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Astec Industries Inc (ASTE) Q3 2021 Earnings Call Transcript – Motley Fool

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Astec Industries Inc (NASDAQ:ASTE)
Q3 2021 Earnings Call
Nov 3, 2021, 8:30 a.m. ET
Operator
Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Astec Industries Third Quarter 2021 Earnings Call. At this time, all participants have been placed on a listen-only mode and the floor will be opened for questions and comments after the presentation. It is now my pleasure to turn the floor over to your host, Steve Anderson. Sir, the floor is yours.

Steve AndersonSenior Vice President, Administration and Investor Relations
Thank you and welcome to the Astec Industries Third Quarter Earnings Call. Joining me on today’s call are Barry Ruffalo, Chief Executive Officer and Becky Weyenberg, Chief Financial Officer. And just a moment, I will turn the call over to Barry to provide comments and then Becky will summarize our financial results.
Before we begin, I’ll remind you that our discussion this morning may contain forward-looking statements that relate to the future performance of the Company and these statements are intended to qualify for the safe harbor liability established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. Any such statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Factors that could influence our results are highlighted in today’s financial news release and others that are contained in our filings with the SEC. As usual, we ask that you familiarize yourself with those factors.
In an effort to provide investors with additional information regarding the company’s financial results, the company refers to various U.S. GAAP, which are generally accepted accounting principles and non-GAAP financial measures, which management believes provides useful information to investors. These non-GAAP financial measures have no standardized meaning prescribed by U.S. GAAP and therefore are unlikely to be comparable to the calculation of similar measures for other companies.
Management of the company does not intend these items to be considered in isolation or as a substitute for the related GAAP measures. Management of the company uses both GAAP and non-GAAP financial measures to establish internal budgets and targets and to evaluate the company’s financial performance against such budgets and targets.
You should also note, comments made during today’s call, we’ll refer to non-GAAP results and a reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP results are included in our news release and Appendix of our slide deck. All related materials are posted on our website at www.astecindustries.com including our presentation, which is under the Investor Relations and Presentations tabs.
And now I will turn the call over to Barry.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Thank you, Steve. Good morning everyone and thank you for joining us on the call this morning to discuss Astec’s Third quarter results. During my remarks today, I will begin by discussing key highlights from the quarter to provide an update on actions we are taking to drive operational and commercial excellence. I will also share more detail on what we’re seeing in terms of demand and current market dynamics before I turn the call over to Becky for details on our financial results. Then we will highlight progress made on our continued strategic evolution and open the call for Q&A.
Turning to slide 4, first the adaptability and dedication of our team drove strong third quarter performance with sales up 15.4% and adjusted EBITDA up 58.5% compared to the third quarter of 2020. I would like to highlight the resilience of our team and their impressive ability to execute in a dynamic environment in a quarter marked by combination of increased demand and ongoing industry wide headwinds.
We also saw a 4th consecutive quarter of record backlog up 184% year-over-year. A testament to the strength of our customer relationships, as we continue to provide our customers exceptional value, superior service and innovative industry-leading technology solutions. Second, we are realizing benefits from several strategic initiatives to mitigate industry headwinds including increasing pricing to offset inflation, on boarding new talent to proactively identify and supply chain disruptions. I will describe these initiatives in more detail later in my remarks in the results we are seeing thus far.
Third, the successful execution of our strategy has positioned our business well for future growth. I am confident in our team’s ability to execute in all economic scenarios as a more focused organization with a strong balance sheet and ample liquidity. This confidence is evidenced by our decision to increase our quarterly dividend.
Fourth, we are building on the 3 pillars of our strategic evolution in the actions we have taken to simplify and focus our business as we continue to shift our focus to grow. We have a multitude of organic growth initiatives underway, which I will provide further detail on later during our call. Lastly, we remain focused on driving commercial and operational excellence across our business as we position ourselves for future profitable growth. I’m excited for organizations future as I look at how far we have come in our strategic evolution in the long runway ahead of us. We have the right team in place to execute our strategy and drive long-term stakeholder value creation.
Turning to slide 5, I’d now like to provide an update on our operations in the actions we have taken to optimize revenue, win elevated customer demand and proactively managed supply chain issues. We continue to drive operational excellence across organization through our OneAstec business model. We are maintaining flexible operations including cross site manufacturing and manufacturing capacity sharing. We are focused on leveraging capacity and bang[Phonetics] with across our footprint to deliver our customers best-in-class products and solutions across the Rock-to-Road value chain. And last, we remain focused on optimizing revenue within our footprint and I’m glad to note, this is the best third quarter revenue generation in the history of our company.
Now on to slide 6. I’ll review some of the key industry dynamics that are impacting our business and some initiatives Astec has in place to capture opportunities and address industry headwinds. We continue to see strong demand for our products across our Infrastructure and Materials Solutions businesses. Conversations with customers indicate a positive outlook through the remainder of 2021 and into 2022.
