Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (The)
10-K on 11/24/2020   Download
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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
_____________________________________
Form 10-K
_____________________________________
(Mark One)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from                      to                     
Commission file number 001-11593
______________________________________________________________  
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Ohio31-1414921
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
14111 Scottslawn Road, Marysville, Ohio 43041
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code:
(937) 644-0011
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each ClassTrading Symbol(s)Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Common Shares, $0.01 stated valueSMGNYSE
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None
______________________________________________________________ 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  þ    No  o
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes  o    No  þ
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  þ    No  o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes  þ    No  o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Large accelerated filerAccelerated filer
Non-accelerated filer
  
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.         o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C.7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes      No  þ
The aggregate market value of Common Shares (the only common equity of the registrant) held by non-affiliates (for this purpose, executive officers and directors of the registrant are considered affiliates) as of March 27, 2020 (the last business day of the most recently completed second quarter) was approximately $4,116,773,282.
There were 55,739,813 Common Shares of the registrant outstanding as of November 20, 2020.
______________________________________________________________ 
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE:
Portions of the definitive Proxy Statement for the registrant’s 2021 Annual Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Such Proxy Statement will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days of the registrant’s fiscal year ended September 30, 2020.


Table of Contents
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
Annual Report on Form 10-K
For the Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2020
Table of Contents

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Table of Contents
PART I

ITEM 1.    BUSINESS
Company Description and Development of the Business
The discussion below describes the business conducted by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, an Ohio corporation (“Scotts Miracle-Gro” and, together with its subsidiaries, the “Company,” “we” or “us”), including general developments in the Company’s business during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020 (“fiscal 2020”). For additional information on recent business developments, see “ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Through our U.S. Consumer and Other segments, we are the leading manufacturer and marketer of branded consumer lawn and garden products in North America. Our products are marketed under some of the most recognized brand names in the industry. Our key consumer lawn and garden brands include Scotts® and Turf Builder® lawn and grass seed products; Miracle-Gro® soil, plant food and insecticide, LiquaFeed® plant food and Osmocote®1 gardening and landscape products; and Ortho®, Home Defense® and Tomcat® branded insect control, weed control and rodent control products. We are the exclusive agent of the Monsanto Company, a subsidiary of Bayer AG (“Monsanto”), for the marketing and distribution of certain of Monsanto’s consumer Roundup® branded products within the United States and certain other specified countries. We also have a presence in similar branded consumer products in China.
Through our Hawthorne segment, we are the leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of lighting, nutrients, growing media, growing environments and hardware products for indoor and hydroponic gardening. Our key brands include General Hydroponics®, Gavita®, Botanicare®, Vermicrop®, Agrolux®, Can-Filters®, AeroGarden®TM, Sun System®, Gro Pro®, Mother Earth®, Hurricane® and Grower’s Edge®.
Scotts Miracle-Gro traces its heritage to a company founded by O.M. Scott in Marysville, Ohio in 1868. In the mid-1900s, we became widely known for the development of quality lawn fertilizers and grass seeds that led to the creation of a new industry - consumer lawn care. In the 1990s, we significantly expanded our product offering with three powerful leading brands in the U.S. home lawn and garden industry. In fiscal 1995, through a merger with Stern’s Miracle-Gro Products, Inc., which was founded by Horace Hagedorn and Otto Stern in Long Island, New York in 1951, we acquired the Miracle-Gro® brand, the industry leader in water-soluble garden plant foods. In fiscal 1999, we acquired the Ortho® brand in the United States and obtained exclusive rights to market Monsanto’s consumer Roundup®2 brand within the United States and other contractually specified countries, thereby adding industry-leading weed, pest and disease control products to our portfolio. Today, the Scotts®, Turf Builder®, Miracle-Gro®, Ortho® and Roundup® brands make us the most widely recognized company in the consumer lawn and garden industry in the United States. Beginning in fiscal 2015, we made a series of key acquisitions and investments to grow and position our Hawthorne segment as the leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of indoor and hydroponic gardening products in North America.
Business Segments
We divide our business into the following reportable segments:
U.S. Consumer
Hawthorne
Other
U.S. Consumer consists of our consumer lawn and garden business located in the geographic United States. Hawthorne consists of our indoor and hydroponic gardening business. Other consists of our consumer lawn and garden business in geographies other than the United States and our product sales to commercial nurseries, greenhouses and other professional customers. In addition, Corporate consists of general and administrative expenses and certain other income and expense items not allocated to the business segments. This division of reportable segments is consistent with how the segments report to and are managed by our Chief Executive Officer (the chief operating decision maker of the Company). Financial information about these segments for each of the three fiscal years ended September 30, 2020, 2019 and 2018 is presented in “NOTE 21. SEGMENT INFORMATION” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

________________________
1 Osmocote® is a registered trademark of Everris International B.V., a subsidiary of Israel Chemicals Ltd.
2 Roundup® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC, a company affiliated with Monsanto Company.
2

