McDermott International Shares Sink on Dismal Q4 and 2013 Earnings

Michael Teague  |

The Houston-based offshore oil and gas contractor McDermott International (MDR) was trading downward on high volume throughout Tuesday’s session after the late release of its earnings statement the day previous prompted a massive sell-off of the company’s shares.

While most energy services companies were caught up in the broader market rally that followed the news of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to back off from the conflict with its Southwestern Ukrainian neighbor, McDermott’s stock had dipped to within $1 of its 52-week low of $6.68. Furthermore, with over 30 million shares traded shortly before the bell, the company not only topped its 3-month average by a factor of nine, but was also the most heavily-traded materials stock of the day.

It is not hard to understand the market’s reaction, given that for their recently-ended fourth quarter, McDermott lost $1.37 per diluted share on revenue of $517.34. This provided a stark contrast to the prior year’s Q4, during which the company earned $0.17 per share on revenue of $995.95 million, and was well short of consensus estimates that had expected earnings of $0.15 per share on revenue of $825.61 million.

Full-year 2013 results were just as bad, losses of $2.19 per share on revenue of $2.8 billion. This is a huge miss in terms of the company’s performance in 2012 with earnings of $0.87 per share on $3.64 billion in revenue, and was far worse that the $0.67 per share in losses and $2.96 billion in revenue that the street had been hoping for.

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McDermott specializes in and installing production facilities, pipelines, and subsea systems for oil and gas producers of all sizes and varieties across three regional segments (Atlantic, Asia Pacific, Middle-East).

The numbers were indicative of a company whose struggles are numerous, with its stock receiving a handful of downgrades prior to the release of this most recent report. Last year’s profits took a hit from delays at its Papa Terra project in Brazil, but the company is also weighed down by cost overruns in Malaysia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that could very well cause McDermott some trouble in 2014 as well.

Company president and CEO David Dickson opened the conference call with investors in the afternoon by recognizing the severity of McDermott’s troubles and outlining the steps being taken to deal with them, all while trying to highlight prospects for the long-term:

“We have looked at our strategic focus, our projects, operations, business oversight, accountability and cost structure, and today I feel I have a realistical view of the business. While it is clear to me that we must stabilize and transform our business, it is also apparent that there are plenty of strengths and successes to celebrate in the organization. We build some of the most complicated unique structures in harsh environments, and we do it safely. We have attracted strong subsea and technical expertise, reaching critical mass in many experienced individuals who have recently joined our company.”

While this may very well be the case, especially considering McDermott’s recent efforts to move away from its struggling shallow water business and into higher-margin deepwater projects, investors fled the stock in Tuesday’s session, spurred on by the additional worrisome news that the company had rescinded its previous guidance for 2014, and had also suspended the practice of giving guidance altogether, at lest for an indefinite period of time. Shares were off by 8.32 percent to $7.43 by the closing bell. Furthermore, with volume at over 30 million shares the company's performance was a significant obstacle to the S&P Oil & Gas Equipment & Services Select Industry Index, 

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