After three consecutive earnings misses, multinational engineering and construction firm – Fluor Corporation (FLR - Free Report) – managed to crush estimates in its third-quarter 2016 results. The company’s adjusted earnings from continuing operations came in at $1.13 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 87 cents by almost 30%.
However, the figure fared worse in year-over-year comparison, having fallen 6.6% from the prior-year tally of $1.21 per share. A significant increase in cost of revenue and interest expense during the quarter proved to be a drag on the bottom line.
Inside the Headlines
Third-quarter revenues came in at $4,766.9 million, up an impressive 8.6% year over year. However, it fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $4,986 million. Excellent revenue gains from Industrial, Infrastructure & Power and Maintenance, Modification & Asset Integrity segments more than offset the revenue decline in the Energy, Chemicals & Mining segment, thus resulting in sturdy top-line performance.
Revenues from the Energy, Chemicals & Mining segment continued to be down, falling 17.0% year over year to $2,325.2 million. Softness in mining activities proved to be an overhang.
Industrial, Infrastructure & Power segment’s revenues posted another sound quarter, with revenues soaring 89.3% year over year to $1,128.3 million. Sales of this segment largely benefited from solid execution activities on nuclear and gas-fired power projects.
Revenues at the Government segment were up 3.1% year over year to $681.2 million, mainly on account of profitable project wins and execution.
Maintenance, Modification & AssetIntegrity revenues almost doubled (up 93.8%) to $632.2 million, on a year-over-year basis. This segment largely benefited from the Stork buyout that boosted sales at the Global Services unit. However, this was partially offset by softness in the equipment and power services business lines.
For the reported quarter, Fluor’s new awards were up 32.1% to $7.0 million on a year-over-year basis. Orders at the Industrial, Infrastructure & Power segment were $5.5 billion. The orders in the government business came in at $955 million, benefiting from additional funding on the Savannah River project.
Orders in the Energy, Chemicals & Mining segment totaled $5.6 billion, including an award for the Tengiz Oil Expansion Project in Kazakhstan. Also, Maintenance, Modification & Asset Integrity segment recorded awards totaling $350 million, which include operations and maintenance work in the U.S., Australia and the U.K.
Consolidated backlog at the end of the quarter was $44.3 billion, up from $41.7 billion in the year-ago quarter. The percentage of fixed-price contracts in our overall backlog remained at 29%.
Liquidity & Shares Repurchases
As of Sep 30, 2016, Fluor had cash and marketable securities (including non-current) of $2,061.6 million, down from $2,367.6 million as on Dec 31, 2015. Long-term debt at the end of third-quarter 2016 rose to $1,555.5 million from $986.6 million as on Dec 31, 2015.
2016 Guidance Cut
In light of the persistent softness in the Energy, Chemicals and Mining segment, Fluor has revised its full-year 2016 guidance downward. Currently, the company projects earnings per share for 2016 in the range of $2.20–$2.40, compared with the earlier guided range of $3.25–$3.50 per share. The downcast outlook is largely attributable to formidable challenges in the commodity business lines.
For full-year 2017, the company projects earnings per share to be in the range of $2.75–$3.25. T he company believes that most of its opportunities in Infrastructure, Industrial and Government segments will continue to be offset by weak commodity business.
Though Fluor’s robust earnings beat during the quarter under review is surely a positive, formidable headwinds continue to play spoilsport resulting in both year-over-year top- and bottom-line declines. Additionally, the 2016 guidance cut will leave investors sulking.
Fluor’s tepid financial performance over the past few quarters is largely attributable to the volatile commodity prices, which have been hurting companies operating in the energy domain, particularly the oil and gas sector.
Precipitous decline in the prices of crude oil and certain metals have impacted the ability of Fluor’s clients to fund new projects. This has affected the company’s profitability. Prevailing softness in the mining and metals business continues to dampen lucrative commercial opportunities for the company. We also believe that deferrals in investment decisions by major clients will act as major headwinds, marring the Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) company’s near-term prospects.
Stocks to Consider
Some better-ranked stocks in the industry include Applied Industrial Technologies, Inc. (AIT - Free Report) , Ball Corporation (BLL - Free Report) and AO Smith Corp. (AOS - Free Report) . All three stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Applied Industrial Technologies is one of North America's leading distributors of bearings, linear technologies, power transmission components, rubber products and specialty maintenance items to the MRO and OEM markets. The company has managed to beat estimates thrice over the trailing four quarters, with a positive earnings surprise of 4.9%.
Headquartered in Broomfield, Colo., Ball Corporation supplies metal packaging products to the beverage, food, personal care, and household industries worldwide. With three earnings beat over the trailing four quarters, the company boasts an average positive surprise of 3.5%.
Headquartered in Milwaukee, WI, A.O. Smith is one of the leading manufacturers of commercial and residential water heating equipment, as well as water treatment products of the world. The company has an excellent earnings surprise history, beating estimates each time over the trailing four quarters, with an average positive surprise of 5.9%.
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