Our record backlog this quarter reflects continued strong demand. We have a number of initiatives in place to enable us to meet higher demand and I will provide more detail on that shortly. Despite the latest extension of the Federal Highway Bill, customers continue to express optimism for increased US infrastructure spending in view the bill a long-term tailwind for our business. However, as I’ve mentioned in previous calls, we are not a company that is waiting around for a bill to be passed. We see significant near-term demand for our products and we have a strategy in place to drive organic and inorganic growth moving forward.
You should also note that our international and part sales continue to grow as well. Our international parts teams are doing an outstanding job of driving the business and leveraging the investments that we have made in people, processes and tools, which allows them to be easy to do business with and focused on growth, while delivering value to our global customers.
Labor shortages continue to persist across the industry. However, we are seeing steady improvements as a result of hiring strategies with head count up 8.5% year-over-year. Regarding inflation, we continue to see higher commodity transportation and logistics costs. We are, however, seeing early signs of steel prices starting to plateau and slightly decline. The situation remains fluid and we are prepared to adapt prices accordingly to any further increases in import costs.
On slide 7, we provide more detail on our initiatives to address labor shortages. We have 4 key elements highlighted including targeted recruitment, engagement and retention practices ensuring the benefits of working at Astec. As you can see we have a number of initiatives in place to remain an employer of choice. We continue to evaluate our programs to retain current employees and enhance our recruiting practices. Our team is core to who we are here at Astec and we know the investments we make in our people will pay dividends to organization and stakeholders in the future.
On slide 8, we provide more detail on our historic backlog posting record backlog at the end of the third quarter. In today’s environment we expect backlog to be converted to sales and approximately 2 to 3 quarters. We are acting quickly and diligently to convert our backlog in a timely manner through cross-site manufacturing, increased headcount and automated processes. Some customers have begun to schedule orders in advance of their need in order to mitigate any future supply chain disruptions. This combined with strong market demand, has resulted in longer lead times. We are constantly working to optimize our operating schedules to deliver end products to our customers at the desired time.
In slide 9, we highlight some key ESG accomplishments since our last earnings call, including the announcement of our strategic partnership with CarbonCure. CarbonCure enables us concrete producers to reduce the carbon footprint of concrete and reduce other input costs. This partnership is in line with our strategy to increase environmentally friendly products and services to customers as part of our sustainability commitment. CarbonCure’s technology offers solution to embody carbon at the early stages of concrete production where the opportunities are greatest. I’m excited to be able to offer this product to our customers and further broadened our sustainability focus solutions.
But we are still in the early innings of our ESG journey. I am excited and proud of the progress that we have made to date. To recap, the third quarter we saw improved performance with a healthy increase in sales and adjusted EBITDA driven by our team’s successful execution of our strategy and continued strong demand for Astec products and solutions.
Further during the quarter, we started to see greater benefits from initiatives we put in place to meet strong customer demand, combat inflation, supply chain tightness and labor constraints. While we expect some of these industry headwinds may persist into 2022, I am encouraged by the actions that our team is taken to reduce the impact of our ability to continue to execute our strategy and drive profitable growth. We remain well positioned to capitalize on the positive customer sentiment that we are seeing well into 2022 and resilient demand for our products, as we serve our customers with innovative and differentiated solutions.
With that, I will now turn the call over to Becky, to discuss our detailed financial results.
Becky WeyenbergChief Financial Officer
Thank you, Barry. And good morning everyone. Will be to slide 11, third-quarter sales increased 15.4% to $267 million compared to the prior year quarter. Equipment sales increased 27.3% while parts sales increased 6.6% compared to the prior year period. The sales increase was driven by increased demand across product lines and regions with domestic sales up 11.4% and on international sales up 29.6% year-over-year.
As Barry mentioned backlog increased and an increase[Phonetics] of 184% to over $620 million at quarter end, driven by higher Materials and Infrastructure Solutions orders, which were up 300% and 129% respectively. Higher orders were driven by continued pent up customer demand after COVID-19 uncertainty in 2020 in addition to our strong commercial excellence initiatives. Our commercial teams continue to build momentum and work with our customers to create value added services, products and solutions.
Third quarter adjusted EBITDA increased 58.5% to $16.8 million compared to the prior year period. Adjusted EBITDA margin grew 170 basis points to 6.3% compared to the prior-year period, driven by pricing, volume and manufacturing efficiencies, which were partially offset by inflation and centralization efforts. Adjusted SG&A expenses increased 6.9% on a dollar basis, primarily due to the increase in personnel costs, which includes commissions, and more normalized travel expenses. Adjusted earnings per share increased 163.2% in the quarter to $0.50 compared to $0.19 in the third quarter of 2020.
Third quarter adjusted EPS included $2.1 million or $0.09 of transformation restructuring and other costs, including $2.4 million of costs associated with our ongoing Simplify Focus and Grow transformation program. Our adjusted net effective tax rate for the quarter was negative 23.9% driven by the timing of tax credits, which resulted in an $0.18 positive impact to earnings per share. The tax benefit was driven by a valuation allowance release in Brazil. Net R&D credits driven by increased investments in engineering and stock compensation benefits. Our expectation for the full year adjusted tax rate in 2021 is in the 12% to 15% range. However, the situation remains fluid.
