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EMCOR (EME) Q1 Earnings Miss, Revenues and Guidance Up

EMCOR Group Inc. EME continued with its choppy earnings history with its bottom line missing estimates in first-quarter 2016. The company reported adjusted earnings from continuing operations of 57 cents per share, which lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 58 cents by 1.7%. However, the figure fared better year over year, surpassing the year-ago tally of 52 cents by 9.6%.

The robust bottom-line performance was driven by impressive organic growth across the company’s segments, along with streamlined costs and superior operational execution. The company raised its 2016 guidance, on the back of impressive backlog levels and an increasing traction in the non-residential construction sector.

Net income from continuing operations came in at $34.4 million, compared with $33.2 million in the prior-year period.

Inside the Headlines

Revenues for the quarter rose an impressive 9.8% year over year to $1,745 billion, and also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,645 billion.

Strong revenue growth in the quarter was primarily driven by robust performance of the U.S. Mechanical Construction segment, which delivered broad-based, double-digit revenue and operating income growth.

The company’s Industrial Services business also had a good quarter, led by increased field service activities and higher demand for services like specialty welding services. Also, the U.S. Electrical Construction segment benefited from greater project activity within the hospitality, commercial and transportation market sectors.

Geographically, revenues from total U.S. operations jumped 10.3% year over year to $1,657 billion. However, revenue growth from the United Kingdom building services was less impressive, edging up just 0.8% year over year to $87.6 million.

As of Mar 31, 2016, EMCOR’s backlog was $3.85 billion, up 3.1% year over year. This backlog level was the company’s highest since 2008, reflecting the company’s capability to capitalize on the continued recovery of the non-residential construction market. A rise in the backlog of U.S. Mechanical Construction and Building Services segments more than offset the dip in backlog for U.S. Electrical Construction and U.S. Industrial Services segments, resulting in overall growth. The backlog in the U.K. Building Services segment (down $3 million year over year) was hurt by the negative impact of foreign currency translation.

From an end-market perspective, backlog growth in industrial, water/wastewater, transportation and hospitality/gaming sectors more than compensated for the decline in healthcare, commercial and institutional sectors.

EMCOR’s non-GAAP operating income in the first quarter rose about 2.5% year over year to $56.7 million. However, operating margin contracted 30 basis points year over year to 3.2%.

Liquidity & Cash Flow

EMCOR’s cash and cash equivalents totaled $392.4 million as of Mar 31, 2016, compared with $486.8 million as of Dec 31, 2015. Long-term debt and capital lease obligations were $294 million, declining from $297.6 million recorded on Dec 31, 2015.

Cash flow used in operating activities for the three months ended Mar 31, 2016 came in at $37.2 million, up from usage of $17.8 million in the year-ago quarter. The cash flow was negatively impacted by higher income taxes payments related to the prior fiscal year, as well as funding of the company’s prior-year incentive compensation awards.

Acquisition

Subsequent to the quarter, EMCOR announced the acquisition of Ardent Services, L.L.C. and Rabalais Constructors, LLC (collectively called Ardent) for a purchase price of $205 million in cash. Ardent is an established provider of electrical and instrumentation services to the energy infrastructure market in North America.

EMCOR concluded the Ardent acquisition on Apr 15, 2016, integrating the same into EMCOR’s U.S. Electrical Construction and Facilities Services segment.

Ardent will fortify EMCOR’s market leading position in electrical construction and services, and will also serve to expand its capabilities in the energy and industrial sectors, particularly in the gulf coast, western and mid-continent regions.

The company expects the Ardent acquisition to be marginally accretive to EMCOR’s 2016 earnings, with the accretion increasing to at least 10 cents per share in 2017.

Guidance

Encouraged by its solid top-line performance, accretive acquisitions and increasing traction in the non-residential construction sector, EMCOR’s management raised 2016 guidance, with adjusted earnings from continuing operations now expected to lie in a range of $2.75–$3.00 (up from previous projections of $2.70–$3.00 per share).

Also, encouraged by the current size and mix of its backlog and overall positive market conditions, EMCOR raised its 2016 top-line guidance. For 2016, the company now expects revenues to be roughly $7.2 billion (up from prior projections of a range of $6.9–$7 million).

To Conclude

EMCOR posted record revenues despite strong currency headwinds. Also, a healthy balance sheet position and increasing backlog add to the company’s strength, indicating bright future prospects. The company expects the building services segment to rebound soon. Moreover, recovery of the non-residential construction as well as commercial markets bode well for the company.

Apart from this, we believe the company’s diversified business structure, along with its concerted efforts to explore beyond traditional shop-related operations for tapping other profitable areas like food processing and power, will drive long-term growth.

EMCOR currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the broader sector include Jiangsu Expressway Co. Ltd. JEXYY, Granite Construction Incorporated GVA and Zhejiang Expressway Co. Ltd. ZHEXY. While Jiangsu sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Granite Construction and Zhejiang both hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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