Mike Kane/Bloomberg via Getty Images WASHINGTON — Orders to U.S. factories fell in July by the sharpest amount in four months, held back by weaker demand for commercial aircraft and heavy machinery. A key category that reflects business investment plans also fell. Factory orders dropped 2.4 percent in July compared with June, when orders rose 1.6 percent, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Orders for core capital goods, a category viewed as a proxy for business investment spending, fell 4 percent in July. Core capital goods are considered a good measure of businesses’ confidence in the economy. They include items that point to expansion — such as machinery, computers and heavy trucks — while excluding volatile orders for aircraft and defense. The July setback was expected to be temporary. Orders for durable goods, items expected to last at least three years, declined 7.4 percent, a slightly bigger drop than the 7.3 percent fall estimated in a preliminary report last week. It was the biggest decline since a 12.9 percent fall in August 2012. Orders for nondurable goods, items such as chemicals, food and paper, rose 2.4 percent in July after a 0.5 percent decline in June. Excluding the volatile transportation category, factory goods orders were up 1.2 percent. The big drop in core capital goods orders suggests the third quarter is off to a weaker start than some had hoped. While economists cautioned that it’s just one month of data, a few lowered their growth estimates for the July-September quarter after seeing the durable goods report. Some believe that growth may only come in around 1.9 percent for the current quarter, a drop from previous estimates of 2.5 percent growth. Overall manufacturing has slumped this year, hurt by weakness overseas that has dragged on U.S. exports. But there have been signs that factory activity could pick up in the second half of the year. But the Institute for Supply Management reported Tuesday that its closely watched gauge of manufacturing activity rose in August to a reading of 55.7, up from 55.4 in July. That was the highest level since June 2011 and offered encouragement that manufacturing may be starting to pull out of its slowdown. The economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the April-June quarter.
Top Construction Stocks To Watch For 2014: Societe Libanaise des Ciments Blancs SAL (CBN)
Societe Libanaise des Ciments Blancs SAL is a Lebanon-based joint stock company that operates in the construction materials industry sector. The Company is engaged in the production and sale of white cement. The Company is a 65.99% owned by Holcim (Liban) SAL. Advisors’ Opinion:
- [By CanadianValue]
Nigeria’s reformed banking system has provided many foreigners with an attractive means to invest in the fast-growing domestic economy. The banking industry is important, not only because of the rise of microfinance, but because of the move by banks into consumer banking. Until recently, banks were mainly financing large businesses or the government through bond purchases. Following a banking crisis in 2008, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) conducted an audit of the commercial banking sector. All banks that failed the audit had their CEOs replaced. The state-owned Asset Management Corporation (AMCON) was created to purchase non-performing loans and recapitalize the unhealthy banks. A recent review of the country’s banks by the IMF showed a dramatic increase in profits for the industry in 2012, while the capital adequacy ratio was above the minimum requirement of 10% and non-performing loans were below the mandated threshold of 5%5.
Top Construction Stocks To Watch For 2014: Balfour Beatty PLC (BIH)
Balfour Beatty plc is a global infrastructure company that delivers services essential to the development, creation and care of infrastructure assets; from finance and development, through design and project management to construction and maintenance. The Company operates in four segments: Professional Services segment is engaged in the provision of project management; Construction Services segment is engaged in the activities resulting in the physical construction of an asset; Support Services segment is engaged in the activities, which support existing assets or functions, and Infrastructure Investments segment is engaged in the acquisition, operation and disposal of infrastructure assets, such as PPP concessions and airports. In July 2013, it announced the disposal of its 50% interest in the Salford Hospital PFI asset. In December 2013, Balfour Beatty Plc completed the sale of its UK facilities management business to GDF Suez Energy Services. Advisors’ Opinion:
- [By Vanina Egea]
A few companies excel over their market peers, granting them an unconventional competitive advantage. Everybody knows the market leaders, or the mammoth companies, but there are other particular services that can give a firm greater exposure. No other example is more relevant than the rotary rig count offered by Baker Hughes (BIH). The Baker Hughes Rig Counts provides a weekly count of U.S. and Canadian drilling activity to the industry since 1944, and has become an important business barometer for the drilling industry and its suppliers. Most importantly, the index allows industry analysts to identify industry trends, while providing valuable information to prospect investors beyond Baker Hughes itself. After experiencing a decline in performance from mid-2011 to the end of 2012, the company saw great improvement in overall performance during 2013. Can the trend be expected to continue?
