AirBoss of America Corp. (TSX: BOS) (OTCQX:ABSSF) (the “Company” or “AirBoss”) today announced strong fourth quarter and annual performance as it enters 2022 with continued momentum. The Company will host a conference call and webcast to discuss the results on March 9th at 9 a.m. ET, the details of which are further below.

Recent Highlights

($US except where otherwise noted)

  • Highest quarterly net sales in the Company's history at $249.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2021 ("Q4 2021"), reflecting growth of 88.4% compared to the fourth quarter of 2020 ("Q4 2020");
  • Highest annual net sales in the Company's history at $586.9 million, reflecting 17.0% growth compared to 2020;
  • Grew diluted EPS by 22.2% to $1.65 for 2021 (2020: $1.35);
  • Increased diluted Adjusted EPS(2) by 15.2% to $1.67 in 2021 (2020: $1.45);
  • Finished 2021 with a Net Debt to EBITDA ratio(2) of 0.70x;
  • Declared a quarterly dividend of C$0.10 per common share; and
  • Received approval from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health ("NIOSH") for its new AirBoss 100™ Half Mask Respirator.

“2021 was another excellent year for AirBoss in terms of growth, profitability and free cash flow generation. Our ability to deliver results in a very complex business climate was bolstered by two key acquisitions, Blackbox Biometrics, Inc. ("B3") and Ace Elastomer, LLC ("Ace"), solidifying the medium to longer term scale of our business as we continue to execute on our strategic plan,” said Chris Bitsakakis, President and COO of AirBoss.

“2021 was also our 26th consecutive year of operating profitably during which time we have generated meaningful returns for investors and continued to succeed through multiple recessions,” said Mr. Bitsakakis. “This reflects the benefits of our carefully cultivated strategy to rely on our culture of innovation and product diversification to mitigate the impact of economic and industry cycles. Despite the extensive obstacles associated with the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, including unprecedented supply challenges and record raw material price increases, we continued to grow our business while making strategic investments in long-term growth, efficiency and innovation.”

“We are entering 2022 in strong financial position with a record pipeline of opportunities of over $1.5 billion, the largest in the Company’s history. Our balance sheet strength provides us with enhanced flexibility and positions us well to execute opportunistically on both organic and inorganic growth initiatives broadening our product lines and regional presence, particularly as potential acquisition targets may lack the balance sheet strength to weather a prolonged supply chain challenges.” said Gren Schoch, Chairman and CEO of AirBoss.

“Despite ongoing challenges, we believe we are positioned for another strong performance this year,” said Mr. Schoch. “We will continue to take necessary steps, including risk mitigation plans within our supply chain, to strive to reduce potential impacts on our business and that of our customers. Our continued focus will remain on supporting our customers, employees and stakeholders.”

   Three Months endedDecember 31  Twelve Months ended December 31
(In thousands of US dollars, except share data) 2021        2020 2021              2020  
Financial results:        
Net Sales 249,053 132,180 586,858   501,572  
Profit 15,162 19,932 46,703   56,262  
Profit attributable to owners of the Company 15,162 15,902 46,703   33,703  
Adjusted Profit attributable to owners of the Company(2) 15,541 15,923 47,374   36,087  
Earnings per share (US$)        
-Basic 0.56 0.61 1.73   1.40  
-Diluted 0.53 0.59 1.65   1.35  
Adjusted earnings per share(2) (US$)        
-Basic 0.58 0.61 1.76   1.50  
-Diluted 0.55 0.59 1.67   1.45  
EBITDA(2) 26,535 32,811 79,591   103,211  
Adjusted EBITDA(2) 26,961 32,832 80,341   105,595  
Net cash from operating activities 138,415 56,530 2,023   104,399  
Free cash flow (2) 133,430 51,486 (15,970 ) 89,965  
Dividends declared per share (CAD$) 0.10 0.07 0.37   0.28  
Capital additions(2) 5,025 5,045 22,585   15,606  
         
