AECOM (ACM - Free Report) failed to maintain its earnings streak, posting fourth-quarter fiscal 2016 earnings per share of 65 cents, which lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 74 cents by 12.2%. Also, the bottom line plummeted 31.6% from the year-ago tally of 95 cents.
The dismal top-line performance, largely attributable to macroeconomic sluggishness, affected the company’s earnings performance.
For fiscal 2016, the company’s adjusted earnings fell 2.6% to $3.00 from the prior-year tally. Lower-than-anticipated earnings contributions from power and industrial construction wins in the second half of the year weighed on the earnings.
For the fiscal fourth quarter, revenues declined 8.5% year over year to $4,323.1 million and missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $4,680 million. The top line took a beating on account of lower client spending in the Americas Design business and low energy prices, which continue to strain oil and gas clients.
For fiscal 2016, the company’s top line declined 3.2% to $17,410.8 million from the year-ago tally of $17,989.9 million.
Segment wise, Design & Consulting Services revenues fell 6.6% year over year to $1,907.0 million. On a constant currency basis, organic revenues declined 3.7% due to sluggish performance in the Americas.
Construction Services revenues were down 13.2% to $1,559.6 million on a year-over-year basis. Stellar performance in the building construction business line was largely thwarted by the massive decline in oil and gas business.
On the other hand, Management Services revenues registered a year-over-year decline of 3.2% to $856.6 million.
However, AECOM’s adjusted operating income in the fiscal fourth quarter was $186.8 million, down from the year-ago tally of $283.4 million. New order wins in the quarter totaled $6.3 billion. Notable wins during the quarter include multiple awards in the Americas Design market, the contract to build NFL Rams stadium in Los Angeles and over $700 million of O&M wins with the core oil and gas clients. Also, AECOM’s total book-to-burn ratio during the quarter stood at 1.40.
At the end of the fiscal fourth quarter, AECOM’s total backlog was $42.8 billion, up 4%, thereby signaling bright prospects.
Liquidity & Cash Flow
As of Sep 30, 2016, AECOM’s cash and cash equivalents totaled $692.1 million compared with $683.9 million as of Sep 30, 2015. Total debt was $4,125.3 million compared with $4,606.9 million on Sep 30, 2015.
In the fiscal fourth quarter, AECOM generated free cash flow of $326 million, up 21.7% year over year. For fiscal 2016, the company’s free cash flow totaled $677 million, well within its free cash flow target of $600–$800 million for fiscal 2016 and 2017.
Concurrent with the earnings release, AECOM provided its fiscal 2017 guidance. The company expects earnings per share to be in the range of $2.70–$3.10. This figure includes roughly 20 cents of anticipated gains related to AECOM Capital realizations. For fiscal 2017, AECOM anticipates effective tax rate of 20% on adjusted earnings.
In terms of spending, the company projects to incur $30 million in relation to acquisition and integration, capital expenditure of $115 million and depreciation expense of $165 million.
After three back-to-back quarters of impressive earnings beat, AECOM ended fiscal 2016 on a rather dull note, with both the top and the bottom line falling below expectations. Cautious client spending in energy markets and choppy recovery of its Design and Consulting business were major culprits, offsetting the company’s growth. Despite the overall economic slowdown, the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock remains bullish about its 2017 prospects, expecting modest growth.
The company’s diversified portfolio, streamlining of non-strategic businesses to focus on core areas and solid backlog levels add to its strength. The robust backlog level of $42.8 billion, which is a key indicator of future revenue growth, indicates significant opportunities in the forthcoming quarters. Apart from the Design and Consulting Services segment, which has been the strongest growth drivers, the company anticipates bright prospects for its Management and Construction Services businesses as well, thus boosting its optimism.
Stocks to Consider
Some better-ranked stocks in the industry include Parker-Hannifin Corporation (PH - Free Report) , Applied Industrial Technologies Inc. (AIT - 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.
Based in Cleveland, OH, Parker-Hannifin is a global diversified manufacturer of motion & control technologies and systems. The company has beat estimates all through the trailing four quarters, with a positive earnings surprise of 10.5%.
Applied Industrial Technologies distributes bearings, linear technologies, power transmission components, rubber products, specialty maintenance items and electrical/mechanical and fluid power products and systems to the MRO and OEM markets. Applied Industrial Technologies has managed to beat estimates twice over the trailing four quarters and has a positive earnings surprise of 4.9%.
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 in 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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