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Comfort Systems USA Inc (FIX) Q3 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

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Comfort Systems USA Inc (NYSE: FIX)
Q3 2020 Earnings Call
Oct 27, 2020, 11:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day and welcome everyone to the Quarter three 2020 Comfort Systems USA Earnings Conference Call hosted by Comfort Systems USA. My name is Sheila I'm the operator for today. [Operator Instructions] I'd like to advise all part of this conference is being recorded for replay purposes.

And I'd now like to hand over to Julie Shaeff Chief Accounting Officer. Please proceed.

Julie Shaeff -- Senior Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer

Thanks Sheila. Good morning. Welcome to Comfort Systems USA's third quarter earnings call. Our comments this morning as well as our press releases contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Act of 1995. What we will say today is based on the current plans and expectations of Comfort Systems USA. Those plans and expectations include risks and uncertainties that might cause actual future activities and results of our operations to be materially different from those set forth in our comments.

You can read a more detailed listing and commentary concerning our specific risk factors in our most recent Form 10-K and Form 10-Q as well as in our press release covering these earnings. A slide presentation has been provided as a companion to our remarks. This presentation is posted on the Investor Relations section of the company's website found at comfortsystemsusa.com. Joining me on the call today are Brian Lane President and Chief Executive Officer; and Bill George Chief Financial Officer. Brian will open our remarks.

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Okay. Thanks Julie. Good morning everyone. Thank you for joining us on the call today. We are all facing unique challenges now from the global pandemic. And in the midst of that we appreciate our good performance and solid prospects. More than anything I am grateful for our employees and I want to thank all of them for their commitment and resilience during this difficult time. Our employees continue to rise to the occasion. I feel gratitude and admiration for them every day. We are working hard to keep our workforce and our community safe and healthy during COVID-19. Despite adversity Comfort Systems USA achieved a record earnings and impressive cash flow.

We earned $1.36 per share this quarter compared to $0.98 per share in the same quarter of last year. This quarter included a $0.17 benefit from a discrete tax item. This marks the highest quarterly EPS in the history of our company with all without the tax benefit. Revenues was $714 million for the quarter and our year-to-date revenues exceed $2.1 billion. Through nine months we had $199 million of free cash flow. More than double the good results we achieved in the same time frame last year. Our backlog has trended downwards some this quarter. But we feel good about our prospects. And as you can see we continue to increase our dividend. In a few minutes I will spend some time on how that might affect us next year.

Before I review our operating results and prospects I want to ask Bill to review the details of our financial performance. Bill?

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks Brian. As Brian said we once again achieved record positive results. Revenue in the third quarter was $714 million an increase of $7 million compared to the same quarter last year. This increase is due to the current year acquisitions of TAS and Starr both of which contributed to our expanding modular construction offerings. This increase was offset by a decrease in same-store revenue of 6%. Our mechanical segment was up slightly on a same-store basis. So the decrease resulted from lower volume in our Electrical Services segment due to a combination of very high revenue comparisons in the prior year combined with deferred starts and other delays this year. Last year we experienced very high revenues in electrical as we were mobilized on certain exceptionally large jobs from the second half of 2019 until the middle of this year.

As a result of these factors we will continue to face tough revenue comparisons in electrical through the first half of next year. And combined with the air pockets and delays that we are currently experiencing we expect continuing same-store revenue headwinds through the second quarter of next year especially in our two largest Texas markets. Gross profit was $147 million for the third quarter of 2020 a 3% increase compared to last year. Gross profit as a percentage of revenue rose to 20.6% in the third quarter of 2020 compared to 20.2% for the third quarter of 2019. SG&A expense was $91 million for the third quarter of 2020 compared to $90 million for the third quarter of 2019. SG&A as a percentage of revenue remained steady at 12.7% for both quarters.

On a same-store basis SG&A declined $4 million. This decrease is primarily due to cost control measures such as reductions in travel-related expenses. During the third quarter of 2020 we had an increase in tax planning and consulting fees of approximately $2 million which partially offset other declines. Our quarter-to-date effective rate was 14.2% for tax and benefited from R&D credits and energy-efficient commercial building deductions that were previously reserved. During the third quarter we finalized settlements with the IRS from their examination of our amended federal tax returns for 2014 and 2015. We currently estimate our effective tax rate for full year 2020 will be between 22% and 25% which reflects these settlements.

