Because if you're UniFirst (UNF) - Get Report you see your customers need fewer people and won't be needing as much of your laundry and delivery service. Roughly 10% of the Wilmington, Mass., company's customers are part of the volatile energy industry in some way.
That's why UniFirst CEO Ronald Croatti said in January the company is "cautious in our outlook as a result of our significant presence in energy-producing regions in the U.S. and Canada. We believe that if oil prices remain depressed, our operating results will be negatively impacted."
The company reports fiscal second-quarter earnings results Wednesday before the opening bell. At around $118, shares are down close to 3% for the year to date though they are up 10% in the past 52 weeks.
Should you invest? Maybe not.
Earnings estimates have trended down over the past 90 days and 30 days by 1.5% and 0.76%, respectively, according to analysts polled by Yahoo! Finance. For the quarter ending in May, earnings estimates of $1.45 per share are down almost 6% from prior estimates of $1.54 set at the start of the just-ended quarter. Assuming the full-year 2016 estimate of $6.44 per share is reached, it's still 1.5% lower than if there had been no oil-related concerns.
Lower oil prices do help UniFirst as far as fueling up its truck fleet to deliver those laundered uniforms and work clothes. That helped the company's first-quarter operating margin rise to 16.9% from 16.8%.
But when it comes to the core uniform business, low oil means unemployment in the energy sector. In the first quarter the company's special-garments segment revenue declined 8% year over year to $22.5 million. UniFirst saw a decline in its power reactor business, which resulted in the segment's profit falling 18% from the year before.
UniFirst remains a well-managed company. It has beaten revenue and earnings estimates for three consecutive quarters. The company ended its first quarter with $213 million in cash on its balance sheet, up from $192 million in fourth quarter and has no long-term debt. The average analyst 12-month price target is $126.50, suggesting 7.5% gains from current levels of around $117.
So there is value here. But patience is the key word if continued weak oil pressures UniFirst's numbers for the balance of fiscal year 2015.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.