Eaton Corp. plc has announced that earnings per share were $1.46 for the fourth quarter of 2018. This represents an increase of 13 percent over the fourth quarter of 2017, excluding the $62 million of income in the fourth quarter of 2017 related to the U.S. tax bill.
Sales in the fourth quarter of 2018 were $5.5 billion, up 5 percent over the same period in 2017. The sales increase consisted of 7 percent growth in organic sales, partially offset by 2 percent negative currency translation.
Craig Arnold, Eaton chairman and CEO, said, “We had a very strong fourth quarter, with better-than-expected organic revenue growth and margins. Organic growth came in at 7 percent, 1 percent higher than our guidance. Our segment margins in the fourth quarter were 17.4 percent, 20 basis points above the midpoint of our margin guidance and 100 basis points over the fourth quarter of 2017.
“Operating cash flow in the fourth quarter, excluding the $300 million payment for the arbitration decision related to the legacy Cooper business, was $1.1 billion,” said Arnold. “We took advantage of the significant pullback in financial markets in December and repurchased $700 million of our shares in the fourth quarter. This represents 2.3 percent of our shares outstanding at the start of the quarter. We intend to continue taking advantage of any periods of share price weakness to buy our shares back.”
For full year 2018, sales were $21.6 billion, 6 percent higher than 2017. Earnings per share were $4.91, and excluding the impact of the arbitration decision, earnings per share were $5.39. This represents an increase of 16 percent over 2017, excluding the 2017 gain on the Eaton Cummins joint venture and the 2017 income related to the U.S. tax bill.
During 2018, share repurchases totaled 17.5 million shares, at a cost of $1.3 billion, representing 4 percent of shares outstanding at the beginning of the year.
“Looking at 2019, we expect our organic revenues to grow between 4 and 5 percent, partially offset by approximately 1 percent from negative currency translation,” said Arnold. “We anticipate segment margins to be between 17.0 percent and 17.4 percent, representing at the midpoint a 40 basis point improvement over 2018.
“We expect 2019 earnings per share to be between $5.70 and $6, representing at the midpoint a 9 percent increase over 2018 excluding the 2018 arbitration decision,” he added. “We anticipate earnings per share for the first quarter of 2019 to be between $1.18 and $1.28, a 12 percent increase at the midpoint over the first quarter of 2018.”