Starting in 2021 we expect our effective tax rate will be between 25% and 30%. And if you eliminate the benefits of the settlement our quarterly tax rate this quarter would have been slightly over 28%. Although 2014 and 2015 are now settled we have open processes ongoing for the 2016 2017 and 2018 tax years. And while future benefits are possible we believe any benefits that arise from those years would most likely be recognizable in 2022 or beyond. Net income for the third quarter of 2020 was $50 million or $1.36 per share as compared to $36 million or $0.98 per share in 2019. Earnings per share for the current quarter included $0.17 related to the tax benefit that I previously discussed and that benefit is net of related tax consulting fees of $2.8 million that were incurred during the quarter.

Even if you completely exclude the tax benefit we had a 21% increase in earnings per share. For the third quarter EBITDA was $72 million an increase of 8% compared to the $66 million of EBITDA that we reported in the third quarter of last year. Our trailing 12-month EBITDA is a record $246 million. Coming off an extraordinary cash flow in the last quarter our free cash flow continues to be strong and was $48 million in the current quarter. On a year-to-date basis our free cash flow was $199 million compared to $79 million in 2019. Our nine-month cash flow includes roughly $20 million of benefit that is a direct result of the federal stimulus bill which allowed us to defer certain payroll tax payments in the second and third quarter. Our best estimate is that these discrete tax provisions will benefit fourth quarter cash flow by approximately $10 million.

This estimated $30 million of full year 2020 cash flow benefit from these tax provisions will be repaid to the Federal Government in two equal installments in the fourth quarters of 2021 and 2022. The phenomenal cash flow this year has resulted in two important balance sheet accomplishments. First we were able to reduce our leverage to less than one turn of trailing 12-month EBITDA about a year sooner than we had anticipated. Second during the second quarter of 2020 we funded our second largest acquisition ever however we were able to fund that acquisition entirely from free cash flow during the quarter and we still managed to reduce our debt levels. Our trailing 12-month free cash flow is $233 million. Since the beginning of this year we have purchased 448000 of our shares at an average price of $41.90. Since we began our repurchase program in 2007 we have bought back over nine million shares at an average price of $18.89.

This is what I've got for financial Brian.

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Okay. Thanks Bill. I am going to spend a few minutes discussing our backlog and markets. I will also comment on our outlook for full year 2020 and 2021. Our backlog level at the end of the third quarter of 2020 was $1.43 billion. Sequentially our backlog decreased by $103 million. Same-store backlog compared to one year ago has decreased by $271 million of which $145 million related to our electrical segment. Our changes in backlog include the effects of the third quarter seasonality and an expected decline in our Electrical segment but we are also experiencing delays in bookings and in project starts at certain of our large project companies. Most of our sectors continued to have strong quotation activity even the sectors where bookings have been delayed. That is particularly true in our industrial business which includes technology manufacturing pharmaceuticals and food processing.

Our industrial revenue has grown to 39% of total revenue in the first nine months of 2020 compared to 31% a year ago. Institutional markets which include education healthcare and the government were 36% of our revenue and that is roughly consistent with what we saw in 2019. The commercial sector was 25% of our revenue. For 2020 construction is 79% of our total revenue with 48% from construction projects for new buildings and 31% on from construction projects in existing buildings. Both of our construction and service businesses achieved record operating income margin. Service is 21% of our revenue year-to-date with service projects providing 8% of revenue and pure service including hourly work providing 13% of revenue.

Beginning in late March our service business experienced the first and most pronounced negative impacts associated with COVID-19 largely as a result of building closures or decisions by customers to limit building access. However during this quarter we saw our service operations at or very near pre-pandemic levels with improved profitability. Fortunately our construction activities continued to be classified as essential services in most markets. Despite pandemic-related challenges our mechanical segment performed incredibly well during the quarter. We are grateful for our performance this year and our prospects are much better than we would have expected this past spring.

Finally I'm going to take a few minutes and comment on our outlook. I have never experienced a more uncertain environment and frankly a broad range of outcomes are possible in the intermediate one to two year time frame. It is not currently possible to predict with any confidence how the pandemic and related government decisions will unfold nor how the pandemic may impact the decisions of our customers. With that in mind we are currently seeing both delays and high levels of pipeline activity at the same time which is unusual. We expect our full year 2020 results will significantly surpass our record results in 2019.