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Principal Products and Services
In our reportable segments, we manufacture, market and sell lawn and garden products in the following categories:
Lawn Care: The lawn care category is designed to help users grow and enjoy the lawn they want. Products within this category include lawn fertilizer products under the Scotts® and Turf Builder® brand names; grass seed products under the Scotts®, Turf Builder®, EZ Seed®, PatchMaster® and Thick’R Lawn® brand and sub-brand names; and lawn-related weed, pest and disease control products primarily under the Scotts® brand name, including sub-brands such as GrubEx®. The lawn care category also includes spreaders and other durables under the Scotts® brand name, including Turf Builder® EdgeGuard® spreaders and Handy Green® II handheld spreaders. In addition, we market outdoor cleaners under the Scotts® brand name.
Gardening and Landscape: The gardening and landscape category is designed to help consumers grow and enjoy flower and vegetable gardens and beautify landscaped areas. Products within this category include a complete line of water-soluble plant foods under the Miracle-Gro® brand and sub-brands such as LiquaFeed®, continuous-release plant foods under the Miracle-Gro®, Scotts® and Osmocote® brands and sub-brands of Miracle-Gro® such as Shake ‘N Feed®; potting mixes and garden soils under the Miracle-Gro®, Scotts®, Hyponex®, Earthgro®, SuperSoil® and Fafard® brand names; mulch and decorative groundcover products under the Scotts® brand, including the sub-brands Nature Scapes®, Earthgro® and Hyponex®; plant-related pest and disease control products under the Ortho® brand; organic garden products under the Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics®, Miracle-Gro® Organic Choice®, Scotts®, Whitney Farms® and EcoScraps® brand names; and live goods and seeding solutions under the Miracle-Gro® brand. Hydroponic gardening focused growing media and nutrients products are marketed under the Mother Earth®, Botanicare®, General Hydroponics® and Vermicrop® brand names as well as brands owned by third parties for which we serve as distributor. In the second quarter of fiscal 2016, we entered into a Marketing, R&D and Ancillary Services Agreement (the “Services Agreement”) and a Term Loan Agreement (the “Term Loan Agreement”) with Bonnie Plants, Inc. (“Bonnie”) and its sole shareholder, Alabama Farmers Cooperative, Inc. (“AFC”), pursuant to which we provide financing and certain services to Bonnie’s business of planting, growing, developing, manufacturing, distributing, marketing, and selling to retail stores throughout the United States live plants, plant food, fertilizer and potting soil (the “Bonnie Business”). On November 4, 2020, we announced the signing of a non-binding letter-of-intent to acquire a 50 percent equity interest in the Bonnie Business. See “Acquisitions” for further discussion.
Hydroponic hardware and growing environments: This category is designed to provide durable goods for customers to grow plants, flowers and vegetables using little or no soil. Products within this category include systems, trays, fans, filters, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, timers, instruments, water pumps, irrigation supplies and hand tools, and are marketed under the Botanicare®, Can-Filters®, Gro Pro®, Hurricane® and AeroGardenTM brand names as well as brands owned by third parties for which we serve as distributor.
Lighting: The lighting category is designed to provide consumers a complete selection of lighting systems and components for use in hydroponic and indoor gardening applications. Products in this category include lighting fixtures, reflectors, lamps, cords and hangars, and are marketed under the Gavita®, Sun System®, Agrolux® and Titan® brand names as well as brands owned by third parties for which we serve as distributor.
Controls: The controls category is designed to help consumers protect their homes from pests and maintain external home areas. Insect control products are marketed under the Ortho® brand name, including Ortho Max®, Home Defense Max® and Bug B Gon Max® sub-brands; rodent control products are marketed under the Tomcat® and Ortho® brands; selective weed control products are marketed under the Ortho® Weed B Gon® sub-brand; and non-selective weed killer products are marketed under the Groundclear® brand name. Hydroponic gardening focused controls products are marketed under the Alchemist® and General Hydroponics® brand names as well as brands owned by third parties for which we serve as distributor.
Marketing Agreement: We are Monsanto’s exclusive agent for the marketing and distribution of certain of Monsanto’s consumer Roundup® branded products in the United States and certain other specified countries. On May 15, 2015, we entered into an amendment (the “Marketing Agreement Amendment”) to the Amended and Restated Exclusive Agency and Marketing Agreement (as amended, the “Original Marketing Agreement”) with Monsanto and also entered into a lawn and garden brand extension agreement (the “Brand Extension Agreement”) and a commercialization and technology agreement (the “Commercialization and Technology Agreement”) with Monsanto. On August 31, 2017, in connection with the sale of our consumer lawn and garden businesses located in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom (the “International Business”), we entered into the Second Amended and Restated Agency and Marketing Agreement (the “Restated Marketing Agreement”) and the Amended and Restated Lawn and Garden Brand Extension Agreement - Americas (the “Restated Brand Extension Agreement”) to reflect the Company’s transfer and assignment to Exponent Private Equity LLP (“Exponent”) of the Company’s rights and responsibilities under the Original Marketing Agreement, as amended, and the Brand Extension Agreement relating to those countries and territories subject to the sale.
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Effective August 1, 2019, we entered into (i) the Third Amended and Restated Exclusive Agency and Marketing Agreement (the “Third Restated Agreement”) which amends and restates the Restated Marketing Agreement, (ii) a Brand Extension Agreement Asset Purchase Agreement (the “BEA Purchase Agreement”) under which we sold certain assets to Monsanto related to the development, manufacture, production, advertising, marketing, promotion, distribution, importation, exportation, offer for sale and sale of specified Roundup® branded products sold outside the non-selective weedkiller category within the residential lawn and garden market and (iii) agreements terminating both the Restated Brand Extension Agreement and the Commercialization and Technology Agreement.
Under the terms of the Third Restated Agreement, we provide certain consumer and trade marketing program services, sales, merchandising, warehousing and other selling and marketing support for certain of Monsanto’s consumer Roundup® branded products. Among other things, the Third Restated Agreement amends the provisions of the Restated Marketing Agreement relating to commissions, contributions, noncompetition, and termination. The Company also performs other services on behalf of Monsanto, including manufacturing conversion services, pursuant to ancillary agreements. For additional details regarding the Third Restated Agreement, see “ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS — In the event the Third Restated Agreement for Monsanto’s consumer Roundup® products terminates or Monsanto’s consumer Roundup® business materially declines, we would lose a substantial source of future earnings and overhead expense absorption” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and “NOTE 7. MARKETING AGREEMENT” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
COVID-19
The World Health Organization recognized COVID-19 as a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020 and as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. Public health responses have included national pandemic preparedness and response plans, travel restrictions, quarantines, curfews, event postponements and cancellations and closures of facilities including local schools and businesses. The global pandemic and actions taken to contain COVID-19 have adversely affected the global economy and financial markets. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have implemented additional measures intended to both protect the health and safety of our employees and maintain our ability to provide products to our customers, including (i) requiring a significant part of our workforce to work from home, (ii) monitoring our employees for COVID-19 symptoms, (iii) making additional personal protective equipment available to our operations team, (iv) requiring all manufacturing and warehousing associates to take their temperatures before beginning a shift, (v) modifying work methods and schedules of our manufacturing and field associates to create distance or add barriers between associates, consumers and others, (vi) expanding cleaning efforts at our operation centers, (vii) modifying attendance policies so that associates may elect to stay home if they have symptoms, (viii) prioritizing production for goods that are more essential to our customers and (ix) implementing an interim premium pay allowance for certain associates in our field sales force or working in manufacturing or distribution centers.
To date, the developments and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States have resulted in increased demand for many of our products. However, the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately impact our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows depends on future developments that are highly uncertain, rapidly evolving and difficult to predict at this time. Management is actively monitoring the global situation for impacts to our financial condition, liquidity, operations, suppliers, industry and workforce.
Acquisitions
Beginning in fiscal 2015, we made a series of key acquisitions and investments to grow and position our Hawthorne segment as the leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of indoor and hydroponic gardening products in North America.
On June 4, 2018, our Hawthorne segment acquired substantially all of the assets and certain liabilities of Sunlight Supply, Inc., Sunlight Garden Supply, Inc., Sunlight Garden Supply, ULC, and IP Holdings, LLC, and all of the issued and outstanding equity interests of Columbia River Industrial Holdings, LLC (collectively “Sunlight Supply”) for $459.1 million. At the time of acquisition, Sunlight Supply was a leading developer, manufacturer, marketer and distributor of horticultural, organics, lighting and hydroponic gardening products. Prior to the transaction, Sunlight Supply served as a non-exclusive distributor of our products.
On October 11, 2017, our Hawthorne segment completed the acquisition of substantially all of the U.S. and Canadian assets of Can-Filters Group Inc. (“Can-Filters”), a wholesaler of ventilation products for indoor and hydroponic gardening and industrial market customers, for $74.1 million.
On May 26, 2017, our majority-owned subsidiary Gavita completed the acquisition of Agrolux Holding B.V. (now known as Hawthorne Lighting B.V.), and its subsidiaries (collectively, “Agrolux”), a Netherlands-based worldwide supplier of horticultural lighting, for $21.8 million.
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On November 29, 2016, our wholly-owned subsidiary SMG Growing Media, Inc. fully exercised its outstanding warrants to acquire additional shares of common stock of AeroGrow International, Inc. (“AeroGrow”) for $8.1 million, which increased our percentage ownership of AeroGrow’s outstanding shares of common stock (on a fully diluted basis) from 45% to 80%. AeroGrow is a developer, marketer, direct-seller, and wholesaler of advanced indoor garden systems designed for consumer use in gardening, and home and office décor markets. AeroGrow operates primarily in the United States, Canada, Australia and select countries in Europe and Asia. On November 11, 2020, we entered into an agreement and plan of merger to acquire the remaining outstanding shares of AeroGrow.
On October 3, 2016, our Hawthorne segment completed the acquisition of American Agritech, L.L.C., d/b/a Botanicare (“Botanicare”), an Arizona-based leading producer of plant nutrients, plant supplements and growing systems used for hydroponic gardening, for $92.6 million. On August 11, 2017, our Hawthorne segment completed the acquisition of substantially all of the assets of the exclusive manufacturer and formulator of branded Botanicare products for $32.0 million.
On May 26, 2016, our Hawthorne segment acquired majority control and a 75% economic interest in Gavita Holdings B.V., and its subsidiaries (collectively, “Gavita”), a Netherlands-based leading producer and marketer of indoor lighting used in the greenhouse and hydroponic markets, predominately in the United States and Europe, for $136.2 million. Gavita’s former ownership group initially retained a 25% noncontrolling interest in Gavita consisting of ownership of 5% of the outstanding shares of Gavita and a loan with interest payable based on distributions by Gavita. On October 2, 2017, our Hawthorne segment acquired the remaining 25% noncontrolling interest in Gavita, including Agrolux, for $69.2 million, plus payment of contingent consideration of $3.0 million.
On March 30, 2015, our Hawthorne segment acquired the assets of General Hydroponics, Inc. (“General Hydroponics”) and Bio-Organic Solutions, Inc. (“Vermicrop”), leading producers of liquid plant food products, growing media and accessories for hydroponic gardening, for $120.0 million and $15.0 million, respectively. The Vermicrop purchase price was paid in common shares of Scotts Miracle-Gro (“Common Shares”) based on the average share price at the time of payment.
We have also made a number of important acquisitions and investments within our U.S. Consumer and Other segments.
During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017, we also made a $29.4 million investment in an unconsolidated subsidiary whose products support the professional U.S. industrial, turf and ornamental market (the “IT&O Joint Venture”).
In the third quarter of fiscal 2016, our Other segment completed an acquisition to expand our Canadian growing media operations for an estimated purchase price of $33.9 million, which was adjusted down by $4.3 million during fiscal 2017 based on the resolution of contingent consideration.
In the second quarter of fiscal 2016, we entered into the Services Agreement and the Term Loan Agreement with Bonnie and AFC providing for our participation in the Bonnie Business. The Term Loan Agreement provides a loan from us to AFC, with Bonnie as guarantor, in the amount of $72.0 million with a fixed coupon rate of 6.95% (the “Term Loan”). Under the Services Agreement, we provide marketing, research and development and certain ancillary services to the Bonnie Business for a commission fee based on the profits of the Bonnie Business and the reimbursement of certain costs. On November 4, 2020, we announced the signing of a non-binding letter-of-intent to acquire a 50 percent equity interest in the Bonnie Business.
Divestitures
During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019, we sold to Monsanto specified assets related to the development, manufacture, production, advertising, marketing, promotion, distribution, importation, exportation, offer for sale and sale of specified Roundup® branded products sold outside the non-selective weedkiller category within the residential lawn and garden market for $115.5 million.
On March 19, 2019, we sold all of our approximately 30% equity interest in Outdoor Home Services Holdings LLC, a lawn services joint venture between the Company and TruGreen Holding Corporation (the “TruGreen Joint Venture”) to TruGreen Companies L.L.C., a subsidiary of TruGreen Holding Corporation. In connection with this transaction, we received cash proceeds of $234.2 million related to the sale of our equity interest in the TruGreen Joint Venture and $18.4 million related to the payoff of second lien term loan financing by the TruGreen Joint Venture.
On April 1, 2019, we sold all of our noncontrolling equity interest in the IT&O Joint Venture for cash proceeds of $36.6 million.
On April 29, 2017, we received a binding and irrevocable offer (the “Offer”) from Exponent to purchase the International Business for approximately $250.0 million (subject to adjustment following closing in respect of the actual financial position at closing) and a deferred payment amount of up to $23.8 million. On July 5, 2017, we accepted the Offer and entered into the Share and Business Sale Agreement contemplated by the Offer. On August 31, 2017, we completed the sale of the International Business for cash proceeds of $150.6 million at closing, which was net of a closing statement adjustment for expected financial position at closing and net of seller financing provided by us of $29.7 million.
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On April 13, 2016, we contributed the Scotts LawnService® business (the “SLS Business”) to the TruGreen Joint Venture in exchange for a minority equity interest of approximately 30% in the TruGreen Joint Venture, which had an initial fair value of $294.0 million, and received a tax-deferred cash distribution of $196.2 million, partially offset by an investment of $18.0 million in second lien term loan financing provided by us to the TruGreen Joint Venture.
Where required, we have classified our results of operations for all periods presented in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to reflect these businesses as discontinued operations during the applicable periods. See “NOTE 3. DISCONTINUED OPERATIONS” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information.
Principal Markets and Methods of Distribution
We sell our products through a direct sales force, online selling and our network of brokers and distributors primarily to home centers, mass merchandisers, warehouse clubs, large hardware chains, independent hardware stores, nurseries, garden centers, e-commerce platforms, food and drug stores, indoor gardening and hydroponic product distributors, retailers and growers.
The majority of our shipments to customers are made via common carriers or through distributors in the United States. We primarily utilize third parties to manage the key distribution centers for our consumer lawn and garden business, which are strategically located across the United States and Canada. For our Hawthorne business, we primarily self-manage distribution centers across the United States and Canada. Growing media products are generally shipped direct-to-store without passing through a distribution center.
Raw Materials
