Latham Group, Inc.

Q4 2022 Earnings Conference Call


spk05: Good morning and welcome to the Latham Group Inc. fourth quarter and full year fiscal 2022 earnings conference call. All participants will be in listen-only mode. Should you need assistance, please signal a conference specialist by pressing the star key followed by zero. After today's presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. To ask a question, you may press star then one on your telephone keypad. To withdraw your question, please press star then two. Please note, this event is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Nicole Harlow, Latham investor relations representative. Please go ahead.
spk03: Thank you and welcome to Latham's Q4 and full year fiscal 2022 earnings call. Earlier this morning, we issued our earnings press release, which is available on the investor relations portion of our website. where you can also find the slide presentation that accompanies our prepared remarks. On today's call are Latham's President and CEO, Scott Rogeski, and CFO, Rob Masson. Following their remarks, we will open up the call to questions. During this call, the company may make certain statements that constitute forward-looking statements. Such statements reflect the company's views with respect to future events as of today, and are based on our management's current expectations, estimates, forecasts, projections, assumptions, beliefs, and information. These statements are subject to a number of risks that could cause actual events and results to differ materially. Such risks and other factors are set forth in the company's earnings release posted to its investor relations website and will be provided in our Form 10-K for fiscal year 2022. The company expressly disclaims any obligation to update or review publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise, except as required by applicable law. In addition, during today's call, the company will discuss non-GAAP financial measures which we believe could be useful in evaluating our performance. Reconciliations of historical adjusted EBITDA to net income loss and adjusted EBITDA margin to net income loss margin calculated under GAAP can be found in our earnings press release and will be included in our form 10-K for fiscal 2022. Reconciliations of net debt and net debt leverage to the comparable GAAP measure can be found in the slide presentation that accompanies our prepared remarks, which can be found on our investor relations website. I'll now turn the call over to Scott Rogeski.
spk10: Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us for Latham's fourth quarter and full year fiscal 2022 earnings call. I'll begin today's call with a review of highlights from 2022 and a discussion of our strategic priorities and the innovation we're driving in 23 and beyond. We delivered fourth quarter and full year 2022 performance in line with our expectations, marking the completion of our 13th consecutive year of net sales and adjusted EBITDA growth. Notably, we made progress in four areas in 2022. First, we delivered year-over-year net sales growth across all three of our product lines. Second, we made continued progress on our fiberglass pool conversion efforts from concrete. We grew fiberglass volume despite a year-over-year decline in the industry for U.S. in-ground pool installations in 2022 as compared to 2021. We also advanced our capacity initiatives with significant progress in the construction of our state-of-the-art Kingston, Ontario fiberglass manufacturing facility, which will allow us to continue to expand into Eastern Canada and into the U.S. Northeast and Upper Midwest. We also acquired fiberglass manufacturing assets in Oklahoma, positioned us well to tap into the Southwest market, which is ripe for conversion from concrete to fiberglass. Third, we strengthened our supply chain position, enabling us to enhance our North American fiberglass production in return to normal lead times across our entire product portfolio. And fourth, we drove operational efficiencies as we implemented lean initiatives aimed at driving continuous improvement in our operations. We also took deliberate actions to manage costs in response to the market environment while still prioritizing our growth strategy. As anticipated, we saw a return to historical seasonality in the fourth quarter. Wholesale distributors continue to destock elevated levels of package pool inventory, and the macroeconomic environment impacted consumer spending and demand. We are seeing these dynamics continue into 2023. Our wholesale distribution partners continue to service dealers through existing package pool inventory, and we expect the normalization of wholesale distribution inventory levels to remain a headwind through at least the first half of 2023. We believe underlying interest in pool ownership is strong, as indicated by traffic to our website, continued flow of leads, and the feedback we're hearing from our dealers. However, the impact of the uncertain macroeconomic environment is resulting in an anticipated decline in the industry for U.S. new in-ground pool installations in 2023 versus 2022. We still have a couple of months before the pool season begins to ramp up, and we are confident in our ability to navigate through the current market and position ourselves for long-term growth as we execute on our four strategic priorities. One, continuing to drive the material conversion from concrete to fiberglass. Two, leveraging our direct-to-homeowner strategy and digital innovations. Three, enhancing and expanding our strategic partnerships with Latham Grand Dealers. And four, executing on our continuous improvement initiatives and prudently managing costs. Fiberglass pools have come a long way thanks to our team's efforts. We have designed and developed the most attractive swimming pool offering on the market. Our fiberglass pools offer premium quality and aesthetics and a wide selection of stunning colors and finishes that are proprietary to Latham. And we're not finished. We continue to innovate our product offerings and installation processes which we believe will support the further adoption of fiberglass with homeowners and dealers alike. We are enhancing our well-established fiberglass model lineup in 2023 with the launch of two new fiberglass models, the Tuscan and the Enchantment, in the first half of this year. The Tuscan and Enchantment models are beautiful, unique fiberglass pool shapes that meet contemporary trends in geometric pool design and size. These two models have popular features, including swim-up seating and multiple points of entry and exit, and they will come in various sizes to fit a wide range of backyard design needs. As we've discussed, the speed