Although as Bill mentioned we are also currently expect that same-store revenue headwinds especially in our Electrical segment will lead to same-store revenue declines in the fourth quarter and through the first half of next year. Nevertheless and given the range of conditions that we foresee we feel confident of solid profitability and cash flow in 2021. Although we expect that 2021 earnings will not match our extraordinary 2020 earnings. Given uncertainties related to the ongoing pandemic and the evidence of delays in bookings and project starts we expect incremental challenges during the first half of 2021 including air pockets in some markets.

And we are preparing for a broad range of possible economic and capital investment environment in 2021 and in 2022. Our growth in the industrial segments of technology medical and pharmaceutical give us a good opportunity to cope with any challenges successfully. We believe that whatever the puts and takes are over the next several quarters we have an unmatched workforce and a great and necessary business. And that we are very well positioned in geographic markets and industry verticals with solid ongoing prospects. We plan to continue to invest to make the most of these advantages and opportunities. Thank you once again to our employees for your hard work and dedication.

I'll now turn it back over to Sheila for questions. Thank you.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And the first question comes from the line of Brent Thielman of D.A. Davidson.

Brent Thielman -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Hey, thank you. Good morning. Brian or Bill I guess on the mechanical margins I mean they've been really extraordinarily strong this year chalk it up to really good execution. I know you've had that kind of the service headwind which I know is usually pretty good for margins. I guess how do you feel about sustaining these sorts of levels? I guess I'm thinking TAS is in there too. But sort of sustaining these levels with potentially some top line pullback.

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Yes. I mean I'll go first. If you look at service made a tremendous recovery in the second third quarter which produced the highest margins we've ever received out of our service business since Comfort started. And on the construction front it's what you said. We just had really exceptional execution. I think we will continue to execute at a high level. The service business is still there. We did over 20% gross margins in it. I still see us in the 19% to 20% range Brent as we go forward even with the revenue decline.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

I couldn't agree more. Yes.

Brent Thielman -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Okay. I mean and that's structurally higher than what you've been in the past. So I mean that's what I was trying to get to. It's kind of where new normal might be.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. It's higher than where we've been except for the recent past, yes.

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

If you look at the last five years we've been pretty consistently in that 19% to 20% 21% range Brent. Pretty consistent.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

We do have a lot more industrial right now. So some of that is just mix. And with service coming back and we're talking about mechanical margins. We feel good about the gross profit margins for mechanical holding up.

Brent Thielman -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Yes. Okay. And then on the electrical side it sounds like part of the backlog creep lower as maybe one part market and one part deliberate. I know you guys are kind of out looking to pursue maybe higher value work. How quickly do you think you can push these margins back up within that segment? You made a little bit of progress here this quarter. I'm just wondering if you think you can continue that.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So one thing although it's unfortunate in a sense that our revenue is so our revenue is going down. Some of that was certainly planned and expected. And some of it was simply expected because we had a big bulge on some of our some of the biggest work we ever had performed from the third quarter of last year until about middle of the second quarter this year. They had just some giant jobs. Having said that the other side of that the margin side of that even though we'll have lower revenue is that was very it was fee-based work and it had very low gross margins sort of as far as an averaging effect goes. So actually we'll get help on the electrical margins just by the change in mix. So we'll give a lot up on volume but we'll get some back on rate in electrical.

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

And also the service part of electrical went basically the 0 in March. But has made particularly in the low voltage side a terrific come back in the third quarter and continues to gain momentum Brent. So that's clearly I mean the margins are a lot higher in the electrical service side as well.

Brent Thielman -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Okay. Maybe one last one I had a bigger picture question. You guys are all across the country. Where are you seeing some of the particular air pockets that you talk about? Where are areas where the pipeline still looks pretty robust and you're still seeing pretty good award activity? Curious what you're seeing across the country?

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

So Brent its Brian. I'll give you some pretty broad strokes. I think you're seeing most of it up in the North in general. I think in the South we're still seeing it probably a little bit more activity than we're seeing up there. I have some delays but I'm getting a little bit more positive feedback that down here where we are that some of this work is going to go maybe a little soon that is up North. Whatever the reasons are, I think there's a little bit different view between the Northeast and the South for sure. Bill do you have anything on that?

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

There's no doubt that there's simply more stuff just shut down in the Northeast right? And to get work started it doesn't just take somebody willing to do it. There's things that have to happen. You have to have drainage plans approved and permits. And you have to have all sorts of engineering done and soil. And so when things have been shut down delayed government offices it doesn't take much to create these delays. Because there's a critical path and a lot of things are on a critical path. If you're going to build something as complex as a big building. So in the Northeast there's a lot more of that. The South it's more business-as-usual from the point of view of at least support.