Financial position: December 31, 2021   December 31, 2020  
Total assets 443,264     367,369  
Term loan and other debt(1) 80,563     90,734  
Net debt 56,033     (9,718 )
Shareholders’ equity 235,148     194,588  
Outstanding shares* 26,993,181     26,908,802  
*26,993,181 at March 8, 2022        

Financial Results

AirBoss increased consolidated net sales in Q4 2021 by 88.4% to $249,053 compared with the same period in 2020, with increases in AirBoss Defense Group and the Rubber Solutions segments partially offset by decreases in the Engineered Products segment. Consolidated net sales for the year increased by 17.0% to $586,858 compared with 2020 primarily due to the HHS nitrile patience examination glove contract, supported by a significant recovery in volumes at the Rubber Solutions and Engineered Products segments, despite continued pandemic and logistics challenges.

Consolidated gross profit for Q4 2021 increased to $51,444 from $40,255 compared with the same period in 2020, with increases in AirBoss Defense Group and in the Rubber Solutions segment offset by a decrease in the Engineered Products segment. For the year, consolidated gross profit was up by $376 to $136,298 and gross profit as a percentage of net sales decreased to 23.2% from 27.1%. The decrease was heavily driven by mix at AirBoss Defense Group, specifically on the large nitrile glove deliveries in 2021 compared to the PAPRs, filters and accessories substantially delivered in 2020. Gross profit was furthered impacted at the Rubber Solutions and Engineered Products segments by raw material increases, in addition to the freight and logistics challenges experienced across all segments. Adjusted EBITDA for Q4 2021 decreased by 17.9%, compared to the same period in 2020 and decreased by 23.9% for 2021 compared to 2020.

In addition, on December 2, 2021 the Company renewed its normal course issuer bid for its common shares, pursuant to which the Company may re-purchase up to 500,000 of its common shares (representing approximately 2.7% of the Company's public float of 18,009,766 common shares as of November 29, 2021).

Financial Position

The Company remains in strong financial condition. With a $250 million credit facility and a net debt to TTM EBITDA ratio of 0.70x, the Company enters 2022 with significant resources with which to pursue organic and acquisitive growth opportunities.

Dividend

The Board of Directors of the Company has approved a quarterly dividend of C$0.10 per common share, to be paid on April 15, 2022 to shareholders of record at March 31, 2022.

Segment Results

In the AirBoss Defense Group segment, net sales in the quarter increased by 129.1% to $178,890 and by 9.1% to $329,916 year-to-date from the comparable periods in 2020. For both periods, the increase was primarily the result of continued delivery under the nitrile patient examination glove contract from HHS, as part of the U.S. government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gross profit at AirBoss Defense Group increased by 32.8% to $47,824 for the quarter and by 4.1% to $116,658 year-to-date, from the comparable periods in 2020. For the quarter, the increase was primarily due to higher volume associated with new business awards specifically the nitrile patient examination gloves contract from HHS, partially offset by a reduction in government-directed wage subsidies which were not received in Q4 2021. For the year, the increase was primarily the result of the large contract from HHS partly offset by the reduction of government-directed wage subsidies compared to 2020.

In the Rubber Solutions segment, net sales in the quarter increased by 65.8% to $52,616 and increased by 44.1% to $171,553 year-to-date, from the comparable periods in 2020. The increase in net sales for Q4 2021 was primarily in the conveyor belt, mining, OTR/retread, industrial and oil & gas sectors. For the year, volume was up 19.6% with increases across the majority of sectors despite residual disruptions due to supply chain issues and some softness due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tolling volume was down 20.3% in the quarter and increased 6.2% year-to-date, from the comparable periods in 2020. Non-tolling volume increased by 10.3% for the quarter and increased by 23.1% year-to-date, compared to the same periods in 2020. Gross profit in the Rubber Solutions segment increased by 51.5% to $5,869 for the quarter and by 12.1% to $20,836 year-to-date, from the comparable periods in 2020. For the quarter, the increase was principally due to higher volume and mix partially offset by a reduction in government-directed wage subsidies which were not received in Q4 2021. For the year, the increase was primarily as a result of increased tolling and non-tolling volumes compared to 2020, managing and reducing the impact of Covid-related disruptions and managing controllable overhead costs, partially offset by higher raw material, labor and logistics costs and a decrease in government-directed subsidies.