On slide 12, we highlight the key drivers of our year-over-year adjusted EBITDA margin expansion of 170 basis points. As I mentioned, adjusted EBITDA margin expansion was primarily driven by pricing, volume and manufacturing efficiencies, partially offset by inflation and higher SG&A. We have implemented multiple price adjustments throughout the year to help offset the increasing impact of inflation and we are prepared to implement further price increases as they become necessary.
Moving on to slide 13, our Infrastructure Solutions sales increased by 16.7% to $176.3 million in the quarter, primarily driven by strong international and domestic sales, which grew 45.2% and 11.6% respectively compared to the prior year period. Adjusted gross profit increased 24.7% to $39.9 million and adjusted gross margin increased 140 basis points to 22.6% driven by improved volumes, pricing and mix.
Infrastructure Solutions backlog at the end of the quarter increased 129.4% to $341.4 million as we continue to see strong and increasing demand for Highway and road building construction products across the country.
Turning to slide 14, our Materials Solutions sales increased 13% to $90.7 million compared to the same period a year ago, driven by increased demand across product lines and regions with international sales up 16.7% and domestic sales up 11% versus the third quarter of 2020. Segment gross profit increased 8.7% to $22.4 million and gross margin decreased by 100 basis points to 24.7% driven by inflation. Materials Solutions backlog at the end of the quarter increased 300.4% to $279.1 million driven by continued dealer restocking and strong market activity.
And on slide 15. I won’t go over the details, but here we highlight the year-to-date results and provide some color for your reference.
Turning to slide 16. We continue to maintain a strong balance sheet with minimal debt and net cash position of over $164 million. Overall, we have available liquidity of $309.3 million including nearly $165 million of cash on hand, with only 900,000 in total debt as of September 30, 2021. While our leverage today is virtually zero, as a reminder, on a long-term basis we will strive to operate between 1.5 to 2.5 times debt to EBITDA. However, in the future, there could be times where we will be leveraged over this range. But our goal would be to return to the 1.5 to 2.5 times range.
As Barry highlighted earlier during our call, we remain focused on maintaining a strong and flexible balance sheet with ample liquidity and believe that this will enable us to withstand a variety of economic situations.
Slide 17 is a reminder on our capital deployment framework. When we consider the various avenues of capital deployment, we do so in a context of our long-term strategic objectives and related revenue, earnings and cash flows in order to maximize shareholder value. Regarding acquisitions, the pipeline remains strong and our strategic approach remains consistent. As a reminder, we remain focused on acquisitions that align with our strategic filters and financial criteria to support our Grow pillar.
Importantly, we remain committed to delivering returns to shareholders primarily through funding our dividend. Of special note, beginning next quarter, our dividend will increase from $0.11 per share to $0.12 per share. This is being done to reward our shareholders and as evidence of our confidence in the OneAstec business model.
With that I will now turn it back over to Barry for his closing comments.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Thanks, Becky. Continuing to Slide 18, we highlight some key organic growth opportunities we see across our businesses. As a reminder, we expect to drive approximately 5% year-over-year organic growth over the long term. First, organic growth opportunities will continue in our international business and third quarter results demonstrate the traction that we’re gaining on that front with international sales up 30% year-over-year.
Secondly, opportunities to drive growth will continue in our parts and services businesses. During the third quarter, part sales grew 6% year-over-year, reflecting the momentum that we are gaining in this business. New product development continues to gain momentum. A few examples include our new SB 3000 Material Transfer Vehicle and highly portable Ventura asphalt plants shown on the next slide, which I will speak to more in a moment.
We will continue to drive organic growth through new product launches and fostering a culture of innovation here at Astec to provide our customers with the best solutions in the industry to meet their needs. We also continue to pursue organic growth opportunities related to dealer expansion, cross selling and strategic accounts. As success continues in each of these areas, I am confident our related strategic initiatives will drive future profitable growth across our businesses.
We are reinvesting in the business to drive innovation and technology enhancements to support organic growth opportunities to provide customers with industry-leading technology solutions, to provide value support for Rock-to-Road initiatives. We are well positioned to capitalize on global growth opportunities in 2022 as we continue to reinvigorate innovation, leverage technology to unlock internal synergies while also enhancing the customer experience.
Slide 19 shows our Shuttle Buggy 3000, which has been reinvented based on customer input to prove safety, serviceability, usability and performance. You may recall we invented the Shuttle Buggy Material Transfer Vehicle in 1989 and it quickly became the benchmark in the paving industry. Our new ultra portable Ventura asphalt plant maximizes performance capabilities, primarily for international markets. As you can see some of the plants key features shows can be transported as the single load is a continuous process that could produce 140 tons of mix per hour, it is very easy to maintain.
I’ll conclude on Slide 20 with our key investment highlights. Our performance during the third quarter is a reflection of the commitment and tenacity of the Astec team as we continue to work diligently and efficiently to deliver results against the backdrop of continued global headwinds. I am proud of the team’s ability to execute our strategy during the quarter and we are seeing benefits from the strategic initiatives that we have in place.
