Atlanta firm says “election jitters” slow sales; stock falls 15%

Don Mason, senior lab technician, measures the light of an LED post top lamp at Acuity Brands’ lab in Decatur in this 2016 photo. The Atlanta-based company has been riding high because of the growing use of its LED lights in homes, businesses and cities, but its stock fell 15 percent Monday due to a recent slower-than-expected sales. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

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Don Mason, senior lab technician, measures the light of an LED post top lamp at Acuity Brands’ lab in Decatur in this 2016 photo. The Atlanta-based company has been riding high because of the growing use of its LED lights in homes, businesses and cities, but its stock fell 15 percent Monday due to a recent slower-than-expected sales. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Acuity Brands’ shares fell almost 15 percent Monday after the Atlanta company reported a slowdown in demand for its lighting products.

Acuity's stock had been soaring as it has become one of the nation's largest manufacturers of LED lighting fixtures. Over the past five years, its shares had risen more than five-fold, to about $280 a share last August.

But the company gave up much of those gains Monday after Acuity CEO Vernon Nagel blamed “election jitters” and other issues for weaker-than-expected sales in the firm’s firm quarter, which ended Nov. 30.

Monday, Acuity’s stock price fell by $34.85, or almost 15 percent, to $202.51.

Acuity said its revenue grew 16 percent during the quarter, to $851 million, but that was less than “we had anticipated or planned for,” Nagel said in a call with investors.

He said a slowdown late in the quarter seemed to be due a “very sluggish” pace of construction in September and October, especially for large projects, ahead of the presidential election.

“While we expect some of these market conditions to carry over into our second quarter, we also expect demand to improve as elections concern subside,” he said.

Acuity’s profit for its first quarter was almost $82 million, up 19 percent from the year-ago period.