At Engineered Products, net sales in the quarter decreased by 14.6% to $28,309 and increased by 1.8% to $116,621 year-to-date from the comparable periods in 2020. The decrease in the quarter was across several automotive product lines due the electronic chip shortages and in particular the muffler hangers, bushings and spring insulator product lines. The increase year-to-date was due to stronger volumes in the SUV, light truck and mini-van platforms compared to the same period in the prior year, in addition to continued production of certain molded defense products. Gross profit in the Engineered Products segment decreased by $2,617 to $(2,249) for the quarter and was $(1,196), down $6,533 year-to-date, from the comparable periods in 2020. For the quarter, the decrease was primarily a result of mix, and volume in the automotive sector due to the electronic chip shortage, along with increased raw material costs for steel and molded products, partially offset by operational cost containment and managing overhead costs. The decrease year-to-date was primarily a result of significant raw material price increases in addition to freight, logistics and labor constraints, partially offset by a continued focus on controllable operational cost containment and PPP loan forgiveness. This was further impacted by volatility in the automotive sector volumes in part due to the global electronic chip shortages.

Overview

This was another transformative year for AirBoss as it completed two key acquisitions, B3 and Ace continuing the strategic plan to position itself as a strong player in each segment that it competes in. In 2021, AirBoss continued to demonstrate its resilience in the face of the significant and extensive obstacles associated with COVID-19, including significant supply challenges and record raw material price increases. Despite these ongoing challenges, AirBoss continued to take the necessary steps, including risk mitigation plans within its supply chain, to strive to reduce potential impacts to its business and that of customers, by identifying alternative raw material sources both domestically and internationally while providing a safe work environment for its employees. The Company’s continued focus on supporting its customers, employees and stakeholders resulted in the highest sales and EPS in the company’s history along with its second highest EBITDA. Although the timing for continued recovery in volumes is difficult to predict and will be subject, at least in part, to a stable and sustained re-opening of businesses globally and specifically in North America, management believes the Company is positioned for another strong performance in 2022, including a record pipeline of over $1.5 billion, the largest in the Company’s history.

While this past year had many obstacles and challenges, AirBoss was able to continue to take advantage of opportunities which supported its strong trajectory. The Company’s strong results were driven by continued deliveries of nitrile patient examination gloves under the previously announced order for the Strategic National Stockpile (“SNS”) for the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services (“HHS") – Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). Continued execution under this contract provided a strong financial backdrop to offset raw material, logistics and labor challenges faced by the Rubber Solutions and Engineered Products segments and allowed those segments to experience progressive recoveries in volume in the latter part of the year.

In addition to the acquisitions completed in 2021, and despite the disruptions noted above, AirBoss continued its capital investment in support of longer-term growth with investments in a series of key initiatives across the business with a strategic focus on productivity, innovation and diversification. Capital expenditures for 2021 were $16.9 million dollars (excluding leases) and are expected to remain strong as AirBoss continues to invest in its future at a rate well above historical levels.