of fiberglass installation is unparalleled compared to concrete pools. We are further simplifying and enhancing the installation experience by introducing Backfill Made Easy. This patent-pending innovation is a new reinforcement build process designed to make the installation on select models easier and faster for dealers. It eliminates the extra effort of backfilling under the pool steps, which saves the builder time and materials and increases the speed of installation. Backfill Made Easy will be made available for our popular Corinthian models this year, and we will evaluate opportunities to roll out across our fiberglass portfolio over time. Latham has been a leader in innovation in the pool industry. particularly as it relates to our digital tools. Earlier this year, we introduced Measure by Latham, a new AI-powered digital measuring tool that will modernize and simplify the measuring experience for dealers for safety covers and in-ground liners. Historically, dealers have had to manually take and input data for measurements for covers. This is extremely labor-intensive and time-consuming, giving the need to measure, remeasure, and correct errors throughout the process. Measure by Latham harnesses cutting-edge 3D technology and scanning techniques that allow dealers to measure the entire pool perimeter and to capture interior renderings of the pool shape and unique features. Within minutes, dealers have precise specifications for safety covers. These measurements then seamlessly integrate with the Latham Measure app and Latham's builder management portal. As a result, dealers can more quickly, easily, and cost-efficiently track measurements, receive quotes, and submit and track orders for Latham safety cover products. We have introduced measure across various trade shows over the last several months and are hearing very positive dealer feedback and excitement. We will begin the initial rollout for safety covers to select dealers this spring with plans to expand into in-ground liners at a later date. Normalized lead times, improved supply chain, and enhanced manufacturing capacity have enabled us to reignite our efforts on new dealer recruitment. Key to our ability to attract and retain dealers are the three key factors that set us apart as an attractive partner for dealers. One, our lead generation efforts. Two, our hands-on training. And three, our value-added resources. An important competitive differentiation for Latham is the hands-on installation training we provide our dealers. We continue to see tremendous demand for our Latham University trainings. In 2022, we had over 250 dealers attend the fiberglass or package pool boot camp, either in person or virtually. And we continue to book out trainings at Latham University, our world-class training center in Florida. In 2023, we are further strengthening our competitive positioning by enhancing and expanding our value-added resources with the launch of ProEssentials and the Latham ProSite tool. In January, we launched Latham ProEssentials. Our largest sales experience offering aims at creating a better buying experience for homeowners and supporting sales growth for our dealers. The Latham Pro Essentials program is comprised of categories with an interconnected experience. Exterior Essentials, Interior Essentials, Field Essentials, and Digital Essentials. Within each category is a comprehensive turnkey collection of tools to enhance marketing and business efforts for dealers in various selling contexts. This includes exterior signage, digital branded content, design and sale dates and collateral, and product education resources. The Latham ProSite tool is a central online location for all the tools and resources we provide dealers. It simplifies how we engage and communicate with builders through a carefully designed online user experience. It also offers access to sales material, loyalty and incentive programs, leads, and orders. The launch of ProEssentials and the Latham ProSite tool enhances the ease of doing business with Latham. These resources elevate our co-branding opportunities, simplify the ordering process, and give Latham increased visibility into dealer's order pipeline, all while creating a better homeowner experience. I'll now touch on our fourth strategic priority, executing on our continuous improvement and cost management initiatives. As discussed on our last earnings call, we took deliberate actions to reduce our costs in response to continued destocking and package pools, and as we saw the macroeconomic environment delay homeowner pool purchase decisions. All of those anticipated actions are complete, including the closure of our Bossier facility liner and cover manufacturing facility earlier this year. As such, we remain on track to generate annual operating expense savings of about $12 million in fiscal 2023. We have renewed our focus on continuous improvement initiatives and investments. Our lean and value engineering work is ongoing as our operations team implements and identifies opportunities to continuously improve the efficiency of our manufacturing processes. This has resulted in lower labor costs and increased efficiency and capacity in our facilities. In addition, we are actively managing inventory levels to match our current demand outlook while maintaining our lead times and service levels. We remain disciplined in our capital investment strategy. In 2023, our capex spend is focused on completing ongoing projects, including our Kingston, Ontario, and Oklahoma fiberglass manufacturing facilities. Production of our Latham fiberglass pools in Oklahoma began in Q1. We also expect to begin production in our new state-of-the-art Kingston fiberglass facility during Q2 of this year. Gearing up the Kingston and Oklahoma facilities for production will give us the opportunity to reduce freight costs, further reduce our lead times, and better serve large markets with strong fiberglass conversion opportunities. In summary, we have delivered strong full-year results. We have taken actions to navigate market challenges while continuing to make strategic investments to drive long-term growth. Delivering on this balanced approach as we move through 2023 will enable us to continue to enhance our industry-leading position and capture future demands. Before I pass it off to Rob to review our results for the fourth quarter and full year, I would like to thank him for his partnership, friendship, and contributions to the business. On behalf of all of us at Latham, Rob, we wish you the best. I'm also excited to welcome back Mark Forseth, who will serve as our interim CFO as we recruit a permanent replacement. With that, I'll turn the call over to Rob to review our results in greater detail. Thank you, Scott.
