as "anticipate," "believe," "continue," "could," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "may," "might," "plan," "potential," "predict," "should" or "will," or the negative of such terms, or other comparable terminology. These forward-looking statements are only predictions based on the current intent and expectations of the management of Esterline, are not guarantees of future performance or actions, and involve risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict and may cause Esterline's or its industry's actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Esterline's actual results and the timing and outcome of events may differ materially from those expressed in or implied by the forward-looking statements due to risks detailed in Esterline's public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K.