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Simpson Manufacturing Inc (SSD) Q1 2021 Earnings Call Transcript | The Motley Fool

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Simpson Manufacturing Inc (NYSE:SSD)
Q1 2021 Earnings Call
Apr 26, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Greetings and welcome to Simpson Manufacturing Company’s First Quarter 2021 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] A question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. [Operator Instructions]

Now, I would like to turn the conference over to your host, Kim Orlando of ADDO Investor Relations.

Kimberly OrlandoManaging Director

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Simpson Manufacturing Company’s first quarter 2021 earnings conference call. Any statements made on this call that are not based on historical facts are forward-looking statements. Such statements are based on certain estimates and expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual future results may vary materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. We encourage you to read the risks described in the Company’s public filings and reports, which are available on SEC or the Company’s corporate website. Except to the extent required by applicable securities laws, we undertake no obligation to update or publicly revise any of the forward-looking statements that we make here today, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Please note that the Company’s earnings press release was issued today at approximately 4:15 PM Eastern Time. The earnings press release is available on the Investor Relations page of the Company’s website at ir.simpsonmfg.com. Today’s call is being webcast and a replay will also be available on the Investor Relations page of the Company’s website.

Now I would like to turn the conference over to Karen Colonias, Simpson’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Kim, and good afternoon, everyone and thank you for joining us today. I’ll begin with a summary of our key first quarter performance drivers and initiatives. Brian will then walk you through our financials and updated full-year 2021 business outlook in greater detail.

Our first quarter consolidated net sales were strong, growing 22.6% year-over-year to $347.6 million on significantly higher sales volumes. Our gross margin expanded to 46.7% from 45.7% in the prior year quarter, primarily due to lower labor, factory, warehouse and shipping costs, which were partially offset by higher material costs. Our solid gross margin, combined with our diligent expense management and reduced costs due to COVID-19, drove a significant year-over-year increase of 38.6% in our income from operations to $68.4 million and an increase of 39.8% in our earnings per diluted share to $1.16.

The increase in sales volume we experienced in the first quarter was primarily a result of the continued momentum in the home center distribution channel, where sales increased over 60% compared to the prior year period. As a reminder, the home center distribution channel includes both our home center and co-op customers and is where we see much of our repair and remodel business. We are continuing to see increased activity in the repair and remodel space likely as a result of the ongoing pandemic as consumers continue home renovations.

Lowe’s contributed significantly to the channel growth compared to the first quarter last year, due to their return as a home center customer in the second quarter of 2020. Our sales further benefited from solid trends in U.S. housing starts. As we generally experience a multiple month lag in demand from the time of the start, in the first quarter, we benefited from strong fourth quarter 2020 housing starts, which grew over 10% year-over-year.

In addition, housing starts in the markets where we sell the most content continued to surpass the broader U.S. housing starts, especially in single-family space and in the western and southern regions of the U.S. While adverse weather conditions in the month of February resulted in certain supply chain interruptions, most notably in Texas, we have since addressed any back order demand and did not record a material impact to our first quarter performance.

Now let’s turn to Europe. Our first quarter sales improved over the prior year on local currency basis, given strong demand trends and our ability to continue meeting our customers’ needs due to our solid inventory management practices amid broader supply chain shortages. As a reminder, net sales in the first quarter of 2020 were negatively affected by weaker conditions in Europe due to COVID-19 when two of our larger European operations in the United Kingdom and France were ordered to cease operations in late March. As of today, all of our major production and distribution facilities remain open and operational in Europe, so we continue to promote remote work from home where possible, such as in our corporate offices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Lastly, I’d like to take a moment to discuss some recent pricing dynamics in the marketplace. As previously announced in early February, we implemented price increases ranging from 5% to 12% depending on the product mix for certain of our wood connectors, fasteners and concrete products in the U.S. in an effort to offset rising material costs. These price increases went into effect on April 5, following a 60-day notice period to our customers. The notification also included a clause that prohibited significant pre-buying ahead of the increases in order for us to properly manage our inventory levels. As a result, we do not believe we experienced meaningful pre-buying activity related to these increases.