Brent Thielman -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks guys. I'll pass it on.

Operator

And the next question comes from the line of Sean Eastman of KeyBanc Capital Markets.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Hey, good morning Sean.

Sean Eastman -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

Good morning guys. Just going back to sort of this delayed bookings and starts dynamic. We kind of covered the geographic perspective. But just curious from an end market perspective and project size. Just how broad-based is this sort of dynamic I guess across end markets?

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So, there's at least one example of a big data center that's delayed. But in general I'd say it's broad based Brian.

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

I think it's pretty broad-based. Projects over 10 for sure we're seeing delays. The smaller projects are still pretty much going Sean.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

And the geography in. You got to go back to the geography.

Sean Eastman -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

Yes. Yes. Got you. Okay. I think belabor the point on margins. We went through that in detail already but I just wonder about this sort of unusual dynamic to use your words where you've got this really healthy prospect pipeline but not totally sure on when the work is going again. How do you manage through that dynamic? And do we expect sort of a [media term] margin drag as you sort of stay positioned around what seems to be still a really healthy amount of work coming out imminently?

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Yes. Sean, that's a really good question. And I've checked on that in the last few days. And in the general statement most of the stuff we're looking at we are holding our margins. And we haven't had conversations about a big decrease in that at all. How you manage it going forward is the same way you manage any construction activity. When the work slows down you have to reduce your cost. Hopefully it's temporary but you'll have to manage the labor according to what the workload is. These guys have all done it before. We don't have any rookies out there. They've all for the first time I've seen this much bidding activity with delays like this. But in terms of the fluctuations of cyclicality of it we've all been through this before.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So with the bidding activity there is no sense that we should, we don't have a sense that we should be capitulating on price to get work. Something else is going to have to happen for that to start.

Sean Eastman -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. Got it. All right. That's helpful. And last one for me is the cash flow clearly a bright spot in 2020. The balance sheet looks like it's ready for another acquisition. How should we be thinking about capital deployment in the coming quarters?

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So, I would say absolutely we've paid off a year's worth of EBITDA a year sooner than we thought we would. So it has to make you more open-minded to acquisitions. Having said that anything we do will be done with a ton of conviction because of all the uncertainty. When Brian Lane says this is the most uncertainty he's ever seen. As you might imagine that also plays into timing for acquisitions. But there are as you know we talk to companies for years and sometimes a decade. And if the company we have conviction about is ready to sell we're ready to buy it I think. So, we just, we don't really do quotas at Comfort Systems right? We buy companies we think will make us better for decades, forever.

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

But if we do find good companies we will do them Sean.

Sean Eastman -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay, got you. I appreciate the insights.Thanks very much. You know, I compliment the team on this near to date execution. Very impressive.

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Thanks Sean. Appreciate it.

Operator

Thank you. And the next question is from the line of Adam Thalhimer of Thompson Davis. Go ahead.

Adam Thalhimer -- Thompson Davis -- Analyst

Hey. Good morning guys. Congrats on a record quarter.

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Hey. Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

Adam Thalhimer -- Thompson Davis -- Analyst

Brian I'm trying to parse through your comments on the bidding because you said that I think you said the bidding is still strongest at industrial. What are you seeing within the institutional and commercial markets?

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Institute I mean, so I'll run to them in specifics. Obviously hotels are pretty quiet at the moment. Commercial buildings for the most part right? People are going back to use them. They're pretty slow. Our backlog in education is still pretty good actually. Still looking at some work. And of course air quality doesn't go into backlog but we are doing some work in schools on that front. So we're not expecting to see any hotels or office buildings in here in the near future. Bill do you want to...

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Meanwhile the intermediate term prospects for pharma are very good like in the Mid-Atlantic. And then food processing. Food processing. It's always good. Under manufacturing there's really good indications but they're just not signing a piece of paper and starting if you think about it we're facing a lot of uncertainty over the next several weeks and months right? And so why would anybody you kind of have to understand why somebody would they keep doing work on it but whether they delay in signing a contractor just can't be too surprising to anybody right now. If you're a hospital for example you'll find out who's going to run health and human services in the next few weeks. That matters. If you're a pharma you're going to find out who's running the FDA one way or another in the next couple of months. And they're just why would, I don't know I think it's understandable.