Top Construction Stocks To Watch For 2014: Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (JEC)
Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. provides professional, technical, and construction services. Its services include engineering, design, and architectural services; construction and construction management services; operations and maintenance services; and process, scientific, and systems consulting services. The company serves a range of companies and organizations comprising industrial, commercial, and government clients across multiple markets and geographies. Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. provides its services to various industries and markets consisting of oil and gas exploration, production, and refining; environmental programs; pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; chemicals and polymers; buildings; infrastructure; power; technology and manufacturing; consumer products; and pulp and paper. The company provides its services through its offices in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. was founded in 1947 and is based in Pa sadena, California.
- [By Ben Levisohn]
URS Corp, which competes with the likes of Fluor (FLR), Jacobs Engineering (JEC) and Tetra Tech (TTEK), said it would earn between $3.20 and $3.30 a share in 2013–the previous range had been between $4.10 and $4.25 a share–and also offered guidance for 2014 that was well below analyst forecasts. On the plus side, URS said it would buy its shares back at a faster pace than previously announced.
- [By Ben Levisohn]
The market is running in place today but the VIX continues to drop and that could be a good sign for Boeing (BA), Xerox (XRX), Jacobs Engineering (JEC), Consol Energy (CNX) and Morgan Stanley (MS).
- [By Rich Smith]
The Department of Defense had a slow day Thursday, announcing only five new defense contracts, with a combined value of only $109.5 million. Of these contracts, only two went to publicly traded defense contractors:
Top Construction Stocks To Watch For 2014: Walter Bau AG (WTB)
Walter Bau AG is an international construction group based in Augsburg, southern Germany. The Company’s core construction-related services are planning, financing, project development and facilities management. It is active in the fields of turnkey construction, civil engineering, international construction and transportation infrastructure. Its subsidiary, DYWIDAG-Systems International markets the Company’s products and systems worldwide, particularly in the field of post-tensioning and geotechnics, as well as special civil engineering processes. Walter Bau also provides operation and financing solutions, as well as developing commercial and residential real estate projects. Facilities Management is offered by DYWIDAG Service GmbH. Its Logistics Competence Center in Augsburg bundles the Company’s Germany-wide activities as a general contractor in the planning, construction and support of distribution centers. The Company commenced insolvency proceedings in April 2005. Advisors’ Opinion:
- [By Sofia Horta e Costa]
Whitbread Plc (WTB) added 4.1 percent to 3,114 pence, its largest advance since September 2012. Oriel Securities Ltd. raised its rating on the shares to buy from hold, citing improvement in the U.K. hotel market.
- [By Namitha Jagadeesh]
BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) and Rio Tinto Group, the world’s biggest mining companies, fell at least 3 percent. Whitbread Plc (WTB) dropped 2.8 percent after UBS AG downgraded the owner of the Costa Coffee chain. British Land Co., the U.K.’s second-largest real estate investment trust, advanced 1.2 percent after saying it bought commercial property in London for 470 million pounds ($707 million).
Top Construction Stocks To Watch For 2014: Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas SA (FCC)
Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas SA (FCC) is a Spain-based company, which is primarily engaged, together with its subsidiaries in the construction and environmental services sector. The Company’s activities include the collection, treatment and elimination of solid urban waste, street cleaning, sewer system maintenance, green areas and buildings maintenance, urban transport, treatment and elimination of industrial waste, full-service water supply management and cement manufacture. The Company is also active in the real estate development, as well as in the renewable energy industry. In addition, the Company is a parent of Grupo FCC, a group which comprises a number of controlled entities. Advisors’ Opinion:
- [By Live Investor]
What does the FCC have to say? The regulator’s reaction is nothing surprising. After Son met the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to convince them about the prospects of the proposed deal, Reuters reported that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler wasn’t quite impressed and had dubious thoughts on it.