We purchase raw materials for our products from various sources. We are subject to market risk as a result of the fluctuating prices of raw materials, including urea and other fertilizer inputs, resins, diesel, gasoline, natural gas, sphagnum peat, bark and grass seed. Our objectives surrounding the procurement of these materials are to ensure continuous supply, minimize costs and improve predictability. We seek to achieve these objectives through negotiation of contracts with favorable terms directly with vendors. When appropriate, we commit to purchase a certain percentage of our needs in advance of the lawn and garden season to secure pre-determined prices. We also hedge certain commodities, particularly diesel, resin and urea, to improve cost predictability and control. Sufficient raw materials were available during fiscal 2020.
Trademarks, Patents, Trade Secrets and Licenses
We consider our trademarks, patents, trade secrets and licenses to be key competitive advantages. We pursue a vigorous trademark protection strategy consisting of registration, renewal and maintenance of key trademarks and proactive monitoring and enforcement activities to protect against infringement. The Scotts®, Miracle-Gro®, Ortho®, Tomcat®, Hyponex®, Earthgro®, General Hydroponics®, Vermicrop®, Gavita®, Botanicare®, Agrolux®, Sun System®, Mother Earth® and Can-Filters® brand names and logos, as well as a number of product trademarks, including Turf Builder®, EZ Seed®, Organic Choice®, Home Defense Max®, Nature Scapes®, and Weed B Gon® are registered in the United States and/or internationally and are considered material to our business.
In addition, we actively develop and maintain an extensive portfolio of utility and design patents covering a variety of subject matters and technologies relevant to the business such as fertilizer, weed killer, chemical and growing media compositions and processes; grass seed varieties; mechanical dispensing devices such as applicators, spreaders and sprayers; lighting applications; and hydroponic growing systems. Our utility patents provide protection generally extending to 20 years from the date of filing, and many of our patents will continue well into the next decade. We also hold exclusive and non-exclusive patent licenses and supply arrangements, permitting the use and sale of additional patented fertilizers, pesticides, electrical and mechanical devices. Although our portfolio of trade secrets, patents and patent licenses is important to our success, no single trade secret, patent or group of related patents, alone, is considered critical to the operation of any of our business segments or the business as a whole.
Seasonality and Backlog
Our North America consumer lawn and garden business is highly seasonal, with approximately 75% of our annual net sales occurring in our second and third fiscal quarters combined. Our annual sales for this business are further concentrated in our second and third fiscal quarters by retailers who rely on our ability to deliver products closer to when consumers buy our products, thereby reducing retailers’ pre-season inventories.
We anticipate significant orders for the upcoming spring season will start to be received late in the winter and continue through the spring season. Historically, substantially all orders have been received and shipped within the same fiscal year with minimal carryover of open orders at the end of the fiscal year.
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Significant Customers
Home Depot and Lowe’s are our two largest customers and are the only customers that individually represent more than 10% of reported consolidated net sales during any of the three most recent fiscal years. During fiscal 2020, we experienced increased demand for many of our products, especially our soils, fertilizer, grass seed, controls and plant food products, in response to COVID-19. This increased demand has driven an increase in sales and profits that were not previously projected for the fiscal year. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately impact our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows depends on future developments that are highly uncertain, rapidly evolving and difficult to predict at this time. Depending on the length and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may experience an increase or decrease in future customer orders driven by volatility in retail foot traffic, consumer shopping and consumption behavior. For additional details regarding significant customers, see “ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS — Because of the concentration of our sales to a small number of retail customers, the loss of one or more of, or a significant reduction in orders from, our top customers could adversely affect our financial results” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and “NOTE 21.  SEGMENT INFORMATION” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Competitive Marketplace
The markets in which we sell our products are highly competitive. We compete primarily on the basis of brand strength, product innovation, product quality, product performance, advertising, value, supply chain competency, field sales support, in-store sales support and the strength of our relationships with major retailers and distributors.
In the lawn and garden, pest control and indoor gardening and hydroponic markets, our products compete against private-label as well as branded products. Primary competitors include Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc., Central Garden & Pet Company, Enforcer Products, Inc., Kellogg Garden Products, Oldcastle Retail, Inc., Lebanon Seaboard Corporation, Reckitt Benckiser Group plc, FoxFarm Soil & Fertilizer Company, Nanolux Technology, Inc., Sun Gro Horticulture, Inc., Advanced Nutrients, Ltd. and Hydrofarm, LLC. In addition, we face competition from smaller regional competitors who operate in many of the areas where we compete.
In Canada, we face competition in the lawn and garden market from Premier Tech Ltd. and a variety of local companies including private label brands.
Research and Development
We continually invest in research and development, both in the laboratory and at the consumer level, to improve our products, manufacturing processes, packaging and delivery systems. Spending on research and development was $39.7 million, $39.6 million and $42.5 million in fiscal 2020, fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2018, respectively, including product registration costs of $11.0 million, $11.0 million and $11.4 million, respectively. In addition to the benefits of our own research and development, we actively seek ways to leverage the research and development activities of our suppliers and other business partners.
Regulatory Considerations
Local, state, federal and foreign laws and regulations affect the manufacture, sale, distribution and application of our products in several ways. For example, in the United States, all pesticide products must comply with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”), and most require registration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the “U.S. EPA”) and similar state agencies before they can be sold or distributed. Fertilizer and growing media products are subject to state and foreign labeling regulations. In addition to the regulations already described, federal, state and foreign agencies regulate the disposal, transport, handling and storage of waste, remediation of contaminated sites, air and water discharges from our facilities, and workplace health and safety. Our grass seed products are regulated by the Federal Seed Act and various state regulations.
In addition, the use of certain pesticide and fertilizer products is regulated by various local, state, federal and foreign environmental and public health agencies. These regulations may include requirements that only certified or professional users apply the product or that certain products be used only on certain types of locations (such as “not for use on sod farms or golf courses”), may require users to post notices on properties to which products have been or will be applied, may require notification to individuals in the vicinity that products will be applied in the future or may ban the use of certain ingredients or categories of products altogether.
State, federal and foreign authorities generally require growing media facilities to obtain permits (sometimes on an annual basis) in order to harvest peat and to discharge storm water run-off or water pumped from peat deposits. The permits typically specify the condition in which the property must be left after the peat is fully harvested, with the residual use typically being natural wetland habitats combined with open water areas. We are generally required by these permits to limit our harvesting and to restore the property consistent with the intended residual use. In some locations, these facilities have been required to create water retention ponds to control the sediment content of discharged water.
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For more information regarding how compliance with local, state, federal and foreign laws and regulations may affect us, see “ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS — Compliance with environmental and other public health regulations or changes in such regulations or regulatory enforcement priorities could increase our costs of doing business or limit our ability to market all of our products” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Regulatory Matters
We are subject to various environmental proceedings, the majority of which are for site remediation. At September 30, 2020, $4.2 million was accrued for such environmental matters. During fiscal 2020, fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2018, we expensed $0.5 million, $1.4 million and $1.6 million, respectively, for such environmental matters. We had no material capital expenditures during the last three fiscal years related to environmental or regulatory matters.
Human Capital
We believe our culture and commitment to our associates provides unique value to our Company and its shareholders. Every associate, and every job, is important to our success and helping us achieve our purpose. We seek to create an environment that values the health, safety and wellness of our teams, and we work to equip them with the knowledge and skills to serve our business and develop in their careers.
As of September 30, 2020, we employed 5,932 employees. During peak sales and production periods in fiscal 2020, our personnel (all approximate) numbered 7,800 comprised of 6,600 associates including seasonal associates with the remaining 1,200 consisting of temporary labor. During fiscal 2020, we employed a total of 2,659 full-time and seasonal in-store associates within the United States to help our retail partners merchandise their lawn and garden departments directly to consumers of our products.
We foster a safe, healthy and inclusive workplace culture that permits all associates to thrive. This means cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace that reflects the communities where we operate. We utilize engagement surveys to develop action plans, invite external thought leaders to speak on topics of importance and provide forums for associates to dialogue with leadership and develop together. In addition, our leadership team also holds regular town hall meetings to share and receive information with our associates.
Employee Resource Groups
Our Employee Resource Groups (“ERGs”) are voluntary, associate-led groups usually formed by people with a common affinity such as gender, race, national origin, sexual orientation, military status or other attributes. Each ERG establishes a mission to positively impact the business. ERGs are open to any associate regardless of race, national origin or other demographics. Our ERGs consist of the Scotts Women’s Network, the Scotts Black Employees Network, the Scotts Veterans Network, the Scotts Young Professionals and Scotts GroPride.
Diversity
We value our associates’ diversity from gender, race and sexuality to thoughts, interests, languages and beliefs. We encourage associates to leverage their varied life experiences to build a strong organization.
Training and Professional Development
Training is an integral part of developing and retaining our associates and creating a culture of leadership within the Company. As part of our standard onboarding program, associates take more than 10 hours of training covering our commitment to leadership, ethics and our values. We also train our associates on important environmental health and safety topics to help ensure we protect our people and our environment as we operate our business. Associates are encouraged to participate in a variety of Company provided learning resources including: online business skills courses; onsite classroom events; professional development events; external training programs based on individual needs; business-led enterprise leader learning events; and a tuition assistance program.
Compensation and Benefits
Our commitment to our associates starts with benefit and compensation programs that value the contributions our associates make and offers physical, financial and personal health programs to associates and their families. We recognize financial stability is a critical component to our associates’ well-being. In addition to competitive pay, we offer an industry-leading 401(k) match and other performance-based financial programs for our associates who are not incentive-eligible. Our physical health programs, like our medical and dental coverage, help our associates to feel their best on the job and at home. Associates and their families at our Marysville location can utilize of our wellness center and we reimburse fitness club memberships for associates at other locations. A newly launched cancer support program provides associates and their families access to resources to help them through the cancer experience as a patient or caregiver.
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Specific examples of our commitment to our associates include:
Our decision to allocate of a percentage of the savings from the 2019 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with associates by increasing our 401(k) company match. Our 401(k) participation rate at the end of fiscal 2020 was 93% for our full-time non-seasonal associates.
We established an annual 401(k) profit-sharing matching program whereby if we reach or exceed profitability targets in a given year, certain U.S. associates not eligible for annual bonuses will receive a 401(k) profit-sharing matching contribution early the following year.
We make ownership of Company stock a reality for as many of our associates as possible through our Discounted Stock Purchase Program (“DSPP”). The DSPP provides a unique opportunity for our associates to buy our Common Shares at a 15% discount – one of the most generous discounts in the industry.
Health and Safety
We have several health and safety programs in place to help protect our associates. Our Environmental Health and Safety (“EHS”) management system is one tool that we use to promote the health and safety of our employees. We have a behavioral based safety program where our associates can submit concerns over unsafe conditions or share feedback when they observe unsafe work behaviors. We are focused on tracking and improving the industrial hygiene at our plants. This includes identifying opportunities to reduce workplace hazards and potential exposures in the work environment per Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) standards. The Centennial plant in Vancouver, Washington, which opened in 2018, provides a cool, well-ventilated working environment filled with natural light that associates report contributes positively to their well-being. We are embarking on a multi-year capital improvement project at our largest manufacturing facility in Marysville, Ohio. Upgrades made will support the Company as it continues to grow while also providing for the health and safety of our frontline associates.
Information Systems
We understand the critical nature of measurable data and insights from a human capital perspective. We made the decision to leverage a cloud-based human capital management software solution that unifies our wide range of human relations functionality onto one single platform. This allows support for the entire enterprise with qualitative and quantitative analytics specific to associate transactions, processes and programs, thereby creating a culture where data and analytics are the norm.
Additional information regarding our human capital initiatives can be found under the “People” section of our 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report which can be found at https://scottsmiraclegro.com/environmental-social-and-governance/. The contents of our corporate website are not incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K or in any other report or document we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).
Environmental, Social and Governance
All of our stakeholders are essential to our business – shareholders, customers, suppliers, employees, communities as well as the environment and society. We are working to make our workforce more inclusive, our business more sustainable, and our communities more engaged by maintaining strong environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) practices.
In fiscal 2020, we demonstrated our ongoing ESG commitment by publishing our ninth Corporate Responsibility Report, prepared in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (“GRI”) Standards: Core option. This report provides detailed information regarding our ESG strategy, focus areas and governance structure. The Company’s ESG focus areas are Product Stewardship and Safety, Operations and Supply Chain, Associate Engagement and Wellness, Community Engagement and Governance and Transparency. The Company is developing a regime for benchmarking, goal setting and continuous improvement around these focus areas.
In addition, we published several ESG-related policies and statements on our corporate website, which can be found at https://scottsmiraclegro.com/environmental-social-and-governance/ (this uniform resource locator, or URL, is an inactive textual reference only and is not intended to incorporate our website into this Annual Report on Form 10-K). These policies and statements address environmental, health and safety and human rights concerns. Further ESG initiatives in fiscal 2020 included responding to the Carbon Disclosure Project’s climate questionnaire and participation in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index annual benchmarking survey.
General Information
We maintain a website at http://investor.scotts.com (this uniform resource locator, or URL, is an inactive textual reference only and is not intended to incorporate our website into this Annual Report on Form 10-K). We file reports with the SEC and make available, free of charge, on or through our website, our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or
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15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, as well as our proxy and information statements, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC.

