March took investors in TPI Composites (NASDAQ: TPIC) on a stomach-churning roller coaster ride, with shares of the wind-blade manufacturer dropping like a rock in the first week of the month and losing nearly 21% in value. The stock quickly reversed course, though, and eventually ended March with 18.4% gains, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Here's what happened.
TPI's big initial drop in March was a ripple effect of the company's earnings release in late February. Fourth-quarter numbers were strong, but its decelerating sales growth didn't sit well with the market. So despite the company's profit of $5.2 million on 10% sales growth -- versus a loss of $900,000 in the year-ago quarter -- TPI stock crashed by double digits right after earnings for a couple of reasons.
First, its fourth-quarter sales growth paled in comparison to third-quarter growth of 23.5%. Second, the company projected sales to grow only around 8% in 2021 at the midpoint of its guidance range after delivering 16% growth in sales in 2020.
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During TPI's fourth-quarter earnings conference call, management also warned about lower utilization in several regions because of overcapacity at some customers. Utilization reflects the numbers of blades TPI invoices as a percentage of total production capacity during a period, and is therefore an important metric to gauge potential revenue. The company also removed five production lines in China during the quarter and gave a muted outlook for the region for 2021.