More recently, we announced the second price increase ranging from 6% to 12% primarily for our wood connector products in the U.S. in an effort to further offset rising material costs. Our customers were notified of this increase on April 16, which will go into effect on June 15. We expect the impact of these price increases will help support our ability to maintain strong gross profit margins through the end of the year.

I’d now like to turn to a high-level discussion on our key growth initiatives. As many of you are aware, we held a Virtual Analyst and Investor Day event on March 23 in which we unveiled several growth initiatives that we believe will help us continue our track record of above-market growth through a combination of organic and inorganic opportunities. Our organic opportunities are focused on expansion into new markets within our core competencies of wood and concrete products. Our inorganic opportunities will be focused on licensing, purchasing IP and traditional M&A.

As a reminder, our growth initiatives focused on the following markets, which I’ll list in no particular order of priority: OEM, original equipment manufacturers; repair remodel, the do-it-yourself market; mass timber, concrete and structural steel. In order to appropriately grow in the first three markets that being OEM, retail — R&R as well as the DIY and mass timber, we aspire to be a leader in engineered load-rated construction fastener solutions, given that each of these markets have a broader product opportunity within the fastener solutions.

In addition, we’re striving to be a stronger leader in customer-facing technology, which has been a focus of ours for a number of years. Here I’m referring to software that helps our customers better run their business by providing them with the proper tools to design, select and specify the right Simpson solutions for the job. We expect technological advancements will drive enhanced growth in all of our key growth initiatives as well as across all of Simpson Manufacturing in general.

We believe our business model will support our ability to be successful throughout each of these areas, given our engineering expertise, our deep-rooted relationship with top builders, engineers, contractors, code officials and distributors, along with our ongoing commitment to testing, research and innovation. Importantly, we currently have existing products, test results, distribution and manufacturing capabilities for all five of our growth initiatives. This is also important to note that these initiatives are currently in different stages of development.

Our successful growth in these areas will ultimately be a function of expanding our sales and marketing functions to promote our products to different end-users and distribution channels, expanding our customer base, and potentially introducing new products in the future. We will keep you appraised of significant updates regarding our key growth initiatives as they arise.

I’d also like to highlight our five-year Company ambitions that we unveiled at our Analyst Investor Day. First, we want to strengthen our values-based culture. Barclay Simpson founded our Company on the nine principles of doing business, which continue to guide our organization today. Our Simpson Strong-Tie employees are our most important asset. So we spend a significant amount of time communicating with them to ensure a relentless customer focus, involving them in leadership programs and instilling a safety-first culture.

Second, we want to be the partner of choice. This ambition takes on many meanings. It means we want to be your solution provider, your trusted brand to provide you a solution and quickly get that product out to your job site and we want to make it easy to do business with us. We aspire to be the partner of choice in all aspects of our business.

Third, we strive to be an innovative leader in product categories. If we can accomplish this, we have no doubt we will be able to accomplish ambition Number 4, which is to continue our above-market growth relative to U.S. housing starts. This we will continue to expand our operating income margin to remain within the top quartile of our proxy peers. And finally, we will continue expanding our return on invested capital to remain in the top quartile of those peers. After building our strong foundation through the 2020 plan, we look forward to an even stronger future ahead.

Before I close today, I’d like to briefly touch on our capital allocation strategy. As our business continues to generate strong cash flows, we remain focused on appropriately balancing our growth and stockholder return priorities. We will prioritize investing in our growth initiatives in areas such as engineering, talented marketing and sales personnel and testing capabilities. M&A also remains a key focus in order to expand our product line and develop complete solutions for the markets in which we operate to strengthen our business and improve our market share. As previously stated, we are leveraging venture capital expertise to help identify potential strategic acquisitions or investments, including innovative technologies of interest in the building space.