spk07: Latham has a compelling long-term growth story, and it's been wonderful to be part of that journey and work alongside you, the rest of the executive leadership team, and the talented finance team that I now lead back in Mark's capable hands. Turning to our results for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2022, please note that all comparisons are on a year-over-year basis compared to fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2021. In Q4 of 2022, as expected, net sales for the fourth quarter were down $31 million, or 22% year-over-year, to $108 million. In the fourth quarter of 2022, we saw a return to historical seasonality, resulting in year-over-year volume declines. As a reminder, in comparison, Q4 2021 sales were unseasonably elevated as we caught up on our fiberglass order backlog. Our fourth quarter net sales results across our product lines reflect historical seasonality trends. In-ground swimming pools declined 28% to $59 million, which were further impacted by continued inventory destocking in the wholesale distribution channel for package pools. Liners declined 28% to $13 million, and covers declined 6% to $36 million. gross profit decreased by $23 million or 54% to $19 million. Excluding non-cash stock-based compensation expense, gross profit decreased by $24 million or 55% to $20 million. Gross margin decreased to 17.9% compared to 30.5% for the prior year period. Excluding non-cash stock-based compensation expense, Gross margin declined by 1,330 basis points to 18.6%. Fourth quarter gross profit and gross margin declines were primarily driven by three factors. Reduced sales and the impact of our fixed costs on lower seasonal volume, continued destocking of packaged pool inventory in the wholesale distribution channel, as well as the impact of inflation. Selling general and administrative expenses decreased to $33 million, from $47 million in Q4 of 2021. This decrease was primarily driven by a $13 million decrease in non-cash stock-based compensation expense. SG&A, excluding non-cash stock-based compensation expense, decreased $1 million. Adjusted EBITDA decreased by $23 million to $4 million, and adjusted EBITDA margin decreased to 4.1% primarily as the result of the impact of our fixed costs on seasonally reduced sales volume and the impact of inflation. Turning to full fiscal year 2022 results, net sales increased 10% to $696 million, reflecting growth across all three of our product lines. Net sales for in-ground swimming pools increased 5% to $386 million, as growth in fiberglass was offset by declines in packaged pools. Liners increased 17% to $152 million, and covers increased 20% to $158 million. We were pleased to grow fiberglass volumes despite a year-over-year decline in the overall U.S. market for new in-ground pool installations in 2022. We believe this is significant because it is the latest demonstration of our ability to outpace the market thanks to our leadership position in fiberglass and progress converting the market from concrete to fiberglass pools. This successful fiberglass outperformance was muted by the previously discussed inventory destocking and the wholesale distribution channel package pools. Gross profit for fiscal 2022 increased 6% to $216 million. Gross margin decreased to 31.1% compared to 32.4% for the prior year period. Excluding non-cash stock-based compensation expense, gross margin declined 210 basis points to 31.7%. The decline was primarily attributable to the impact of inflation and negative fixed cost leverage as a result of volume declines, primarily in package pools due to continued destocking of the inventory in the wholesale distribution channel. As discussed on our third quarter 2022 earnings call, our pricing actions offset the impact of cost inflation, though not enough to hold gross margins year over year. SG&A decreased to $147 million from $218 million in the prior year, driven primarily by a $73 million decrease in non-cash stock-based compensation expense. Excluding non-cash stock-based compensation expense, SG&A increased just $2 million. SG&A excluding non-cash stock-based compensation expense as a percentage of net sales declined 110 basis points to 14.4% from 15%. for the prior year. Adjusted EBITDA was up 2% to $143 million, and adjusted EBITDA margin decreased to 20.6%. Turning to the balance sheet, as of December 31, 2022, we had cash and cash equivalents of $33 million, total debt of $313 million, and $75 million of availability on our revolving credit facilities. Net cash provided by operating activities was $32 million for full fiscal year 2022 versus $34 million last year. In light of the return to historical seasonality we saw in the fourth quarter of 2022, our net debt leverage ratio at the end of the year was 2.0 times. We remain confident and comfortable with our balance sheet health. The refinancing of our term loan and revolving credit facilities earlier in 2022 provides us with enhanced financial flexibility. Capital expenditures were $11 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022 compared to $6 million in Q4 last year and $40 million for full year 2022 compared to $25 million in 2021. The year-over-year increase in the fourth quarter and full year were primarily driven by investments in our Kingston, Ontario fiberglass manufacturing facility. Our capital allocation priorities remain unchanged, centered on enabling the execution of our strategic objectives and maximizing value for our shareholders. We are committed to reinvesting in the business with a focus on the opportunities that generate the strongest returns, primarily investments in fiberglass. I'll turn the call back to Scott to discuss our expectations for 2023.
