MRO Magazine

FLEX’s ‘BBB-‘ Rating Unaffected by NEXTracker Acquisition


September 10, 2015
By Business Wire News

CHICAGO

Fitch Ratings believes the ratings for Flextronics International Ltd. (FLEX), including the company’s ‘BBB-‘ Long-Term Issuer Default Rating and Stable Rating Outlook, are unaffected by the acquisition of NEXTracker.

Fitch currently rates $4.2 billion of debt for FLEX, including the undrawn $1.5 billion revolving credit facility (RCF). A full list of current ratings follows at the end of this release.

Fitch expects the acquisition of NEXTracker, a smart solar tracking solutions provider, will complement FLEX’s domain expertise, solar manufacturing and global footprint, providing system-level solutions for FLEX’s global energy customers.

NEXTracker designs and manufactures advanced single-axis photovoltaic (PV) trackers that orient and maximize the output of PV panels. The acquisition should add roughly $400 million of revenues on a run rate basis to FLEX’s existing $1 billion Energy business at higher profit margins, consistent with FLEX’s strategy.

FLEX agreed to acquire NEXTracker for an initial net cash consideration of $245 million with an additional $85 million of potential contingent consideration upon achievement of future performance targets. FLEX expects to fund the deal with available cash, which was $1.8 billion at June 30, 2015 pro forma for the EUR 457 million ($494 million) MCi acquisition payment. FLEX expects to close the acquisition in the December 2015 quarter, subject to customary closing conditions.

The current ratings and Outlook continue to reflect Fitch’s expectations for stable profitability and solid annual free cash flow (FCF) through the intermediate term, despite capital spending returning to normalized levels beginning in the current fiscal year.

Fitch expects flat to positive low single digit organic revenue growth for fiscal 2016, driven by new program ramps more than offsetting lower sales from Motorola Mobility following its acquisition by Lenovo Group Ltd.

Nonetheless, Fitch expects low-single-digit revenue growth through the cycle, driven by strong customer relationships and share in mature traditional end-markets. Fitch believes faster growing end-markets, including medical, automotive, and industrial automation, will drive positive mid-cycle revenue growth.

Fitch expects profitability will gradually strengthen over the longer term from a richer sales mix of non-traditional markets and lower exposure to high-velocity markets, particularly handsets. Fitch expects operating EBITDA will trough at $1.2 billion in the near term and expand through intermediate term.

Fitch expects more than $500 million of annual FCF through the cycle, driven by strengthening profitability and cash flow from the liquidation of inventory during a downturn. Additionally, Fitch believes FLEX’s increasing ability to moderate capital spending in the face of lower demand supports the industry’s maturity and strengthened FCF profile.

Fitch expects FLEX will use annual FCF for acquisitions and share repurchases. Fitch expects acquisitions will be focused on access to technologies and customers in faster-growing markets. At the same time, FLEX is targeting 50% of FCF to be distributed to shareholders through stock buybacks. Fitch anticipates FLEX will fund larger acquisitions with debt, such as it did to fund the pending EUR457 million ($494 million) acquisition of automotive mirror electronics supplier, MCi.

Credit protection measure should remain solid for the rating. Fitch expects total leverage (total debt to operating EBITDA) below 3x and debt adjusted for off-balance-sheet accounts receivable securitization and operating leases below 4x. Fitch estimates total leverage was 2.2x, for the latest 12 months (LTM) ended June 30, 2015, versus 1.8x for the comparable prior year period.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

Rating strengths include the following:

–Significant advantage in scale and scope of operations as the second largest provider of electronics manufacturing services (EMS) in the world;

–Favorable industry trends toward increased outsourcing of manufacturing, particularly in non-traditional end-markets such as industrial and medical, where Flextronics shares a leading position;

–Strategic positioning in increasingly complex EMS product offerings including product design, engineering, and product lifecycle management which enhance the value of EMS partnerships for customers; and

–Positive annual FCF through the cycle, driven by higher profitability in expansionary periods and cash from the lower inventory requirements during a downturn.