We are still in early innings of our business evolution in our team remains laser focused on positioning the organization for future growth. We continue to innovate and work with our customers to create value added services, products and solutions and leverage strong and long lasting relationships.
Lastly, as a reminder, we remain committed to our 2023 targets of 10% to 12% EBITDA margin and greater than 14% return on invested capital as highlighted at our December 2020 Investor Day, I am optimistic for the future for Astec as we continue to execute our strategy. I am confident with the progress we have made to date will result in a stronger and more agile organization.
Our strategic initiatives and focus on commercial and operational excellence will drive continuous improvement, future profitable growth and long-term shareholder value. With that, operator, we’re now ready to open the call for any questions.
Operator
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, the floor is open for questions. [Operator Instruction] And our first question today is coming from Mig Dobre at Baird. Your line is live. You may begin.
Mircea DobreBaird
Thank you and good morning everyone.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Good morning, Mig.
Mircea DobreBaird
Barry, very good order intake is as you already highlighted and record backlog. I guess, I’m curious your perspective on your ability to convert this backlog to revenue. You talked about the backlog is going to be converted over the next 2 to 3 quarters, but maybe you can be a little more specific in terms of are you able to increase production sequentially in the 4th quarter relative to the third given all the comments that you provided on supply chain and labor challenges. And yeah, I mean, maybe let’s start with that.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Okay, Mig. Hey, this is Barry. Thanks — thanks for the question and participating in the call. We feel as though we’ve built traction throughout the course of 2021, both in our ability to — to higher labor to support our demand. As you may have noted in the call, we’ve increased our headcount roughly just under 9%. It’s not as much as we would have liked but we feel like we have the right pieces in place to continue to build that, that will support our ability to convert backlog into orders. We’ve said it all along that one of our biggest constraints is really labor and so we feel good about that.
We also see that set aside the supply chain disruptions that we’re dealing with, the examples of start of machine and get it down the line, parts don’t show up as they were promised from the supplier, have to pull the machine, those types of things set that aside. We’re seeing that some of the efficiencies that we’re getting, relative to the throughput has improved, and our sites, but obviously a big component of that is the disruptions that we have in supply chain and having to re — kind of replan production so on and so forth.
So without great extent of continued supply chain or worsening supply chain situation, we feel good that yes, we will continue to be able to convert more of that backlog to sales as we move forward in time. Certainly in Q4 and in 2002 setting aside and logistics and supply chain issues we’re having.
And let me give you some color in regards on how we’re doing that, Mig. Yeah, so one of the things that I feel really proud about, is that as we’ve gone to the OneAstec business model, now, we look at the capacity that we have across all of our sites and today we have many sites that were not traditionally a concrete plant manufacturing site that our building components for concrete plants.
We’re now leveraging our supply chain more effectively to ensure that we can get components into support, the needs of our customers in the time that they require it. Now, obviously our supply chain dealing with some of the same issues, we are around labor. But generally, we found that that outsourcing of certain components has generally helped us get more products through the facilities and obviously the operational excellence initiatives we have in place are allowing us to use value stream mapping and other types of lean tools to take the inherent waste out of our build processes. And so we’ve seen some throughput and capacity improvements from those types of exercises as well.
And in addition to that, Mig, we’re also looking at how do we expand capacity through investments, a brick and mortar potentially. And also, we believe that with the right type of M&A strategy, we can also see our capacity improvements there as well. And I feel good about our M&A funnel and know that the targets that we have in that funnel would allow us to do that. Okay.
Mircea DobreBaird
Okay, I guess my — my other question has to do with the strong orders that you have our grade[Phonetics]. But I’m kind of curious as to your ability to properly price these orders and properly price your backlog given the various cost drags and inflation that you’re experiencing. Can you — can you comment on that at all?
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for the additional question. You know what our customers are smart, if they’re dealing with the inflation elements within their own businesses and so that along with the value that our organization has demonstrated to that customer base has allowed us to pass on price increases pretty effectively. And the way we see that, Mig, is that we’ll see the the cost price ratio continue to improve as we go through Q4 and into 2022, but we also know that we may not be through this would yet. And so we continue to look at what are our costs, what are those input costs. What we need to do from pricing and I’m really proud of the team to have worked with customers so effectively as they have in 2021 in order to find a way to pass on as much of the price as possible.
Now you’ll see in our chart on the EBITDA waterfall that we also feel good that we have seen benefit from operational excellence in some of our acquisitions that have helped us as a company offset any gaps that we might have from a cost price perspective, but we’re very active. We feel good about being able to pass it on. Certainly we’re much more effective of passing on pricing on backlog that does not have a customers name on it. If it does have a customer name on it, we’re much more sensitive to the commitment that we’ve made that a dealer potentially have made and trying to hold that price but things that our inventory builds or backlog without customers names, we’ve been pretty successful passing on pricing through that part of our backlog.
