S&P 500 Stock Plunges 24% After Brutal Q1 Loss Stuns Investors

May 2, 2019 15:34 UTC

By CCN: Stocks are broadly tanking today, but Fluor, Inc., a Texas construction outfit, is leading the charge, with a roughly 24% loss by press time. The company lost 48 cents per share and announced the resignation of its 8-year CEO David Seaton. Fluor reported quarterly losses of over $54 million, an increase of 200%, compared with this time last year.

S&P 500 Company’s Earnings Report Triggers Immediate Sell-Off

This stock’s 24% plunge headlined the S&P 500’s Thursday pullback. | Source: Shutterstock

Fluor was the S&P 500’s worst-performing stock today, as investors couldn’t get out fast enough. For the previous five days, the stock had been trading at around $40, with low volume – indicative of comfortable shareholders.

However, today’s volume spiked and the price dropped by more than $9 as the news of projected losses and the CEO’s departure spread. Fluor’s official earnings report reads, in part:

“The first quarter was a net loss attributable to Fluor of $58 million, or $0.42 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $18 million, or $0.13 per diluted share a year ago. Earnings attributable to Fluor were negatively impacted by $39 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, as a result of restructuring charges, foreign exchange losses, and related tax impacts. Excluding these items, adjusted earnings attributable to Fluor for the first quarter was a net loss of $19 million, or a loss of $0.14 per diluted share. Consolidated segment profit for the quarter was $47 million compared to $52 million a year ago. First quarter revenue was $4.2 billion compared to $4.8 billion last year.”

Holdout S&P 500 traders may take some comfort in the fact that Fluor has reportedly secured several new contracts, in the multiple billions, saying:

“New awards for the quarter were $3.4 billion, including $1.3 billion in Mining, Industrial, Infrastructure & Power, $1 billion in Energy & Chemicals, $810 million in Diversified Services and $331 million in Government. Consolidated ending backlog of $39.3 billion compares to $29.1 billion a year ago.”

Translation: the company took in $10 billion more in new contracts than this time last year. These new contracts may explain why Fluor pulled no punches in delivering the bad news.

Change In Leadership, New Contracts, Part of Strategy to Recover Stock Price

Further insights may be drawn from this morning’s conference call, where incoming Executive Chairman of the Board Alan Boeckmann, who joined the company in 1974, introduced the bad news by saying, mostly, he feels the company is going to do just fine.

Carlos Hernandez, formerly vice president and chief legal officer for the company, is taking over the CEO position. He said in the conference call this morning that everyone is “very disappointed” with the results.

Hernandez spoke of an offshore project that can be credited with the quarterly losses. Due to the “unique” nature of the project, engineers had to overhaul designs and, consequentially, reorder components. All told this led to a project adjustment of around $53 million. Hernandez said:

The forecast […] reflects the redesign required as a result of client input and detailed engineering reviews and the subsequent impact on material quantities, equipment specifications, and construction schedule. […] I want to also point out that the client is in the process of providing additional financial support.

The company also had to charge off $31 million to an unnamed client in the same division, but Hernandez believes there will be no further issues with that client.

The meeting was held at 8:30 am ET, just before the markets opened up. However, traders didn’t have the same faith in the company as its board. Fluor stock dropped over $9 on the S&P 500 by the end of the trading day, offering either a buy opportunity or reliable sell indicator.

Fluor’s five-year high was over $80 back in 2015, but the stock hasn’t seen anything like that for years. Today’s prices are the lowest since December, when traders apparently dumped and then rebought through the first quarter, only to be disappointed today.

That cycle could repeat itself, or Flour could find itself downgraded by another $10 for some time to come.

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