Top Construction Stocks To Watch For 2014: Holcim Ltd (HOLN)
Holcim Ltd (Holcim) is a Switzerland-based holding company that specializes in the manufacture, distribution and marketing of building materials. The Company operates four business segments, including Cement, Aggregates, Other construction materials and services, and Corporate. The Cement segment is engaged in the development of cement and comprises clinker and other cementitious materials, among others. The Aggregates business segment includes crushed stone, gravel and sand. The Other construction materials and services business segment comprises ready-mix concrete, concrete products, asphalt, construction and paving, and trading, among others. Additionally, other construction materials and services segment provides environmental services, including waste management, among others. The Corporate segment is engaged in holding activities and general management. It operates through subsidiaries in Asia Pacific, Latin America, Europe, North America, Africa and Middle East regions . Advisors’ Opinion:
- [By Sofia Horta e Costa]
Holcim Ltd. (HOLN) lost 0.9 percent to 68.15 francs in Zurich. Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit cut its rating on the world’s largest cement maker to underperform, similar to a sell recommendation, from neutral. Merrill Lynch cited the company’s exposure to emerging markets.
Top Construction Stocks To Watch For 2014: Amcol International Corp (ACO)
AMCOL International Corporation (AMCOL), incorporated on December 3, 1959, is focused on the development and application of minerals and technology products and services to various industrial and consumer markets. It operates in five segments: performance materials, construction technologies, energy services, transportation and corporate. Its performance materials segment previously referred to as its minerals and materials segment is a supplier of bentonite related products. Its construction technologies segment previously referred to as its environmental segment provides products for non-residential construction, environmental and infrastructure projects worldwide. Its energy services segment previously referred to as its oilfield services segment offers a range of patented technologies, products and services for both upstream and downstream oil and gas production. Its transportation segment serves domestic subsidiaries, as well as third parties, is a dry van and flatbed carrier and freight brokerage service provider.
Performance Materials Segment
The Company supplies chromite and leonardite, and operates more than 25 mining or production facilities worldwide. It mines chromite, an iron chromium oxide, from open cast mines in South Africa and transport it to our nearby processing facility. Its primary uses include metalcasting, drilling fluid additive, and agricultural applications. Its performance materials segment conducts its business through wholly owned subsidiaries and investments in affiliates and joint ventures throughout the world. It consists of four product lines: metalcasting; specialty materials; basic minerals, and pet products. Its principal products are marketed under various registered trade names, including VOLCLAY, PANTHER CREEK, PREMIUM GEL, ADDITROL, ENERSOL, and Hevi-Sand.
The Company’s metalcasting products include blended mineral binders containing sodium and calcium bentonite and organic additives sold under the trade name ADDITROL. I! n the ferrous casting market, the Company specializes in blending bentonite of various grades by themselves or with mineral binders containing sodium bentonite, calcium bentonite, seacoal and other ingredients. It also has a line of formulated additives that introduce silicon and carbon in the melt phase of the casting process. In the steel alloy casting market, it sells a chromite product with a particle size distribution specific to a customer’s needs.
The Company’s specialty materials products contain bentonite and synthetic additives offering solutions for consumer and industrial applications. It also offers products for bio-agricultural applications. The markets and applications of its specialty materials products include fabric care, personal care, basic materials and pet products. It supply high-grade, agglomerated bentonite and other mineral additives used in fabric care products. It manufactures adsorbent polymers and purified grades of bentonite fo r sale to manufacturers of personal skin care products. The adsorbent polymers are used to deliver high-value actives in skin-care products. Microsponge and Poly-Pore are the principal trade names under which these products are sold. Its basic minerals product line supplies minerals to a variety of markets and industrial applications, including drilling fluid additives, ferro alloys and other industrial.
The Company’s pet products include sodium bentonite-based scoopable (clumping), traditional and alternative cat litters, as well as specialty pet products sold to grocery and drug stores, mass merchandisers, wholesale clubs and pet specialty stores throughout the United States. It is primarily a private-label producer of cat litter, and its products are marketed under various trade names. These products are sold solely in the United States from three principal sites from which it package and distribute finished goods. Its transportation segment provides logist ics services and is a component of its capability in supplyi! ng custom! ers on a national basis.