Mircea DobreBaird
Yeah, I mean to this very point, I’m looking at the fact that you’re infrastructure orders were $300 million as far as my model goes yet to see a quarter where order intake has been quite this strong leaving the wood pellet plant story aside from back in a day. But anyway, my understanding is that a lot of these orders actually do have a customer name associated with it, which is why I’m sort of wondering given, given the strength of this order intake, are you able to properly price these when you think about the pace of delivery and the cost that you’re going to have going forward? Sorry to be stress at this point. I just want to make sure that we’re clear on that.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
No, no problem. And you know we, on the infrastructure side, that’s where we’re going to have those orders are going to be typically, a lot of them are going to be asphalt plant related sales and that’s a situation where our customers are planning out in advance, based on their own capital expense strategies and plans.
And so in that case, we have been able to work with them and it’s — we’re a premium product with premium service and premium value and so we’ve been able to find a way to work with them to pass that price on quite effectively. And I think on the other side of it, Mig, we continue to do what we need to do as best as possible to manage our material margins in regards to how we buy materials, how we buy components, how we negotiate and try to use in this environment, there is not just one silver bullet that — that we pull out from an inflationary perspective the says we do this in regards to the strategy around procurement that it works every time. You have to be flexible. And I think the value that we put in, and we’re getting from our procurement team and our operations teams and everyone at Astec is finding a way for us to try and offset and mitigate that as much as possible.
And just one last comment, I’m really proud of the organization in regards to, this is a — this is an environment where I’d be very easy to just say hey, we’re just going to accept the circumstances and deal with it, but this organization is determined that we are not going to be a victim of those circumstances and so everyone is on deck to make sure that we take care of our customers and add value just as we have for years and we will do moving forward.
Mircea DobreBaird
I see. My last question if I may, has to do deal with this bridge on Slide 12 that you’ve mentioned. You call out here inflation of 705 basis points in terms of it being the drag, looking at last quarter a very similar number, it was 697 basis points last quarter. So sequentially, it seems like things are tough, but they haven’t gotten materially worse and I’m sort of curious, first, is my understanding of this correct? And then second, as you, as you think about say the next couple of quarters, do you expect these drags from inflation to escalate from this call it 700 basis points run rate? Because I’m presuming as we move into the second quarter of next year and beyond just base effect will have this drag be quite a bit lower than what we’re experiencing currently. Thank you for that.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Yeah, good question, Mig. Generally, I would answer this way. I’ll start it off, if Becky has anything to add she certainly can. I think your assessment is correct, we’ve seen a plateauing of the inflationary pressures as we can see from quarter to quarter Q2 to Q3, we see that also really from a Q4 perspective. And I think that’s what gives us the confidence on that price cost ratio that we’ll see that we should be able to continue to claw some of that back as we go through forward in time.
Obviously, what happens with inflation as we get into 2022. I think that’s, we don’t have that crystal ball, but I think ultimately, we’re in a much better place now, in regards to having to manage it than we were at the beginning of this year. Because, Mig, that as inflationary pressures spike like steel did over the last many months it’s hard for an organization and quite honestly, it’s hard for us to stay ahead of it. But when steel moves at a slower pace up or down, we’re in a much better position to be able to manage that change and mitigate and offset it with the appropriate levers.
And so I don’t see the same type of trajectory if there is inflation that we’ve had over the last 12 months. So therefore I think will be, it will be much better positioned to be able to manage that moving forward.
Mircea DobreBaird
All right. I appreciate the comments. Good luck.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Thank you.
Operator
Thank you. Our next question today is coming from Steve Paris Donnie at Sidoti. Your line is live. You may begin.
Steve Paris DonnieSidoti
Good morning, Barry. Morning Becky. I do want to follow up the series of previous questions to ask as we’ve gone through this earnings season, we’re hearing from companies saying that the supply chain issues are actually getting worst, certainly not getting better and that’s the duration could be longer, maybe that’s just lack of visibility. You’ve been going through a couple of quarters, given your sense on turning backlog into revenue, do you think it isn’t getting worse or do you think you’re finding more work around?
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Yeah, I would say yes and yes, Steve, good morning. We want to experience, I’ve never seen a quarter like Q3 that we’ve experienced here in the industry and certainly at Astec a relative to those types of disruptions and struggles around supply chain and logistics and labor. But I’m proud of the fact that our organization has found ways to minimize that impact as best as possible.
I do agree that there is a likelihood that could get worse. As a matter of fact we see lead times continue to slip out on major components in the supply the supply performance even on minor components a little erratic. And so I don’t necessarily think it’s going to get better. The best we can hope for is that it’s plateaued in regards to the amount of severity that is causing to the business but we’re prepared for it to get worse. And I think, so when we are working on the supply chain today, of course, we’re working on the the firefighting that we have on a daily basis and we’re also in the background with our procurement team working on the strategy and supply chains that allow us to get out of potentials aluminum[Phonetics] situation.
But I think one thing that the backlog does give us is great visibility. So we know when we’re going to be running production and that gives us the ability to look out in the future to say, where do we think we have constraints or concerns and then to put a plan in place to be able to mitigate that. And I think, we’ve talked a lot about recently this ERP transformation and ultimately you can imagine, Steve, that as we go forward and start to get some of our sites on the Oracle platform and the more sites we get on the better — the better visibility we even have then.
