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Welded steel pipe maker Northwest Pipe Co. (NWPX - Snapshot Report) posted second-quarter 2013 earnings of 59 cents per share, outstripping the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 24 cents and exceeding the year-ago quarter’s earnings of 38 cents. Profit jumped roughly 54% year over year to $5.6 million as a double-digit decline in sales was more than offset by lower costs.
Revenues fell roughly 11% year over year to $116.7 million due to decline across both Water Transmission and Tubular Products divisions. It missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $120 million. Gross margin rose to 13.4% from 10.4% a year ago, helped by lower cost of sales.
Revenues from the Water Transmission segment inched down 1.5% year over year to $58.1 million in the reported quarter as a solid jump in selling prices was offset by a decline in tons produced. 
Northwest Pipe saw greater decline in its Tubular Products unit in the quarter. Sales from the division slipped 18.6% to $58.6 million. The division was hurt by lower tons sold during the quarter and a double-digit decline in pricing.
Northwest Pipe ended the quarter with order backlog of roughly $115 million in the Water Transmission division, down 53% year over year. Continued competitive pressure stemming from the imports of energy products continues to affect the division.
Cash and cash equivalents jumped manifold year over year to $194 million at the end of the quarter. Total long-term debt declined around 30% year over year to $19.2 million.
Moving ahead, Northwest Pipe sees third quarter to be the weakest in 2013 given the current challenging market conditions. It expects net sales and gross profit to decline significantly in its Water Transmission unit in the quarter, reflected by lower backlog at the end of the second quarter. In Tubular Products, the company envisions gross margin to improve in the low single-digits.
Northwest Pipe makes large-diameter steel pipeline systems for use in water infrastructure applications, mainly in drinking water systems. The company also makes smaller diameter, electric resistance welded steel pipes and other similar products for use in energy, construction, agriculture, commercial and industrial, and traffic signpost applications.
Northwest Pipe currently retains a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
Other companies in the metal processing and fabrication industry having favorable Zacks Rank are NSK Ltd. (NPSKY), NN Inc. (NNBR - Snapshot Report) and CIRCOR International, Inc. (CIR - Snapshot Report). While both NSK and NN hold a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), CIRCOR retains a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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