Jacobs Engineering Group (JEC)

Q3 2010 Earnings Call

July 27, 2010 11:00 am ET


John Prosser - Principal Financial Officer, Executive Vice President of Finance & Administration and Treasurer

Craig Martin - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Patricia Bruner -


Scott Levine - JP Morgan Chase & Co

Alexander Rygiel - FBR Capital Markets & Co.

Barry Bannister - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc.

Tahira Afzal - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc.

Chase Jacobson - Sterne Agee & Leach Inc.

John Rogers - D.A. Davidson & Co.

Michael Dudas - Jefferies & Company, Inc.

Andy Kaplowitz - Barclays Capital

Will Gabrielski - Gleacher & Company, Inc.

Avram Fisher - BMO Capital Markets U.S.

Steven Fisher - UBS Investment Bank



Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Jacobs Engineering Third Quarter Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Patty Bruner to read the forward statements. Please go ahead.

Patricia Bruner

Thank you, Peter. The company requests that we point out that any statements that the company makes today that are not based on historical fact are forward-looking statements. Although such statements are based on management's current estimates and expectations and currently available competitive financial and economic data, forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results of the company to differ materially from what may be inferred from the forward-looking statements.

For a description of some of the factors which may occur that could cause or contribute to such differences, the company requests that you read its most recent annual report on Form 10-K for the period ended October 2, 2009, including Item 1A - Risk Factors, Item 3 - Legal Proceedings and Item 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations contained therein, and the most recent Form 10-Q for the period ended March 31, 2010, for a description of our business, legal proceedings and other information that describes the factors that could cause actual results to differ from such forward-looking statements. The company undertakes no obligation to release publicly, any revisions or updates to any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

And now John Prosser, CFO, will begin the discussion.

John Prosser

Thank you, Patty, and good morning. First, I'll briefly go over the financial highlights, then I'll turn it over to Craig Martin, our CEO, to give an overview of the business conditions and what we're seeing today.

As we reported, if you go to Slide 4, we reported the EPS was $0.15 for the quarter, $19 million year-to-date, $1.35 or $169 million for the nine months. So those numbers do reflect the impact, I should say, of the charge we took in the quarter for the adverse judgment that we received on the litigation in France. Also, includes the impact on the first quarter of the Houston sublease that we took a charge for.

So if you take those out and look at just the operating results, if you go to Slide 5, the diluted EPS for the quarter was $0.63. That's earnings of $79.3 million. And for the year-to-date, it's $1.87 or $235.1 million. Our backlog, which I'll go into a little bit more in a minute was disappointing. It was down to $13.5 billion. However, we still have a very strong balance sheet. Our net cash did increase from last quarter, now sitting at $848 million. That's up over $100 million from the prior quarter. And we have revised our guidance to $2.30 to $2.65 from the old guidance range of $2.15 to $2.65. And that guidance does exclude the French litigation and the Houston sublease charges.

If you go to Slide 6, just the history of our earnings. Well, the last couple of years have been disappointing. If you look at the blue bars under the curve, it still shows that on a 10-year trailing, we still are meeting that guideline that we talked about of 15% compounded earnings growth. Now that comes in at 17.2% through the year end or the period ended here in July 2. That also does exclude those special charges.

Going to backlog, as I said, the numbers were disappointing and coming in at total backlog of $13.5 billion. The professional services backlog was at $7.8 billion. Those were down from a year ago. They're also down from last quarter. There was really nothing unusual in the quarter, either in any big wins or any significant cancellations. We have cautioned you folks in the past that backlog can be lumpy. And while it's been fairly consistent the last few quarters, we did have a slow booking period. We don't always have ability to control when things are actually put in to backlog. I'd also remind you that we do have the effect of Motiva working through the backlog, which continues and will continue for another at least 12 months.

And also, we had some scope reductions, scope adjustments in some of our NASA work, although that was not a significant impact, but it does show in. Then most of the NASA backlog, we just booked one year at a time, so we don't see the full impact of the multi-year awards that we have with NASA.

I would say though, that as we've gotten through the quarter, it does appear that our prospects are improving. And we would hope to be able to reverse this trend soon.

With that, I will turn the call over to Craig to talk about the overview.

Craig Martin

Good morning, everyone. I'm going to talk about five things in terms of how we're going to continue to grow the company.

The first two, our business model and our market diversity, I'm going to talk about in some more detail on subsequent slides. I'm on Slide 8 right now. But I'm going to have to talk a little bit about the other three while we're here.

We continue to believe that our multi-domestic strategy is the appropriate way to approach the market and we continue to expand it geographically. We think being local drives a significant base load of work, and then that base load gets you leverage for larger projects as they come along.

Our focus right now in terms of that multi-domestic strategy is to expand our position in the Middle East, both to address the public sector projects, the infrastructure-related and buildings-related work, as well as the process work in the private sector. Those are both important because the spending there is very significant in both categories. Right now, Saudi Arabia has about a $200 billion, five-year CapEx program. Of that, about $130 billion is not process work. It's other work. So you can see that's a very significant opportunity for us, and we have not yet penetrated that business in any significant way in the Middle East, although we have a foothold in Abu Dhabi and opportunities to grow in Saudi Arabia. And then, of course, the private sector spend in the Middle East, Gulf-wide is going to be huge as well from an process-industry spend, and we're continuing to position for that.

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