Why Willbros Groups Shares Shot Up

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Willbros Group (NYSE: WG  ) were shining today, gaining as much as 16% after the energy services firm boosted its profit estimate for the current quarter.

So what: The company had previously forecast an operating loss of $4 million to $7 million but now says it expects an operating profit of $3 million to $7 million, citing improved performance from its utility transmission and distribution segment as well as a mild improvement from its oil and gas division. Willbros said storm restoration work in Texas and Oklahoma helped expand margins in the utility segment, and said it had found a potential buyer for its Hawkeye business, which it put up for sale last year.

Now what: Considering the temporary nature of the restoration work, today's bump may seem like a bit of a surprise, but a $10 million swing in operating profit can make a big difference for a company with a market cap of just $400 million. The recent spike in oil prices also figures to benefit Willbros, as that could lead to growth in drilling activity and demand for its services. We'll hear more details when the company reports earnings Aug. 5.


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