It happens. Every now and then a perfectly solid company punts a quarter, for reasons that generally can't be attributed to failure on its part. If the company is inherently sound, the result can often be a buying opportunity for investors.
That may be precisely the case at Chicago Bridge & Iron (NYSE: CBI ) . This company is an energy-related purveyor of engineering and construction services, a Motley Fool Global Gains selection, and, unfortunately, a victim of circumstances beyond its control. But we saw this one coming. As the company had earlier warned, "inadequate subcontractor performance" and "an increasingly difficult trade union environment" in the U.K. would knock the props out from under its second quarter.
And they did. The result was a loss of $140.5 million, or $1.47 a share, compared to net income of $26.1 million, or $0.27 per share, a year ago. But back out the previously announced pre-tax charge of about $317 million, and you have an awfully nice quarter. In fact, charge aside, the per-share line would have had a $0.91 figure on it, or well more than triple last year's figure. And I'd point out that the company's shares are down more than 20% from early June.
Chicago Bridge's plight in the quarter could have befallen the likes of Matrix Services (Nasdaq: MTRX ) , or the Shaw Group (NYSE: SGR ) , or giant KBR (NYSE: KBR ) , all of which it competes with to one degree or another. It's simply a risk you take when your business necessitates that you employ subcontractors, and when you're operating in a union environment.
But the real key at Chicago Bridge, as I see it, is that the company's backlog has grown by about 9% during the past year, and now sits at $7.4 billion. Projects added recently include a $400 million Canadian oil sands storage terminal, $150 million for a Canadian LNG peak shaving facility (no, not that kind of shaving), and $100 million for a refinery expansion project.
So the (temporary) damage has been done. Fools looking for new investments might want to take a look at Chicago Bridge. It's got a forward (2009) P/E of less than 12, a solid balance sheet, and -- easily most importantly -- a stellar reputation in the thriving world of energy engineering and construction.
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