ITEM 1A.    RISK FACTORS
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the exhibits hereto and the information incorporated by reference herein, as well as our 2020 Annual Report to Shareholders (our “2020 Annual Report”), contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, which are subject to risks and uncertainties. Information regarding activities, events and developments that we expect or anticipate will or may occur in the future, including, but not limited to, information relating to our future growth and profitability targets and strategies designed to increase total shareholder value, are forward-looking statements based on management’s estimates, assumptions and projections. Forward-looking statements also include, but are not limited to, statements regarding our future economic and financial condition and results of operations, the plans and objectives of management and our assumptions regarding our performance and such plans and objectives, as well as the amount and timing of repurchases of our Common Shares or other uses of cash flows. Forward-looking statements generally can be identified through the use of words such as “guidance,” “outlook,” “projected,” “believe,” “target,” “predict,” “estimate,” “forecast,” “strategy,” “may,” “goal,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “plan,” “foresee,” “likely,” “will,” “should” and other similar words and variations.
Forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and our 2020 Annual Report are predictions only and actual results could differ materially from management’s expectations due to a variety of factors, including those described below. All forward-looking statements attributable to us or persons working on our behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by such risk factors.
The forward-looking statements that we make in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and our 2020 Annual Report are based on management’s current views and assumptions regarding future events and speak only as of their dates. We disclaim any obligation to update developments of these risk factors or to announce publicly any revisions to any of the forward-looking statements that we make, or to make corrections to reflect future events or developments, except as required by the federal securities laws.
Compliance with environmental and other public health regulations or changes in such regulations or regulatory enforcement priorities could increase our costs of doing business or limit our ability to market all of our products.
Local, state, federal and foreign laws and regulations relating to environmental matters affect us in several ways. In the United States, all pesticide products must comply with FIFRA and most must be registered with the U.S. EPA and similar state agencies before they can be sold or distributed. Our inability to obtain or maintain such registrations, or the cancellation of any such registration of our products, could have an adverse effect on our business, the severity of which would depend on a variety of factors, including the product(s) involved, whether another product could be substituted and whether our competitors were similarly affected. We attempt to anticipate regulatory developments and maintain registrations of, and access to, substitute active ingredients, but there can be no assurance that we will be able to avoid or reduce these risks. In addition, in Canada, regulations have been adopted by several provinces that substantially restrict our ability to market and sell certain of our consumer pesticide products.
Under the Food Quality Protection Act, enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1996, food-use pesticides are evaluated to determine whether there is reasonable certainty that no harm will result from the cumulative effects of pesticide exposures. Under this Act, the U.S. EPA is evaluating the cumulative and aggregate risks from dietary and non-dietary exposures to pesticides. The pesticides in our products, certain of which may be also used on crops processed into various food products, are manufactured by independent third parties and continue to be evaluated by the U.S. EPA as part of this exposure risk assessment. The U.S. EPA or the third-party registrant may decide that a pesticide we use in our products will be limited or made unavailable to us. We cannot predict the outcome or the severity of the effect of these continuing evaluations.
In addition, the use of certain pesticide and fertilizer products (including pesticide products that contain glyphosate) is regulated by various local, state, federal and foreign environmental and public health agencies. These regulations may, among other things, ban the use of certain ingredients contained in such products or require (i) that only certified or professional users apply the product, (ii) that certain products be used only on certain types of locations, (iii) users to post notices on properties to which products have been or will be applied, and (iv) notification to individuals in the vicinity that products will be applied in the future. Even if we are able to comply with all such regulations and obtain all necessary registrations and licenses, we cannot provide assurance that our products, particularly pesticide products, will not cause or be alleged to cause injury to the environment or to people under all circumstances, particularly when used improperly or contrary to instructions. The costs of compliance, remediation or products liability have adversely affected operating results in the past and could materially adversely affect future quarterly or annual operating results.
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Our products and operations may be subject to increased regulatory and environmental scrutiny in jurisdictions in which we do business. For example, we are subject to regulations relating to our harvesting of peat for our growing media business which has come under increasing regulatory and environmental scrutiny. In the United States, state regulations frequently require us to limit our harvesting and to restore the property to an agreed-upon condition. In some locations, we have been required to create water retention ponds to control the sediment content of discharged water. In Canada, our peat extraction efforts are also the subject of regulation.
In addition to the regulations already described, local, state, federal and foreign agencies regulate the disposal, transport, handling and storage of waste, remediation of contaminated sites, air and water discharges from our facilities, and workplace health and safety.
Under certain environmental laws, we may be liable for the costs of investigation and remediation of the presence of certain regulated materials, as well as related costs of investigation and remediation of damage to natural resources, at various properties, including our current and former properties as well as offsite waste handling or disposal sites that we have used. Liability may be imposed upon us without regard to whether we knew of or caused the presence of such materials and, under certain circumstances, on a joint and several basis. There can be no assurances that the presence of such regulated materials at any such locations, or locations that we may acquire in the future, will not result in liability to us under such laws or expose us to third-party actions such as tort suits based on alleged conduct or environmental conditions.
The adequacy of our current non-FIFRA compliance-related environmental accruals and future provisions depends upon our operating in substantial compliance with applicable environmental and public health laws and regulations, as well as the assumptions that we have both identified all of the significant sites that must be remediated and that there are no significant conditions of potential contamination that are unknown to us. A significant change in the facts and circumstances surrounding these assumptions or in current enforcement policies or requirements, or a finding that we are not in substantial compliance with applicable environmental and public health laws and regulations, could have a material adverse effect on future environmental capital expenditures and other environmental expenses, as well as our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Damage to our reputation or the reputation of our products or products we market on behalf of third parties could have an adverse effect on our business.
Maintaining our strong reputation and a strong reputation of our products and products we market on behalf of third parties with both consumers and our retail customers is a key component in our success. Product recalls, our inability to ship, sell or transport affected products, governmental actions, investigations or other legal proceedings, and adverse media commentary may harm our reputation and hinder the acceptance by consumers of our products or products we market on behalf of third parties (including certain of Monsanto’s consumer Roundup® branded products). In addition to effects on consumer behavior, retailers could decide to stop carrying those products which may materially and adversely affect our business operations, reduce sales and increase costs.
In addition, notwithstanding the weight of scientific evidence supporting the safety of these products, claims or allegations that our products or products we market on behalf of third parties are not safe could adversely affect us and contribute to the risk we will be subjected to legal action.  We manufacture a variety of products, such as fertilizers, growing media, pesticides, and herbicides, and also serve as marketer for certain of Monsanto’s consumer Roundup® branded products.  On occasion, allegations are made that some of these products have failed to perform up to expectations, are inappropriately labeled, contain insufficient instructions or have caused damage or injury to individuals or property. Public commentary by media agencies or non-governmental organizations and/or litigation-related assertions, even when such commentary or assertions may be inaccurate, may lead consumers or our retail customers to believe that certain of our products or products we market on behalf of third parties may be unsafe.  For example, notwithstanding the weight of scientific evidence and regulatory determinations supporting the safety of glyphosate, recent litigation involving Monsanto’s consumer Roundup® non-selective glyphosate-containing weedkiller products has led to negative publicity and consumer sentiment with respect to these products and Monsanto’s Roundup® brand.  As another example, based on reports of contamination at a third-party supplier’s vermiculite mine, the public may perceive that some of our products manufactured in the past using vermiculite are or may be contaminated in a way that makes them unsafe.
Even when inaccurate or not supported by the scientific evidence, claims and allegations that our products or products we market on behalf of third parties are not safe could impair our reputation, the reputation of our products or the reputation of products we market on behalf of third parties, involve us in litigation, damage our brand names and have a material adverse effect on our business.
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Our business could be negatively impacted by corporate citizenship and ESG matters and/or our reporting of such matters.
There is an increasing focus from certain investors, customers, consumers, employees, and other stakeholders concerning corporate citizenship and sustainability matters. From time to time, we communicate certain initiatives, including goals, regarding environmental matters, responsible sourcing and social investments, including pursuant to our Corporate Responsibility Report. We could fail, or be perceived to fail, in our achievement of such initiatives or goals, or we could fail in fully and accurately reporting our progress on such initiatives and goals. In addition, we could be criticized for the scope of such initiatives or goals or perceived as not acting responsibly in connection with these matters. Our business could be negatively impacted by such matters. Any such matters, or related corporate citizenship and sustainability matters, could have a material adverse effect on our business.
The effects of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and any possible recurrence of other similar types of pandemics, or any other widespread public health emergencies, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and/or cash flows.
The World Health Organization recognized COVID-19 as a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020 and as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. Public health responses have included national pandemic preparedness and response plans, travel restrictions, quarantines, curfews, event postponements and cancellations and closures of facilities including local schools and businesses. The global pandemic and actions taken to contain COVID-19 have adversely affected the global economy and financial markets.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have implemented additional measures intended to both protect the health and safety of our employees and maintain our ability to provide products to our customers, including (i) requiring a significant part of our workforce to work from home, (ii) monitoring our employees for COVID-19 symptoms, (iii) making additional personal protective equipment available to our operations team, (iv) requiring all manufacturing and warehousing associates to take their temperatures before beginning a shift, (v) modifying work methods and schedules of our manufacturing and field associates to create distance or add barriers between associates, consumers and others, (vi) expanding cleaning efforts at our operation centers, (vii) modifying attendance policies so that associates may elect to stay home if they have symptoms, (viii) prioritizing production for goods that are more essential to our customers and (ix) implementing an interim premium pay allowance for associates in our field sales force as well as those still working in manufacturing or distribution centers. While we believe that these efforts should enable us to maintain our operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, we can provide no assurance that we will be able to do so as a result of the unpredictability of the ultimate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the responses of local, state, federal and foreign governmental authorities to the pandemic.
The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately impact our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows depends on future developments that are highly uncertain, rapidly evolving and difficult to predict at this time, including:
the duration, spread and intensity of the pandemic;
the availability and effectiveness of any vaccines or alternative treatments;
the ability of our suppliers, contract manufacturers, contractors and third-party logistics providers to meet their obligations to us (including supplying us with essential raw materials, components and finished products, or shipping finished goods to customers) on a timely basis and at previously anticipated costs without significant disruption, and our ability to identify alternative sources of materials and services, if necessary;
our ability to continue to meet our customers’ needs in the event of the suspension or interruption of essential elements of our manufacturing and supply arrangements and activities such as the continued availability of raw materials, transportation, labor and production capacity and at previously anticipated costs;
the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on our customers (including retailers and distributors), including their ability to remain open, continue to sell our products, pay for the products purchased from us on a timely basis or at all and collect payment from their customers;
the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the financial and credit markets and economic activity generally, including our ability to maintain compliance with financial covenants, access lending, capital markets, and other sources of liquidity when needed on reasonable terms or at all; and
the demand for our products, which may be impacted by, among other things, the temporary inability of consumers to purchase our products due to illness, quarantine, travel restrictions or financial hardship, shifts in short- or long-term consumer behavior including moving from one or more of our more discretionary and
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profitable products to less profitable products, or stockpiling and similar pantry-loading activity that could negatively impact future demand.
Negative developments with respect to any of these items could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and/or cash flows.
Certain of our products may be purchased for use in new and emerging industries or segments and/or be subject to varying, inconsistent, and rapidly changing laws, regulations, administrative practices, enforcement approaches, judicial interpretations, and consumer perceptions.
We sell products, including hydroponic gardening products, that end users may purchase for use in new and emerging industries or segments, including the growing of cannabis, that may not grow or achieve market acceptance in a manner that we can predict. The demand for these products depends on the uncertain growth of these industries or segments. 
In addition, we sell products that end users may purchase for use in industries or segments, including the growing of cannabis, that are subject to varying, inconsistent, and rapidly changing laws, regulations, administrative practices, enforcement approaches, judicial interpretations, and consumer perceptions.  For example, certain countries and 36 U.S. states have adopted frameworks that authorize, regulate, and tax the cultivation, processing, sale, and use of cannabis for medicinal and/or non-medicinal use, while the U.S. Controlled Substances Act and the laws of other U.S. states prohibit growing cannabis.
Our gardening products, including our hydroponic gardening products, are multi-purpose products designed and intended for growing a wide range of plants and are generally purchased from retailers by end users who may grow any variety of plants, including cannabis.  Although the demand for our products may be negatively impacted depending on how laws, regulations, administrative practices, enforcement approaches, judicial interpretations, and consumer perceptions develop, we cannot reasonably predict the nature of such developments or the effect, if any, that such developments could have on our business.
If we underestimate or overestimate demand for our products and do not maintain appropriate inventory levels, our net sales and/or working capital could be negatively impacted.
Our ability to manage our inventory levels to meet our customers’ demand for our products is important for our business. Our production levels and inventory management goals for our products are based on estimates of demand, taking into account production capacity, timing of shipments, and inventory levels. If we overestimate or underestimate both channel and retail demand for any of our products during a given season, we may not maintain appropriate inventory levels, which could negatively impact our net sales, profit margins, net earnings, and/or working capital, hinder our ability to meet customer demand, result in loss of customers, or cause us to incur excess and obsolete inventory charges.
Our marketing activities may not be successful.
We invest substantial resources in advertising, consumer promotions and other marketing activities to maintain, extend and expand our brand image. There can be no assurances that our marketing strategies will be effective or that the amount we invest in advertising activities will result in a corresponding increase in sales of our products. If our marketing initiatives are not successful, including our ability to leverage new media such as digital media and social networks to reach existing and potential customers, we will have incurred significant expenses without the benefit of higher revenues.
Our success depends upon the retention and availability of key personnel and the effective succession of senior management.
Our success largely depends on the performance of our management team and other key personnel. Our future operations could be harmed if we are unable to attract and retain talented, highly qualified senior executives and other key personnel. In addition, if we are unable to effectively provide for the succession of senior management, including our chief executive officer, our business, prospects, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows may be materially adversely affected.
Disruptions in availability or increases in the prices of raw materials or fuel could adversely affect our results of operations.
We source many of our commodities and other raw materials on a global basis. The general availability and price of those raw materials can be affected by numerous forces beyond our control, including political instability, trade restrictions and other government regulations, duties and tariffs, price controls, changes in currency exchange rates and weather.
A significant disruption in the availability of any of our key raw materials could negatively impact our business. In addition, increases in the prices of key commodities and other raw materials could adversely affect our ability to manage our cost structure. Market conditions may limit our ability to raise selling prices to offset increases in our raw material costs. Our proprietary technologies can limit our ability to locate or utilize alternative inputs for certain products. For certain inputs, new sources of supply may have to be qualified under regulatory standards, which can require additional investment and delay bringing a product to market.
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We utilize hedge agreements periodically to fix the prices of a portion of our urea, resin and fuel needs. The hedge agreements are designed to mitigate the earnings and cash flow fluctuations associated with the costs of urea, resin and fuel. In periods of declining prices, utilizing these hedge agreements may effectively increase our expenditures for these raw materials.
Our business is subject to risks associated with sourcing and manufacturing outside of the U.S. and risks from tariffs and/or international trade wars.
The Company imports many of its raw materials and finished goods from countries outside of the United States, including but not limited to China. Our import operations are subject to complex customs laws, regulations, tax requirements, and trade regulations, such as tariffs set by governments, either through mutual agreements or bilateral actions. Recent changes in U.S. tariffs on goods imported into the U.S., particularly goods from China, have increased the cost of goods purchased by the Company. Additional tariffs could be imposed by the U.S. with relatively short notice to the Company. These governmental actions could have, and any similar future actions may have, a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. The overall effect of these risks is that our costs may increase, which in turn may result in lower profitability if we are unable to offset such increases through higher prices, and/or that we may suffer a decline in sales if our customers do not accept price increases.
The highly competitive nature of our markets could adversely affect our ability to maintain or grow revenues.
Each of our operating segments participates in markets that are highly competitive. Our products compete against national and regional products and private label products produced by various suppliers. Many of our competitors sell their products at prices lower than ours. Our most price sensitive customers may trade down to lower priced products during challenging economic times or if current economic conditions worsen. We compete primarily on the basis of product innovation, product quality, product performance, value, brand strength, supply chain competency, field sales support, in-store sales support, the strength of our relationships with major retailers and advertising. Some of our competitors have significant financial resources. The strong competition that we face in all of our markets may prevent us from achieving our revenue goals, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Our inability to continue to develop and grow brands with leading market positions, maintain our relationships with key retailers and deliver high quality products on a reliable basis at competitive prices could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We may not successfully develop new product lines and products or improve existing product lines and products.
Our future success depends on creating and successfully competing in markets for our products including our ability to improve our existing product lines and products and to develop and manufacture new product lines and products to meet evolving consumer needs. We cannot be certain that we will be successful in developing and manufacturing new product lines and products or product innovations which satisfy consumer needs or achieve market acceptance, or that we will develop, manufacture and market new product lines and products or product innovations in a timely manner. If we fail to successfully develop and manufacture new product lines and products or product innovations, our ability to maintain or grow our market share may be adversely affected, which in turn could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, the development and introduction of new product lines and products and product innovations require substantial research and development expenditures, which we may be unable to recoup if such new product lines, products or innovations do not achieve market acceptance.
Many of the products we manufacture and market contain active ingredients that are subject to regulatory approval. The need to obtain such approval could delay the launch of new products or product innovations that contain active ingredients or otherwise prevent us from developing and manufacturing certain products and product innovations.
If we are unable to effectively execute our e-commerce business, our reputation and operating results may be harmed.
We sell certain of our products over the Internet through our online store, which represents a growing percentage of our overall net sales. The success of our e-commerce business depends on our investment in this platform, consumer preferences and buying trends relating to e-commerce, and our ability to both maintain the continuous operation of our online store and our fulfillment operations and provide a shopping experience that will generate orders and return visits to our online store.
We are also vulnerable to certain additional risks and uncertainties associated with our e-commerce business, including: changes in required technology interfaces; website downtime and other technical failures; costs and technical issues associated with website software, systems and technology investments and upgrades; data and system security; system failures, disruptions and breaches and the costs to address and remedy such failures, disruptions or breaches; computer viruses; and changes in and compliance with applicable federal and state regulations. In addition, our efforts to remain competitive with technology trends, including the use of new or improved technology, creative user interfaces and other e-commerce marketing tools such as paid search and mobile applications, among others, may increase our costs and may not increase sales or attract consumers. Our failure to successfully respond to these risks and uncertainties might adversely affect the sales of our e-commerce business, as well as damage our reputation and brands.
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Additionally, the success of our e-commerce business and the satisfaction of our consumers depend on their timely receipt of our products. The efficient delivery of our products to our consumers requires that our distribution centers have adequate capacity to support the current level of e-commerce operations and any anticipated increased levels that may occur as a result of the growth of our e-commerce business. If we encounter difficulties with our distribution centers, or if any distribution centers shut down for any reason, including as a result of fire or other natural disaster, we could face shortages of inventory, resulting in out of stock conditions in our online store, and we could incur significantly higher costs and longer lead times associated with distributing our products to our consumers and experience dissatisfaction from our consumers.  Any of these issues could have a material adverse effect on our business and harm our reputation.
Because of the concentration of our sales to a small number of retail customers, the loss of one or more of, or a significant reduction in orders from, our top customers could adversely affect our financial results.