For the Rubber Solutions segment, investment continued to build from the record capital spend in 2019 with the successful implementation of the bulk material handling and delivery system in Scotland Neck, North Carolina. Development and sales in colored rubber continued to grow throughout the year in line with the margin expansion strategy with new customers accelerated by the Ace acquisition and continued development of new proprietary compounds and continuous improvement of existing compounds. The continued focus on integrating operational excellence supported by Ace’s line of specialized products expanded production of a broader array of compounded products (white and color), as well as providing enhanced flexibility in attracting and fulfilling new business through identified synergies. The Company also continued to make inroads in utilization of the “tilt” mixer, which is expected to support the production of increasingly specialized, higher margin compounds, further diversifying AirBoss’ offering and enhancing penetration with both existing and new customers. In Kitchener, AirBoss continued to invest in its R&D expertise and lab capital to support enhanced collaboration with customers and better reflect the Company’s focus on innovative R&D and proprietary technical solutions.

Within the Engineered Products segment, 2021 was a transformative year despite the continued impact of record raw material increases, significant supply chain challenges and electronic chip shortages as original equipment manufacturers ("OEMs") continued to shutter production, with vehicle inventories at record lows while demand remains very strong. The segment continued to focus on its operational improvement plan including managing variable costs and focusing on sustaining a stable hourly workforce, while dealing with the volume reductions in the automotive sector and specifically on AirBoss' products for SUV, light truck and mini-van platforms. Global supply chain challenges also added to logistical challenges associated with the supply of certain steel and molded products. Despite these challenges, the Company continued its focus and commitment to drive efficiencies and best-in-class automation including completing the installation of 22 new injection presses as part of a multi-year investment and the addition of a second state of the art automated work cell. The segment also continued its focus on diversification of its product lines into sectors adjacent to the automotive space. Management remains committed to continuing to address key challenges in the anti-vibration business, focusing on margin improvement with targeted cost management, improved pricing strategies with raw material indexing and investments in advanced manufacturing.

The Company remains in sound financial position. The strong performance of the business has continued to support increased balance sheet strength and is expected to provide management with enhanced flexibility to execute opportunistically on both organic and inorganic growth initiatives, particularly as potential acquisition targets may lack the balance sheet strength to weather a prolonged downturn. AirBoss believes it is well positioned to further leverage its significant recent investments in innovation, capacity expansion, and innovative solutions as industry conditions improve

Despite the continued headwinds associated with COVID-19, the Company’s longer-term priorities remain intact and include:

  1. Growing the core Rubber Solutions segment by positioning it as a specialty supplier of choice in the consolidating North American market, with a growing focus on building defensible leadership positions in selected compounds;
  2. Capitalizing on AirBoss Defense Group’s enhanced scale and capabilities to pursue an array of growth and value-creation opportunities in the broader survivability solutions segment serving both defense and first responder markets;
  3. Driving improved performance from Engineered Products through a combination of disciplined cost containment, client relationship expansion, new product development and sector diversification; and
  4. Targeting additional acquisition opportunities across the business with a focus on adding new compounds and products, technical capabilities, and geographic reach into selected North American and international markets.

AirBoss continues to generate meaningful returns to shareholders with 15 years of dividend payments growing at an average annual rate of 15%, while driving improved profitability and simultaneously investing in core areas of the business to expand a solid foundation that will support long-term growth.

Investor Contact: Chris Bitsakakis, President or Gren Schoch, CEO at 905-751-1188.

Media Contact: media@airboss.com

Conference Call Details and Investor Presentation

A conference call to discuss the quarterly results is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. Please go to https://www.gowebcasting.com/11730 or dial in to the following numbers: 1-800-319-4610 or 416-915-3239, pass code: 55506. Please connect approximately 10 minutes prior to the beginning of the call to ensure participation. A replay of the conference call as well as the Company’s updated investor presentation will also be made available at: https://airboss.com/investor-media-center.

Annual General Meeting

The Company’s Annual General Meeting for shareholders will occur May 12, 2022. Further details will be provided in the near future.

Board Member Brian Robbins Not Standing For Re-election

Brian Robbins has indicated he will not stand for re-election at the Company’s upcoming Annual General Meeting.

