Earlier in May both of America’s leading casket companies reported their 2019 fiscal year 2nd quarter financials. Those companies, Hillenbrand, which is the parent company of Batesville Casket Company, and Matthews International, which is the parent company of Aurora Casket Company, reported declining sales of caskets. You can see Hillenbrand’s 2Q report here and you can see Matthews International’s 2Q report here.
Here are some of the things that were reported on Hillenbrand:
- Hillenbrand had revenue of $465 million for the quarter driven by an increase of 9% in their Process Equipment Group
- Hillenbrand’s sales were hindered by a 9.5% decrease in the Batesville Casket segment of the company
- The revenue for the Batesville Casket unit was $138 million for the quarter. Down 9.5% from a year earlier
Using those revenue numbers, Batesville Casket now represents less than 30% of Hillenbrand’s total revenues.
Here are some of the items that were reported on Matthews International:
- The bronze and granite memorial products segment of their Memorialization unit increased slightly on an organic basis at the same time as Matthew’s Aurora Casket had a decrease in sales.
- 2nd Quarter 2019 Memorialization sales totaled $162.2 million as compared to a 2Q 2018 of about $168.7 million. That total represented an approximately $6 million decline in U.S. casket sales for Aurora Casket.
Funeral Director Daily take: It is interesting to note that these two parent companies – Hillenbrand and Matthews International – will continue to rely less and less on the profits being thrown off by their casket businesses in the future. We believe, at least in Hillenbrand’s case, that the casket segment is very profitable for them and has allowed them to shift their business focus for the future as America’s death care choices change.
Aurora was always a profitable company but we don’t know exactly how it is going for Matthews because of unknown, to us, acquisition costs. There is no doubt, however, that casket sales will continue to become less and less of the total sales for both companies. Matthews, like Hillenbrand, will continue to grow their non-casket businesses.
In the future, as casketed deaths continue to decline, we expect less choice in casket models so that the manufacturing companies can continue to manufacture and sell models in economies of scale in order to maximize profits. While there will probably be less casket choice for consumers in the future, we don’t believe that less choice will in any way exacerbate the rapidly growing trends towards cremation and other alternatives to casketed funerals.