In summary, we are thrilled with our strong first quarter performance, despite global macroeconomic turbulence stemming from ongoing pandemic. We expect the second quarter of 2021 will reflect ongoing sales momentum with strong Q1 housing starts in the areas we primarily serve, which positions us well to continue to benefit from this unique environment. I’d like to thank all of our employees for their dedication to operational excellence, health and safety which has enabled our business to continue to operate during the pandemic from a position of strength.

Our employees have been thoughtfully engaged with our leadership team as it pertains to our Company ambitions and growth initiatives to ensure a collaborative environment and to assist in the execution of our strategy. We look forward to capitalizing on our growth opportunities in adjacent markets by leveraging our business model, built on engineering, testing and innovation.

Thank you for your time and attention. Now I’d like to turn the call over to Brian, who will discuss our first quarter financial results and our 2021 outlook in greater detail. Brian?

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Thank you, Karen, and good afternoon, everyone. I’m pleased to discuss our first quarter financial results with you today. Before I begin, I’d like to mention that unless otherwise stated, all financial measures discussed in my prepared remarks today refer to the first quarter of 2021 and all comparisons will be year-over-year comparisons versus the first quarter of 2020.

Now turning to our results. As Karen highlighted, our consolidated net sales were strong, increasing 22.6% to $347.6 million. Within the North America segment, our net sales increased 20.7% to $300.6 million, primarily due to higher sales volumes in our home center distribution channel, which includes our home center and co-op customers. Sales volumes were supported by the return of Lowe’s, along with increased repair and remodel activity. We also continue to benefit from solid demand trends in other distribution channels, which are experiencing increased demand from new housing starts and repair and remodel activity.

In Europe, net sales increased 35.3% to $44.3 million, primarily due to higher sales volumes in local currency. Europe’s sales also benefited by approximately $3.6 million of positive foreign currency translations resulting from some Europe currencies strengthening against the United States dollar.

Wood construction products represented 87% of total sales, compared to 86% and concrete construction products represented 13% of total sales compared to 14%. Consolidated gross profit increased by 25.2% to $162.3 million, which resulted in a stronger Q1 gross margin of 46.7% compared to last year. Gross margin increased by 100 basis points, primarily due to lower labor, factory, warehouse and shipping costs, which were partially offset by higher material costs.

On a segment basis, our gross margin in North America increased to 48.5% compared to 47.7%, while in Europe, our gross margin increased to 34.4% compared to 32.7%. From a product perspective, our first quarter gross profit margin on wood products was 46.6% compared to 45.4% in the prior year quarter and was 42.5% for concrete products, the same as the prior year quarter.

Now turning to our first quarter costs and operating expenses. Research and development and engineering expenses increased 9% to $14.6 million, primarily due to increases in personnel costs, professional fees and patent costs. Selling expenses increased 8% to $30.8 million due to increases in stock-based compensation, personnel costs and professional fees, offset by a decrease in travel-related costs. On a segment basis, selling expenses in North America were up 9.1% and in Europe, they were up 2.8%. General and administrative expenses increased 26.2% to $48.6 million, primarily due to increases in stock-based compensation, personnel costs and professional fees and amortization and depreciation expense, offset by a decrease in travel-related costs.

Total operating expenses were $94.0 million, an increase of $13.6 million or approximately 16.9%. As a percentage of net sales, total operating expenses were 27%, an improvement of 130 basis points compared to 28.3%. Our solid topline performance combined with our stronger Q1 gross margin and diligent expense management helped drive a 38.6% increase in consolidated income from operations to $68.4 million compared to $49.4 million.

In North America, income from operations increased 29.5% to $69.4 million, primarily due to increased gross profit, partly offset by higher operating expenses. In Europe, income from operations increased 35.3% to $2.3 million, primarily due to increased gross profit.

