Benchmark Electronics, Inc. Value Stock - Dividend - Research Selection
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Description of the company
Benchmark Electronics, Inc. (Benchmark), is a Texas corporation that began operations in 1979 and today is worldwide provider of engineering services, integrated technology solutions and manufacturing services (both electronics manufacturing services (EMS) and precision machining services) for more complex products. In this Report, references to Benchmark, the “Company” or use of the words “we”, “our” and “us” include Benchmark’s subsidiaries unless otherwise noted.
We provide our services to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of industrial equipment, products used in the aerospace and defense (A&D) industries, telecommunication equipment, computers and related products for business enterprises, medical devices, and testing and instrumentation products. Our services include comprehensive and integrated design and manufacturing services and solutions—from initial product concept to volume production, including direct order fulfillment and aftermarket services. Our customer engagement focuses on three principal areas:
· Engineering Services, which include design for manufacturability, manufacturing process and test development, concurrent and sustaining engineering, turnkey product design and regulatory services. Our engineering services may be for systems, sub-systems, printed circuit boards and assemblies, and components. We provide these services across all the industries we serve, but focus primarily in regulated industries such as medical, complex industrials, aerospace and defense, and next generation telecommunications.
· Technology Solutions, which involve developing a library of building blocks or reference designs primarily in defense solutions, surveillance systems, radio frequency and high-speed design, and front-end Internet-of-things data collection systems. We often merge these technology solutions with engineering services in support of manufacturing services. Our reference designs can be utilized across a variety of industries but we have significant capabilities for the aerospace and defense markets.
· Manufacturing Services, which include printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) and subsystem assembly, box build and systems integration. Systems integration is often building a finished assembly that includes PCBAs, complex subsystem assemblies, mechatronics, displays, optics, and other components. These final products may be configured to order and delivered directly to the end-customer across all the industries we serve. Manufacturing services also includes precision technology manufacturing comprised of precision machining, advanced metal joining, assembly and functional testing primarily for customers in the test & instrumentation market (which includes semiconductor capital equipment) as well as the medical and aerospace and defense markets.
Our core strength lies in our ability to provide concept-to-production solutions in support of our customers. Our global manufacturing presence increases our ability to respond to our customers’ needs by providing accelerated time-to-market and time-to-volume production of high-quality products – especially for complex products with lower volume and higher mix in regulated markets. These capabilities enable us to build strong strategic relationships with our customers and to become an integral part of their business.
We believe our primary competitive advantages are our engineering services (including product design), technology solutions, and manufacturing services (included electronics and precision technology capabilities) provided by highly skilled personnel. We continue to invest in our business to expand our skills and service offerings from direct customer inputs. We have a closed-loop feedback system in place to respond to customer ideas to enhance our future flexible design and manufacturing solutions in support of the full life cycle of their products. These solutions provide accelerated time-to-market, faster time-to-volume production, and reduced product development costs. Working closely with our customers and responding promptly to their needs, we become an integral part of their process to bring products to market faster and more economically.
In addition, we believe that a strong focus on human capital through the talent we hire and retain is critical to maintaining our competitiveness. We are driving a customer-centric organization with a high degree of accountability and ownership to develop processes necessary to exceed customer expectations and deliver financial performance aligned to our goals. Through our employee feedback process, we solicit and act upon information to improve our company and better support our customers and business processes in the future. We have taken steps to attract the best leaders and are accelerating our efforts to mentor and develop key leaders for the future.
Outsourcing engineering and manufacturing services enables OEMs to concentrate on their core strengths, such as research and development, branding, and marketing and sales. In an outsourcing model, OEMs also benefit from improved efficiencies and reduced production costs, reduced fixed capital investment requirements, improved inventory management, and access to global engineering and manufacturing. OEMs continue to turn to outsourcing to reduce time-to-market and time-to-volume production through utilization of their service providers’ product design and engineering services, technology solutions and manufacturing services.
Outsourcing rates fluctuate periodically, and not all industries we serve are experiencing high outsourcing growth rates. The traditional markets of computing and telecommunications have used the outsourcing model for a number of years and have a lower outsourcing growth potential than the under-penetrated medical, industrials, aerospace and defense, and test & instrumentation markets, which we identify as our higher-value markets. The higher-value markets typically provide the opportunity for higher profitability than the traditional markets and in some cases provide the potential for stable growth. The higher-value markets also align well with Benchmark’s expertise in more complex and highly regulated products, and we believe we are well-positioned to capitalize on increased outsourcing in these markets.
Our goal is to be the solutions provider of choice to leading OEMs that we perceive offer the greatest potential for profitable growth. To meet this goal, we have implemented the following strategies:
· Focus on More Complex Products for Customers. EMS providers serve a wide range of OEMs in different industries, such as consumer electronics, internet-focused businesses and information technology equipment. The product scope ranges from easy-to-assemble, low-cost, high-volume products targeted for the consumer market to complicated, state-of-the-art, mission-critical products. Higher volume manufacturing customers in the more traditional markets of computing and telecommunications often compete on price with short product life cycles and require less value-add from EMS providers. Lower-volume manufacturing customers in the medical, industrial, and test & instrumentation markets are often in highly regulated industries where they are increasingly outsourcing higher value-added services to their EMS providers to meet stringent regulatory and time-to-market requirements. In the traditional markets, we focus on customers with more complex requirements such as high-performance computing and next generation telecommunications; in the higher-value markets where outsourcing growth rates are increasing and product life cycles are longer, we focus on customers where there is a strong match between our capabilities and their needs. The ability to serve customers in both markets is important to our strategy. For 2017, 65% of our sales were to customers in the higher-value markets and 35% were to customers in the traditional markets. We have a long-term goal of generating over 70% of our sales from higher-value market customers, which should further expand our margins.