Our top two retail customers together accounted for 44% of our fiscal 2020 net sales and 58% of our outstanding accounts receivable as of September 30, 2020. The loss of, or reduction in orders from, our top two retail customers, Home Depot and Lowe’s, or any other major customer for any reason (including, for example, changes in a retailer’s strategy, claims or allegations that our products or products we market on behalf of third parties are unsafe, a decline in consumer demand, regulatory, legal or other external pressures or a change in marketing strategy) could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, as could customer disputes regarding shipments, fees, merchandise condition or related matters. Our inability to collect accounts receivable from one of our major customers, or a significant deterioration in the financial condition of one of these customers, including a bankruptcy filing or a liquidation, could also have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We do not have long-term sales agreements with, or other contractual assurances as to future sales to, any of our major retail customers. In addition, continued consolidation in the retail industry has resulted in an increasingly concentrated retail base, and as a result, we are significantly dependent upon sales to key retailers who have significant bargaining strength. To the extent such concentration continues to occur, our net sales and income from operations may be increasingly sensitive to deterioration in the financial condition of, or other adverse developments involving our relationship with, one or more of our key customers. In addition, our business may be negatively affected by changes in the policies of our retailers, such as inventory destocking, limitations on access to shelf space, price demands and other conditions.
Our reliance on third-party manufacturers could harm our business.
We rely on third parties to manufacture certain of our products. This reliance generates a number of risks, including decreased control over the production process, which could lead to production delays or interruptions and inferior product quality control. In addition, performance problems at these third-party manufacturers could lead to cost overruns, shortages or other problems, which could increase our costs of production or result in delivery delays to our customers.
In addition, if one or more of our third-party manufacturers becomes insolvent or unwilling to continue to manufacture products of acceptable quality, at acceptable costs and in a timely manner, our ability to deliver products to our retail customers could be significantly impaired. Substitute manufacturers may not be available or, if available, may be unwilling or unable to manufacture the products we need on acceptable terms. Moreover, if customer demand for our products increases, we may be unable to secure sufficient additional capacity from our current third-party manufacturers, or others, on commercially reasonable terms, or at all.
Our reliance on a limited base of suppliers may result in disruptions to our business and adversely affect our financial results.
Although we continue to implement risk mitigation strategies for single-source suppliers, we also rely on a limited number of suppliers for certain of our raw materials, product components and other necessary supplies, including certain active ingredients used in our products. If we are unable to maintain supplier arrangements and relationships, if we are unable to contract with suppliers at the quantity and quality levels needed for our business, or if any of our key suppliers becomes insolvent or experience other financial distress, we could experience disruptions in production, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
A significant interruption in the operation of our or our suppliers’ facilities could impact our capacity to produce products and service our customers, which could adversely affect revenues and earnings.
Operations at our and our suppliers’ facilities are subject to disruption for a variety of reasons, including fire, flooding or other natural disasters, disease outbreaks or pandemics, acts of war, terrorism, government shut-downs and work stoppages. A significant interruption in the operation of our or our suppliers’ facilities could significantly impact our capacity to produce products and service our customers in a timely manner, which could have a material adverse effect on our revenues, earnings and financial position. This is especially true for those products that we manufacture at a limited number of facilities, such as our fertilizer and liquid products.
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Climate change and unfavorable weather conditions could adversely impact financial results.
The issue of climate change is receiving ever increasing worldwide attention. The possible effects, as described in various public accounts, could include changes in rainfall patterns, water shortages, changing storm patterns and intensities, and changing temperature levels that could adversely impact our costs and business operations and the supply and demand for weather sensitive products such as fertilizer, garden soils and pesticide products. In addition, fluctuating climatic conditions may result in unpredictable modifications in the manner in which consumers garden or their attitudes towards gardening, making it more difficult for us to provide appropriate products to appropriate markets in time to meet consumer demand.
Because of the uncertainty of weather volatility related to climate change and any resulting unfavorable weather conditions, we cannot predict its potential impact on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Our hedging arrangements expose us to certain counterparty risks.
In addition to commodity hedge agreements, we utilize interest rate swap agreements to manage the net interest rate risk inherent in our sources of borrowing as well as foreign currency forward contracts to manage the exchange rate risk associated with certain intercompany loans with foreign subsidiaries and other approved transactional currency exposures. Utilizing these hedge agreements exposes us to certain counterparty risks. The failure of one or more of the counterparties to fulfill their obligations under the hedge agreements, whether as a result of weakening financial stability or otherwise, could adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
Our indebtedness could limit our flexibility and adversely affect our financial condition.
As of September 30, 2020, we had $1,531.2 million of debt and $1,415.7 million in available borrowings under our credit facility. Our inability to meet restrictive financial and non-financial covenants associated with that debt, or to generate sufficient cash flow to repay maturing debt, could adversely affect our financial condition. For example, our debt level could:
make it more difficult for us to satisfy our obligations with respect to our indebtedness;
make us more vulnerable to general adverse economic and industry conditions;
require us to dedicate a substantial portion of cash flows from operating activities to payments on our indebtedness, which would reduce the cash flows available to fund working capital, capital expenditures, advertising, research and development efforts and other general corporate requirements;
limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the industry in which we operate;
limit our ability to borrow additional funds;
expose us to risks inherent in interest rate fluctuations because some of our borrowings are at variable rates of interest, which could result in higher interest expense in the event of increases in interest rates; and
place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less debt.
Our ability to make payments on or to refinance our indebtedness, fund planned capital expenditures and acquisitions, pay dividends and make repurchases of our Common Shares will depend on our ability to generate cash in the future. This, to some extent, is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory and other factors that are beyond our control. We cannot provide any assurance that our business will generate sufficient cash flow from operating activities or that future borrowings will be available to us under our credit facility in amounts sufficient to enable us to pay our indebtedness or to fund our other liquidity needs.
In addition, our credit facility and the indentures governing our 5.250% Senior Notes due 2026 (the “5.250% Senior Notes”) and our 4.500% Senior Notes due 2029 (the “4.500% Senior Notes”) contain restrictive covenants and cross-default provisions. Our credit facility also requires us to maintain specified financial ratios. Our ability to comply with those covenants and satisfy those financial ratios can be affected by events beyond our control including prevailing economic, financial and industry conditions. A breach of any of those financial ratio covenants or other covenants could result in a default. In the event of such default, the holders of such indebtedness could elect to declare all the funds borrowed thereunder to be due and payable, together with accrued and unpaid interest, and could cease making further loans and institute foreclosure proceedings against our assets. We cannot provide any assurance that the holders of such indebtedness would waive a default or that we could pay the indebtedness in full if it were accelerated.
Subject to compliance with certain covenants under our credit facility and the indentures governing the 5.250% Senior Notes and the 4.500% Senior Notes, we may incur additional debt in the future. If we incur additional debt, the risks described above could intensify.
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Our lending activities may adversely impact our business and results of operations.
As part of our strategic initiatives, we have provided financing to buyers of certain business assets we have sold and to certain strategic partners. Our exposure to credit losses on these financing balances will depend on the financial condition of these counterparties and macroeconomic factors beyond our control, such as deteriorating conditions in the world economy or in the industries served by the borrowers. While we monitor our exposure, there can be no guarantee we will be able to successfully mitigate all of these risks. Credit losses, if significant, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Changes in credit ratings issued by nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (NRSROs) could adversely affect our cost of financing and the market price of our 5.250% Senior Notes and 4.500% Senior Notes.
NRSROs rate the 5.250% Senior Notes, the 4.500% Senior Notes and the Company based on factors that include our operating results, actions that we take, their view of the general outlook for our industry and their view of the general outlook for the economy. Actions taken by the NRSROs can include maintaining, upgrading or downgrading the current rating or placing us on a watch list for possible future downgrading. Downgrading the credit rating of the 5.250% Senior Notes or the 4.500% Senior Notes or placing us on a watch list for possible future downgrading could increase our cost of financing, limit our access to the capital markets and have an adverse effect on the market price of the 5.250% Senior Notes and the 4.500% Senior Notes.
Uncertainty regarding the LIBOR calculation process and potential discontinuance of LIBOR may adversely impact our current or future debt obligations, including under our credit facility, receivables facility and certain hedging arrangements.
Certain of our debt obligations and instruments, including our credit facility, receivables facility and certain hedging arrangements, use the London Inter-Bank Offer Rate (“LIBOR”) as a reference rate for establishing the variable interest rate applicable to such debt obligations and instruments. On July 27, 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that it intends to phase out LIBOR by the end of 2021. It is unclear if at that time LIBOR will cease to exist or if new methods of calculating LIBOR will be established such that it continues to exist after 2021. In addition, the Federal Reserve System, in conjunction with the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, has recommended the replacement of LIBOR with a new index, calculated by short-term repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. Treasury securities, called the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”). At this time, it is not certain that SOFR will attain market traction as a LIBOR replacement.
Additionally, while the expectation is that LIBOR will cease to exist, the future of LIBOR at this time is uncertain. If LIBOR ceases to exist, we may need to renegotiate our credit and receivable facilities since each utilize LIBOR as a reference rate in determining the applicable interest rate under each facility. Our credit facility and receivables facility each specify that if it is not possible to ascertain LIBOR or certain other circumstances exist, we will endeavor to establish with the applicable agent under each facility an alternative rate of interest that gives due consideration to the then prevailing market convention for determining a rate of interest for syndicated credit facilities in the United States at such time, which alternative rate shall not be objected to by a majority of lenders under our credit facility or buyers under our receivables facilities, as applicable, within a specified period of time. If we are not able to agree on an alternative rate of interest under our credit facility, then our indebtedness under the credit facility will bear interest with reference to the alternate base rate, and if we are not able to agree on an alternative rate of interest under our receivables facility, then the indebtedness under the receivables facility will bear interest with reference to our agent’s offered rate on U.S. dollar deposits in the London interbank market.
We have also entered into LIBOR based interest rate swap agreements to manage our exposure to interest rate movements under certain of our variable-rate debt obligations Any replacement of LIBOR as the basis on which interest on our variable-rate debt and/or under our interest rate swaps is calculated may result in interest rates and/or payments that do not directly correlate over time with the interest rates and/or payments that would have been made on our obligations if LIBOR was available in its current form.
The potential effect of the replacement of LIBOR on our cost of capital cannot yet be determined.
Our postretirement-related costs and funding requirements could increase as a result of volatility in the financial markets, changes in interest rates and actuarial assumptions.
We sponsor a number of defined benefit pension plans associated with our U.S. and former international businesses, as well as a postretirement medical plan in the United States for certain retired associates and their dependents. The performance of the financial markets and changes in interest rates impact the funded status of these plans and cause volatility in our postretirement-related costs and future funding requirements. If the financial markets do not provide the expected long-term returns on invested assets, we could be required to make significant pension contributions. Additionally, changes in interest rates and legislation enacted by governmental authorities can impact the timing and amounts of contribution requirements.
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We utilize third-party actuaries to evaluate assumptions used in determining projected benefit obligations and the fair value of plan assets for our pension and other postretirement benefit plans. In the event we determine that our assumptions should be revised, such as the discount rate or expected return on assets, our future pension and postretirement benefit expenses could increase or decrease. The assumptions we use may differ from actual results, which could have a significant impact on our pension and postretirement liabilities and related costs and funding requirements.
Our international operations make us susceptible to the costs and risks associated with operating internationally.
We operate manufacturing, sales and service facilities outside of the United States, particularly in Canada, the Netherlands and China. Accordingly, we are subject to risks associated with operating in foreign countries, including:
fluctuations in currency exchange rates;
limitations on the remittance of dividends and other payments by foreign subsidiaries;
additional costs of compliance with local regulations;
historically, in certain countries, higher rates of inflation than in the United States;
changes in the economic conditions or consumer preferences or demand for our products in these markets;
restrictive actions by multi-national governing bodies, foreign governments or subdivisions thereof;
changes in foreign labor laws and regulations affecting our ability to hire and retain employees;
changes in U.S. and foreign laws regarding trade and investment;
less robust protection of our intellectual property under foreign laws; and
difficulty in obtaining distribution and support for our products.
In addition, our operations outside the United States are subject to the risk of new and different legal and regulatory requirements in local jurisdictions, potential difficulties in staffing and managing local operations and potentially adverse tax consequences. The costs associated with operating our continuing international business could adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows in the future.
Unanticipated changes in our tax provisions, the adoption of new tax legislation or exposure to additional tax liabilities could affect our profitability and cash flows.
We are subject to income and other taxes in the United States federal jurisdiction and various local, state and foreign jurisdictions. Our effective tax rate in the future could be adversely affected by changes to our operating structure, changes in the mix of earnings in countries with differing statutory tax rates, changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets (such as net operating losses and tax credits) and liabilities, changes in tax laws and the discovery of new information in the course of our tax return preparation process. In particular, the carrying value of deferred tax assets, which are predominantly related to our operations in the United States, is dependent on our ability to generate future taxable income of the appropriate character in the relevant jurisdiction.
From time to time, tax proposals are introduced or considered by the U.S. Congress or the legislative bodies in local, state and foreign jurisdictions that could also affect our tax rate, the carrying value of our deferred tax assets, or our tax liabilities. Our tax liabilities are also affected by the amounts we charge for inventory, services, licenses, funding and other items in intercompany transactions. We are subject to ongoing tax audits in various jurisdictions. In connection with these audits (or future audits), tax authorities may disagree with our intercompany charges, cross-jurisdictional transfer pricing or other matters and assess additional taxes. We regularly assess the likely outcomes of our audits in order to determine the appropriateness of our tax provision. As a result, the ultimate resolution of our tax audits, changes in tax laws or tax rates, and the ability to utilize our deferred tax assets could materially affect our tax provision, net income and cash flows in future periods.
Our operations may be impaired if our information technology systems fail to perform adequately or if we are the subject of a data breach or cyber attack.
We rely on information technology systems in order to conduct business, including communicating with employees and our key retail customers, ordering and managing materials from suppliers, shipping products to retail customers and analyzing and reporting results of operations. While we have taken steps to ensure the security of our information technology systems, our systems may nevertheless be vulnerable to computer viruses, security breaches and other disruptions from unauthorized users. If our information technology systems are damaged or cease to function properly for an extended period of time, whether
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as a result of a significant cyber incident or otherwise, our ability to communicate internally as well as with our retail customers could be significantly impaired, which may adversely impact our business.
Additionally, in the normal course of our business, we collect, store and transmit proprietary and confidential information regarding our customers, employees, suppliers and others, including personally identifiable information. An operational failure or breach of security from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats could lead to loss, misuse or unauthorized disclosure of this information about our employees or consumers, which may result in regulatory or other legal proceedings, and have a material adverse effect on our business and reputation. We also may not have the resources or technical sophistication to anticipate or prevent rapidly-evolving types of cyber attacks. Any such attacks or precautionary measures taken to prevent anticipated attacks may result in increasing costs, including costs for additional technologies, training and third party consultants. The losses incurred from a breach of data security and operational failures as well as the precautionary measures required to address this evolving risk may adversely impact our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property and other proprietary rights that are material to our business.
Our ability to compete effectively depends in part on our rights to service marks, trademarks, tradenames and other intellectual property rights we own or license, particularly our registered brand names and issued patents. We have not sought to register every one of our marks either in the United States or in every country in which such mark is used. Furthermore, because of the differences in foreign trademark, patent and other intellectual property or proprietary rights laws, we may not receive the same protection in other countries as we would in the United States with respect to the registered brand names and issued patents we hold. If we are unable to protect our intellectual property, proprietary information and/or brand names, we could suffer a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Litigation may be necessary to enforce our intellectual property rights and protect our proprietary information, or to defend against claims by third parties that our products or services infringe their intellectual property rights. Any litigation or claims brought by or against us could result in substantial costs and diversion of our resources. A successful claim of trademark, patent or other intellectual property infringement against us, or any other successful challenge to the use of our intellectual property, could subject us to damages or prevent us from providing certain products or services, or using certain of our recognized brand names, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In the event the Third Restated Agreement for Monsanto’s consumer Roundup® products terminates or Monsanto’s consumer Roundup® business materially declines, we would lose a substantial source of future earnings and overhead expense absorption.
If we (i) become insolvent, (ii) commit a material breach, material fraud or material willful misconduct under the Third Restated Agreement, (iii) experience a change of control of the Company (subject to certain exceptions), or (iv) impermissibly assign our rights or delegate our obligations under the Third Restated Agreement, Monsanto may terminate the Third Restated Agreement without paying a termination fee to the Company, subject to certain terms and conditions as set forth in the applicable agreements. In addition, if, after January 16, 2021, Program EBIT (as defined in the Third Restated Agreement) falls below $50 million in any program year, Monsanto may terminate the Third Restated Agreement without paying a termination fee to the Company, subject to certain terms and conditions as set forth in the applicable agreements.
Monsanto may also terminate the Third Restated Agreement in the event of (a) a change of control of Monsanto or a sale of the Roundup® business effective at the end of the fifth full year after providing notice of termination, subject to certain terms and conditions as set forth in the applicable agreements, (b) Monsanto’s decision to decommission the permits, licenses and registrations needed for, and the trademarks, trade names, packages, copyrights and designs used in, the sale of the Roundup® products in the lawn and garden market (a “Brand Decommissioning Event”), but, in each case, Monsanto would have to pay a termination fee to the Company.
If circumstances exist or otherwise develop that result in a material decline in Monsanto’s consumer Roundup® business, or in the event of Monsanto’s insolvency or bankruptcy, we would seek to mitigate the impact on us by exercising various rights and remedies under the Third Restated Agreement and applicable law. We cannot, however, provide any assurance that our exercise of such rights or remedies would produce the desired outcomes or that a material decline in Monsanto’s consumer Roundup® business would not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
In the event that the Third Restated Agreement terminates or Monsanto’s consumer Roundup® business materially declines, we would lose all, or a substantial portion, of the significant source of earnings and overhead expense absorption the Third Restated Agreement provides.
For additional information regarding the Third Restated Agreement including certain of our rights and remedies under the Third Restated Agreement, see “NOTE 7. MARKETING AGREEMENT” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
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Hagedorn Partnership, L.P. beneficially owns approximately 25% of our Common Shares and can significantly influence decisions that require the approval of shareholders.
Hagedorn Partnership, L.P. beneficially owned approximately 25% of our outstanding Common Shares on a fully diluted basis as of November 20, 2020. As a result, it has sufficient voting power to significantly influence the election of directors and the approval of other actions requiring the approval of our shareholders, including the entering into of certain business combination transactions. In addition, because of the percentage of ownership and voting concentration in Hagedorn Partnership, L.P., elections of our board of directors will generally be within the control of Hagedorn Partnership, L.P. While all of our shareholders are entitled to vote on matters submitted to our shareholders for approval, the concentration of our Common Shares and voting control presently lies with Hagedorn Partnership, L.P. As such, it would be difficult for shareholders to propose and have approved proposals not supported by Hagedorn Partnership, L.P. Hagedorn Partnership, L.P.’s interests could differ from, or be in conflict with, the interests of other shareholders.
While we have, over the past few years, increased the rate of cash dividends on, and engaged in repurchases of, our Common Shares, any future decisions to reduce or discontinue paying cash dividends to our shareholders or repurchasing our Common Shares pursuant to our previously announced repurchase program could cause the market price for our Common Shares to decline.
Our payment of quarterly cash dividends on and repurchase of our Common Shares pursuant to our stock repurchase program are subject to, among other things, our financial position and results of operations, available cash and cash flow, capital requirements, credit facility provisions and other factors. We have, over the past few years, increased the rate of cash dividends on, and repurchases of, our Common Shares. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, we increased the amount of our quarterly cash dividend by 7% to $0.62 per Common Share. On January 31, 2020, the Scotts Miracle-Gro Board of Directors authorized a new share repurchase program allowing for repurchases of up to $750.0 million of Common Shares from April 30, 2020 through March 25, 2023. The total remaining share repurchase authorization as of September 30, 2020 is $750.0 million.
We may further increase or decrease the rate of cash dividends on, and the amount of repurchases of, our Common Shares in the future. Any reduction or discontinuance by us of the payment of quarterly cash dividends or repurchases of our Common Shares pursuant to our current share repurchase authorization program could cause the market price of our Common Shares to decline. Moreover, in the event our payment of quarterly cash dividends on or repurchases of our Common Shares are reduced or discontinued, our failure or inability to resume paying cash dividends or repurchasing Common Shares at historical levels could result in a lower market valuation of our Common Shares.
Acquisitions, other strategic alliances and investments could result in operating difficulties, dilution, and other harmful consequences that may adversely impact our business and results of operations.
Acquisitions are an important element of our overall corporate strategy and use of capital, and these transactions could be material to our financial condition and results of operations. We expect to continue to evaluate and enter into discussions regarding a wide array of potential strategic transactions. The process of integrating an acquired company, business, or product has created, and will continue to create, unforeseen operating difficulties and expenditures. The areas where we face risks include:

Diversion of management time and focus from operating our business to acquisition integration challenges.

Failure to successfully further develop the acquired business or product lines.

Implementation or remediation of controls, procedures and policies at the acquired company.

Integration of the acquired company’s accounting, human resources and other administrative systems, and coordination of product, engineering and sales and marketing functions.

Transition of operations, users and customers onto our existing platforms.

Reliance on the expertise of our strategic partners with respect to market development, sales, local regulatory compliance and other operational matters.

Failure to obtain required approvals on a timely basis, if at all, from governmental authorities, or conditions placed upon approval, under competition and antitrust laws which could, among other things, delay or prevent us from completing a transaction, or otherwise restrict our ability to realize the expected financial or strategic goals of an acquisition.

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In the case of foreign acquisitions, the need to integrate operations across different cultures and languages and to address the particular economic, currency, political and regulatory risks associated with specific countries.

Cultural challenges associated with integrating employees from the acquired company into our organization, and retention of employees from the businesses we acquire.

Liability for or reputational harm from activities of the acquired company before the acquisition or from our strategic partners, including patent and trademark infringement claims, violations of laws, commercial disputes, tax liabilities and other known and unknown liabilities.

Litigation or other claims in connection with the acquired company, including claims from terminated employees, customers, former shareholders or other third parties.
Our failure to address these risks or other problems encountered in connection with our past or future acquisitions and investments or strategic alliances could cause us to fail to realize the anticipated benefits of such acquisitions, investments or alliances, incur unanticipated liabilities, and harm our business generally.
Our acquisitions could also result in dilutive issuances of our equity securities, the incurrence of debt, contingent liabilities or amortization expenses, or impairment of goodwill and purchased long-lived assets, and restructuring charges, any of which could harm our financial condition or results of operations and cash flows. Also, the anticipated benefits of many of our acquisitions may not materialize.
A failure to dispose of assets or businesses in a timely manner may cause the results of the Company to suffer.
We evaluate as necessary the potential disposition of assets and businesses that may no longer help meet our objectives. When we decide to sell assets or a business, we may encounter difficulty in finding buyers or alternative exit strategies on acceptable terms in a timely manner, which could delay the accomplishment of our strategic objectives. Alternatively, we may dispose of a business at a price or on terms that are less than we had anticipated. After reaching an agreement with a buyer for the disposition of a business, we are subject to the satisfaction of pre-closing conditions, which may prevent us from completing the transaction. Dispositions may also involve continued financial involvement in the divested business, such as through continuing equity ownership, guarantees, indemnities or other financial obligations. Under these arrangements, performance by the divested businesses or other conditions outside our control could affect future financial results.
We are involved in a number of legal proceedings and, while we cannot predict the outcomes of such proceedings and other contingencies with certainty, some of these outcomes could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We are involved in legal proceedings and are subject to investigations, inspections, audits, inquiries and similar actions by governmental authorities, arising in the course of our business (see the discussion in “ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K).  Legal proceedings, in general, can be expensive and disruptive.  Some of these suits may purport or may be determined to be class actions and/or involve parties seeking large and/or indeterminate amounts of damages, including punitive or exemplary damages, and may remain unresolved for several years.  For example, product liability claims challenging the safety of our products or products we market on behalf of third parties may also result in a decline in sales for a particular product and could damage the reputation or the value of related brands, involve us in litigation and have a material adverse effect on our business.
From time to time, we are also involved in legal proceedings as a plaintiff involving contract, intellectual property and other matters.  We cannot predict with certainty the outcomes of these legal proceedings and other contingencies, and the costs incurred in litigation can be substantial, regardless of the outcome.  Substantial unanticipated verdicts, fines and rulings do sometimes occur.  As a result, we could from time to time incur judgments, enter into settlements or revise our expectations regarding the outcome of certain matters, and such developments could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations in the period in which the amounts are accrued and/or our cash flows in the period in which the amounts are paid.  The outcome of some of these legal proceedings and other contingencies could require us to take, or refrain from taking, actions which could negatively affect our operations and, depending on the nature of the allegations, could negatively impact our reputation or the reputation of products we market on behalf of third parties.  Additionally, defending against these legal proceedings may involve significant expense and diversion of management’s attention and resources.
 
ITEM 1B.    UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
None.

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ITEM 2.    PROPERTIES
Our corporate headquarters is located in Marysville, Ohio, where we own approximately 729 acres of land. In addition, we own and lease numerous industrial, commercial and office properties located in North America, Europe and Asia that support the management, manufacturing, distribution and research and development of our products and services. We believe our properties are suitable and adequate to serve the needs of our business and that our leased properties are subject to appropriate lease agreements.
The following is a summary of owned and leased properties by country:
LocationOwnedLeased
United States3580
Canada912
China5
The Netherlands4
Total44101
We own or lease 71 manufacturing properties, 26 distribution properties and 3 research and development properties in the United States. We own or lease 18 manufacturing and 1 distribution property in Canada, 2 manufacturing and 2 distribution properties in the Netherlands and 2 manufacturing properties in China. Most of the manufacturing properties, which include growing media properties and peat harvesting properties, have production lines, warehouses, offices and field processing areas.