Ratings concerns include the following:

–Vulnerability to execution missteps, inherent to the EMS industry’s low profit-margin business profile;

–A highly competitive environment which pressures profitability across the industry;

–Customer concentration, with its top 10 customers accounting for roughly half of revenue in fiscal 2015, although FLEX is less concentrated than its peer group; and

–Exposure to the cyclicality of the IT industry and the broader macro economy through a high proportion of consumer and networking infrastructure business.

KEY ASSUMPTIONS

–Low single-digit revenue growth for fiscal 2016, despite expectations for lower demand from Motorola Mobility.

–Low- to mid-single-digit revenue growth beyond the near term, driven by new product ramps, particularly in new growth markets.

–Revenue concentration remains substantial but is reduced over time, driven by faster growth in non-traditional markets.

–Operating EBIT near 3% in the near term and modest expansion through the intermediate term from a richer sales mix and lower exposure to high velocity products, including cell phones.

–Capital spending continues below depreciation, supporting annual FCF.

–50% of annual FCF will be returned to shareholders via stock buybacks.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

Positive:

–Upside movement in the ratings is challenged by the EMS industry’s thin operating margin profile and capital intensive business model. This is exacerbated by potential volatility driven by product concentration and product iteration cycles, although Fitch believes further diversification that reduces exposure to legacy markets provides greater top line stability and visibility; or

–Greater diversification into markets with significantly lower cyclicality would strengthen the credit profile; however, this may not result in a positive rating action by itself. Fitch believes a positive rating action would also require sustainably and structurally lower mid-cycle leverage (below 1.5x debt to EBITDA), given thin profit margins and expectations for reduced but still potentially volatile earnings.

Negative:

–Secular shifts or a large customer loss resulting in margin compression with limited visibility on the potential to return profit margins to historical levels.

–Expectations for long-term, sustained leverage above 3x (or 4x on an adjusted debt basis) as a result of debt-financed acquisition(s) or shareholder friendly activities, or structurally lower EBITDA.

LIQUIDITY

Liquidity as of June 30, 2015 was solid and consisted of:

–$2.3 billion in cash, nearly all of which was readily available given the company’s Singapore incorporation;

–An undrawn $1.5 billion senior unsecured revolving credit facility expiring March 2019.

More than $500 million of annual FCF also supports liquidity.

Flextronics also utilizes asset-backed securitization programs and an accounts receivable factoring program for additional liquidity purposes. These programs are located off balance sheet:

–$550 million Global ABS program;

–$225 million committed North American ABS program.

As of June 30, 2015, total debt was $2.7 billion and consisted of:

–$593 million of senior unsecured term loan debt due August 2018;

–$475 million of senior unsecured term loan debt due March 2019;

–$500 million of 4.625% senior unsecured notes due February 2020;

–$500 million of 5.0% senior unsecured notes due February 2023; and

–$600 million of 4.75% senior unsecured notes due June 2025.

FULL LIST OF RATING ACTIONS

Fitch currently rates Flextronics as follows:

–Long-term Issuer Default Rating ‘BBB-‘;

–Senior unsecured debt ‘BBB-‘.

The Rating Outlook is Stable.

Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

–‘Corporate Rating Methodology’ (May 28, 2014).

Applicable Criteria

Corporate Rating Methodology – Including Short-Term Ratings and Parent and Subsidiary Linkage – Effective from 28 May 2014 ¬タモ 14 August 2015 (pub. 28 May 2014)

https://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=749393

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Fitch Ratings
Primary Analyst
Jason Pompeii
Senior Director
+1-312-368-3210
Fitch Ratings, Inc.
70 W Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602
or
Secondary Analyst
David Peterson
Senior Director
+1-312-368-3177
or
Media Relations
Alyssa Castelli, New York, +1-212-908-0540
alyssa.castelli@fitchratings.com