And so today we’re working across many ERPs. And so I know that’s not necessarily going to have been completely in 2022, but we’re excited about the investment we’re making and the teams were putting resources behind it in order to put that system in place so we can be a lot more effective in regards to how do we plan and have visibility to future production.
Steve Paris DonnieSidoti
Then if I could touch on labor. It sounds like you have made some real made up some ground here I think Becky had said that was up 8.5%. Do you feel like you’re caught up on labor now in terms of — if supply chain issues recede you have the workforce in place to meet growing production? And also are you expecting any, how should we think about the impact of wage inflation or have you avoided that?
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Yeah. So I would say that today we have not caught up generally across the company relative to our labor needs. I mean, if we could hire more people today, we would. Part of the issue that we’re dealing with is — is the traction part of it, but then also the retention part of it. I think the slide that we put in the deck today was to demonstrate to you guys in our shareholders what are we doing in order to try and mitigate and get ahead of this.
And so I’m pleased with the team’s efforts to continue to find ways to improve that situation. But the reality is we are still short. And I think when I, when I look at the backlog, I’d rather have that backlog smaller and have those products into our customers’ hands and so labor is going to be something that’s going to determine our ability to do that effectively. And then, but I also would say some of our labor issues our site-by-site specific. So in some plants were much better in regards to be able to pull in labor, then we are in others, but the strategy and the — the tools were using are really tools we’re using across the company. So I guess, long answer to basically say we’re still constrained by labor and we’re doing everything we can to try to attract and retain folks.
From a labor inflation perspective, yes, we’re going to see a little bit of that hit us in Q4 because we’ve had to do some things to adjust rightly so, our workforce in regards to compensation. And we’ve had to do that on employees that we have within the company today and into attract employees moving forward. So we’ll see that hit us a little bit in Q4 and be more of a main stay as we get into 2022.
Steve Paris DonnieSidoti
Great. Thanks, Barry, appreciate the time.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Thanks, Steve.
Operator
Thank you. Our next question today is coming from Stanley Elliott at Stifel. Your line is live. You may begin.
Stanley ElliottStifel
Hey, good morning everyone and thank you all for taking the question. Quick question guys. Starting off on the CarbonCure, our state DOTs adopting these sorts of technologies and allowing for various specs of ready-mix in any sort of the projects or is it still kind of in more of an earlier phase?
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Hey, good morning, Stanley. Thanks for the question. We are really super excited about the relationship that we have with CarbonCure today. And quite honestly, we see it is just these a budding step into what really to develop into moving forward across many more of our products and solutions that we have to the market. Everything from crushing and screening to asphalt to where we’re at today now with concrete.
And so, to answer your question specifically today, our CarbonCure partnered process really is more on the ready-mix side, Stanley, and not necessarily from a transportation perspective. We, as you probably know and heard from others, Stanley, changing specifications of Departments Of Transportation can be a tough process and can take time. We feel confident that we’re going to get there with the partnership that we have with for the CarbonCure team. But today, most of the CarbonCure solutions that we are partnering on, are really around types of concrete installations, other than roadways and other DOT work which is plentiful.
And of course that’s a big part of our concrete plant customer base as well. But we like the CarbonCure relationship because obviously we’ve made a commitment and you look at our OneAstec business model sustainability is going to be one of our key initiatives as we move forward in time. Stanley, as I 2 years ago when I started with this Company, I could meet with customers and no one would talk about sustainability. Today, if I talk to 10 customers, 8 of them are bringing up the topic on their own and asking what we can do to provide sustainable solutions. And I think this is one huge step that we put in place with this relationship to really add value to our customers in regards to their own initiatives around driving sustainability and we’ll continue to find more ways with our product development through partnerships and acquisitions to do more of this moving forward in time.
Stanley ElliottStifel
Great, that’s very helpful. I was just curious if — with DOTs you having adopted the recycled asphalt piece fairly, broadly, if this was kind of next in line and so. So we will see. Question for you on the international business and certainly nice pick up here, you attractive new product coming out, and then also you kind of overlay that with the margin piece with kind of given the headwinds across the supply chain. Are we to think that your several quarters ago when you had more opportunistic sale internationally that we should think of the international margins being kind of above or at least kind of in target with what you’re looking at from a longer-term perspective?
Becky WeyenbergChief Financial Officer
Stanley, this is Becky. Good morning. On our international sales, we have seen some nice pickup in some of those seeds that we planted in Q1 have paved the way for that, but certainly we are seeing growth there as we anticipated and we are seeing the margins come in as we would have expected. So there is going to be a little bit behind the domestic, because we’re still producing many of the products here and then we’ve got the transportation challenges with the cost inflation that’s going on, but what we produce in those regions, for those regions to certainly at that level that we are expecting.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Yeah, and I think as we think about where we continue to invest Becky, we’ve said all along, Stanley we know that to really grow a substantial profitable international business we have to be closer to the customer. And today, I really proud that the work that we’re doing in all the international sites, as you might remember we’re producing in Belo Horizonte Brazil, Johannesburg, South Africa and and in Oman, Northern Ireland. And in other sites we’re partnering the people and supply chain in order to to build nonproprietary components locally, which helps that kind of margin profile and deliverability perspective.
