What: Chart Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:GTLS), a global leader in cryogenic gas processing equipment manufacturing, released third-quarter earnings before market open on Oct. 29, with earnings per share coming in well short of what the market was expecting. As of this writing, shares are down almost 15%.
So what: Chart reported earnings per share of $0.15, an 80% drop from the third quarter of 2014. Net income was $4.8 million, versus $22.9 million last year. The company took $4.9 million in facility shutdown and severance costs in the quarter, largely tied to the closure of manufacturing facilities in the U.S. as the company prepares to weather the storm of significantly reduced demand for its gas processing equipment.
One only has to look at the financial performance of some of the largest oil and gas majors, such as Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) over the past year, to get a better idea of how this is impacting Chart. Chevron has been a major player in global LNG investment, but the early results may not be good for the company.
The massive Gorgon liquefaction and export project in Australia has faced major delays and cost overruns, and it's looking like it won't start producing LNG for export before some time next year. Management has said that its Gorgon and Wheatstone projects are a priority, but at this point they are sunk costs that it only makes sense to complete. Chevron's earnings fell 90% in the second quarter, and cash from operations fell by nearly half as low oil prices continue to drag on.
Chevron management has made it clear that reducing capital spending is a priority, and it's a foregone conclusion that once Gorgon and Wheatstone are complete, the company probably won't start any major LNG projects until energy markets stabilize.
Now what: What's happening with Chevron is just one example of what's happening with the rest of the energy sector. Capital spending is getting slashed, and LNG export projects are hugely expensive and take years to develop. Factoring in the weakening state of China's economic growth, and there's a lot of uncertainty around the true potential for LNG exports. This all affects Chart.
It may be tempting to see a still-profitable Chart, which is making efforts to trim its cost structure, as a great value play. And that may turn out to be the case down the road. But it's probably too early to really tell. That means it's likely a good idea to let the markets play out, and see how Chart's business responds to the new demand environment.
Looking for more on Chart's earnings? Stay tuned for a more in-depth look.