What: Allegheny Technologies' (NYSE:ATI) shares fell about 16.6% last month. That follows on a 67% drop in 2015. So, just more of the same for this steel and metal parts maker as the new year gets under way.
So what: Allegheny is a company in the midst of a transition, as it tries to move away from commodity-type metals products and more toward specialty products. Unfortunately for the company, which gets nearly 85% of its sales from specialty products, it's dealing with both commodity weakness and a broad slowdown in some of its key end markets, such as oil and gas drilling. Strength in areas such as aerospace just hasn't been enough to make up for the headwinds elsewhere.
Late last year, when the company warned that it would probably be taking one-time fourth-quarter charges to better align its operations with the current environment, investors reacted accordingly. The size of those charges, $267 million, was announced about a week before earnings, which were reported on Jan. 26. The full-year 2015 loss of around $3.50 a share basically confirmed investors' fears and proved that selling was probably the right move.
Now what: Allegheny thinks its aerospace business is ready to start a long-term uptrend. That's great and may interest more aggressive investors looking for a turnaround situation. However, some of the company's other businesses, such as flat rolled steel, aren't expected to solidify until at least the middle of the year. So this is really still a tale of two cities. Conservative investors are probably best off on the sidelines until the whole business is on more solid ground.