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A month has gone by since the last earnings report for Aecom Technology (ACM). Shares have added about 6.1% in that time frame, outperforming the S&P 500.
Will the recent positive trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is Aecom due for a pullback? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at its most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important drivers.
AECOM Q3 Earnings In Line With Estimates, Revenues Top
AECOM reported third-quarter fiscal 2021 results, wherein earnings were in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate but revenues beat the same. Furthermore, the company increased its fiscal 2021 guidance.
Troy Rudd, AECOM’s chief executive officer, said, “Our third quarterresults were highlighted by accelerating NSR growth in our design business, a new quarterly high for margins, double-digit adjusted earnings growth and strong cash flow. As we look ahead, the pandemic continues to have varied impacts around the world.”
Adjusted earnings per share of 73 cents met the consensus mark but grew 33% year over year. Revenues of $3,408 million beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 5.6% and grew 7% year over year.
Improved profitability reflects the company’s efforts to transform itself into a higher-margin and lower-risk Professional Services business.
Americas revenues of $2,618.4 million were up 6% from the year-ago level. Yet, net service revenues or NSR of $890 million for the quarter dropped 4% year over year on a constant-currency organic basis. Adjusted operating income of $168 million was up 2% year over year. Adjusted operating margin (on an NSR basis) also expanded 100 basis points or bps. This upside reflected the benefits of the actions taken to boost margins, and investments in technology, shared service centers as well as design centers to improve project delivery efficiencies.
International revenues gained 10% on a year-over-year basis to $789.3 million. On a constant-currency organic basis, NSR increased 7% from a year ago to $633 million for the quarter. Adjusted operating income in the segment rose 38% year on year to $46 million. Adjusted operating margin (on an NSR basis) also jumped 160 bps to 7.3%. Actions taken to improve margins included consolidating real estate, implementing a streamlined G&A structure and exiting lower-returning countries.
Adjusted segment operating margin for the quarter amounted to 14.1%, up 90 bps from the year-ago level. This marked a new quarterly high. Adjusted EBITDA also grew 15% year over year to $214 million.
At fiscal third quarter-end, the company’s total backlog was $39.7 billion, down 4% from the prior-year figure. Nonetheless, backlog in the design business grew 8% from a year ago.
Liquidity & Cash Flow
As of Jun 30, 2021, AECOM’s cash and cash equivalents totaled $1,049 million, down from $1,708.3 million at fiscal 2020-end.
As of fiscal third quarter-end, total debt (excluding unamortized debt issuance cost) was $2,233.9 million, marginally up from $2,085 million at fiscal 2020-end.
AECOM has executed $930 million of stock repurchases since the beginning of September 2020. This has reduced the share count by 12% to date. The company has $525 million of capacity remaining under the $1-billion share repurchase authorization.
Fiscal 2021 Guidance Lifted
Adjusted EPS is now expected in the range of $2.75-$2.85 versus the prior guidance of $2.65-$2.85. This indicates a 30% adjusted EPS improvement in fiscal 2021 at the mid-point of the guided range. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2021 earnings is currently pegged at $2.78 per share.
AECOM has also raised its adjusted EBITDA guidance to the range of $810-$830 million from $790-$830 million expected earlier, indicating 10% year-over-year growth at midpoint. The company has reiterated free cash flow projection of $425-$625 million.
How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?
In the past month, investors have witnessed an upward trend in fresh estimates.
Currently, Aecom has a strong Growth Score of A, though it is lagging a lot on the Momentum Score front with a C. Charting a somewhat similar path, the stock was allocated a grade of B on the value side, putting it in the second quintile for this investment strategy.
Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of A. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.
Estimates have been trending upward for the stock, and the magnitude of this revision looks promising. Notably, Aecom has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.
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