So we’re doing things in a very disciplined way and I think as we move forward in time, we also believe that we can use our capital to continue to build those capabilities both organically, but also we believe as you look at our filters around M&A global growth and our ability to have the right specifications in the right global footprint is a targeted approach in regards to how we invest capital through mergers and acquisitions.
Stanley ElliottStifel
And that’s actually kind of a nice segue to last piece you’re — your sounds like the M&A market seems pretty for at least the pipeline does, do you have more of a bias toward the material side or the infrastructure side? And then also your — you spending more your time domestically or internationally on those assets.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Yeah. First and foremost, I might just call your attention, Stanley, we feel good about changing our dividend. We are going from $0.11 to $0.12. We haven’t changed our dividend for quite a while and hopefully that gives you the sense that we feel good about our cash generation on a long-term basis and dividends are something we plan on paying, and it’s a big part of our capital allocation strategy along with investing back into our business primarily and M&A.
I feel good about our funnel. I would tell you that it’s, it’s really mixed. What I like about our team in our approach, Stanley, is we’re not sitting here, waiting for the phone to call for someone or bang [Phonetics] to tell us that there is an opportunity to look at a company. We know where we have gaps. We know where we want to invest the capital to grow this business and it is really is across both reporting segments. And it really is global. And we believe that we can accelerate our investments in technology to continue to build our technology of platforms through M&A.
We also believe we can grow globally through M&A. So we’re, we’re looking at those as well. But as I’ve always said, we’d like to do business in our own backyard. So the domestic piece is also attractive when those targets are ready to interact and in potentially do transactions, but we are very focused and targeted in regards to where we want to drive the M&A strategy.
Stanley ElliottStifel
Perfect. Thanks so much for the time and best of luck.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Thanks, Stanley.
Operator
Thank you. [Operator Instruction] Our next question in the queue is coming from Larry DeMaria at William Blair. Your line is live. You may begin.
Larry DeMariaWilliam Blair
Thanks, good morning everybody. Just going back to the backlog, it sounds like price cost potentially doesn’t turn positive until 2Q or maybe 3Q next year. So is that the right way to think about things? And then related to that, can you — would you expect margin expansion and positive price cost in 22 and plan of that from where you stand now? Thank you.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Yeah, Larry. Good morning and thanks for your question. I wouldn’t say we’re waiting until Q2 for that to happen. We’re going to see it continue to improve. We’ve seen it improve actually from Q2 to Q3, we expect to see more traction in Q4 and we’ll see more in Q1. So I think as we move forward through quarter-to-quarter, we’ll continue to see that, we continue to improve.
Some product lines today, we — were there and others were not. But generally I think that as we get into Q1 we’ll will start to see it actually become neutralized and certainly we expect it because when you, if you remember this, Larry, as we price it, took pricing actions throughout the course of 2021, we also had a big backlog there. And for those orders to work their way through, which is really what we’re working for, we should start to see that flow through in Q4 and Q1 and in Q2 of 2022, we should be in a pretty healthy position. Relative to margin accretion, I would say as we go through 2022 without additional inflationary type pressures we should be in a pretty good place to see some margin improvement. But, you and I both don’t have that crystal ball to be able to determine if we’re going to — if we are going to see that increase or decrease. But as I talked about earlier with one of the questions, I certainly don’t see it increasing significantly as such spiked way as we have in the past, which should allow us to be able to manage it more effectively throughout the course of 2022.
Larry DeMariaWilliam Blair
Okay, that’s really good color. Thanks, Barry. And then you referenced a price increases. Can you maybe break down for all of us on call the timing and the cumulative effects, so we can kind of just see there the carryover and what do you think about for the impact on top line given the price increases this year? Would that mean for next year? So I mean cumulatively, we have 20%. I don’t know. Can you help us understand that?
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Yeah, we it really, it really does again, Larry, depend on the product line, our competitive position, our ability to deliver, our ability to pass on the premium because of the value that we add. And so it’s. I think when we, when we talk about it with you guys, I think the chart that we have really shows you know a summary level of our ability and we’re positioned today. And so generally, you can see that that column that shows the pricing, volume and mix, we are obviously using other parts of our tools in order to offset pricing, but the biggest part of that pricing or biggest part of that bar is pricing, and so we’re not going to really break it out in color or product by product, but generally, I feel good about the actions we’ve taken.
They’ve been throughout the course of 2021, sometimes quicker than what we would have probably of would have liked but we had to do it. And as I said, our customers are pretty smart and so they were able to understand and digest it. But as I said, as well, Larry, we’re not done with the pricing yet either. It’s now really part of our DNA. And we want to continue to be a price leader in the markets and make sure we’re doing the right things for our customers and right thing for our shareholders.
