Gibraltar Industries shares fall sharply after posting 4th-quarter results below expectations

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gibraltar Industries 4Q loss widens, stock falls

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Gibraltar Industries Inc. posted a wider fourth-quarter loss as the building and industrial products manufacturer’s sales remained weak.

The results fell short of Wall Street expectations and the stock dropped sharply in Thursday trading.

For the final three months of 2009, Gibraltar said late Wednesday lost $29.4 million, or 97 cents per share, compared with a loss of $22 million, or 73 cents per share, in the 2008 fourth quarter.

Adjusted for charges related to restructuring and impairment, the loss came to 10 cents per share.

Sales fell 25 percent to $187.2 million, from $249.4 million the prior year. Sales in its building products segment fell 28 percent to $144 million. Processed metals sales fell 15 percent to $43.1 million.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a profit of 9 cents per share on sales of $206.6 million. Analyst estimates typically exclude one-time charges.

The company said its sales came in lower than expected because of the continued slump in the residential building, construction, and industrial markets, along with lower prices.

“In spite of historically weak demand levels in all of our major end markets, we made continued progress positioning Gibraltar for significantly improved results as business volumes begin to rebound,” said Chairman and CEO Brian Lipke. “We aggressively cut costs and significantly lowered our breakeven point, and we implemented a series of steps to substantially reduce working capital and preserve cash, pay down debt, and strengthen our balance sheet.”

The company did not offer specific guidance for the first quarter, but said it does not expect to turn a profit until the second quarter. Wall Street was expecting, on average, a profit of 7 cents per share for the first quarter.

Analyst Mark Parr of KeyBanc Capital Markets said the company’s comments about softness in both residential and non-residential markets “was somewhat disconnected from the apparent stability of earnings momentum from several big-box home improvement retailers,” and also seemed somewhat counterintuitive compared with recent momentum in existing home sales.

Baird analyst Peter Lisnic said the results came in below his expectations, but he kept an “outperform” rating and $20 price target on the stock, pointing to profit margin improvement and strong cash flow.

For the year, Gibraltar lost $52 million, or $1.73 per share, reversing a 2008 profit of $24.1 million, or 80 cents per share. Sales fell 32 percent to $834.2 million, from $1.23 billion in 2008.

Gibraltar shares dropped $2.58, or 19 percent, to close Thursday at $11.12 in heavy trading. The stock has changed hands between $3.41 and $18.28 in the past year.

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