IRVINE — A cold winter and the completion of several unusually profitable projects contributed to 23% higher first-quarter earnings for Fluor Corp., the company said Thursday.
Fluor reported profits of $44 million, or 53 cents per share, for the quarter ended Jan. 31, compared with $36 million, or 43 cents per share, during the corresponding period a year earlier. Revenues rose 14 percent, from $1.8 billion to $2.1 billion.
The earnings were 3 cents to 5 cents higher per share than analysts had predicted.
Shares of the international engineering, construction, maintenance and technical services company rose $2.75 in New York Stock Exchange trading Thursday, to close at $47.50.
Operating profits for Fluor Daniel, the company's core engineering and construction business, advanced nearly 20% over the same period a year ago because of an increase in work completed and higher profit margins, the company said.
A.T. Massey, Fluor's low-sulfur coal subsidiary, delivered more than 20% higher operating profits, because of high demand for heat during the unusually bitter winter in the northern and eastern United States.
Analysts warned that both the weather and the higher profit margins can change from quarter to quarter.
"It was just a good mix of business completed during the quarter," said John N. Simon, a senior vice president with Seidler Cos., an investment bank in Los Angeles.
Flour said separately that its chairman and chief executive officer, Les McCraw, has an excellent chance of full recovery after cancer surgery last week. McCraw had a low-grade prostate tumor removed Wednesday.
In another announcement, the company said that a Chevron-Conoco joint venture had awarded it a $330-million contract to design and build an onshore processing plant for natural gas from the North Sea's Britannia field.
Fluor's quarterly results showed that new engineering and construction awards were $2.3 billion, up 14% compared with the first quarter of 1993. Its backlog of work was $14.8 billion compared with $14.9 billion a year ago.
The company has repeatedly warned that its backlog might shrink, and the fact that it has held steady is a good sign, said Herbert E. Hart, an energy consultant with British brokerage S.G. Warburg & Co.'s San Francisco office.