Construction Technologies Segment
The Company’s construction technologies segment serves customers engaged in a range of construction projects, including site remediation, concrete waterproofing for underground structures, liquid containment on projects ranging from landfills to flood control, and drilling applications including foundation, slurry wall, tunneling, water well and horizontal drilling. Its construction technologies segment conducts its business through wholly owned subsidiaries and joint ventures throughout the world. This segment consists of four product lines: building materials; contracting services; drilling products, and lining technologies.
The Company sells lining and other products for a variety of applications, most of which are directed to preserving or remediating environmental issues. It helps customers protect ground water and soil through the sale of geosynthetic clay liner products containing bentonite. It market these products under the BENTOMAT and CLAYMAX trade names principally for lining and capping landfills, mine waste disposal sites, water and wastewater lagoons, secondary containments in tank farms, and other contaminated sites. It also provides associated geosynthetic materials for these applications, including geotextiles and drainage geocomposites.
The Company’s lining technologies product line also includes specialized technologies to mitigate vapor intrusion in new building construction. It also provides reactive capping technologies and solutions to contain residual contamination, reduce costs associated with ex-situ remedies, and aid in environmental protection. Products offered include Liquid Boot, a liquid applied vapor barrier system; REACTIVE CORE-MAT, an in-situ sediment capping material; ORGANOCLAY, which absorbs organic containments, and QUIK-SOLID, a super absorbent media.
The Company offer a variety of active and passive waterproofing and greenroof technolog! ies for u! se in protecting the building envelope of non-residential constructions, including buildings, subways, and parkway systems. Its products include VOLTEX, a waterproofing composite comprised of two polypropylene geotextiles filled with sodium bentonite; ULTRASEAL, an advanced membrane using a active polymer core, and COREFLEX, featuring heat-welded seams for protection of critical infrastructure. In addition to these membrane materials, it also provides roofing products and a variety of sealants and other accessories required to create a functional waterproofing system.
The Company drilling products are used in environmental and geotechnical drilling applications, horizontal directional drilling, mineral exploration and foundation construction. The products are used to install monitoring wells, facilitate horizontal and water well drilling, and seal abandoned exploration drill holes. VOLCLAY GROUT, HYDRAUL-EZ, BENTOGROUT and VOLCLAY TABLETS are among the trade nam es for products used in these applications. It also offer a range of drilling products used in the excavation of foundations for large buildings, bridges and dams; these products include SHORE PAC and PREMIUM GEL. Contracting services, which involve installation of products, are occasionally offered to customers for select projects.
Energy Services Segment
The Company’s energy services segment provides services to improve the production, costs, compliance, and environmental impact of activities performed in the oil and gas industry. Operating as CETCO Energy Services, it offer a range of patented technologies, products and services for all phases of oil and gas production, transportation, refining, and storage throughout the world. It provide both land-based and offshore water treatment, well testing, pipeline separation, nitrogen, coil tubing and other services to the oil and gas industry. The Company provides its services through subsidiaries lo cated in Australia, Brazil, Malaysia, Nigeria, the United Ki! ngdom, an! d the United States, principally in the Gulf of Mexico and the surrounding on-shore area. Its principal services include water treatment, coil tubing, well testing, nitrogen services and pipeline. The Company helps customers comply with regulatory requirements by providing equipment, technologies, personnel and filtration media to treat waste water generated during oil production.
The Company’s coil tubing services utilize metal piping, which comes spooled on a large reel. It provide both equipment and operating personnel to perform services ranging from acid stimulation, reverse circulation, cementing, pressure control, nitrogen injection, and other operations that involve pumping fluids into a well. Horizontal wells and shale completions are a large component of its operations. It provide equipment and personnel to help customers control well production, as well as to clean up, unload, separate, measure component flow, and dispose of fluids from oil and gas w ells. Nitrogen services are provided in jetting wells that are loaded with fluid; stimulating wells, including fracturizing and acidizing; displacing completion fluids prior to perforating; inflating flotation devices for offshore installations, and pressure testing and other maintenance activities.
The Company operates a long-haul trucking business through Ameri-Co Carriers, Inc., and a freight brokerage business through Ameri-Co Logistics, Inc. primarily for delivery of finished products throughout the continental United States. These services are provided to its subsidiaries, as well as third-party customers.
