Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group (NYSE:SGR) has changed a lot in just two short decades. The company, which released its financial results for fiscal Q4 2007 last week, has risen from a one-horse fabrication shop to become one of the world's major engineering and construction companies.

In its latest quarter, the company earned $0.65 million, or a penny a share, versus $13.35 million, or $0.17 a share, a year ago. The seemingly weak results owed to a $51.7 million pre-tax non-cash loss on Shaw's Japanese yen-denominated debt, which it had used in part to finance a stake in Westinghouse Electric Company slightly more than a year ago. Without that hit, Shaw earned $36.9 million, or $0.44 a share. Meanwhile, its revenue rose 40% to $1.64 billion.

Even a decade ago, the company was still fabricating pipe for precision use. Today, it's a $5.4 billion engineering entity involved in the worldwide construction and maintenance of nuclear and convention power facilities, refining and petrochemical plants, and other sorts of complex processing facilities.

Its customers contracted for nearly $11 billion in new business in fiscal 2007, giving Shaw a backlog of $14.3 billion. Those clients include numerous energy and power companies, manufacturing units, and governments. During 2007, Shaw booked its first major nuclear power project in China.

Shaw generally competes to one degree or another with firms like Fluor (NYSE:FLR), Jacobs Engineering (NYSE:JEC), Foster Wheeler (NASDAQ:FWLT), and privately held engineering and construction giant Bechtel.

Here in the United States, our power grid and its plants are in some cases all but held together with bailing wire. Beyond our borders, the escalating development of China and India demands a rapid increase in the number of power and processing plants. Given that backdrop and the company's amazing growth, Fools would be smart to keep a close eye on Shaw Group's progress.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith owns no shares of any of the companies mentioned above. He welcomes your questions or comments. The Fool has well-engineered disclosure policy.