Will MasTec Earnings Get the Stock Out of Its Funk?

By Markets Fool.com


Source: MasTec.

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There are many companies that aren't always easy for investors to understand, particularly when they do business in a number of different industries. Infrastructure construction company MasTec is one of those all-purpose companies, as it helps implement a wide variety of projects via its engineering, installation, maintenance, and upgrade expertise. Yet as MasTec prepares to release its first-quarter financial report on Monday, investors wonder whether the energy bust will hit the company's results, and they want answers about MasTec's failure to file its annual report with the SEC. Let's look more closely at MasTec and what it's likely to tell investors next week.

Stats on MasTec

Analyst EPS Estimate

$0.18

Change From Year-Ago EPS

(14.3%)

Revenue Estimate

$1 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue

4.1%

Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters

3

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Can MasTec build up its stock price?
Investors' nervousness about MasTec earnings has shown up in analysts' projections for the company's results: They cut their first-quarter expectations on earnings by about 20% and made less severe but still substantial reductions to full-year 2015 and 2016 projections. The stock has stayed in its funk, falling another 10% since early February.

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Early in the quarter, it seemed MasTec might finally be getting back on track. The company's fourth-quarter earnings report wasn't as bad as many had expected, as the company moderated its decline in earnings and actually brought in more revenue than it had during the previous year's quarter. Yet the company was cautious about its future prospects, with many investors pointing to the plunge in oil prices as potentially removing one of the sources of MasTec's business growth over the past several years.

More ominously, MasTec announced in that earnings release that its audit committee had discovered a potential accounting issue. As the company explained, MasTec had to choose when to recognize certain expenses, and the committee believes some of the accounting treatment for some of those costs might have led to their being recognized at inappropriate times. The company said up to $13 million in expenses could be moved from last year's third quarter to the previous quarter. The committee said it doesn't expect any impact on full-year 2014 results.


Source: MasTec.

Since then, though, investors have grown increasingly impatient with MasTec's progress. In mid-March, the company announced a delay in filing its required annual report with the SEC, citing the ongoing independent internal investigation by the audit committee and independent counsel. At that time, the committee still didn't have anything substantive to report regarding its conclusions or when the investigation might be completed. The lack of clarity on the issue led to a big drop in MasTec's share price, which fell about 10% the day after the announcement.

As important as its immediate results are, MasTec investors will want to look for any signs about the eventual scope of the audit committee probe. With the company having initially focused on what seemed like a minor issue, it's concerning that MasTec hasn't been able to wrap up its investigation more quickly than it has, and many are clearly worried there's more to the matter than a simple expense-timing mistake. If MasTec can resolve the problem, then investors can finally turn to the more important long-term question of whether the company can restore its growth even with a potential pullback from its energy clients. MasTec investors still hope for earnings growth this year, but that could turn out to be overly optimistic if energy starts to slow the U.S. economy's growth.

The article Will MasTec Earnings Get the Stock Out of Its Funk? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of MasTec. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.