What happened

Shares of frack sand producer U.S. Silica Holdings (NYSE:SLCA) fell as much as 11% today and are down 8% as of 12:00 p.m. EDT. Today's decline comes after the company reported earnings that beat some analyst expectations, but revenue was lower than estimates. The company also announced higher levels of capital spending for the year.

So what

Depending on who you ask, U.S. Silica's most recent results either exceeded or did not meet expectations. The company's adjusted second-quarter net income result of $0.38 per share beat analyst expectations at Zacks, which were looking for adjusted net income of $0.37 per share. Conversely, though, estimates from another analyst group, FactSet, were looking for earnings of $0.39 per share. So, let's just call it a tie and say the company met expectations.

Sand mine running at night

Image source: Getty Images.

In both cases, U.S. Silica's $290.5 million in revenue didn't meet either analyst group expectation. It should be noted, though, that revenue was up 148% compared to this time last year. Most of these gains relate to the frack sand market in general. Demand for sand is riding high right now, so total volumes and the price per volume are considerably better than they were a year ago.

The biggest change at the company was a revision to its capital spending plan for 2017. After announcing it would build a new sand mine in the Permian Basin in June, management revised its capital expenditure guidance from $125 million-$150 million to $325 million-$375 million. This $200 million uptick is about the same amount of money it will cost to build its new facility, so we can assume the facility will be complete near the end of the year.

Now what

The frack sand industry has been on a tear lately as producers demand more and more sand per well. You couldn't tell this from U.S. Silica's share price, though, as shares are down 53% in 2017. Perhaps Wall Street expected the company to be doing better than it is considering the uptick in revenue, but costs have been high as management has invested in new facilities and expanded operations at its existing sand mines. 

From a long-term perspective, though, U.S. Silica is making the right moves. It's got ample cash on the balance sheet to reinvest in the business and a manageable debt load. Of the companies in the frack sand industry, U.S. Silica looks like one of the surer long-term bets.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.