Executive Overview from Cliff Pemble, President and Chief Executive Officer:
“We have had a great start to 2014 with revenue, operating income and pro forma EPS growth; yet, we realize that we cannot be complacent,” said Cliff Pemble, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Garmin Ltd. “The markets that we serve are dynamic and competitive so we must capitalize on our strong portfolio of products in 2014 while also identifying new opportunities and innovations that will provide future growth potential.”
The outdoor segment posted revenue growth of 10% in the quarter with all major categories contributing to growth. Gross and operating margins within the segment remained strong at 61% and 28%, respectively, in the quarter. We continued to build on our broad portfolio of outdoor products with the introduction of the fēnix™ 2 and the PRO series of dog collars in the quarter. The fēnix 2 builds off the success of its predecessor with the addition of advanced fitness training features and smartphone connectivity. The PRO series of dog collars takes proven Tri-Tronics® design and offers new functionality for the sport dog market. In addition, we launched advertising and sponsorships to support the VIRB™ action cameras. We are determined to win market share in the category with our innovative products and future enhancements.
The fitness segment posted revenue growth of 38% in the quarter with the Forerunner® 220 and 620 continuing to make strong contributions and a solid mid-quarter launch for vívofit. Both gross and operating margins improved to 64% and 33%, respectively, as mix shifted to new products and sales growth outpaced research and development and advertising growth. We are excited about the strong market reception for our new products and recognize that innovation and design are key to winning and retaining customers in the rapidly growing, but crowded, fitness and wellness markets. We bring years of experience to the market and we are committed to being the leader for both athletes and novices. With the athlete in mind, we introduced the Edge® 1000 recently. This high-end cycling computer combines our best-in-class features of legacy products with a large capacitive touch screen display, real-time competitive segment capabilities and smartphone connectivity.
The aviation segment posted revenue growth of 19% in the quarter with both OEM and aftermarket contributing to revenue improvement. The gross and operating margins in aviation were strong at 74% and 30%, respectively. During the quarter, we continued to enhance our portfolio of products with the addition of portable weather receivers, angle of attack technology and radar altimeter solutions. In addition, we announced the G3X Touch with five OEM partners offering the avionics solution in thirteen models, and we expanded our relationship with Cessna offering the G3000 in the updated CJ3+ and Alpine Edition CJ2+.
The marine segment posted revenue growth of 19% as the year ago quarter was particularly weak and demand improved for our line-up of new products including autopilot solutions, chartplotters, and radars. Gross margins improved year-over-year to 52% in the quarter with product mix shifting toward new products with higher margin profiles. Operating margins improved significantly in the quarter with improved research and development efficiency following the delivery of many new products in the past year. There is much work ahead as we continue to innovate, gain market share and improve our profitability.
The automotive/mobile segment posted a revenue decline of 4% as PND sales continued to decline as we expected but were partially offset by amortization of previously deferred revenue and growing OEM revenues. Gross and operating margins in the quarter were 47% and 13%, respectively, representing an improvement over the prior year due to the amortization of high margin deferred revenue. Though PND volumes are expected to decline throughout 2014, we are pleased with our market share and profitability in the industry. In addition, many of our niche categories, like dash cams and RV units, are helping to offset the PND volume decline. Finally, the OEM market remains a key focus and area of investment that we believe will generate opportunities for future growth.
Additional Financial Information:
Total operating expenses in the quarter were $210 million, a 7% increase from the prior year. Research and development investment increased 10% driven by aviation, fitness and outdoor growth to support new product initiatives while marine and automotive/mobile declined. Advertising also increased 10% as we launched campaigns to support new products in outdoor and marine. Selling, general and administrative expense increased by 4% but declined as a percentage of sales in the quarter.
The effective tax rate in first quarter 2014 was 16.6% compared to 11.6%, on an adjusted basis, in the prior year due to the retroactive research and development credit recognized in first quarter 2013.
In the first quarter, we generated $56 million of free cash flow (see
attached table for reconciliation of this non-GAAP measure) which is
consistent with our expectations. We continued to return cash to
shareholders with our quarterly dividend of approximately $88 million
and our share repurchase activity which totaled $33 million in the
current quarter. We have $208 million remaining in the share repurchase
program authorized through December 31, 2014. We ended the quarter with
cash and marketable securities of over $2.8 billion.