ITEM 3.    LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
As noted in the discussion in “ITEM 1. BUSINESS — Regulatory Considerations — Regulatory Matters” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we are involved in several pending environmental and regulatory matters. We believe that our assessment of contingencies is reasonable and that the related accruals, in the aggregate, are adequate; however, there can be no assurance that the final resolution of these matters will not have a material effect on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
The Company has been named as a defendant in a number of cases alleging injuries that the lawsuits claim resulted from exposure to asbestos-containing products, apparently based on the Company’s historic use of vermiculite in certain of its products. In many of these cases, the complaints are not specific about the plaintiffs’ contacts with the Company or its products. The cases vary, but complaints in these cases generally seek unspecified monetary damages (actual, compensatory, consequential and punitive) from multiple defendants. The Company believes that the claims against it are without merit and is vigorously defending against them. No accruals have been recorded in the Company’s consolidated financial statements as the likelihood of a loss is not probable at this time; and the Company does not believe a reasonably possible loss would be material to, nor the ultimate resolution of these cases will have a material adverse effect on, the Company’s financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. There can be no assurance that future developments related to pending claims or claims filed in the future, whether as a result of adverse outcomes or as a result of significant defense costs, will not have a material effect on the Company’s financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
We are involved in other lawsuits and claims which arise in the normal course of our business including the initiation and defense of proceedings to protect intellectual property rights, advertising claims and employment disputes. In our opinion, these claims individually and in the aggregate are not expected to have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

ITEM 4.    MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE
Not Applicable.

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SUPPLEMENTAL ITEM. EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF THE REGISTRANT
The executive officers of Scotts Miracle-Gro, their positions and, as of November 20, 2020, their ages and years with Scotts Miracle-Gro (and its predecessors) are set forth below. 
NameAgePosition(s) HeldYears with
Company
James Hagedorn65 Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board33 
Michael C. Lukemire62 President and Chief Operating Officer24 
Thomas R. Coleman51 Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer21 
James D. King57 Executive Vice President, Chief Communications Officer19 
Ivan C. Smith51 Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer17 
Denise S. Stump66 Executive Vice President, Global Human Resources and Chief Ethics Officer20 
Executive officers serve at the discretion of the Board of Directors of Scotts Miracle-Gro and pursuant to executive severance agreements or other arrangements. The business experience of each of the individuals listed above during at least the past five years is as follows:
Mr. Hagedorn was named Chairman of the Board of Scotts Miracle-Gro’s predecessor in January 2003 and Chief Executive Officer of Scotts Miracle-Gro’s predecessor in May 2001. He also served as President of Scotts Miracle-Gro (or its predecessor) from October 2015 until February 2016. Mr. Hagedorn serves on Scotts Miracle-Gro’s Board of Directors, a position he has held with Scotts Miracle-Gro (or its predecessor) since 1995. Mr. Hagedorn is the brother of Katherine Hagedorn Littlefield, a director of Scotts Miracle-Gro.
Mr. Lukemire was named President and Chief Operating Officer of Scotts Miracle-Gro in February 2016. He served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Scotts Miracle-Gro from December 2014 until February 2016. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Lukemire had served as Executive Vice President, North American Operations of Scotts Miracle-Gro from April 2014 until December 2014 and as Executive Vice President, Business Execution of Scotts Miracle-Gro from May 2013 until April 2014.
Mr. Coleman was named Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Scotts Miracle-Gro in April 2014. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Coleman had served as Senior Vice President, Global Finance Operations and Enterprise Performance Management Analytics for The Scotts Company LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Scotts Miracle-Gro, since January 2011.
Mr. King was named Executive Vice President, Chief Communications Officer of Scotts Miracle-Gro in April 2019. Prior to this appointment, Mr. King had served as Senior Vice President, Chief Communications Officer from June 2008 to April 2019.
Mr. Smith was named Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Scotts Miracle-Gro in July 2013 and Chief Compliance Officer of Scotts Miracle-Gro in October 2013.
Ms. Stump was named Executive Vice President, Global Human Resources of Scotts Miracle-Gro (or its predecessor) in February 2003 and Chief Ethics Officer of Scotts Miracle-Gro in October 2013.
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PART II

ITEM 5.    MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
The Common Shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “SMG.” The payment of future dividends, if any, on the Common Shares will be determined by the Board of Directors in light of conditions then existing, including the Company’s earnings, financial condition and capital requirements, restrictions in financing agreements, business conditions and other factors. The fifth amended and restated credit agreement (the “Fifth A&R Credit Agreement”) allows the Company to make unlimited restricted payments (as defined in the Fifth A&R Credit Agreement), including dividend payments and repurchases of Common Shares, as long as the leverage ratio resulting from the making of such restricted payments is 4.00 or less. Otherwise, the Company may make further restricted payments in an aggregate amount for each fiscal year not to exceed $225.0 million for fiscal 2020 and thereafter. The Company’s leverage ratio was 2.48 at September 30, 2020 and restricted payments for fiscal 2020 were within the amounts allowed by the Fifth A&R Credit Agreement. See “NOTE 12. DEBT” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further discussion regarding the restrictions on dividend payments.
As of November 20, 2020, there were approximately 190,000 shareholders, including holders of record and our estimate of beneficial holders.
The following table shows the purchases of Common Shares made by or on behalf of Scotts Miracle-Gro or any “affiliated purchaser” (as defined in Rule 10b-18(a)(3) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended) of Scotts Miracle-Gro for each of the three fiscal months in the quarter ended September 30, 2020:
Period
Total Number
of Common
Shares
Purchased(1)
Average Price
Paid per
Common
Share(2)
Total Number
of Common
Shares Purchased
as Part of Publicly
Announced Plans
or Programs(3)
Approximate
Dollar Value of
Common Shares
That May Yet
be Purchased
Under the Plans
or Programs(3)
June 28, 2020 through July 25, 2020$135.36 — $750,000,000 
July 26, 2020 through August 22, 2020750 $146.49 — $750,000,000 
August 23, 2020 through September 30, 20206,920 $161.20 — $750,000,000 
Total7,677 $159.74 — 
(1)All of the Common Shares purchased during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020 were purchased in open market transactions. The total number of Common Shares purchased during the quarter includes 7,677 Common Shares purchased by the trustee of the rabbi trust established by the Company as permitted pursuant to the terms of The Scotts Company LLC Executive Retirement Plan (the “ERP”).
(2)The average price paid per Common Share is calculated on a settlement basis and includes commissions.
(3)On February 6, 2020, the Company announced a new repurchase program allowing for repurchases of up to $750.0 million of Common Shares from April 30, 2020 through March 25, 2023. The previous repurchase program, which authorized repurchases of up to $1.0 billion, expired on March 28, 2020.

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Comparison of Cumulative Five-Year Total Return*
The following graph compares the yearly change in the cumulative total stockholder return on our Common Stock for the past five fiscal years with the cumulative total return of the Russell 2000 Index and the S&P 500 Household Products Index. 
smg-20200930_g1.jpg

ITEM 6.    SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
The following table sets forth selected consolidated financial data for the periods indicated. You should read the following summary consolidated financial data in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the notes thereto and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The summary consolidated financial data presented below as of and for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016 has been derived from our consolidated financial statements.
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Five-Year Summary(1)
Year Ended September 30,
20202019201820172016
(In millions, except per share amounts)
GAAP OPERATING RESULTS:
Net sales$4,131.6 $3,156.0 $2,663.4 $2,642.1 $2,506.2 
Gross profit1,347.0 1,019.6 864.6 972.6 900.3 
Income from operations585.2 409.6 198.9 433.4 447.6 
Income from continuing operations386.9 436.7 127.6 198.3 246.1 
Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of tax1.7 23.5 (63.9)20.5 68.7 
Net income388.6 460.2 63.7 218.8 314.8 
Net income attributable to controlling interest387.4 460.7 63.7 218.3 315.3 
NON-GAAP ADJUSTED OPERATING RESULTS(2):
Adjusted income from operations$602.0 $422.9 $351.7 $438.3 $402.1 
Adjusted income from continuing operations412.9 251.3 211.6 237.4 230.2 
Adjusted net income attributable to controlling interest from continuing operations411.7 251.8 211.6 236.9 230.7 
SLS Divestiture adjusted income411.7 251.8 211.6 236.9 221.7 
FINANCIAL POSITION:
Working capital(3)
$266.2 $421.2 $273.0 $337.2 $325.8 
Current ratio(3)
1.3 1.7 1.4 1.6 1.5 
Property, plant and equipment, net560.0 546.0 530.8 467.7 444.9 
Total assets3,380.5 3,028.7 3,054.5 2,747.0 2,755.8 
Total debt to total book capitalization(4)
68.6 %69.7 %85.0 %68.3 %63.0 %
Total debt1,521.5 1,651.6 2,016.4 1,401.1 1,215.9 
Total equity—controlling interest697.2 718.7 354.6 648.8 715.2 
GAAP CASH FLOWS:
Cash flows provided by operating activities$558.0 $226.8 $342.5 $363.2 $244.0 
Investments in property, plant and equipment62.7 42.4 68.2 69.6 58.3 
Investments in acquired businesses and payments on seller notes, net of cash acquired 0.5 7.4 501.8 150.4 161.2 
Dividends paid411.2 124.5 120.0 120.3 116.6 
Purchases of Common Shares53.2 3.1 327.7 255.2 137.4 
NON-GAAP CASH FLOWS(2):
Free cash flow495.3 184.4 274.3 293.6 185.7 
Free cash flow productivity127.5 %40.1 %430.6 %134.2 %59.0 %
PER SHARE DATA:
GAAP earnings per common share from continuing operations:
Basic$6.92 $7.88 $2.27 $3.33 $4.04 
Diluted6.78 7.77 2.23 3.29 3.98 
Non-GAAP adjusted earnings per common share from continuing operations:
Adjusted diluted(2)
7.24 4.47 3.71 3.94 3.72 
SLS Divestiture adjusted income(2)
7.24 4.47 3.71 3.94 3.58 
Dividends per common share7.36 2.23 2.14 2.03 1.91 
OTHER:
Adjusted EBITDA(2)(5)
$766.6 $558.2 $482.0 $560.5 $517.4 
Leverage ratio(5)
2.48 3.67 4.23 3.04 3.10 
Interest coverage ratio(5)
10.12 5.78 5.55 7.54 7.88 
 Weighted average Common Shares outstanding55.7 55.5 56.2 59.4 61.1 
Common shares and dilutive potential common
shares used in diluted EPS calculation
56.9 56.3 57.1 60.2 62.0 
 
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(1)The Selected Financial Data has been retrospectively updated to recast activity for the following:

Discontinued Operations
On April 13, 2016, we completed the contribution of the SLS Business to the TruGreen Joint Venture in exchange for a minority equity interest of approximately 30% in the TruGreen Joint Venture. As a result, effective in our second quarter of fiscal 2016, we classified the SLS Business as a discontinued operation in accordance with GAAP.
On August 31, 2017, we completed the sale of the International Business. As a result, effective in our fourth quarter of fiscal 2017, we classified the International Business as a discontinued operation in accordance with GAAP.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

In April 2015, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued an accounting standard update that requires debt issuance costs related to a recognized debt liability to be presented in the balance sheet as a direct deduction from the corresponding debt liability rather than as an asset; however debt issuance costs relating to revolving credit facilities will remain in other assets. We adopted this guidance on a retrospective basis effective October 1, 2016. As a result, debt issuance costs have been presented as a component of the carrying amount of long-term debt in the Consolidated Balance Sheets. These amounts were previously reported within other assets.
In November 2015, the FASB issued an accounting standard update to simplify the presentation of deferred income taxes by requiring that deferred income tax liabilities and assets be classified as noncurrent in a classified statement of financial position. We adopted this guidance on a retrospective basis during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017. As a result, deferred tax assets have been presented net within other liabilities in the Consolidated Balance Sheets. These amounts were previously reported within prepaid and other current assets.
In March 2016, the FASB issued an accounting standard update that simplifies several aspects of the accounting for employee share-based payment transactions, including the accounting for income taxes, forfeitures, and statutory tax withholding requirements, as well as classification in the statement of cash flows. The amended accounting guidance requires cash paid to a tax authority when shares are withheld to satisfy statutory income tax withholding obligations to be classified as a financing activity in the statement of cash flows. These amounts were previously classified as an operating activity in the statement of cash flows.

(2)     Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Measures

Use of Non-GAAP Measures

To supplement the financial measures prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”), we use non-GAAP financial measures. The reconciliations of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable financial measures calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP are shown in the tables below. These non-GAAP financial measures should not be considered in isolation from, or as a substitute for or superior to, financial measures reported in accordance with GAAP. Moreover, these non-GAAP financial measures have limitations in that they do not reflect all the items associated with the operations of the business as determined in accordance with GAAP. Other companies may calculate similarly titled non-GAAP financial measures differently than us, limiting the usefulness of those measures for comparative purposes.

In addition to GAAP measures, we use these non-GAAP financial measures to evaluate our performance, engage in financial and operational planning and determine incentive compensation because we believe that these measures provide additional perspective on and, in some circumstances are more closely correlated to, the performance of our underlying, ongoing business.