“Brian has been an invaluable member of our board of directors for 25 years,” said Mr. Gren Schoch, Chairman and CEO of AirBoss. “I want to thank Brian for his many contributions to AirBoss over more than two decades with the Company and wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”

AirBoss of America Corp.

AirBoss of America is a leading and diversified developer, manufacturer and provider of innovative survivability solutions, advanced custom rubber compounds and finished rubber products that are designed to outperform in the most challenging environments. Founded in 1989, the company operates through three divisions. AirBoss Defense Group is a global leader in personal and respiratory protective equipment and technology for the defense, healthcare, medical and first responder communities. AirBoss Rubber Solutions is a top-tier North American custom rubber compounder with 500 million turn pounds of annual capacity. AirBoss Engineered Products is a supplier of innovative anti-vibration solutions to the North American automotive market and other sectors. The Company’s shares trade on the TSX under the symbol BOS and on the OTCQX under the symbol ABSSF. Visit www.airboss.com for more information.

Note (1): Term loan and other debt as at December 31, 2021, includes $17,399 of lease liabilities (2020: $13,482) (see Significant Account Policies in the Company’s FY2021 MD&A).

Note (2): Non – IFRS Financial Measures: This earnings release is based on financial statements prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”) and Non-IFRS and Other Financial Measures. Management believes that these measures provide useful information to investors in measuring the financial performance of the Company. These measures do not have a standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS and therefore they may not be comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other companies and should not be construed as an alternative to other financial measures determined in accordance with IFRS. These terms are not a measure of performance under IFRS and should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for net income under IFRS.        

EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are non-IFRS measures used to measure the Company’s ability to generate cash from operations for debt service, to finance working capital and capital expenditures, potential acquisitions and to pay dividends. EBITDA is defined as earnings before income taxes, finance costs, depreciation, amortization, and impairment costs. Adjusted EBITDA is defined as EBITDA excluding acquisition costs, and non-recurring costs. A reconciliation of Profit to EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA is below.

Reconciliations of Non-IFRS Measures ($US except where otherwise noted)

In thousands of US dollars Q421 Q420 2021 2020
EBITDA:        
Profit 15,162 19,932 46,703 56,262
Finance costs 757 674 4,178 3,368
Depreciation, amortization and impairment 6,503 4,379 20,881 21,014
Income tax expense 4,113 7,826 7,829 22,567
EBITDA 26,535 32,811 79,591 103,211
Acquisition fees 244 21 445 2,384
Prospectus fees 182 305
Insurance provision
Adjusted EBITDA 26,961 32,832 80,341 105,595

Adjusted profit attributable to owners of the Company is a non-IFRS measure defined as profit before acquisition costs and non-recurring costs. This measure and Adjusted earnings per share are used to evaluate operating results of the Company. A reconciliation of Profit attributable to owners of the Company to Adjusted profit attributable to owners of the Company and Adjusted earnings per share is below.

In thousands of US dollars Q421 Q420 2021 2020
Adjusted profit attributable to owners of the Company:        
Profit attributable to owners of the Company 15,162 15,902 46,703 33,703
Acquisition fees 244 21 445 2,384
Prospectus fees 135 226  
Insurance provision
Adjusted profit attributable to owners of the Company 15,541 15,923 47,374 36,087
         
Basic weighted average number of shares outstanding 26,990 25,919 26,970 24,032
Diluted weighted average number of shares outstanding 28,356 27,042 28,298 24,901
         
Adjusted earnings per share (in US dollars):Basic 0.58 0.61 1.76 1.50
Diluted 0.55 0.59 1.67 1.45

Net Debt measures the financial indebtedness of the Company assuming that all cash on hand is used to repay a portion of the outstanding debt. A reconciliation of loans and borrowings to Net Debt is below.