spk10: Thanks, Rob. As we move through 2023, there are five key factors that we're seeing impact our business. One, the impact of macroeconomic uncertainty on consumer spending and demand resulted in anticipated declines in the industry for U.S. new in-ground pool installations in 2023. Two, we continue to see destocking of package pool inventory at the wholesale distribution level and expect normalization of inventory level to remain a headwind through at least the first half of 2023. Three, we believe continued progress executed on our strategy to drive the material conversion from concrete pools to fiberglass will be a tailwind as we expand homeowner and dealer awareness in adoption. Four, We expect to realize the benefits from our previously announced cost reduction actions and ongoing continuous improvement initiatives. Lastly, we continue to take a disciplined approach to capital investments with 2023 CapEx spend focused on the completion of previously announced projects. This includes the completion of our Kingston, Ontario fiberglass facility, as well as the ramp up in fiberglass production in Oklahoma. All of this is reflected in our expectations for full year 2023, including net sales of $565 million to $615 million, adjusted EBITDA of $90 million to $110 million, and capital expenditures of $35 million to $40 million, the majority of which we expect to incur in the first half of the year. Throughout today's call, we have discussed the return to historical seasonality that we are seeing in the business. the impact of macroeconomic uncertainty on consumers, and the continued destocking and package pools at the wholesale distributor level. Given these factors, we wanted to provide more clarity on our expectations for the first quarter and have provided an outlook for Q1 of 2023 with net sales of $120 million to $130 million and adjusted EBITDA of $6 million to $10 million. To close, I would like to touch on what gives us confidence in the long-term prospects for Latham. We continue to build Latham as a lifestyle brand that consumers aspire to own and to be the partner of choice for dealers. Our direct-to-homeowner strategy continues to generate results, demonstrating that there's still untapped potential demand. In 2022, we increased page views on our website, doubled the number of users for our pool cost estimator, and more than tripled the number of MyLatham profiles versus 2021. This resulted in continued leaf load to our network of exclusive dealers. We're the market leader across our entire product portfolio. We have strong recurring revenue opportunities with our liners and covers business and are launching new tools like Measure by Latham for safety covers and in-ground liners that will enable us to further capitalize on the growing installed tool base. Fiberglass has been key to our ability to drive net sales in a variety of market conditions. This is thanks to the breadth of our premium quality and beautifully designed portfolio of tool models in our direct-to-homeowner strategy. As we continue to focus on driving the material conversion from concrete to fiberglass, we expect this to be a strong component of long-term growth. We are focused on deepening and expanding our relationships with dealers and believe that our efforts in enhancing our lead gen efforts, hands-on training, and value-added resources will propel these efforts forward over time. While we recognize the challenges the pool industry faces in 2023, we have strong confidence and conviction in our strategy, which we believe positions us to capitalize on attractive underlying trends in our industry over time. We will now open the line to questions.
spk05: Thank you. We will now begin the question and answer session. To ask a question, you may press star then one on your telephone keypad. If you're using a speakerphone, please pick up your handset before pressing the keys. To withdraw your question, please press star then two. We ask that you please limit yourself to one question and one follow-up. If you have additional questions, you may re-enter the question queue. At this time, we will pause momentarily to assemble our roster. And the first question will be from Matthew Boley with Barclays. Please go ahead.
spk04: Good morning. You have Elizabeth laying it on for Matt this morning. So just to kick it off, would you mind touching on the volume and pricing expectations you've embedded in the guide for this year specifically? And then, you know, if you could talk about your assumptions for new pool construction, you know, maybe touching on the cadence through the year as well.
spk08: Sure, Elizabeth, I'd be happy to take that.
spk07: So we haven't really broken out what we're doing with price or volume in our guidance. What I can tell you is we're being very selective in our pricing actions, looking out at the market, and as we consider the year and see how it lays out, But, you know, traditionally, other than the last number of years, we've had a very deliberate process of pricing and more conservative than we've talked about before. So it's more of a return to that.
spk10: Yeah, and Elizabeth, on the second part of your question on new pool construction outlook, as part of the 23 guide, we really haven't, again, given distinct numbers of where we think 23 will come in. But I think high level, we can probably expect something similar to what we all saw in 2022. And as we know, we're all awaiting, you know, the PK data report to come out here in a few months. But, you know, it's kind of feels like it's going to be in line with 22 on a volume standpoint.