On a consolidated basis, our operating income margin of 19.7% increased by approximately 230 basis points. Our effective tax rate increased to 24.3% from 21.3% due to a lower windfall tax credit on the vesting of restricted stock units. Accordingly, net income totaled $50.4 million, or $1.16 per fully diluted share compared to $36.8 million or $0.83 per fully diluted share.

Now turning to our balance sheet and cash flow. Our balance sheet remained healthy with ample liquidity to operate our day-to-day operations. At March 31, cash and cash equivalents totaled $257.4 million, a decrease of $44.3 million compared to March 31, 2020. As of March 31, 2021, the full $300 million on our primary line of credit was available for borrowing and we remain debt-free with a small portion of capital leases, mostly unchanged from year-end.

Our inventory position of $296.8 million at March 31 increased by $13 million from our balance at December 31, as we continue to see higher levels of construction activity and raw material prices along with the unprecedented demand we’ve experienced throughout the pandemic. We continue to carefully manage raw material inventory purchases in this environment of rising costs and limited supplies, all while striving to maintain our high levels of customer service and on-time delivery standards.

As a result of our improved profitability and effective working capital management, we generated strong cash flow from operations of $18.5 million for the first quarter of 2021, an increase of $5.8 million or 45.5%. We used approximately $10.5 million for capital expenditures during the quarter.

In regard to stockholder returns, we paid $10 million in dividends during the first quarter. As of March 31, 2021, we had the full amount of our $100 million share repurchase authorization available, which will remain in effect through the end of 2021. Given our confidence in our business and our expectation that our strategic initiatives will continue to drive improved operational performance and a higher return on invested capital, we expect we’ll remain both active and opportunistic as it relates to share purchase activity. Our next Board meeting is scheduled to take place in early May, where we will review our capital allocation priorities in greater detail.

Before we turn the call over to questions, I’d like to discuss our 2021 financial outlook. Based on business trends and conditions as of today, April 26, we are updating certain elements of our guidance for the full year ending December 31, 2021 as follows. We’re updating our operating margin outlook to now be in the range of 19.5% to 22%, compared to our original estimate of 16.5% to 18.5%. We’re increasing the range to reflect the impact of our recent price increase announcements, as well as the stronger-than-anticipated demand trends we’ve been experiencing in 2021. While we are very pleased to increase our outlook for operating margins in fiscal 2021, it’s important to note that based on our current expectations, we are anticipating raw material costing pressure in late 2021 and into fiscal 2022.

Our gross margins in the first half of 2021 will reflect an average cost of steel sourced prior to or early into the surging steel market together with steel purchased more recently at substantially higher prices. As we work through our on-hand inventory and continue to buy raw material at these higher prices, our anticipated cost of goods sold are expected to increase significantly in the latter part of 2021 and 2022 even if prices for raw materials begin to decline, adversely impacting our margins, as the impact from averaging raw material costs typically lags our price increases. However, as announced during our recent Analyst and Investor Day, the key focus of our five-year Company ambitions will be to expand our operating income margin to remain within the top quartile of our proxy peers, which we plan to achieve through successful execution on our growth initiatives and careful expense management.

In addition, we expect our effective tax rate to be in the range of 25% to 26%, including both federal and state income tax rates. And finally, we are reiterating our capital expenditure outlook to be in the range of $50 million to $55 million, including approximately $10 million to $15 million, which will be used for safety and maintenance capex. It’s important to note, our elevated capital expenditure spend relative to fiscal 2020 includes carryover projects that we have previously paused due to the pandemic, investments in factory equipment to improve service levels, as well as for safety and maintenance updates. At this time, only a small amount of our capex spend is related to pursuing our growth initiatives outlined during our Investor and Analyst Day.

In summary, we were very pleased with our strong first quarter financial results and operating performance. I’d like to once again thank all of our employees who are dedicated to working safely and supporting our customers during these very challenging time. We believe our significant scale, geographic reach and diverse product offerings combined with our strong balance sheet gives us confidence in our ability to maintain operational excellence and support current and future demand trends moving forward.

Thank you for your time and attention today. At this time, I’d like to open the call for questions. Operator?

