What: Shares of U.S. Silica (NYSE:SLCA) are up more than 23% in early-morning trading following the company's earnings release after the market closed yesterday. U.S. Silica beat analysts' expectations with GAAP earinings of $0.04 per share.
So what: The reason Wall Street seems so bullish on U.S. Silcia's results today is that it was able to post a modest profit while so many of its peers are struggling. Two other frack sand suppliers recently announced they had suspended their distributions indefinitely because of the weak market conditions in the oil and gas industry.
Luckily for U.S. Silica, the company also derives some of its sales from customers outside the energy industry. The company's Industrial and Specialty products segment posted its best result in the company's 115-year history. The support of this segment helped cover up some of the weaknesses from its oil and gas segment.
This two-segment operation is also giving U.S. Silica another advantage, according to CEO Bryan Shinn: The company is able to continue runs of sand to its customers in the oil and gas industry and take market share. With the market for frack sand supplies so fragmented, capturing market share could significantly impact some of its peers.
Now what: U.S. Silica's results were better than expected, but that doesn't mean they were great. We're still likely a ways away from a rebound in oil and gas drilling activity, and the company's profits will continue to be significantly lower until that does happen. However, with an additional revenue stream and some balance sheet strength, U.S. Silica seems to have positioned itself well to weather the storm until demand for frack sand picks back up again. When that actually happens is anyone's guess, though.
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