spk04: Okay. Thank you. And would you mind touching a little bit on, you know, relative to like your other product categories? maybe what you're seeing this year so far with, you know, between fiberglass volumes relative to packaged pools so far?
spk10: Yeah, look, it's pretty early in the season, you know, two months in here in the 1Q. You know, we gave the 1Q guidance of what we think we'll see. You know, I think if we look back at 22, right, with new pool starts being down in 22, You know, we did see fiberglass volume up on a unit basis year over year in what was a downfall market. You know, we saw that destocking impact with the wholesale distributors. I think if we roll that forward to 23 in the guide we issued, you know, we expect to see fiberglass outperform the market overall, and we expect to continue to see the destocking in the packaged cool category, you know, for at least the first half of the year. And, you know, I think that's probably the best view we can give at this point. We really get into the peak building months of 2Q and 3Q.
spk04: Okay. Thank you very much.
spk08: See you, Elizabeth.
spk05: And the next question will be from Tim Woj with Baird. Please go ahead.
spk06: Yeah. Hey, guys. Good morning. Maybe just to follow up on the prior question, just What were pools down in 2022 from the start spaces? I think it's a pretty basic question for us to kind of understand what you think the new pool install market's going to be down in 23.
spk10: Yeah, look, we haven't quoted a specific number, but I think if we look at what others in the industry have been saying and what's out there, Tim, it's probably fair to say new pool starts in 22 when PK issues the number will be down 15 to 20. Again, I hate to call an exact number because it's tough, but I think down 15% to 20% feels right. And again, I think the key thing for us is we grew revenue 10% in that market, but more importantly, we actually grew fiberglass unit volumes in that market, which is a demonstration of our ability to kind of outperform driving that fiberglass material conversion from concrete.
spk06: Yeah, no, that's good. That's good to hear kind of that gap and that conversion. Yeah, sure. I guess on the – I have one other question just on the in-ground pool segment. I mean, is there a way just to give us a flavor for what the package pool part of that business declined in 2022 and then what you're kind of embedding for a decline in 2023 in that business specifically? Sure.
spk07: Tim, so I can talk about it generally, which is, you know, we don't break out in ground, but we did see volume growth in the fiberglass year over year. So if you think about the overall decline we've shown in that segment, fiberglass was positive and the decline was mostly attributable then to package fulls.
spk06: Okay. And then can I just throw one more in? Just on the front end of your business, you know, when you think about web traffic downloads, leads, could you just add some color around any sort of, you know, metrics that you're seeing there? And then has there been any sort of increase in like lead breakage or decrease in kind of overall conversion over the last, you know, versus the past two to three years?
spk10: Yeah, Tim, I think Joel and the marketing team have continued to do a really nice job building out the front end and the engine. All the metrics we look at, time on website, nurturing of the leads, average time spent, number of MyLatham pool accounts, people doing a MyPool estimate, I think all trending well. I think overall leads are ticking up. They're not at the levels we might have seen in 2021. when they went through the roof, but we're tracking ahead of last year. We're tracking ahead of, let's say 1920 type levels. We feel pretty good there. We have kind of turned the lead generation engine back on for dealers. And I think we talked about, you know, 250 plus fiberglass dealers went through the boot camps last year for both fiberglass and package pool. Our commercial team is back out there proactively engaging with New dealer acquisition, we're seeing really, really good progress in signing up new dealers to join the fiberglass family with Latham. So I think early indications are a lot of good luck on all of those views. Really trying to nurture the leads on the website, the tournament, that white hot lead, and hand that off to the dealer. I think conversion kind of remains consistent. We don't really report the conversion type metrics. Well, I don't think we've seen a big drop-off or fall-off on the ability to convert, you know, the better leads we have out there.
spk06: Okay. Okay, good. Thanks, guys. Good luck on this year. All right. See you.
spk05: The next question will be from Sean Calnan from Bank of America. Please go ahead.
spk02: Hi, guys. Thank you for taking my questions. Just first, can you quantify or give us an estimate of the impact of the destocking in 2022 and what you expect it to be in 2023?
spk07: Well, I'll just go back to our overall year on a price-volume mix basis. You know, we had 10% growth overall. Price was... up 17% and volume down seven. I think we've disclosed what happened in each segment over the years. And then again, I'll just reemphasize that fiberglass volume actually grew year over year. So you had a fairly significant headwind from the destocking included in 2022.
spk02: And do you have an estimate for 2023, whether it could be worse or better?
spk08: Sorry, would you repeat that?
spk02: Yeah, just your forecast for the impact of the destocking in 2023 relative to 2022. Yeah, I'll take that one, Sean.
