Can Perini Add More Stories to Its Stock Price?

Such is the nature of the construction biz that when times get good, they get really good. I don't write on Perini (NYSE: PCR  ) as often as I do some other stocks, but it seems like every time I take a peek at this engineering and construction firm, the backlog has grown considerably.

And that backlog is a strong sign that times are definitely getter better for at least some non-residential builders. A peek at stocks like Fluor (NYSE: FLR  ) , Shaw (NYSE: SGR  ) , or McDermott (NYSE: MDR  ) would tell you much the same story.

Revenue in the quarter was reported up 65%, though that was boosted by the inclusion of an acquisition. Stripping that away (or rather, adjusting the year-ago numbers to include the acquired business), organic growth was on the order of 16.5%. Margins came under a little pressure, though, and operating income growth was "just" 55%. On the net-income line, too, though, there is a reported number and an acquisition-adjusted figure -- reported growth was 46%, while "organic" net income growth would have been about 25%.

Speaking of the backlog, new awards of more than $600 million left the company with a backlog of about $7.9 billion. That's flat with the prior quarter, but well over double the amount the company had on the books back in November when I last wrote on the company. In fact, such is the pace of business that the company seems to pretty much be booked in Las Vegas through 2007, so if you want to build a new casino, you'll have to wait a while if you want to use Perini.

Perini isn't just about casinos, though. The company does big business in hotels and convention centers and is growing its business in segments like health care and education. And there's also a government business here that's more than capable of taking some of the expected spending on new roads and bridges.

Cyclical stocks are notoriously tricky, so I'm not about to say that Perini can't build its backlog even more, and that backlog should produce several years of good growth. By the same token, I see nothing wrong with taking fat profits when you can, so it might not be a terrible idea to consider locking in at least some gains here.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).


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