We believe that these non-GAAP financial measures are useful to investors in their assessment of operating performance and the valuation of the Company. In addition, these non-GAAP financial measures address questions routinely received from analysts and investors and, in order to ensure that all investors have access to the same data, we have determined that it is appropriate to make this data available to all investors. Non-GAAP financial measures exclude the impact of certain items (as further described below) and provide supplemental information regarding operating performance. By disclosing these non-GAAP financial measures, we intend to provide investors with a supplemental comparison of operating results and trends for the periods presented. We believe these measures are also useful to investors as such measures allow investors to evaluate performance using the same metrics that we use to
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evaluate past performance and prospects for future performance. We view free cash flow as an important measure because it is one factor used in determining the amount of cash available for dividends and discretionary investment. We view free cash flow productivity as a useful measure to help investors understand the Company’s ability to generate cash.

Exclusions from Non-GAAP Financial Measures

Non-GAAP financial measures reflect adjustments based on the following items:

Impairments, which are excluded because they do not occur in or reflect the ordinary course of our ongoing business operations and their exclusion results in a metric that provides supplemental information about the sustainability of operating performance.
Restructuring and employee severance costs, which include charges for discrete projects or transactions that fundamentally change our operations and are excluded because they are not part of the ongoing operations of our underlying business, which includes normal levels of reinvestment in the business.
Costs related to refinancing, which are excluded because they do not typically occur in the normal course of business and may obscure analysis of trends and financial performance. Additionally, the amount and frequency of these types of charges is not consistent and is significantly impacted by the timing and size of debt financing transactions.
Charges or credits incurred by the TruGreen Joint Venture that were apart from and not indicative of the results of its ongoing operations, including transaction related costs, refinancing costs, restructurings and other discrete projects or transactions including a non-cash purchase accounting fair value write-down adjustment related to deferred revenue and advertising (“TruGreen Joint Venture non-GAAP adjustments”). We held a noncontrolling equity interest of approximately 30% in the TruGreen Joint Venture until March 2019. We did not control, nor did we have any legal claim to, the revenues and expenses of the TruGreen Joint Venture. The use of non-GAAP measures that are subject to TruGreen Joint Venture non-GAAP adjustments is not intended to imply that we had control over the operations and resulting revenue and expenses of the TruGreen Joint Venture. Moreover, these non-GAAP financial measures have limitations in that they do not reflect all revenue and expenses of the unconsolidated affiliates.
Discontinued operations and other unusual items, which include costs or gains related to discrete projects or transactions and are excluded because they are not comparable from one period to the next and are not part of the ongoing operations of our underlying business.

The tax effect for each of the items listed above is determined using the tax rate and other tax attributes applicable to the item and the jurisdiction(s) in which the item is recorded.

Definitions of Non-GAAP Financial Measures

The reconciliations of non-GAAP disclosure items include the following financial measures that are not calculated in accordance with GAAP and are utilized by us in evaluating the performance of the business, engaging in financial and operational planning, the determination of incentive compensation, and by investors and analysts in evaluating performance of the business:

Adjusted income (loss) from operations: Income (loss) from operations excluding impairment, restructuring and other charges / recoveries.
Adjusted income (loss) from continuing operations: Income (loss) from continuing operations excluding impairment, restructuring and other charges / recoveries, costs related to refinancing and TruGreen Joint Venture non-GAAP adjustments, each net of tax.
Adjusted net income (loss) attributable to controlling interest from continuing operations: Net income (loss) attributable to controlling interest excluding impairment, restructuring and other charges / recoveries, costs related to refinancing, TruGreen Joint Venture non-GAAP adjustments and discontinued operations, each net of tax.
Adjusted diluted income (loss) per common share from continuing operations: Diluted net income (loss) per common share from continuing operations excluding impairment, restructuring and other charges / recoveries, costs related to refinancing and TruGreen Joint Venture non-GAAP adjustments, each net of tax.
SLS Divestiture adjusted income (loss): Net income (loss) from continuing operations excluding impairment, restructuring and other charges / recoveries, costs related to refinancing and TruGreen Joint Venture non-GAAP adjustments, each net of tax. This measure also includes income (loss) from discontinued operations related to the SLS Business; however, excludes the gain on the contribution of the SLS Business to the TruGreen Joint Venture, each net of tax.
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SLS Divestiture adjusted income (loss) per common share: Diluted net income (loss) per common share excluding impairment, restructuring and other charges / recoveries, costs related to refinancing and TruGreen Joint Venture non-GAAP adjustments, each net of tax. This measure also includes income (loss) from discontinued operations related to the SLS Business; however, excludes the gain on the contribution of the SLS Business to the TruGreen Joint Venture, each net of tax.
Free cash flow: Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities reduced by investments in property, plant and equipment.
Free cash flow productivity: Ratio of free cash flow to net income (loss).
Adjusted EBITDA: Net income (loss) before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization as well as certain other items such as the impact of the cumulative effect of changes in accounting, costs associated with debt refinancing and other non-recurring or non-cash items affecting net income (loss). The presentation of adjusted EBITDA is intended to be consistent with the calculation of that measure as required by our borrowing arrangements, and used to calculate a leverage ratio (maximum of 4.75 at September 30, 2020) and an interest coverage ratio (minimum of 3.00 for the twelve months ended September 30, 2020).
Reconciliations of the non-GAAP measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures are presented in the following tables:
Year Ended September 30,
20202019201820172016
 (In millions, except per share data)
Income from operations (GAAP)
$585.2 $409.6 $198.9 $433.4 $447.6 
Impairment, restructuring and other charges (recoveries) 16.8 13.3 152.8 4.9 (45.5)
Adjusted income from operations (Non-GAAP)
$602.0 $422.9 $351.7 $438.3 $402.1 
Income from continuing operations (GAAP)
$386.9 $436.7 $127.6 $198.3 $246.1 
Impairment, restructuring and other charges (recoveries) 16.8 13.3 152.8 30.1 (33.8)
Costs related to refinancing15.1 — — — 8.8 
Other non-operating (income) expense, net0.8 (260.2)11.7 13.4 — 
Adjustment to income tax expense (benefit) from continuing operations(6.7)61.5 (80.5)(4.4)9.1 
Adjusted income from continuing operations (Non-GAAP)
$412.9 $251.3 $211.6 $237.4 $230.2 
Net income attributable to controlling interest (GAAP)
$387.4 $460.7 $63.7 $218.3 $315.3 
Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of tax1.7 23.5 (63.9)20.5 68.7 
Impairment, restructuring and other charges (recoveries) 16.8 13.3 152.8 30.1 (33.8)
Costs related to refinancing15.1 — — — 8.8 
Other non-operating (income) expense, net0.8 (260.2)11.7 13.4 — 
Adjustment to income tax expense (benefit) from continuing operations(6.7)61.5 (80.5)(4.4)9.1 
Adjusted net income attributable to controlling interest from continuing operations (Non-GAAP)
$411.7 $251.8 $211.6 $236.9 $230.7 
Income from continuing operations (GAAP)
$386.9 $436.7 $127.6 $198.3 $246.1 
Net (income) loss attributable to noncontrolling interest(1.2)0.5 — (0.5)0.5 
Net income attributable to controlling interest from continuing operations385.7 437.2 127.6 197.8 246.6 
Impairment, restructuring and other charges (recoveries) 16.8 13.3 152.8 30.1 (33.8)
Costs related to refinancing15.1 — — — 8.8 
Other non-operating (income) expense, net0.8 (260.2)11.7 13.4 — 
Adjustment to income tax expense (benefit) from continuing operations(6.7)61.5 (80.5)(4.4)9.1 
Adjusted income attributable to controlling interest from continuing operations (Non-GAAP)
$411.7 $251.8 $211.6 $236.9 $230.7 
Income (loss) from discontinued operations from SLS Business— — — (1.8)102.9 
Gain on contribution of SLS Business— — — — (131.2)
Adjustment to gain on contribution of SLS Business— — — 1.0 — 
Impairment, restructuring and other from SLS Business in discontinued operations— — — 0.8 13.6 
Adjustment to income tax expense (benefit) from SLS Business in discontinued operations— — — — 5.7 
Adjusted income (loss) from SLS Business in discontinued operations, net of tax— — — — (9.0)
SLS Divestiture adjusted income (Non-GAAP)
$411.7 $251.8 $211.6 $236.9 $221.7 
The sum of the components may not equal the total due to rounding.



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Year Ended September 30,
20202019201820172016
 (In millions, except per share data)
Diluted income per share from continuing operations (GAAP)
$6.78 $7.77 $2.23 $3.29 $3.98 
Impairment, restructuring and other charges (recoveries)0.30 0.24 2.68 0.50 (0.55)
Costs related to refinancing0.27 — — — 0.14 
Other non-operating (income) expense, net0.01 (4.62)0.20 0.22 — 
Adjustment to income tax expense (benefit) from continuing operations(0.12)1.09 (1.41)(0.07)0.15 
Adjusted diluted income per common share from continuing operations (Non-GAAP)
$7.24 $4.47 $3.71 $3.94 $3.72 
Income (loss) from discontinued operations from SLS Business$— $— $— $(0.03)$1.66 
Gain on contribution of SLS Business— — — — (2.12)
Adjustment to gain on contribution of SLS Business— — — 0.02 — 
Impairment, restructuring and other from SLS Business in discontinued operations— — — 0.01 0.22 
Adjustment to income tax expense (benefit) from SLS Business in discontinued operations— — — — 0.09 
Adjusted diluted income (loss) from SLS Business in discontinued operations, net of tax— — — — (0.15)
SLS Divestiture adjusted income per common share (Non-GAAP)
$7.24 $4.47 $3.71 $3.94 $3.58 
Net cash provided by operating activities (GAAP)
$558.0 $226.8 $342.5 $363.2 $244.0 
Investments in property, plant and equipment(62.7)(42.4)(68.2)(69.6)(58.3)
Free cash flow (Non-GAAP)
$495.3 $184.4 $274.3 $293.6 $185.7 
Free cash flow (Non-GAAP)$495.3 $184.4 $274.3 $293.6 $185.7 
Net income (GAAP)388.6 460.2 63.7 218.8 314.8 
Free cash flow productivity (Non-GAAP)
127.5 %40.1 %430.6 %134.2 %59.0 %
The sum of the components may not equal the total due to rounding.


(3)Working capital is calculated as current assets minus current liabilities. Current ratio is calculated as current assets divided by current liabilities.
(4)The total debt to total book capitalization percentage is calculated by dividing total debt by total debt plus total equitycontrolling interest.
(5)We view our credit facility as material to our ability to fund operations, particularly in light of our seasonality. Please refer to “ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS — Our indebtedness could limit our flexibility and adversely affect our financial condition” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a more complete discussion of the risks associated with our debt and our credit facility and the restrictive covenants therein. Our ability to generate cash flows sufficient to cover our debt service costs is essential to our ability to maintain our borrowing capacity. We believe that Adjusted EBITDA provides additional information for determining our ability to meet debt service requirements. The presentation of Adjusted EBITDA herein is intended to be consistent with the calculation of that measure as required by our borrowing arrangements, and used to calculate a leverage ratio (maximum of 4.75 at September 30, 2020) and an interest coverage ratio (minimum of 3.00 for the twelve months ended September 30, 2020). Leverage ratio is calculated as average total indebtedness divided by Adjusted EBITDA. Interest coverage ratio is calculated as Adjusted EBITDA divided by interest expense, as described in the Fifth A&R Credit Agreement, and excludes costs related to refinancings. Please refer to “ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS — Liquidity and Capital Resources — Borrowing Agreements” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a discussion of our credit facility.
Our calculation of Adjusted EBITDA does not represent and should not be considered as an alternative to net income or cash flows from operating activities as determined by GAAP. We make no representation or assertion that Adjusted EBITDA is indicative of our cash flows from operating activities or results of operations. We have provided a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net income from solely for the purpose of complying with SEC regulations and not as an indication that Adjusted EBITDA is a substitute measure for net income.
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A numeric reconciliation of net income to Adjusted EBITDA is as follows:
Year Ended September 30,
20202019201820172016
(In millions)
Net income (GAAP)
$388.6 $460.2 $63.7 $218.8 $314.8 
Income tax expense (benefit) from continuing operations123.7 144.9 (11.9)116.6 137.6 
Income tax expense (benefit) from discontinued operations0.1 11.7 (25.5)11.9 43.2 
(Gain) loss on sale / contribution of business— — 0.7 (31.7)(131.2)
Costs related to refinancing15.1 — — — 8.8 
Interest expense79.6 101.8 86.4 76.6 65.6 
Depreciation62.2 55.9 53.4 55.1 53.8 
Amortization32.5 33.4 30.0 25.0 19.7 
Impairment, restructuring and other charges (recoveries) from continuing operations16.8 13.3 152.8 30.1 (33.8)
Impairment, restructuring and other charges (recoveries) from discontinued operations(3.1)(35.8)86.8 15.9 19.7 
Other non-operating (income) expense, net0.8 (260.2)11.7 13.4 — 
Interest income(7.6)(8.6)(10.0)— — 
Expense on certain leases—