Adam Thalhimer -- Thompson Davis -- Analyst

Okay. I'm not even sure it's a fair question. But I mean you think it's more the virus or the election right now.

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

I'll let Bill answer that one.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

I think it's I'm not kidding. I think it's a general level of uncertainty. But I would say I'd say it's an equal part.

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

I think it's both.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

I believe it's definitely both.

Adam Thalhimer -- Thompson Davis -- Analyst

Okay. Not looking for specific guidance but I mean what are the ranges of expectations for how the backlog might trend?

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So, as far as how the backlog might trend that is really lumpy. Like I think it's going to be hard to be signing. We have a very high standard before we will put something into the backlog. And it's going to be hard for us to get to firm signatures by now and the end of the year. I think the real tail will be if by the time the winter is over by the time we report the first quarter will we see our backlog stabilize and start to pick up? By year-end not so much. And as far as revenue goes so these big jobs we had in Electrical. The biggest revenue quarter for the jobs we had in Electrical was the fourth quarter of last year.

So Electrical you may know if you look it was up like $30 million I think from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of last year. So we have a really big Electrical backlog comparison exacerbated by these delays for the fourth quarter. So that's going to make same-store revenue overall down for sure in the fourth quarter. And then with a bias toward down in the first and second quarter just because that big work isn't there. And some of that was planned and some of it has come to pass. So I don't know if that's helpful but that's what I know.

Adam Thalhimer -- Thompson Davis -- Analyst

No. That's very helpful. And then the last one for me. Bill, I wanted to ask on D&A because it came in almost $3 million sequentially. Just curious on what the puts and takes are for the next few quarters.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So, there are several different kinds of really I think we're talking about amortization right? There are several different kinds of amortization. There's the stuff that goes through SG&A and that is coming down. And then there's the backlog. The backlog amortization for our TAS acquisition is the fastest we've ever had it. So you've got you know how so with Walker you had amortization coming down over about an 18- to 24-month period for their backlog. TAS' because their stuff is built in a plant, their backlog, whatever they have on a given day it all burns in the next 3 4 five months. So that's why you're seeing a big drop. The good news is you don't have to wonder about this.

If you go to page I think around Page 18. We put a table in that shows amortization for the coming years. So we show you the amortization for the last quarter of this year and then we show you the amortization for the next four years. And with that's something you're required by the rules to put in once a year. We put it in each quarter when we're doing when there's craziness going on. So you can just go look that up and put it right in your model. Now if you want change. If we do another acquisition there'll be amortization for that acquisition. But if we didn't do another acquisition absent an unlikely impairment. These kinds of assets are very hard to impair even if you want to. That's math. You can just, you got it. Page 18.

Adam Thalhimer -- Thompson Davis -- Analyst

Okay, perfect. I'll turn it over. Thanks guys.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you Adam.

Operator

Thank you. And the next question is from the line of NASDAQ [Phonetic] of Schroders. Please go ahead.

NASDAQ -- Schroders -- Analyst

Good morning Brian, William George. You guys hear me?

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. We can. Absolutely.

NASDAQ -- Schroders -- Analyst

Fantastic. I'm glad you take the call. Just following up I mean it seems like your core operations on the mechanical side you've done really well and kudos to you for doing it. Looking at the acquisitions I think you walked us through a little bit Walker kind of the air pocket and an ability to maybe fill in the pipeline the way they expected it. But if I look at TAS it seems like sequential were down 50% here. And Starr Electric I think around 20%. So, maybe first question you can hit or talk a little bit about not the nature of the business because I thought you talked about it but maybe specifically on that modular business is there something specific about the type of the business they're doing? Or is there something about the end markets that really created the pockets, air pockets for those 2?

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So for TAS that's the one that matters. Like we already really told you everything we have about Walker. For TAS they had a very very big second quarter revenue-wise it was like $50-plus-million. And they've had more like $29 million or $30 million in the third quarter. The $50-plus-million so they manufacture things in a plant and they had a gigantic order going out and they had big equipment deliveries in the second quarter. Here's the thing about and then in the third quarter they didn't have those equipment deliveries. And I think that they'll probably have another similar quarter in the fourth quarter and it will pick up next year just based on their order book. It will pick up actually there's a good chance it will pick up a lot next year. But at the end of the day none of that is really impacting our numbers very much because we have what's called a WIP Adjustment.