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. At this time, we will be conducting a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Our first question is from Daniel Moore of CJS Securities. Please proceed.

Daniel MooreCJS Securities — Analyst

Karen and Brian, good afternoon.

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Hi, Dan.

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Hi, Dan.

Daniel MooreCJS Securities — Analyst

Thanks for taking the questions, and congrats obviously on really impressive results. First question is a clarification, the latest round of price increases of 6% to 12% going into effect in June. That’s on top of the price increases that you put in April 5, or is it on a different set of products?

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

That — so the first price increases were 5% to 12% and those were on a varying set of products. The second set of price increases were 6% to 12%, mainly on the wood connector products.

Daniel MooreCJS Securities — Analyst

Specifically, wood connectors. Okay. That’s helpful. Just want to make sure I heard that. Perfect. In Q1, North America sales up 23%. Can you give us a just kind of approximate breakdown between volume and price?

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Dan, it’s Brian, not a lot of price in there, mostly volume. Just a reminder, we did not have Lowe’s in Q1 of 2020. So obviously, we’ve got that element there and so, mostly volume. There were a little price increase impacts in Europe, but — so mostly, the volume elements that I just mentioned.

Daniel MooreCJS Securities — Analyst

Yeah. So most of the pricing benefit obviously is still ahead of us, given the timing of those price increases.

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Correct.

Daniel MooreCJS Securities — Analyst

Okay. And then looking at the guidance, previously, pointed to — as you mentioned, Brian, 16.5% to 18.5% operating margins for this year. And I think we did say a couple of times, not to be picky, but I think we said a few times that 2020 levels would — probably wouldn’t be sustainable. Now we’re looking at least that and potentially materially higher. So just trying to parse it apart how much of the increase is this latest round of price increases, how much of it is just stronger volume that expected, and is there anything else in the sort of delta in the initial guide and where we are now?

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Sure, Dan. So primarily, price, as I mentioned in my prepared remarks, it does take a while for current resource, higher price steel to make its way into our cost of sales based on weighted average cost of inventory. However, the price increase is in effect really April or June as we noted earlier. So there is that element. And just as — what I’m added[Phonetic], just a reminder that as that weighted average cost of raw material increases, we will see that cause that operating margin — gross margin to pull back in 2022, again based on information that we have today. So, largely due to those, maybe a little bit of volume benefit, but mostly due to the selling price and element that we’ve noted in the past.

Daniel MooreCJS Securities — Analyst

And is there a revenue growth assumption range kind of underpinning those new margin target — the new targeted margin range that you can share?

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Well, we’re still expecting volume to be up mid-single-digit, and we’re not necessarily sharing the topline revenue number, the finished number for 2021. But yes, there is that element that the revenue associated with volume that I just noted, and the price increase is influencing that operating margin guide. And of course, it’s a pretty wide guide right now. We still think there is a fair amount of uncertainty for the back half of the year.

Daniel MooreCJS Securities — Analyst

Perfect. And lastly for me, increasing focus in terms of capital allocation at least as you’ve described potentially as M&A, I think you mentioned you brought in some outside consultants, etc. Just any commentary on what the pipeline looks like, are you looking at kind of smaller tuck-ins? Are you looking at larger deals as a possibility as well? Thanks.

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, let me see if I can address that one, Dan. So, as we’ve talked about — we’ve talked many times about opportunities we’d like to see in the fastener space really being able to control our manufacturing from an onshore standpoint versus buyouts. But also, as you look at our new initiatives, the mid-rise steel initiative, some things from a software standpoint that might help us with the DIY space. It opens up a few more opportunities for us to look in different areas still obviously in building materials, but it widens the funnel slightly for us as we look into those growth initiatives that we’re working through.

Daniel MooreCJS Securities — Analyst

All right. Very good. Thanks for the color again. I’ll jump back with any follow-ups.

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Dan.

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Thanks, Dan.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is from Tim Wojs of Robert W. Baird. Please proceed.

