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MasTec (MTZ) to Benefit from Project Pipeline, Risks Persist

On May 13, we issued an updated research report on MasTec, Inc, MTZ, a leading infrastructure construction company operating in the U.S. The company is engaged in building, installation, maintenance and upgrade of energy, communication and utility infrastructure.

We remind investors that MasTec reported breakeven results in the first quarter of 2016 (excluding one-time items barring non-cash stock compensation expense), reflecting a 100% plunge from 7 cents per share earned in the prior-year quarter.

During the second quarter of 2016, MasTec plans to significantly expand construction activities related to two major pipeline projects in the Mexican border and begin construction of the large long-haul oil and gas project later in the quarter. These projects are expected to drive earnings and revenue through the rest of the year. For the second quarter, MasTec expects revenues of approximately $1.1–$1.25 billion, adjusted EBITDA of $80–$95 million and adjusted earnings per share of $0.17–$0.27.

The company has raised its full-year adjusted earnings per share guidance to the range of $1.37 to $1.47 from the prior guidance of $1.35–$1.45. Revenues are now projected in the range of $4.8 billion to $5 billion, up from the previous projection of $4.6–$4.8 billion. Adjusted EBITDA guidance range was reaffirmed at $415 million to $430 million. The revised guidance reflects encouraging first-quarter results and performance trends, including higher expectations from the Communications, and Oil and Gas segments, offset by lower expectations from the Electrical Transmission segment.

Despite being affected by a reduction in capital spending for wireless infrastructure by customers in 2015, MasTec’s mobile data traffic continues to expand. This should result in increased demand for the company’s services. Major carriers are in the process of upgrading to 4G technology and are testing the next generation 5G technology for future deployment. The company believes that the need for higher capacity as a result of continued growth in data traffic, along with need for enhanced, faster and more reliable wireless network services and products, including the upgrade of networks to the latest technology, will boost demand over the long term.

MasTec’s 18-month backlog as of Mar 31, 2016 was $5.7 billion, compared with $4.2 billion as of Mar 31, 2015 and $5.7 billion as of Dec 31, 2015. The 35% year-over-year increase was due to the impact of large, long-haul oil and gas pipeline contract awards that the company achieved during the latter half of 2015. MasTec is also in active discussions regarding various long-haul product awards, which are expected to create significant backlog in 2017 and 2018.

On the flipside, MasTec’s electrical transmission business continues to underperform. This segment has suffered approximately $30 million in negative project margins during the past two quarters and is now expected to witness a slight overall loss upon completion. This will have a negative impact on profits at the business. Furthermore, MasTec expects to see continued weakness in the Canadian Oil and Gas business due to weak currency translations and soft market conditions.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the second quarter has moved south 4% for MasTec over the 30 days and is currently pegged at 22 cents. Analysts expect the company to report earnings within its guidance. However, for 2016, the Zacks Consensus has moved up 1% to $1.27 per share, much lower than the company’s guided range of $1.37 to $1.47.

MasTec currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the sector include Tutor Perini Corporation TPC, Simpson Manufacturing Co., Inc. SSD and TopBuild Corp. BLD. All of these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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