Why Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. Shares Fell Apart

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 Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (NYSE: JEC  ) have finished Tuesday with an 8% loss after dropping nearly 11% in early trading. The company had reported weak fiscal-second-quarter earnings last night, and also reduced its guidance for the rest of fiscal 2014.

So what: Jacobs' revenue rose 14% year over year to $3.2 billion for the quarter, but its earnings of $0.63 per share fell well below last year's $0.80 in EPS. Both results fell beneath Wall Street's expectations, as analysts had modeled a quarter with $3.32 billion in revenue and $0.89 in EPS. Jacobs also slashed its full-year earnings expectations to a range of $3.15-$3.55 per share from its earlier range of $3.35-$3.90 per share. Analysts were expecting 2014 EPS to reach $3.66, so the guidance cut is understandably quite disappointing.

Now what: Jacobs executives cited weather- and holiday-related weakness as causes of the decline, and also anticipate the need for some restructuring during the latter half of its fiscal year as a result of European issues. Jacobs' full-year EPS guidance is about 5% higher than its trailing-12-month EPS had been prior to last night's report, but that's not much consolation for investors who had enjoyed share price gains of nearly 50% last year despite similarly modest EPS growth during that year. Jacobs could return to that growth trajectory in time, but it doesn't seem likely to do so in its 2014 fiscal year. I'd stay on the sidelines for the time being.

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