Timothy WojsRobert W. Baird & Co. — Analyst

Hey, everybody. Nice work. Congratulations.

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks.

Timothy WojsRobert W. Baird & Co. — Analyst

Maybe my first question, just I guess if you look at the — you can see there is a little wider range, a fairly wide range on the operating margin guidance. What’s the primary kind of toggle point between getting to the lower end or the upper end because I guess when you guys deal with price, I mean you generally get what you ask for. So it seems like there’s a decent amount of visibility there. So I guess what can it gets you to the lower or upper end? Is it really just volume?

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Hey, Tim, it’s Brian. So volume primarily related to the back half of the year. And also when we had come out with that guide earlier, we had just announced to our customers that price increase. And so, the — as we’re looking at that current guide now, the elements around volume toward that Q3, Q4 time period are part of the wildcards on what — on that guide.

Timothy WojsRobert W. Baird & Co. — Analyst

And did the prior guide include any price realization?

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

It did on the first price increase.

Timothy WojsRobert W. Baird & Co. — Analyst

Okay. Got you. And I guess when you look at the supply chain side of things, I mean, Karen, you mentioned some benefits you saw. It sounds like it was mostly in Europe, but if you look at the U.S. market, I guess how are you handling supply chain issues, I mean if you had any? And have you benefited at all from competitor kind of challenges in the marketplace that you know of?

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Well, as you know, I think almost everybody discovered that resins are used in many, many building materials from OSB, the cardboard, and for us, our adhesives. So when we had that freeze in Texas, there were certainly some supply chain issues being able to get resins. And that’s what I mentioned, we’ve been able to take care of any of our customers, but that was certainly something that we felt. For us, the supply chain issues for wood is, obviously, not an issue in our manufacturing process. The main thing, of course, is steel. And as we’ve talked about, not only is steel pricing increasing, but availability is getting tighter.

We are not seeing the word allocation used at this point, which is great. And we are continuing to be sure that we have a very tight monitor on our forecast, what we’re producing and the steel raw material that we’re being able to get from our vendors. So supply chain is difficult in many, many areas within the construction industry. We’re managing it quite well with our buying group that we have as well as how we’re working through our manufacturing, our forecasting and working with our customers. So at this point, we’re in good shape even from that resin standpoint, where we’re back in good shape with that.

Timothy WojsRobert W. Baird & Co. — Analyst

Okay.

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Just to add on a little bit there to Karen, some of the other challenges would be in logistics containers, bringing product over from our facilities in Asia or items that we buy out there, we’re managing it, but it’s certainly a challenge. And Tim, I think you also asked a little bit about our volume. We think we’re benefiting from our inventory position in Europe being able to supply customers with product versus maybe our competitors having a little bit more difficulty there.

Timothy WojsRobert W. Baird & Co. — Analyst

Okay. Okay, good. And then the last one from me. When you think about SG&A relative to maybe where we were two months ago, has your assumption changed for SG&A spend this year?

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Not significantly. I mean we’ve got, of course, new initiative spend that we’re looking at there. And typically, as a company, I think you know what we focus on things like testing and code reports for product ahead of or earlier than we would when we’re bringing on sales folks and the like. One thing I do want to call out on the SG&A is some of our expense in the Company and it’s more heavily weighted in the admin line is associated with performance share units, so equity compensation tied to future results and a year ago, the forecasts were much less than they are today. So, we had over a $6 million delta in stock comp expense in Q1 relative to Q1 of last year. Now because the year — last year progressed very nicely that a lot of that expense came back by just looking at Q1 versus Q1, I wanted to highlight that is a little bit of a delta.

Timothy WojsRobert W. Baird & Co. — Analyst

Okay. Okay, great. So sounds like the SG&A spending levels are relatively consistent. We just have a higher base of sales. So, OK, good. That’s what I got[Phonetic]. So, I’ll hop back in queue. Thanks, guys.

