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KBR, Inc. (KBR) Gains on Q1 Earnings Beat; Revenues Lag

Shares of premium technology, engineering, procurement and construction company KBR, Inc. KBR rallied 3.2% on Apr 29, following impressive first-quarter 2016 earnings performance.

KBR maintained its earnings streak for the fifth consecutive quarter with adjusted earnings of 30 cents surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 27 cents by 11.1%. Meanwhile, the earnings figure was in line with the year-ago tally.

KBR’s bottom-line performance was boosted by its relentless focus on operational execution, margin improvement and operating expense reduction. However, high legal expenses offset earnings growth while the dismal revenue performance proved to be a drag.

Inside the Headlines

Revenues fell 30.6% year over year to $996 million, owing to absence of revenues from the deconsolidation of certain businesses in 2015. Also, low oil prices have been restricting the capital spending by clients which in turn compounded the top-line decline. Also, revenues lagged the consensus mark of $1,064 million by 6.4%.

Segment-wise, Technology & Consulting revenues were up 34.7% year over year to $97 million on the back of increased proprietary equipment sales and $10 million inorganic revenue growth from the previously completed acquisitions.

Additionally, Government Services revenues soared 35.5% to $210 million on a year-over-year basis. Revenues benefited from the solid performance of the base operating contracts and task orders supporting the U.S. Military.

However, Engineering & Construction revenues deteriorated 38% year over year to $606 million. Reduced activities in a major LNG project and several other projects as they approach completion hurt segmental revenues. Also, deconsolidation of KBR's Americas Industrial Services business proved to be a major headwind.

Also, non-strategic business revenues plummeted 64.2% year over year to $83 million owing to lower revenues from two recently completed power projects as well as divestiture of the Building Group business in second-quarter 2015. Also, remaining power projects are scheduled to be completed by 2017 that signals at a revenue decline for this segment going ahead.

As of Mar 31, 2016, the company’s total backlog was $12.0 billion, up a decent 16.8% on a year-over-year basis. Of the total backlog, about $6.9 billion is booked under the Government Services segment (up 331.2% on a y-o-y basis) and around $4.6 billion under the Engineering & Construction segment (down 40% on a y-o-y basis). While Technology and Consulting accounted for $394 million of the backlog (flat on a year-over-year basis), non-strategic Business had $165 million in backlog (down 76.6%).

Significant Developments

Concurrent with the earnings release, KBR declared that it is progressing with its plans to achieve $200 million in annual cost savings in 2016 and has identified more than $180 million of the target at the end of first-quarter 2016. Furthermore, the company is strategically pursuing its restructuring activities and has incurred $2 million in pre-tax restructuring costs during the first quarter of 2016.

Also, sale of assets associated with the Infrastructure business during the fourth quarter of 2015 helped the company garner $4 million in pre-tax gains. Going forward, KBR plans to continue with its portfolio restructuring actions and thereby channelize resources specifically into the International Government Services and Global Hydrocarbons segments to maximize profits.

In addition, KBR and its joint venture (JV) partner won a £500 million worth of procurement, operations and maintenance contract from the U.K. Ministry of Defence’s Fixed Wing Training system. Per the contract, the company has provided $14 million in cash to the JV. This long-term project will be booked as equity in earnings over an 18-year period.

Liquidity & Cash Flow

As of Mar 31, 2016, KBR’s cash and equivalents were $824 million, down from $883 million as of Dec 31, 2015.

As of Mar 31, 2016, cash flow used in operating activities during the quarter totaled $21 million, compared with cash utilization of $108 million as of Dec 31, 2015.

Guidance Reiterated

KBR has reiterated its guidance for full-year 2016. The company expects earnings per share within $1.20 to $1.45, excluding legal costs associated with the legacy U.S. government contracts. Legal costs are projected at around $15 million or $0.11 per share for 2016.

Our Take

KBR’s ability to sustain its earnings streak over the past few quarters bears a testimony to the company’s diligent restructuring actions. Going forward, KBR believes that its Government Services will continue to act as a strong growth driver as continues to enhance technical knowhow and advance support services to intelligence agencies. Overall, the company’s lucrative contract wins and its ability to execute large-scale logistics and project management services efficiently adds to its strength and is expected to boost its financials. In addition, the company’s capital allocation strategies and partnerships are expected to propel growth in the forthcoming quarters.

Despite these positives, KBR’s precipitous revenue decline over the past few quarters owing to macroeconomic concerns are putting the company’s financials under pressure. Also, the slump in oil prices are compounding the challenges for the hydrocarbons markets, thereby thwarting top-line performance.

KBR currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the broader sector include TransUnion TRU, Omnicom Group Inc. OMC and Fiserv, Inc. FISV. While TransUnion sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Omnicom Group and Fiserv hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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