Today's Falling Knife: Aggreko Plunges 17%

LONDON -- The shares of Aggreko (LSE: AGK  ) slumped 369 pence, or 17%, to 1,757 pence during early London trade this morning after the FTSE 100 member warned that its profits for 2013 would be "slightly lower" than those produced during 2012.

Aggreko, which claims to be the world's leading supplier of temporary power generators, admitted sales next year may be 100 million pounds short of the 1.6 billion pounds the firm expects to declare for 2012.

Aggreko blamed the deficit on bumper Olympic revenues, lower military spending within Afghanistan, and uncertainty among the group's Japanese clients.

For good measure, Aggreko added that the economic environment for 2013 was "particularly uncertain" and the company said it was "difficult at this stage to provide a definitive view of the likely pattern of trading" for next year.

Today's warning from Aggreko accompanied confirmation of the firm's 2012 performance. The aforementioned underlying sales of 1.6 billion pounds will be 13% higher than those registered during 2011, while profits before tax are expected to come in at 365 million pounds, up about 7% on last year.

Aggreko also said its forthcoming 2012 results would show net debt of 620 million pounds and capital expenditure of 420 million pounds. For the first half of 2013, capital expenditure is set to be reduced to 150 million pounds.

Prior to today, City experts that followed Aggreko had expected earnings to advance about 10% during 2013. However, their revised forecasts are now likely to show earnings no higher than the 101 pence per share projected for 2012.

As such, the battered shares still trade on a P/E of 17 -- which looks high for a business where short-term growth appears shaky. The dividend provides no salvation either, given the 21.8 pence per share trailing payout supports a tiny 1.2% yield.

Still, for prospective knife-catchers, it's worth bearing in mind Aggreko's shares collapsed from 758 pence to 361 pence during the banking crash...

... but then went on to expand six-fold within three years as the business expanded strongly. Such potential returns suggest it may pay to keep an eye on Aggreko.

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