And we have where things that are ongoing on the day we buy them we do a make whole. So it's one of the reasons we don't talk about it a lot in the script. It's not huge in the quarter. You may have seen for example that we picked up money through the earn-out line a significant $3 million or $4 million I think through the earn-out line this quarter we gave back a similar amount in the last little while through what's called the WIP Adjustment line. So that's why we don't mention it because it kind of washes out. But as far as their prospects we think we like the prospects for next year. And so compared to Walker right where we definitely have an air pocket. We don't really foresee that with TAS. And we'll start to get more benefit from TAS next year because as I said their amortization was very very heavy early on for the backlog amortization because of how fast their backlog burns.

NASDAQ -- Schroders -- Analyst

Okay. So then, going keeping that in mind and I'm assuming similar commentary about Starr Electric would play in. If I look at your kind of broad guidance you gave us the same-store sales in December 2020 and first half of 2021. I think it's a fair question to ask what does the core mechanical look like? So if I was to take TAS and you are looking forward for that core mechanical business. Kind of what are your expectations there?

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Before COVID we were looking at low to mid single-digit improvement. With COVID they were flat this quarter. Mechanical was flat. I actually was I thought it might be down slightly. And I think there's a bias toward mechanical being a little bit down for the next two or three quarters for the same. Now Starr, sorry Electrical will be down a lot because it's comparing to these gigantic quarters a year ago. So year-over-year. But as far as mechanical I'd say it will round to 0. They won't get the growth we were hoping for but I don't see signs of less shrinkage or anything. It's electrical that we pull down the reason we put in our script that we have same-store revenue declines is Electrical.

NASDAQ -- Schroders -- Analyst

And I'm really glad to hear that because it sounds like the core business with the HVAC heating plumbing it's doing well and it should give you some confidence in going forward. So my thought was here and going maybe to the Board as well if the core business is doing well and acquisitions are really in adjacencies we should say maybe these recent acquisitions there are somewhat adjacent to your core business maybe there is a different way to look at them going forward and then really compare them to the cost of your own shares and maybe being more aggressive in stock buybacks. Because it seems to me that your bar should be a little bit higher for the businesses that are in adjacencies than making acquisitions in your core business. And if that's the case maybe there is better use of capital looking at best business you know best your own business and your own shares.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So we're pretty aggressive at buying back shares. But, we also when we do these acquisitions we have a lot of conviction about them. So, for example when we bought EAS five or six years ago we have the exact same people say the exact same argument why you should have been buying shares you're only getting $5 million or $10 million a year from them. But for the last five quarters we've gotten $10 million a quarter from them. So we believe these acquisitions are going to we're going to be very happy to have 1000 licensed electricians. We might be wrong about that. But the other thing is when we buy our shares when we think the share price is good we tend to only buy our shares until we start to affect the price. We're not a company that wants to bid up our stock. So we that's just the conviction we have. We buy our shares. I don't know we bought back nine million shares. And we'll continue to buy shares.

NASDAQ -- Schroders -- Analyst

I do understand Bill. And I think I agree with you. I think the acquisitions in your core business they've done better than you've done. But I just question if the bar shouldn't be higher for these adjacent businesses. And if that is the case I think your perspective changes a little bit. Obviously barring seeing more acquisitions in your HVAC business. I should put it that way. So like you said your leverage has been lowered substantially and it's going to come to the question of what do you do with that capital? And if there is a lot of acquisitions in the core business I think it's obviously easier, easier decision to make.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Got you. All right.

NASDAQ -- Schroders -- Analyst

All right. But thank you for the results. I know that there's difficult times out there. And I agree with you and I think for the next few weeks we know more what actually business may look quite interesting.

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Fingers crossed. Thank you.

Operator

We have no more questions. And now I would like to turn the call over to Brian Lane for closing remarks.

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

All right. In closing I want once again to thank all of our wonderful employees. The results our team has accomplished this quarter were truly amazing. I have never felt better about this company and its future. We are looking forward to seeing many of you again in person. But in the meanwhile please be safe. Thanks and take care.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 40 minutes

Call participants:

Julie Shaeff -- Senior Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer

Brian E. Lane -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

William George -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Brent Thielman -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Sean Eastman -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

Adam Thalhimer -- Thompson Davis -- Analyst

NASDAQ -- Schroders -- Analyst

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