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Thank you, Tim.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is from Kurt Yinger of D.A. Davidson. Please proceed.

Kurt YingerD.A. Davidson & Co. — Analyst

Yeah. Good afternoon, Karen and Brian, and thanks for taking my questions.

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Hi, Kurt.

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Hi, Kurt.

Kurt YingerD.A. Davidson & Co. — Analyst

Hey. Maybe Brian, just starting with you, at the investor event about a month ago, I think you alluded to kind of a mid-teens operating margin kind of before getting back in that high-teens again by 2025. Realizing that some of the gross margin pressure is yet to come, given the increase to the margin outlook for 2021, is that still the case or does this kind of higher jumping-off point change how you’re looking at the next couple of years or your expectations around that?

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Yeah. Good question, Kurt. No, I don’t think it changes that longer-term outlook. It’s more of a timing issue within 2021 and 2022. As you see — as you’ve seen in prior years, our cost of sales lags on steel pricing increases and then it goes the other way. So I would say — to reiterate what I’d mentioned in the prepared remarks, ’21 will benefit; ’22 will have a bit of a pullback there due to gross margin. And then I think if we ever get back to a more normalized steel environment, it gets back to that longer-range average for gross margin and then — we then build up or ramp up to that high-teens operating income level that we expect for in five years or so due to the growth initiatives, leveraging the additional revenue there.

Kurt YingerD.A. Davidson & Co. — Analyst

Got it, got it. Okay. That makes sense. All right. And then the home center channel has been obviously a really positive contributor to growth. How do you think about that impact kind of lapping the Lowe’s win in Q2 of last year? And then is there any way you could kind of help us ballpark, what that home center channel subset is kind of as a percentage of revenue at this stage?

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Well, we don’t — we’re not breaking out the revenues on its own for those customers. As we noted, it’s up over 60% year-over-year, primarily due to the comparable that I mentioned on a previous response, Lowe’s not being in our Q1 2020 numbers. We would expect it’s a very — it’s been a strong market. 2020 was very strong for that category just in general, as people were improving their homes and residences and the like.

We do see sales to that channel has continued to increase, although from a comparable perspective. Home Depot did pull back on the product line that we’ve talked about. That’s pretty well documented the mechanical anchors what I’m referring to there. So as far as R&R and DIY, we expect it to continue, although the growth rate on a comparable perspective post load-in, we would not expect it to see just because so much of that — so much of DIY business came in 2020.

Kurt YingerD.A. Davidson & Co. — Analyst

Great. Okay. That makes sense. And then just last one for me. Karen, you had alluded to being in different stages within the growth initiatives within those different target markets. As we look at the next 12 to 18 months, could you just talk about which areas you think could be kind of most impactful to your overall growth trajectory, and where you’re, I guess further down the line as compared to in earlier stages?

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, that’s a really good question. And I think if we talk about those areas where our fastener line can have the biggest impact. So we discuss the OEM, the DIY, R&R market as well as the mass timber, those are opportunities that use a significant amount of fasteners and so there is some nice growth opportunity there. We have the majority of products needed, obviously, still more products, always more products to develop, but we do have the majority of products needed for those areas and we also have code listings behind those areas.

So I would see that, that market probably has the least amount of extra work we have to do, I would say. Again, we already have distribution lined up for those market areas. The steel market, probably a little bit more work there. Again, even though we have the product and we have the testing, we have code reports, we have the product in the steel design manual, still some work to do there of getting that product visible, a lot of marketing work and a lot of legwork for our sales team on that particular part of those growth initiatives.

So, they’re all in various stages as I mentioned. In each case, we have — we absolutely have products already. Do we have the complete line? Not in some cases, but in many cases, code testing, literature, in some cases, more literature needed in others. So that’s why I’m saying they are in various stages on those five initiatives.

Kurt YingerD.A. Davidson & Co. — Analyst

Okay. All right. Well, great, appreciate the color, and good luck here in Q2.

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Great. Thanks, Kurt.

