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Is a Loss in the First Quarter Looming Up for MasTec (MTZ)?

On Apr 11, 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 performed poorly in fourth-quarter 2015 with adjusted earnings (excluding one-time items barring non-cash stock compensation expense) plunging 50% to 18 cents per share from 36 cents per share earned in the prior-year quarter.

For 2016, MasTec expects adjusted earnings per share between $1.35 and $1.45 on the back of revenues of $4.6 billion to $4.8 billion. Adjusted EBITDA is projected in a range of $415 million to $430 million. For the first quarter of 2016, MasTec expects the bottom line between a loss of 3 cents per share and breakeven, and revenues of $0.95 billion. The guidance reflects expected seasonality and timing of project start-ups, given that first-quarter results are typically the weakest of the year. The company stated that adjusted EBITDA will be approximately 5–6% of revenues.

Despite being affected by reductions 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 demand for enhanced, faster and more reliable wireless network services and products including the upgrade of networks to the latest technology, will generate increased demand in the long term.

MasTec’s 18-month backlog as of Dec 31, 2015, was a record $5.7 billion, up 31% from $4.3 billion as of Dec 31, 2014. The company expects to realize approximately 80% of year-end 2015 backlog in 2016. Backlog growth was led by the Oil and Gas segment. The company ended 2015 with record cash flow. Improving opportunities in multiple markets and strong backlog will drive growth going ahead.

On the flipside, MasTec expects to see continued weakness in the Canadian Oil and Gas business. Canadian revenues for 2016 are expected to decline more than 30% from 2015. Given weak currency translations and soft market conditions, Canada has been a challenge.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the first quarter has moved south for MasTec over the 60 days and is currently pegged at a loss per share of 4 cents. Analysts expect the company to fare worse than its guidance.

MasTec currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the sector include Gibraltar Industries, Inc. ROCK, Jiangsu Expressway Co. Ltd. JEXYY and Sterling Construction Co. Inc. STRL. Gibraltar Industries and Jiangsu Expressway sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) while Sterling Construction carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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MASTEC INC (MTZ): Free Stock Analysis Report
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