- Construction and engineering giant Fluor Corp.'s share price dropped 17.24% by end of trading on Thursday after the company projected lower-than-expected revenue for the third quarter and after the second day of a stock market sell-off driven by a dive in tech stocks.
- Analysts predicted the company's Q3 revenue would reach $4.95 billion, but Fluor's preliminary third-quarter results indicated that revenue would likely land at about $4.6 billion. Fluor officials said that its pre-tax earnings would come in at $125 million, also lower than expected. The company's final Q3 results include pre-tax charges for two troubled projects — $46 million for close-out on a European project and $35 million for forecast revisions on a gas-fired power plant in Citrus County, Florida. Chairman and CEO David Seaton said in a call with analysts that the projects were a result of a deviation in the company's bidding procedures, CNBC reported, by employees who are no longer with Fluor.
- On a positive note, Fluor said it had $9 billion of new business in the third quarter, MarketWatch reported, and that the company's financials should improve through 2019. The firm also sold its share in SSE Renewables, the developer for Seagreen Offshore Wind Farm off the coast of Scotland, resulting in a pre-tax benefit of $124 million. Fluor will present its final Q3 results on Nov. 1.
The $9 billion of new work Fluor referred to in its preliminary earnings release likely includes the $14 billion contract to build a liquefied natural gas export facility in Kitimat, British Columbia. Fluor is taking on the LNG Canada project as a 60% joint venture partner with Japanese company JGC Corp. and expects to record an $8.4 billion share. The JV will build two independent liquefaction units as part of its contract, which should be complete in time to start processing at the export terminal in the mid-2020s.
Fluor is involved in some of the biggest projects in the U.S., including the design, construction and eventual operation of a $5 billion people mover system at Los Angeles International Airport. The company is taking that on as a joint venture as well, along with Balfour Beatty, ACS Infrastructure Development, Dragados USA, HOCHTIEF PPP Solutions, Flatiron and Bombardier Transportation.
But, as the company's latest earnings report indicates, even huge companies like Fluor can have the same issues as smaller contractors — employees who don't follow the rules and problem projects that end up costing more than expected. However, large contractors are sometimes in a position to voice their opinions on the direction of the industry and to act as trusted advisers to owners in an effort to steer projects away from such issues.
At the Gastech Barcelona conference last month in Barcelona, Fluor was one of a handful of contractors on hand to tell developers in the liquefied natural gas industry that the recent spate of delays and cost overruns in the construction of export terminals was partially due to their unrealistic expectations regarding cost and about the "realities" of building them.