Rain, stalled highway bill leaves Chattanooga-based Astec profits, share price flat

Rain, stalled highway bill leaves Chattanooga-based Astec profits, share price flat

October 23rd, 2013 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Astec Industries Inc. officials demonstrate a piece of paving equipment.

Photo by Staff File Photo/Times Free Press.

Road paver Astec Industries hit a pothole during the third quarter, cutting net income by 6 percent and driving down shares in the company's stock Tuesday by nearly 4 percent.

The Chattanooga-based maker of equipment for building, paving and mining said Tuesday it earned $6.5 million, or 28 cents per share, on sales of $213.2 million in the three months ended Sept. 30. A year ago, Astec earned $6.9 million, or 30 cents per share, on sales of $218.4 million.

Analysts were expecting net income of 37 cents per share and $233 million in revenue this year, according to FactSet.

"The numbers, in my opinion, were somewhat disappointing," Astec CEO J. Don Brock told analysts during a conference call Tuesday. "During the quarter, we continued to experience flat revenues and our profits from continuing operations were up about 5.3 percent -- but essentially flat."

Brock said sales were hurt by a drop in mining activity and the stalled transportation spending bill in Congress.

"People's attitudes didn't make them want to buy anything when they weren't running the equipment they already had so it's been a slow construction period for our customers," Brock said.

Astec's backlog fell 1 percent to $228.5 million in the quarter. Brock said he isn't encouraged by the lingering budget woes in Washington D.C., which make passage of a new highway bill unlikely in the near term.

Astec Industries Inc. said revenue from its asphalt business grew 1 percent to $47.1 million. Aggregate processing and mining revenue slid 13 percent to $79.8 million, and revenue from its mobile asphalt paving business decreased 3 percent to $35.4 million. Revenue from its drilling equipment business rose 33 percent to $27.3 million.

Shares of Astec fell Tuesday by $1.45 per share to close at $35.29.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com.