Here’s why Ansell Limited shares went nuts today

Credit: Keoni Cabral

It is full year results day for Ansell Limited (ASX: ANN) and its shareholders could have been forgiven for being nervous. Its share price was annihilated six months ago, dropping 20% when the leading provider of health and safety protection solutions released its interim results update.

As well as updating the market on its interim results, management also downgraded full year profit expectations as a result of general weakening in the external economic environment and currency volatility. Ansell had previously stated that it expected full year earnings per share to be within the range of $US1.05 to $US1.20 per share, but revised its guidance down to $US0.95 and $US1.10.

But investors can breathe a sigh of relief. Ansell has reported a solid full year result and the market appears to be incredibly bullish on it. In morning trade its share price has rocketed higher by over 13% to $22.26.

Whilst the result is still a step backwards from FY 2015, it was far better than many were expecting. Sales and earnings before interest and tax both dropped 4% year on year to US$1,573 million and US$236.7 million, respectively.

Earnings per share came in at the bottom of its original guidance range at US$1.05.

It should be noted that currency headwinds were a major factor on the headline result and that on a constant currency basis things would have been very different. Sales would have been flat for the year, but more importantly earnings before interest and tax would have been up 8% year on year. I feel management should be commended for this result in challenging market conditions.

CEO and managing director Magnus Nicolin appeared to be pleased with the results, stating that:

“While overall our FY16 results were at the low end of our original guidance, we nevertheless made significant progress particularly in the second half, delivering against all the key priorities we outlined mid-year. Our growth brands in Industrial, Single Use and Sexual Wellness continued to outperform the market, gaining share through the success of new product launches and continued progress in developing stronger distributor partnerships.”

Moving forward management advised that it is confident it will achieve its medium term goal of organic growth in the low to mid single digits even in a low growth economic environment. Its growth brands, new product launches, and strong position in numerous markets have been pinpointed as the key to this.

Furthermore the company has plans to optimise its portfolio of brands. In its full year results presentation Ansell revealed it had retained Goldman Sachs to assist in the review of options for its Sexual Wellness business.

As the segment only contributes 14% of total revenue, its sale would complement management’s strategy of offloading non-core assets and strengthening its core businesses through value-enhancing acquisitions.

Overall I am very pleased with the results and reiterate my long-held view that Ansell is a great long-term defensive investment. After today’s huge gains its shares might be about fair value now, but I wouldn’t let that put you off if you plan on holding them for the next decade.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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