· Lead with Engineering Solutions and Leverage Advanced Technology. In addition to strengths in manufacturing complex high-density PCBAs, complex mechanical systems, and full systems integration, we offer customers specialized and tailored advanced design solutions, including technology building blocks and engineering services. We provide this engineering expertise through our design capabilities in our design centers in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Leading with engineering is important in our strategy to increase sales to customers in our targeted higher-value markets where products require high quality and extremely reliable performance and low product failure rates. Through leveraging our advanced technology and engineering solutions, customers can focus on core branding and marketing initiatives while we focus on bringing their products to market efficiently and timely.
· Maintain and Develop Close, Long-Term Relationships with Customers. Our strategy is to establish long-term relationships with leading OEMs in expanding industries by becoming an integral part of their concept-to-production and full product life cycle requirements. To accomplish this, we rely on our global and local program and general management teams to respond with speed and flexibility to frequently changing customer design specifications and production requirements. We focus on caring for our customers and ensuring that their needs are met and exceeded.
· Deliver Complete High- and Low-Volume Manufacturing Solutions Globally. OEMs increasingly require a wide range of specialized design engineering and manufacturing services from EMS providers in order to reduce costs and accelerate their time-to-market and time-to-volume production. Building on our integrated engineering and manufacturing capabilities, we offer services from initial product design and test to final product assembly and distribution to OEM customers. Our precision machining and complex mechanical manufacturing, along with our systems integration assembly and direct order fulfillment services allow our customers the potential to reduce product cost and risk of product obsolescence by reducing their total work-in-process and finished goods inventory. These services are available at many of our manufacturing locations. We continue to expand our global capabilities:
- in 2009, we added precision machining assets and capabilities to provide precision machining, metal joining and complex electromechanical manufacturing services in Arizona, California and Mexico;
- in 2011, we expanded our precision technologies capabilities in Penang, Malaysia. This expansion added sheet metal and frames fabrication services, advanced metal joining and grinding services, along with complex mechanical assembly and machining services to our Asia service offerings;
- in 2013, we strengthened our capabilities to better serve the aerospace and defense industries and added depth and scope to our new product introduction capabilities on the West Coast; and - in 2015, we further enhanced our service offerings by adding capabilities to design and produce encrypted and ruggedized communication systems, avionics displays and military-grade components.
These full service capabilities allow us to offer customers the flexibility to move quickly from design and initial product introduction to production and distribution. We offer our customers the opportunity to combine the benefits of low-cost manufacturing (for the portions of their products or systems that can benefit from the use of these geographic areas) with the benefits and capabilities of our higher complexity support in Asia, Europe and the Americas.
· Continue to Seek Cost Savings and Operational Excellence. We seek to optimize our network of facilities to provide cost-efficient services for our customers. We have a global culture of continuous improvement, sharing best practices and implementing lean principles. We will continue to drive lean and operational excellence initiatives with common global processes that allow us to optimize our cost structure and capacity. In support of our financial goals, we will continue a strong focus on a cash conversion.
· Pursue Strategic Acquisitions. Our capabilities have continued to grow through acquisitions and we will continue to selectively seek close-to-core bolt-on acquisitions which expand our technical capabilities. In addition to expanding our global footprint, our acquisitions have enhanced our business in the following ways:
- enhanced customer growth opportunities;
- developed strategic relationships;
- broadened service and solution offerings;
- provided vertical solutions;
- diversified our market sectors; and
- added experienced management teams.
We have enhanced our capabilities through acquisitions:
- In November 2015, we acquired Secure Communication Systems, Inc. and its subsidiaries (collectively, Secure Technology or Secure) (the Secure Acquisition), a leading provider of customized high-performance electronics, sub-systems, and component solutions for mission critical applications in highly regulated industrial, aerospace and defense markets.
- In October 2013, we acquired the full-service EMS segment of CTS Corporation (the CTS Acquisition). The CTS Acquisition expanded our portfolio of customers in non-traditional and highly regulated markets and strengthened the depth and scope of our new product express capabilities on the West Coast.
- In June 2013, we acquired Suntron Corporation (the Suntron Acquisition) to better serve customers in the aerospace and defense markets and expand our capabilities in Mexico.
· Capital Allocation. We will also continue to operate with a balanced approach to capital deployment with ROIC as the key determinant for prioritizing returns of free cash flow to our shareholders. Future investments may include organic growth through targeted investments, close-to-core acquisitions with strong technical capabilities, and a balance between managing our level of outstanding debt and returning capital to shareholders.