spk10: I think in the guidance we issued, there's the overall assumption of the macroeconomic uncertainty that's out there at the consumer level, which will continue to lead to that destocking with the wholesale distributors through the first half of the year. I think until we see how the demand is going to play out at the consumer level with the wholesale distributors, You know, we're being cautious with the guide that we issued for, let's say, 1Q most importantly, when you would typically see that restocking to be occurring. So that's the guide for 1Q to help give you guys a view there. And then I think, you know, fiberglass has always shown the ability to outperform the market. We've not given an indication of what we think fiberglass genovolumes will do for 23. With all of our efforts and initiatives with new dealers sign up, driving the ability to have our dealers get more pools in the ground, the lead generation, and more importantly, I think just the favorable economics of a fiberglass pool with lower upfront costs, total lower cost of ownership versus a concrete pool will benefit consumers as maybe they look to say a concrete pool has just gotten too expensive. Fiberglass is a really great option for us.
spk02: Okay, got it. And then Can you just kind of walk us through what you're assuming for gross margin in 2023 and kind of the cadence with the expectations for destocking to be mainly a first half of the year impact?
spk08: Yeah, I can take that.
spk07: I think, you know, the important thing for us, we gave you Q1 of that full year. Obviously, there's a much different gross margin there. That's primarily the results of seasonality and the impact of just the lower sales and our cost base. Of course, our cost base is set for the peak seasons on the fixed side. We are primarily variable cost base, but we do have our fixed costs that we leverage, obviously, for benefit in Q2 and Q3. So you will see a degradation of gross margin in Q1 and Q4 because of that. But there's no specific guidance on it. I think it's important to really understand the seasonality and the profile of our gross margin and know that we manage very diligently our costs. We announced last year some actions we took in Q4 that we're going to deliver $12 million of full-year savings in 2023. We're on track for that. We continue to manage our shifts, even in those Q1 and Q4 lower season periods. We really look at our production levels and other factors that are more on the variable side to manage that part of the business. So we remain very diligent in our cost control.
spk02: Got it. Thank you.
spk05: And again, if you have a question, please press star then one. The next question is from Susan McQuarrie from Goldman Sachs. Please go ahead.
spk00: Hey, good morning, everyone. This is Charles Perron. And for Susan, thanks for taking my question. I guess first, I would love to get an update on what you see in terms of cost inflation through your business and the ability to offset that with pricing in 2023, considering obviously the environment for volume this year.
spk10: Yeah, I think on the inflation front, you know, we've not really seen the cost side of the equation rapidly drop off here yet. Again, I think a lot of it goes back to the specialty residents that we're buying, particularly the fiberglass world. You know, I do think it has stopped accelerating to many extents. You know, we have seen some breaks in freight expenses and that, but, you know, labor continues to trend up. So I think we'll continue to watch the inflation views. We've got inventory we need to work through a little bit as well on the balance sheet that was purchased at the higher prices. What I think the key thing we need to remember is that prices are still extremely elevated from where they were back in the 20 or 21 timeframe. We feel pretty good with where our pricing levels are right now that we've pushed out and announced and continue to execute on. I think as Rob mentioned earlier, we'll remain nimble on what we do with pricing, but I think the headline statement is right now we don't believe we'll need to roll any pricing back to the market. But again, if inflation starts to wane and we start to see massive deflation, we would reevaluate that as we go forward.
spk00: That's good color there. And then just to go back in terms of the cadence of revenue into 2023, understanding the back of the channel, destocking happening in the first half, But obviously, the last three years have been unprecedented in terms of the demand for pool. And obviously, it's hard for us to get a good sense of the historical seasonality this business had, let's say, prior to the pandemic. So I don't know if you can help us maybe frame the first half versus second half in terms of maybe revenue or EBITDA, just for us to better understand the cadence of how revenues will flow through this year and obviously overlaying the channel destocking impact on top of that.
spk10: Yeah, Charles, we're not giving any guide on first half, second half like we have before. I think because we are entering a new dynamic from what we've all experienced over, let's say, the last three years, 20 through 22. Right now, I've been in the business 10 plus years, and I'd say it does feel like we are back to what we would call normal seasonality. I'll also caveat that by there's never been a normal season in the business when you think about the weather impact and a you know, a late spring or an early spring, and same thing with the winters and the fall months. But what I can say is if we rewind to 4Q last year, let's set that as an anchor point where that felt like a normal 4Q for the business, you know, going back 3-20 timeframe. 1Q and what we've laid out for guidance, again, kind of when you think about, you know, revenue on a percentage basis of the full year, where we're sitting for 1Q with the guide, taking into account seasonality, but more importantly, does that continue to be stocking in the back tool piece of the business? One Q would kind of frame back up to a normal quarter for us. So if you use those two anchor points, bulk peak building season for us in two Q, three Q, with two Q typically being a little better than three Q. You know, first half, second half dynamics, you know, I've seen them swing by four to six points over the years. That's why we don't want to quote it. I think we want to just really get through the first quarter here and see how the macro environment plays out, how the demand pull through for our dealers and consumers happens, and then when do we start to see restocking orders in the package pool world. And look, we're going to continue to drive fiberglass far to get a lot of new dealers. We signed up last year and this year, and that will be a big focus for us to try to deliver what we put up there for them. And just quickly touch on the EBITDA aspect of that seasonality from a revenue. You know, if you think about, you know, the cost basis of this business on the fixed side and the variable, right, we do carry higher cost in 1Q and 4Q on those much lower volumes, which is kind of, you know, knocking down the EBITDA levels that we saw last year in 4Q and that we're indicating here in 1Q. And then clearly there's a strong bounce back in 2Q and 3Q when the volume picks back up. running through the plants for us. Thanks for the color.
