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Why URS Corp. Shares Tanked

By Alex Planes - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:04PM

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Is this meaningful? Or just another movement?

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 URS Corp. (NYSE: URS) have fallen by 13% today after the company provided lousy preliminary results for its 2013 fiscal year. URS also disappointed investors with underwhelming guidance for 2014.

So what: URS's preliminary 2013 report shows roughly $11 billion in revenue -- at the low end of its $11 billion-$11.5 billion forecast and below analysts' $11.15 billion projection -- and a new range of $3.20-$3.30 in earnings per share. This latter figure was far below URS's own previous guidance of $4.10-$4.25 for the 2013 fiscal year, and analysts were expecting $4.09, which was conservative by that standard but wildly optimistic in light of URS's whiff. The company now expects 2014 revenue to range from $10.8 billion-$11.2 billion, and anticipates between $3.20 and $3.50 in EPS. Analysts were looking for $11.28 billion in revenue and $4.20 in EPS, so there was understandably some forward-looking disappointment as well.

Now what: URS now trades at an effective trailing P/E of roughly 13 and has a forward P/E of no more than 12.2, so shares certainly look cheap today. But URS's top line has only grown by 9% in the past five years and free cash flow is 25% lower than it was five years ago, so the company doesn't appear to be doing much to grow. Since there's no real growth expected for next year, you can take one of two positions here: you can bet on a rise in valuation or you can just stay on the sidelines and look for better opportunities.

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