- [By Jake L’Ecuyer]
Leading and Lagging Sectors
In trading on Friday, Basic Materials shares were relative leaders, up on the day by 0.78 percent. Top gainer in the sector was AMCOL International (NYSE: ACO), up 9 percent.
- [By Seth Jayson]
AMCOL International (NYSE: ACO ) is expected to report Q2 earnings on July 26. Here’s what Wall Street wants to see:
The 10-second takeaway
Comparing the upcoming quarter to the prior-year quarter, average analyst estimates predict AMCOL International’s revenues will grow 1.6% and EPS will wither -16.9%.
Top Construction Stocks To Watch For 2014: EMCOR Group Inc. (EME)
EMCOR Group, Inc. provides electrical and mechanical construction, and facilities services primarily to commercial, industrial, utility, and institutional customers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and internationally. The company offers various electrical and mechanical systems, including electric power transmission and distribution systems, such as power cables, conduits, distribution panels, transformers, generators, uninterruptible power supply systems, and related switch gear and controls; premises electrical and lighting systems, including fixtures and controls; low-voltage systems comprising fire alarms, and security and process control systems; voice and data communications systems, including fiber-optic and low-voltage cabling systems; and roadway and transit lighting and fiber-optic lines. It also provides heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, and clean-room process ventilation systems; fire protection systems; plumbing, processing, and piping systems; controls and filtration systems; water and wastewater treatment systems; central plant heating and cooling systems; cranes and rigging; millwrighting; and steel fabrication, erection, and welding systems. In addition, the company offers facilities services comprising industrial maintenance and services; outage services to utilities and industrial plants; commercial and government site-based operations and maintenance; military base operations support; mobile mechanical maintenance and services; floor care and janitorial; landscaping, lot sweeping, and snow removal; facilities and vendor management; call center; building systems installation and support; and technical consulting and diagnostic services. Further, it provides small modification and retrofit projects; retrofit projects; and program development, management, and maintenance services for energy systems. EMCOR Group, Inc. was founded in 1966 and is headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut.
- [By Seth Jayson]
When judging a company’s prospects, how quickly it turns cash outflows into cash inflows can be just as important as how much profit it’s booking in the accounting fantasy world we call “earnings.” This is one of the first metrics I check when I’m hunting for the market’s best stocks. Today, we’ll see how it applies to EMCOR Group (NYSE: EME ) .
- [By Eric Volkman]
EMCOR Group (NYSE: EME ) is growing the old-fashioned way — with the purchase of outside assets. The company announced that it will acquire the privately held RepconStrickland, a Texas-based firm it describes as “a leading provider of recurring turnaround and specialty services to the North American refinery and petrochemical markets.”
Top Construction Stocks To Watch For 2014: Bouygues SA (BOUYF.PK)
Bouygues SA is a France-based group that operates in two sectors: Telecommunications and Media, and Construction. The Construction division comprises three core subsidiaries: Bouygues Construction, specializing in building and public works activities, notably in the areas of electrical engineering, and facility maintenance; Bouygues Immobilier, a property development company, whose activities include the development of residential, corporate and commercial properties, and the execution of urban development schemes, and Colas, engaged in the construction and maintenance of transport, urban development and leisure infrastructure. The Telecommunications and Media division of the Group comprises two companies: TF1, specializing in audiovisual and cinema production, the acquisition and sale of audiovisual rights, and the publishing and distribution of compact discs, among others, and Bouygues Telecom, which offers mobile telephone and broadband Internet services. Advisors’ Opinion:
- [By Mike Arnold]
I normally don’t look at charts much, but comparing Orange to its competitors in the French telecommunications market is quite fascinating. As one can see, incumbents Bouygues (BOUYF.PK) and Vivendi (VIVHY.PK) (owner of SFR) saw similar price declines. The market, on the other hand, rapidly bid up the price of new entrant Iliad SA (ILIAF.PK), as a result of forecasts for Iliad to capture significant mobile market share (which it did, around 10%). The wide divergence in price relative to changes in underlying value favor going long the incumbents, including Orange. Because this time it’s different.