In thousands of US dollars 2021   2020  
Net debt:    
Loans and borrowings – current 2,356   27,083  
Loans and borrowings - non-current 78,207   63,651  
Leases included in loans and borrowings (17,399 ) (13,482 )
Cash and cash equivalent (7,131 ) (86,970 )
Net debt 56,033   (9,718 )

Free cash flow is a non-IFRS measure used to evaluate cash flow after investing in the maintenance or expansion of the Company's business. It is defined as cash provided by operating activities, less cash expenditures on long-term assets. A reconciliation of cash from operating activities to free cash flow is below.

In thousands of US dollars Q421   Q420   2021   2020  
Free cash flow:        
Net cash provided by operating activities 138,415   56,530   2,023   104,399  
Acquisition of property, plant and equipment (4,610 ) (5,041 ) (16,912 ) (14,215 )
Acquisition of intangible assets (375 ) (3 ) (1,081 ) (719 )
Proceeds from government grant       500  
Free cash flow 133,430   51,486   (15,970 ) 89,965  
         
Basic weighted average number of shares outstanding 26,990   25,919   26,970   24,032  
Diluted weighted average number of shares outstanding 28,356   27,042   26,970   24,901  
         
Free cash flow per share (in US dollars):Basic 4.94   1.99   (0.59 ) 3.74  
Diluted 4.71   1.90   (0.59 ) 3.61  

AIRBOSS FORWARD LOOKING INFORMATION DISCLAIMER

Certain statements contained or incorporated by reference herein, including those that express management’s expectations or estimates of future developments or AirBoss’ future performance, constitute “forward-looking information” or “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable securities laws, and can generally be identified by words such as “will”, “may”, “could” “expects”, “believes”, “anticipates”, “forecasts”, “plans”, “intends” or similar expressions. These statements are not historical facts but instead represent management’s expectations, estimates and projections regarding future events and performance.

Statements containing forward-looking information are necessarily based upon a number of opinions, estimates and assumptions that, while considered reasonable by management at the time the statements are made, are inherently subject to significant business, economic and competitive risks, uncertainties and contingencies. AirBoss cautions that such forward-looking information involves known and unknown contingencies, uncertainties and other risks that may cause AirBoss’ actual financial results, performance or achievements to be materially different from its estimated future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking information. Numerous factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking information, including without limitation: impact of general economic conditions; dependence on key customers; cyclical trends in the tire and automotive, construction, mining and retail industries; sufficient availability of raw materials at economical costs; weather conditions affecting raw materials, production and sales; AirBoss’ ability to maintain existing customers or develop new customers in light of increased competition; AirBoss’ ability to successfully integrate acquisitions of other businesses and/or companies or to realize on the anticipated benefits thereof; changes in accounting policies and methods, including uncertainties associated with critical accounting assumptions and estimates; changes in the value of the Canadian dollar relative to the US dollar; changes in tax laws and potential litigation; ability to obtain financing on acceptable terms; environmental damage and non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations; impact of global health situations; potential product liability and warranty claims and equipment malfunction. COVID-19 could also negatively impact the Company’s operations and financial results in future periods. There is increased uncertainty associated with future operating assumptions and expectations as compared to prior periods. As such, it is not possible to estimate the impacts COVID-19 will have on the Company’s financial position or results of operations in future periods. While the direct impacts of COVID-19 are not determinable at this time, the Company has a credit facility that can provide financing up to $250,000. This list is not exhaustive of the factors that may affect any of AirBoss’ forward-looking information.

All of the forward-looking information in this press release is expressly qualified by these cautionary statements. Investors are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking information. All subsequent written and oral forward-looking information attributable to AirBoss or persons acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by this notice. Forward-looking information contained herein is made as of the date of this press release and, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, AirBoss disclaims any intent or obligation to update publicly this forward-looking information except as required by applicable laws. Risks and uncertainties about AirBoss’ business are more fully discussed under the heading “Risk Factors” in our most recent Annual Information Form and are otherwise disclosed in our filings with securities regulatory authorities which are available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. 

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