spk00: Appreciate it.
spk05: And the next question is from Josh Pokerwinski from Morgan Stanley. Please go ahead.
spk09: Hi, good morning, guys. Morning, Josh. Scott, just on the package pools business, we've talked about it a little bit. Maybe this is something I should already know, but can you just level set us on the size of the business in 22, and then, you know, sort of a rough, you know, kind of inventory out in the field check, you know, maybe, you know, days on hand or something like that that, you know, your dealers and distributors, you know, kind of have right now maybe versus normal, just some context for, you know, order of magnitude and, you know, what sort of the D stock, you know, opportunity is relative to a normal environment.
spk10: Josh, you know, so I think as we've said, you know, we've not given splits of the in-ground category between the package pool and the fiberglass piece. But I would tell you is the package pool piece of the business is still a very healthy, strong segment of the business for us in the steel and polymer world with that vinyl liner pool. You know, I'd say the business is stronger than where it had been, you know, back in the 19 plus timeframes as we've continued to grow that. You know, it has trended down the last couple years, I think, you know, as we've seen the stocking in 22 and the continued indication of that in 23. You know, so we really haven't disclosed those splits, but it's still a big piece of that in-ground segment for us. You know, on the inventory front, we get okay visibility of what's out there in terms of stocking levels. You know, I'd say... they're in a better position than they were in 4Q as the destocking has continued, you know, but I'd say it's still a little bit elevated. And that's why we've got this cautious approach in the 1Q guide and the full year. And I think the comment, you know, probably Rob and myself both made earlier today, you know, that we expect that destocking to potentially continue, you know, for at least the first half of the year and then kind of get back to more normalized inventory levels in the channel.
spk07: I don't know if this helps, but if we just talk about year-end inventory, where we landed in the year-over-year increase, looking back to 21 on a total company basis, we're up about $55 million. And part of that was we had extended lead time, very low inventory exiting 2021. So you have that impact. You have the impact of inflation on our inventory just generally that we've seen and talked about. And then the third piece was elevated package pool that we will work down. So I don't want you to associate that whole inventory change with that, if that's helpful.
spk09: Got it. That is helpful. And then Just to follow up, maybe a higher level question on how we should think about some of the drivers of the pool markets this year. I guess on one hand, you have pretty high home equity levels, maybe not as much turnover because folks don't necessarily want to refinance or re-up at today's interest rates. By the same token, I would imagine that a lot of folks are borrowing or maybe tapping home equity when they make a pool purchase. How do you think about this balance of, hey, my home's worth a lot and I might be here a little bit longer versus my borrowing costs are high? Is one of those more important to you guys as you guys think about the health of the industry as a whole?
spk10: Yeah, Josh, I think, you know, I think all of them are important. And, you know, when we step back and look at the overall demand for pools, you know, a couple things I think we all need to remember is, look, the The overall interest in swimming pools is still extremely high. You know, you guys have heard me quote the number of 90 million homes without a pool today in existence. You know, those who want one and have a high interest in buying one in the next five years, about seven and a half million potential pool sales, right? If we think about, you know, pool starts and, you know, depending on where the final number shakes out for 2022, we're still, you know, 40% off the peak from 2005. So there's still a lot of upside opportunity to kind of return to that 20-year, 25-year historical average of pool starts, which would still be elevated above the 21 level from where we sit today. And then you start taking off the late formation of households, the migration from the cities to the suburbs, the interest in investing in the backyard and that repair and remodel business, you know, the trends of the backyard living, the enjoyment that comes with that. It's the fastest growing, you know, segment of repair and remodel in the home. You know, there was a great stat I saw over the weekend, you know, 40% of all the homes in the U.S. mortgages sit, you know, or were done pre-pandemic sitting below a 4% interest rate. You know, so there's some good data out there that folks have low interest rates. Equity in their homes is at an all-time high, and the likelihood of them moving is in a market with an undersupply of housing, probably limits them based on where new mortgage rates sit, which means people who have cash and equity in their home are going to stay there longer, like you said. They're going to reinvest in the house, and the most likely place for that will be the backyard. And I think you put all of that together, we feel pretty good with it. We've talked about 50% of our buyers are cash buyers. 25% are tapping the equity in their homes. which would be beneficial. And we do cater kind of to the higher end of the market in terms of net worth, value of home. And that segment and category has held up pretty well for us. And folks who want a pool are going to make that decision. And, again, people that are buying pools right now, you know, it's not an impulse-type product, right? You've thought about this over, you know, one, two years, and that's where back to the website data. As we continue to nurture the lead, We continue to work with those consumers who have that interest. And when we turn a lead over, it's a high likelihood that they're going to make that purchase. Lower end of the market could be a little more dangerous, but we don't have that much exposure to that segment. And then just real quickly, we always kind of gloss over the replacement business that we have for our liners and covers. That's a good, healthy part of our business as well. And if you have a swimming pool, you're going to reinvest in that pool with a new liner. You're going to replace your cover. You might do a complete makeover when you pull that liner out. And that installed base of pools continues to grow every year. So that category of the business and those product lines is a nice continued growth driver for us as well. Perfect. Excellent color. And, yeah, best elk you guys this year.
