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Where There's a Willbros, There's a Way

Engineering company Willbros Group recently reported disappointing earnings – even after Cramer recommended the stock – that sent shares down precipitously. Did Cramer get it wrong? Not likely. This looks a long-term story that’s just getting warmed up.

CEO Randy Harl told Cramer on Friday’s show that the company suffered from a couple of “legacy projects” that hurt its backlog and ate into earnings last quarter but he said he’s even more bullish on the rest of 2008, going as far as to raise estimates after the last report.

Willbros has great earnings visibility, thanks to an infrastructure business that just gets bigger around the world. Harl cited a statistic of roughly $180 billion to be spent in pipeline construction, Willbros’ bread and butter, between now and 2012. That is an “awful lot of business” that the company can potentially add to its backlog, he said.

Harl said he is in the process of refocusing business in North America, particularly on gas projects in the U.S. and oil projects in the Alberta province of Canada. As a late-cycle play, Harl reassured investors that the fluctuations in commodity prices don’t make much of a difference to Willbros, which deals in contracts so far into the future that current volatility is mostly inconsequential to the bottom line.

The market got this one wrong, Cramer said. One earnings miss does not tell the story of a company on the cusp of profiting from a worldwide infrastructure boom.


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