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Allegheny (ATI): What's in the Cards this Earnings Season?

Allegheny Technologies Incorporated ATI is scheduled to release its first-quarter 2016 earnings before the markets open on Apr 26.

The company performed poorly in the final quarter of 2015, reporting an adjusted net loss of 56 cents per share. The adjusted loss was wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 39 cents by 43.59%.

The results exclude after-tax impairment and restructuring charges and Net Realizable Value (“NRV”) inventory charges of $167.3 million or $1.56 per share in the quarter. Including these charges, the company reported a net loss of $226.9 million, or $2.12 per share for the quarter. Results were negatively affected by continued weakness in the oil and gas market and the effects of low-priced commodity stainless sheet imports on the flat rolled products market. The quarter saw sales of $739 million, which missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 12.4%.

Let’s see how things have shaped up for the forthcoming announcement.

Factors at Play

Allegheny is undergoing drastic restructuring and reorganizing to convert the currently incurred losses into profits in the future.

The company is attempting to shift its customer base dynamics to control exposure in various markets. It will be reducing its prominence in the electrical distribution as well as automotive market. Instead, the focus will be on catering primarily to the aerospace market, with an aim to generate 50% of the total revenue from this sector in the near future. With oil market looking low in the first quarter and unstable for the rest of 2016, the company’s U.K. operations are expected to suffer. 

The High Performance Materials & Components (HPMC) segment has several long-term agreements on legacy as well as next-generation airplanes and their jet power engines. These contracts will provide the segment with sustained profitable growth. Increased volumes are expected to improve utilization and product mix of the mills from the first quarter of 2016. The company expects the segment to grow throughout 2016, with operating profits as a percentage of sales returning to double digits in the second half of the year. The aerospace sector is expected to start growing from 2016 at least through 2019, and ATI is well-placed at the beginning of this cycle to take advantage immediately.

For the Flat Rolled Products (FRP) segment, the company intends to continue its focus on the restructuring activities for the to-be-reported quarter, until raw material prices and market demand stabilize. As the segment is repositioned to a high-value product category, shipments for specialty products are expected to increase throughout 2016.

Allegheny’s Midland, PA stainless steel facility has been idled to curtail the company’s exposure to commodity stainless steel sheet. Its GOES operation will be idled this month. These measures should make the segment profitable in the second half of 2016.

To secure the future of the segment in the current environment of global overcapacity, ATI will be reducing a third of FRP’s salaried workforce. This decision to lay off 250 workers will lead to a severance charge of $9 million in the first quarter. The restructuring should result in cost savings of $30 million annually from the third quarter of 2016.

The company’s product introduction program in specialty materials mill products, forgings and castings has proven to be successful. The company foresees higher sales in the first quarter and increased growth for 2016 in this segment. Shipments for contracts won for mill products were scheduled to start from early 2016.

Allegheny has been striving to increase its cash generation from the beginning of 2016 and continue the same for the rest of the year. Capital expenditure in 2016 is estimated to be $240 million for the expansion of current plants. Since the company will be utilizing much of the cash generated in the first half, positive cash flows are expected in the second half of the year.

Management is strategizing to make the company profitable in the long run with higher projected growth rates. However, all profitable projections are for the long run and the company is expected to continue facing loses in the first quarter, even after adjusting the projected $9 million restructuring charges. 

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Allegheny is likely to beat estimates this quarter. This is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) for this to happen. This is not the case here as you will see below:

Zacks ESP: The Earnings ESP for Allegheny is +1.70%. This is because the Most Accurate Estimate is pegged at a loss of 58 cents, while the Zacks Consensus Estimate stands at a loss of 59 cents.

Zacks Rank: Allegheny carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). We caution against stocks with a Zacks Rank #4 or 5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

Stocks to Consider

Here are some companies in the basic materials space you may want to consider as our model shows they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

Mueller Water Products, Inc. MWA has an Earnings ESP of +30.00% and a Zacks Rank #2.

Valmont Industries, Inc. VMI has an Earnings ESP of +0.58% and a Zacks Rank #2.

TimkenSteel Corporation TMST has an Earnings ESP of +10.81% and a Zacks Rank #3.

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VALMONT INDS (VMI): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
MUELLER WATER (MWA): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
TIMKENSTEEL CP (TMST): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
ALLEGHENY TECH (ATI): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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