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Nordson Corporation has reported results for the fiscal fourth quarter ended October 31, 2020. Sales were $559 million, a 5% decrease compared to the prior year’s fourth quarter sales of $585 million. Continued strength in test and inspection product lines serving electronics end markets and growth in our medical product lines was offset by weakness in industrial and automotive end markets. The change in fourth quarter 2020 sales included a decrease of approximately 7% organic volume, acquisitions contributed 1%, and a favorable effect from currency translation of approximately 2%.
Operating profit in the quarter was $37 million. As the company announced on December 3, 2020, it intends to divest the non-strategic screws and barrels product line within the Industrial Precision Solutions segment, which will strengthen the company’s ongoing earnings and profitable growth profile. This strategic portfolio transaction required a one-time, non-cash asset impairment charge of $87 million, which was recognized during the fourth quarter. Excluding this non-cash impairment charge and other non-recurring charges associated with cost structure simplification actions and amortization of the step-up in acquired inventory, adjusted operating profit was $130 million, or 23% of sales. EBITDA, which is defined as adjusted operating profit plus depreciation and amortization, in the quarter totaled $159 million, or 29% of sales, which represents a decrease of 5% from the prior year EBITDA of $168 million.
Net income was $18 million, and GAAP diluted earnings per share were $0.31. Adjusted earnings, which excludes non-recurring charges and discrete tax benefits of $2 million, totaled $93 million, or $1.59 per share, an 11% decrease from the prior year adjusted earnings of $104 million.
Commenting on the company’s fiscal fourth quarter 2020 results, Nordson President and Chief Executive Officer Sundaram Nagarajan said, “I am proud of the dedication shown by our global team through their ongoing commitment to superior customer service and continued deployment of the NBS Next growth framework. Fourth quarter sales were the strongest quarter of the year. We also continued to make progress on strategically positioning our portfolio for sustainable long-term growth with the acquisition of vivaMOS, Ltd. and the recently announced divestiture of the screws and barrels product line. This combination of focusing on Nordson strengths and prioritizing future profitable growth opportunities has us well positioned heading into fiscal year 2021.”
Fourth Quarter Segment Results
Industrial Precision Solutions sales of $308 million decreased approximately 8% compared to the prior year fourth quarter, driven by a 10% organic decrease partially offset by favorable currency impacts. This organic sales decline was in part driven by weaker demand in industrial and automotive end markets, where we had record sales in the prior year fourth quarter. Operating profit totaled $0.4 million in the quarter, including an $87 million non-cash impairment charge for the pending divestiture of the screws and barrels product line and $4 million in structural cost reduction actions. Adjusted operating profit, excluding these non-recurring items, was $92 million, or 30% of sales, equal to prior year adjusted operating profit margin.
Advanced Technology Solutions sales of $250 million increased approximately 1% compared to the prior year fourth quarter. Acquisitions and favorable currency impacts increased sales by approximately 2% and 1%, respectively, which was principally offset by organic volume decreases of 3%. Continued sales growth in test and inspection product lines, coupled with stable demand in medical product lines, was offset by weaker demand in fluid dispense product lines serving industrial end markets. Operating profit, which included $1 million of the step-up in acquired inventory amortization, totaled $51 million. Adjusted operating profit was $52 million, or 21% of sales, which was down slightly compared to prior year profits.
Fiscal 2020 Full Year Results
Sales for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2020 were $2.1 billion, a decrease of 3% compared to the same period a year ago. This change in sales included a decrease in organic volume of 4%, offset by growth related to acquisitions. The full year impact of currency translation differences was not significant. Full year operating profit was $350 million and diluted earnings per share were $4.27. Excluding the non-cash impairment charge, structural cost reduction expenses, the step up in value of acquired inventory, and discrete tax expense, adjusted operating profit was $454 million and adjusted diluted earnings per share were $5.48, a 7% decrease from the prior year adjusted diluted earnings per share of $5.87.
“Throughout this unprecedented year, the safety of our people and the value they deliver to our customers remained among our top priorities,” Nagarajan stated. “We continue to make progress by deploying the NBS Next growth framework and aligning the organization to remain invested in our key strengths during this unique macroeconomic environment. The commitment of our employees combined with the resilience of our diverse end markets resulted in sound financial performance in fiscal 2020. We are entering fiscal 2021 from this solid foundation, and we have strong backlog entering the fiscal first quarter. I am confident in our ability to deliver long-term profitable growth.”
Backlog for the quarter ended October 31, 2020 was approximately $416 million, an increase of 5% compared to the same period a year ago, and the trailing twelve-week order entry is 5% above prior year levels. Based on these current order entry trends, backlog amounts and the correlation to sales timing, we expect the fiscal 2021 first quarter sales growth to be approximately 2 to 3%, with adjusted earnings growth in the range of 15 to 20% as compared to fiscal 2020 first quarter.