Fluor Hits the Floor

On Friday, Fluor (NYSE: FLR  ) shares took a tumble after the construction and engineering heavyweight reported quarterly results. It wouldn't be the first time a company pointed a finger of blame at miners for woes this earnings season.

Fluor's third-quarter net income increased 7.4% to $145 million, or $0.86 per share. Consolidated revenue surged 18% to $7.1 billion. Its disclosure of orders worth $6.3 billion sounds good, although that's a bit of a deceleration compared to last year this time ($6.7 billion).

The company's share price crumbled by nearly 10% on Friday, since there were a few factors that did some demolition work on investors' enthusiasm for Fluor stock. First off, per-share earnings missed analysts' expectations by about a dime; although nitpicking on analysts' expectations isn't always the correct response to quarterly results, it's a pretty major discrepancy to note.

Furthermore, Fluor disclosed the cancellation of two mining projects representing $2 billion, dropping its consolidated backlog to $40.8 billion versus $43 billion last year this time. The company's pointing to the weak global economy and deferred mining projects, and that's not a novel message being piped into the marketplace these days.

In May, I bought shares of Fluor for the real-money portfolio I'm managing for Fool.com, which focuses on responsible investing; Fluor has made it a point to lead on anti-corruption policies, which is heartening since many companies show ethics concerns, particularly in international markets. Since then, the stock's pretty much gone nowhere, especially with this setback and next year's dull outlook. Still, this isn't a concern reserved for Fluor; 2013 looks like it will be a rough ride for many companies.

In this earnings season, not every company can be like Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) , which bucked the daunting economic trends and reported an impressive quarter late last week. Chipotle's (NYSE: CMG  ) fallen into the sad-sack category of this economically challenged earnings season (although I'm still bullish for the long term). Both of these consumer-facing companies are high-profile stocks in my portfolio.

Economic weakness is hitting companies in disparate industries, so some kinds of diversification may not always help in the near term. Like Fluor, earth mover Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) has also blamed slowed-down mining expenditures for a lower outlook, as well as economic weakness that's caused dealers to order less equipment.

Still, Fluor isn't a stock to give up for dead. Anyone who thought they were interested in shares but felt that higher levels were too expensive might want to take this opportunity to buy. One interesting catalyst for future growth could be its majority stake in NuScale, a company that makes smaller -- and safer -- nuclear reactors. Other companies in that space include Babcock & Wilcox (NYSE: BWC  ) , which is currently vying with NuScale for $452 million federal grant money related to the technology.

Fluor's shares may have gotten a smack-down last week, but anybody who's willing to ride out some near-term economic uncertainty might want to give the stock a go at these levels, and I intend to continue holding the stock in the portfolio. When economic jitters begin to subside, Fluor's business should take off.


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