* Q3 EPS 78 cents vs 85 cents expected by Wall St
* 2012 EPS guidance of $3.40-$3.80 below average estimate
* Follows profit misses for rivals KBR, Foster Wheeler
* Fluor shares down 4 pct after hours
By Braden Reddall
Nov 3 Fluor Corp , the largest publicly
traded U.S. engineering company, posted third-quarter earnings
short of estimates and gave an outlook for next year below what
analysts expected, sending its shares down 4 percent.
It has been a generally disappointing quarter for U.S.
engineering and construction firms. But Fluor's backlog of work
did show another quarter of growth, and Chief Executive David
Seaton said he had not seen any real change in clients'
spending plans despite the macroeconomic worries.
Plus, Fluor's board authorized a new buyback program for up
to 12 million shares, or 7 percent of its outstanding stock.
The company forecast 2012 earnings per share of $3.40 to
$3.80. Analysts on average were expecting $4.01, according to
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The 2012 outlook assumed profit growth in all its divisions
apart from power, and included the impact of 15 to 25 cents per
share for funding its recently purchased nuclear technology
Fluor's third-quarter net profit was $135 million, or 78
cents per share, after a year-ago loss of $54 million, or 30
cents per share. The average estimate was 85 cents per share.
Revenue rose 10 percent to just over $6 billion, short of
the average estimate of about $6.3 billion.
The Irving, Texas-based company reported a record backlog
of $41.8 billion at the end of the third quarter, up from $40.3
billion three months before.
Chief Executive David Seaton told analysts that Fluor's
broad spread of market exposure, with 80 percent of its backlog
outside the United States, was starting to pay off.
"I'm really bullish on our ability to grow this thing
beyond the $40 billion, but I'd only caution with that
lumpiness word," Seaton said. "There will probably be some
quarters where our backlog will be reduced from the highs, just
to return there or above in the out quarters."
Asked about Fluor's military support work in Afghanistan
and Iraq, Seaton said he did not anticipate a reduction in the
number of people it provided services for, even if those were
not necessarily U.S. troops. "It's about numbers of heads, not
what that head looks like," he added.
He tempered his comments at the start of the conference
call by pointing out that Fluor employed seven of the 13 people
killed in Afghanistan by a suicide bomb last Saturday.
Following the quarterly results that came after the close
of trading on Thursday, Fluor's shares fell 4 percent to $56,
after gaining 5.4 percent in regular trading.
Rival KBR Inc posted profit short of estimates last
week, followed by disappointing numbers from
Foster Wheeler AG on Wednesday.