Larry DeMariaWilliam Blair
Okay, thank you and good luck.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Thanks, Larry.
Operator
Thank you. Our next question today is coming from Mig Dobre at Baird. Your line is live. You may begin.
Mircea DobreBaird
Hey, thanks for taking the follow-ups. Just 2 very quick ones. And I guess maybe you kind of answered this question, but to make sure that I get a straight if I’m — if I’m sort of looking at this volume pricing mix bar that you’ve got on slide 12, so this accelerated a couple of hundred basis points sequentially. I’m looking to make sure that I understand is this — is this pricing that’s accelerating sequentially or are there are some other base effects here because, what I’m looking at revenue revenue was actually a little bit lower sequentially, the third quarter versus the second? That’s why I’m asking the question.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Yes, Mig, it’s really, it is really a mix. I mean I think that as we’ve talked about for a while now, we’ve invested in resources at our sites to try and find ways to become more effective and inefficient. And as you can imagine, we’ve been able to generate this revenue with less square footage. So that’s obviously part of the story and part of the numbers that you’re seeing flow through, but pricing is a big part of it. And I think that’s just a testament that the inflation hit us so fast that the margin that we’re seeing from the pricing actions we took is obviously taken us a little while for it to flow through.
And so it’s really mix and I think we have to give credit to the teams again for the work they’re doing in our facilities and our supply chain and and it’s really in some cases, make an all hands on deck relative to what we’re doing in order to try and get products delivered and manage our throughput. So I think you’ll see pricing continue to be in the price cost as I mentioned several times now improve that ratio as we move forward in time. But there is quite a bit of work that’s going on facilities to try and increase throughput. We’re working our tails off to try and get that backlog converted into orders and we know that the faster we can do that, the better off we’re going to be in a better offer customers are going to be.
Mircea DobreBaird
My final question has to do with steel. As you’re looking at the 4th quarter of ’21, can you give me a sense what sort of steel prices are flowing through your P&L at this point? And maybe you can use hot rolled as a benchmark if you would, because we all understand that one. And I’m kind of curious as to how you’re handling material purchases looking into 2022? Are you buying anything forward or really approaching, if you would, your purchases any different than what you have done in the past? Thank you.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Yeah, thanks, Mig. I would tell you that we meet on a monthly basis and steel Council that basically gives the business leaders, the executive team, our perspective in regards to what’s going on in steel relative to capacities, pricings, lead times and so I feel really good about our process that we have and we put that in place some time ago.
So I think that we have good visibility in regards to what we’re doing. I would tell you that for Q4, I guess maybe first before I go there, we’ve also transitioned over time, Mig, from a service center buying approach to more of a mill direct and I think ultimately that’s helped us. It’s helped us with supply, it’s helped us with pricing and we’re going to continue to continue to grow our percentage of steel purchases to our mill direct. But I’ve been in this game long enough to know that when it comes of steel, again, there is not just one approach that works all the time. So you have to have the ability to do buy and spot, buy and a forward buys and locking up inventory, pulling it in ahead of time, it potentially hedging. It just as some examples.
And so, we’ve been pretty good at buying ahead and locking our prices and we’ll continue to do that as we move into 2022. But as you would expect. Mig, we’ve seen a plateauing of steel and so therefore the timeline in which we buy head probably will become shorter, because if it starts to soften, and we want to make sure that we can pull that in, in a timely basis versus being stuck with a locked in agreement that doesn’t allow us to really leverage that material margin.
So I think moving forward, we’re being a little bit more cautious in regards to how far out we go, but I also want to make sure, just to give you a piece of how I think about it, Mig, when we quote and order and agree to a margin this with that order, we’re going to do our best to try and lock that in. And so that’s the struggle we have really with a long backlog and not be locked all the way through, is that we’re not — we’re not going to gamble our shareholders’ money in regards to betting on the come and so on and so forth. So we talk about this often, were very strategic about it. But generally, I would say, we’re going to start to probably manage our timeframe of pre-purchasing with the idea that we could maybe actually see some softening and take advantage of that as well.
Mircea DobreBaird
Understood. I appreciate the color.
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Thanks, MIg.
Operator
Thank you. That concludes our Q&A. I will now turn the floor back over to Steve Anderson, for any closing remarks.
Steve AndersonSenior Vice President, Administration and Investor Relations
Right. Thank you, Jay. We appreciate everyone’s participation on this call, and thank you for your interest in Astec. As todays news release indicates, today’s conference call has been recorded. A replay of this conference call will be available through November 17, 2021, and an archived webcast will be available for 90 days. The transcript will be available under the Investor Relations section of the Astec website within the next 7 days. All of this information is contained in the news release sent out earlier this morning. So again, this concludes our call. Thank you all have a good day.
Operator
[Operator Closing Remarks]
Duration: 58 minutes
Steve AndersonSenior Vice President, Administration and Investor Relations
Barry RuffaloPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Becky WeyenbergChief Financial Officer
Mircea DobreBaird
Steve Paris DonnieSidoti
Stanley ElliottStifel
Larry DeMariaWilliam Blair
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