spk05: Thank you. The next question is from Andrew Carter from Stiefel. Please go ahead.
spk01: Hey, thank you. Good morning. Good morning, Andrew. Good morning. I wanted to frame kind of the risk out there around, you mentioned the input cost, and I think if I calculated it right, you're at 120 days inventory, so you're sitting on some pretty high costs. Any idea of what your competitors are sitting on that would have been able to take as long a lead time and how you're thinking about the potential out there to stay competitive on pricing for fiberglass, you know, also kind of a key tool for continuing to maintain and recruit dealers. Thanks.
spk10: Yeah, in terms of inventory as competitors and what they're sitting on, I don't know. We don't have visibility for that. I can't even really comment on it. You know, I think back to, you know, take it back to Latham Centric, you know, The inventory that we're sitting on is really more package cool. It's really just one product category for us. And pretty much it's steel. Everything else turns pretty quickly for us based on storage capacity, you know, shelf life of the resins and fiberglass. So you could argue, you know, a good chunk of our business we're buying real time at market pricing that's out there, which gives us the ability to react quicker. on price up and down to offset inflation and watching deflationary trends. You know, so I think we feel pretty good on all of those fronts, Andrew.
spk01: Second question I would ask is kind of getting into, if I have your seasonality right in the fourth quarter, 16%, we know what the first quarter is. That means you're suggesting kind of a revenue decline of nine is 10 to minus two in the peak season of this year. Can you give us any color, I guess, number one, kind of the new construction outlooks out there, negative 15 to negative 25. So I'm guessing you're expecting fiberglass to meaningfully outperform that. What about vinyl? And then kind of getting to the point of you have a lot of confidence, you're not in the lower end, vinyl is the lowest price pool. What's the data telling you about the homeowners that buy a fiberglass pool, their income levels relative to normal households, and if you have it, relative to other pool owners? Thanks.
spk10: Yeah, there was a lot. I'll do my best to try to hit them. You know, I think we're looking at the guidance for 23 on a full-year basis. Because of trends, the seasonality, the destocking through the first half, the package cool, and I think you hit on two of the key points, right? Our expectations of fiberglass outperforming the market, which we've demonstrated time and time again. The resiliency of that, you know, replacement business on liners and, you know, folks have a tendency, you know, in a, you know, rising interest rate market, they're not taking vacations. They're thinking about where they have to spend their dollar. And if they're going to be spending more time at home, they're going to repair their pool and replace their liner and not put that off so they can use that asset that they've sunk in. And I think, you know, I'd say we don't really see a big difference between a fiberglass purchaser and an in-ground vinyl liner purchaser. I think it comes down to preference, shape and size of the pool the homeowner wants, the design, the market they sit in. And, you know, our view really is to continue to drive the awareness of fiberglass and all the benefits because even we talk a lot about fiberglass versus concrete and the cost advantages. The same thing applies in the vinyl space where the fiberglass pool may be a little bit more expensive up front, But you go 10 years out with a line of replacement and the cost of chemicals to operate that pool, you quickly get to a break even. So we try to market fiberglass for all solutions and all levels out there. But I do think overall the Latham customer does tend to be on the mid to higher side from equity, net worth, and value of home that they're putting a pool into.
spk08: Thanks. I'll pass it on.
spk05: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes our question and answer session. I would like to turn the conference back over to management for any closing remarks.
spk10: Yeah, hey, look, everyone, thanks for joining us for today's call. We really, really appreciate all your continued interest and support of Latham. We look forward to providing further updates on our next earnings call come May. I hope you guys all have a great rest of the day. Take care.
spk05: The conference has now concluded. Thank you for attending today's presentation. You may now disconnect.

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