Ferro Corp Value Stock - Dividend - Research Selection
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Description of the company
Ferro Corporation was incorporated in Ohio in 1919 as an enameling company and today is a leading producer of specialty materials that are sold to a broad range of manufacturers who, in turn, make products for many end-use markets. When we use the terms “Ferro,” “we,” “us” or “the Company,” we are referring to Ferro Corporation and its subsidiaries unless indicated otherwise.
Ferro’s products fall into two general categories: functional coatings, which perform specific functions in the manufacturing processes and end products of our customers; and color solutions, which provide aesthetic and performance characteristics to our customers’ products. Our products are manufactured in approximately 51 facilities around the world. They include frits, porcelain and other glass enamels, glazes, stains, decorating colors, pigments, inks, polishing materials, dielectrics, electronic glasses, and other specialty coatings.
Ferro develops and delivers innovative products to our customers based on our strengths in the following technologies:
· Particle Engineering — Our ability to design and produce very small particles made of a broad variety of materials, with precisely controlled characteristics of shape, size and particle distribution. We understand how to disperse these particles within liquid, paste and gel formulations.
· Color and Glass Science — Our understanding of the chemistry required to develop and produce pigments that provide color characteristics ideally suited to customers’ applications. We have a demonstrated ability to manufacture glass-based and certain other coatings with properties that precisely meet customers’ needs in a broad variety of applications.
· Surface Chemistry and Surface Application Technology — Our understanding of chemicals and materials used to develop products and processes that involve the interface between layers and the surface properties of materials.
· Formulation — Our ability to develop and manufacture combinations of materials that deliver specific performance characteristics designed to work within customers’ particular products and manufacturing processes.
We differentiate ourselves in our industry by innovation and new products and services and the consistent high quality of our products, combined with delivery of localized technical service and customized application technology support. Our value-added technology services assist customers in their material specification and evaluation, product design, and manufacturing process characterization in order to help them optimize the application of our products.
Ferro’s operations are divided into the four business units, which comprise three reportable segments, listed below:
- Tile Coating Systems
- Porcelain Enamel
- Performance Colors and Glass
- Color Solutions
Markets and Customers
Ferro’s products are used in a variety of product application, including the following markets:
- Household furnishings
- Industrial products
- Building and renovation
Many of our products are used as functional or aesthetic coatings for a variety of different substrates on our customers’ products, such as metals, ceramics, glass, plastic, wood, concrete and a variety of other surfaces. Other products are used to manufacture electronic components and other products. Still other products are added during our customers’ manufacturing processes to provide desirable properties to their end product. Often, our products are a small portion of the total cost of our customers’ products, but they can be critical to the appearance or functionality of those products.
Our customers include manufacturers of ceramic tile, major appliances, construction materials, automobile parts, automobiles, architectural and container glass, and electronic components and devices. Many of our customers, including makers of major appliances and automobile parts, purchase materials from more than one of our business units. Our customer base is well diversified both geographically and by end market.
We generally sell our products directly to our customers. However, a portion of our business uses indirect sales channels, such as agents and distributors, to deliver products to market. In 2017, no single customer or related group of customers represented more than 10% of net sales. In addition, none of our reportable segments is dependent on any single customer or related group of customers.
Backlog of Orders and Seasonality
Generally, there is no significant lead time between customer orders and delivery in any of our business segments. As a result, we do not consider that the dollar amount of backlogged orders believed to be firm is material information for an understanding of our business. Although not seasonal, in certain of our technology-driven markets, our customers’ business is often characterized by product campaigns with specific life cycles, which can result in uneven demand as product ramp-up periods can be followed by down-cycle periods. As innovation activity increases in line with our value creation strategy, we expect this type of business to also increase. This type of market operates on a different cycle from the majority of our business. We also do not regard any material part of our business to be seasonal. However, customer demand has historically been higher in the second quarter when building and renovation markets are particularly active, and the second quarter is also normally the strongest for sales and operating profit.
In most of our markets, we have a substantial number of competitors, none of which is dominant. Due to the diverse nature of our product lines, no single competitor directly matches all of our product offerings. Our competition varies by product and by region, and is based primarily on product quality, performance and functionality, as well as on pricing, customer service, technical support, and the ability to develop custom products to meet specific customer applications.
We are a worldwide leader in the production of glass enamels, porcelain enamel, and ceramic tile coatings. There is strong competition in our markets, ranging from large multinational corporations to local producers. While many of our customers purchase customized products and formulations from us, our customers could generally buy from other sources, if necessary.