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Thanks, Kurt.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is from Julio Romero from Sidoti & Co. Please proceed.

Julio RomeroSidoti & Co. — Analyst

Hey, good afternoon, Karen and Brian.

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Hi, Julio.

Julio RomeroSidoti & Co. — Analyst

My first question is just on the home center year-over-year growth. The portion of that growth, it’s not driven by Lowe’s. I understand the growth rate, it won’t be as robust as you lap the comparables, but the increased R&R activity, what are you hearing from your customers in terms of the length of the runway that they expect that strength to persist?

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I think the R&R is going to continue to grow. I think it was even as Lowe’s — not putting in the Lowe’s business, we still saw that both Lowe’s and Home Depot had a substantial growth in 2020. And I think probably some of that growth was — future growth was pulled forward, but we are hearing that they still think there is a lot of home improvement projects that are being worked through. And so, I think it will still be a very strong market.

Julio RomeroSidoti & Co. — Analyst

Okay. And on your weighted average cost of raw material, how long does that weighted average cost typically lag a price increase by? How should we think about that?

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Yeah, it’s a good question, Julio, and that’s why I wanted to note the 2022 element. It could be that long just due to the amount of steel we have on hand. And as we wait, as we consume and bring in with purchases, it could go through the end of the year early — into early next year. And then at that point, assuming prices — steel prices stay where they’re at, then we would expect that gross margin pull back just because our selling prices fully reflect our increased — fully reflect those increases and the steel prices catch up through cost of sales.

Julio RomeroSidoti & Co. — Analyst

Got it. But I think just to clarify, does your expectation kind of expect a deal that continue to rise all the way through ’22 or…

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

No. Yeah. Sorry. Let me clarify. So, at current price, it will — the weighted average amount in inventory will increase even if prices were to stay flat in the spot market. So if we were to continue buying at today’s price, the weighted average of our inventory will continue to increase because we’ve got now a pretty large amount that we had sourced prior to this current market environment. So anything we bring in at the current price will just continue to increase that weighted average.

And our cost of sales is based on that weighted average on how we’re consuming it. So it’s not like a LIFO where what we’re buying today is getting consumed today. So there is a bit of a lag. But as of prices today, we don’t have any commentary on future steel prices at this moment, but based on what we see today, we would see that gross margin pull back in the 2022.

Julio RomeroSidoti & Co. — Analyst

Okay. I appreciate the color on that. And I guess just you touched on this earlier, but on your key growth initiatives, you talked about — you have a product for all your five growth initiatives. Maybe if you could talk about the concrete initiatives? Can you maybe talk about some of the nascent opportunities within that space? And I know you’re working to develop some of those markets there. So I don’t know if you could give us any progress update on how to think about those market developments?

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. The concrete market area, we’ve talked about this. Our carbon fiber product is really the one that’s looking to have some growth opportunities as we get repairing bridges, buildings, roadways that sort of thing. And so, as I mentioned, we’ve got product, we’ve got testing, we now have code reports on that carbon fiber product and more work being done with specifiers, so that they’re aware that the product is available and it can meet the solution that they’re looking for when they repair or retrofitting their structure. So, that’s certainly an area in the concrete space. Also expanding, I think as we mentioned, when we did our 2020 plan, we really focused on six key market areas for our concrete products. Those were in the residential area, the water treatment plant, I’m trying to remember all of them, but also expanding into those areas.

Julio RomeroSidoti & Co. — Analyst

Okay. Great. Thanks for taking the questions. Nice quarter.

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Great. Thanks, Julio.

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Thank you, Julio.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the end of the question-and-answer session. [Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 51 minutes

Call participants:

Kimberly OrlandoManaging Director

Karen ColoniasPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Brian MagstadtChief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Daniel MooreCJS Securities — Analyst

Timothy WojsRobert W. Baird & Co. — Analyst

Kurt YingerD.A. Davidson & Co. — Analyst

Julio RomeroSidoti & Co. — Analyst

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