Aecon reports first quarter results

    
             - Revenues up, seasonal earnings down as expected -

    -   Record Q1 revenues of $426 million (up 25% from same period last
        year)
    -   EBITDA of $4.0 million (down $2.9 million from last year)
    -   EPS loss of $0.12 per share (from loss of $0.01 per share last year)
    -   Record Q1 backlog of $2.1 billion (up more than 50% from a year ago)
    -   Outlook remains positive, with a strong second half expected
    

TORONTO, May 4 /CNW/ - Aecon Group Inc. (TSX: ARE) today reported its results for the first quarter of 2010.

    
    Revenue, Operating Results and Net Income
    -----------------------------------------

                                                 Three Months Ended March 31
                                                -----------------------------
    $ millions                                         2010             2009
                                                       ----             ----

    Revenues                                  $         426    $         341
    Gross profits                                      27.3             32.6
    EBITDA                                              4.0              6.9
    Operating loss                                     (4.1)            (1.1)
    Interest expense, net                              (5.0)             1.3
    Income tax recovery                                 3.7              0.3
    Net loss for the period                            (6.6)            (0.6)
    Backlog                                   $       2,119    $       1,359
    

Revenues in the first quarter of 2010 totalled $426 million, an $85 million increase over the results reported a year ago. The increase is primarily due to a $74 million increase in the Industrial segment, which includes revenues generated from Lockerbie & Hole, acquired by Aecon in the second quarter of 2009.

Gross profits (revenues less direct costs and expenses) decreased to $27.3 million from $32.6 million in the same quarter last year, as gross margins declined from 9.6% of revenues in 2009 to 6.4% this year. Much of the decrease in gross profit can be attributed to strong performance in the Industrial segment in the first quarter of 2009 related to carry over work that was not repeated in the first quarter of 2010.

EBITDA (representing income or loss from operations before net interest expense, income taxes, depreciation and amortization, and non-controlling interests) was $4.0 million in the quarter, a $2.9 million decline from the first quarter of 2009. Similarly, operating losses (losses from operations before net interest expense, income taxes and non-controlling interests) increased by $3.0 million to $4.1 million, as improved operating results in the Infrastructure, Buildings and Concessions segments were offset, as expected, by a decrease in Industrial earnings, largely related to the 2009 carry over work noted above. The improved Infrastructure results include a $7.0 million gain resulting from a sale of land in the quarter.

Net loss for the quarter of $6.6 million (a $0.12 loss per share), compares to a net loss of $0.6 million in the first quarter of 2009 (a $0.01 loss per share).

Net interest expense increased by $6.3 million to $5.0 million in the first quarter of 2010, primarily as a result of higher levels of non-recourse project debt on three Infrastructure Ontario "build-finance" projects, and from interest costs related to the issuance of convertible debentures in the third quarter of 2009.

MG&A as a percentage of revenues improved from 7.1% in the first quarter of 2009 to 6.5% in the first quarter of 2010.

Results for any one quarter, especially the first quarter of the year, should not be treated as indicative of future financial performance.

    
    Outlook
    -------
    

"The ongoing strength, depth and durability of the public infrastructure markets in Canada, along with Aecon's strong balance sheet, financial liquidity and substantial surety capacity, combine to signal another year of strong financial performance in 2010," said John M. Beck, Chairman and CEO, Aecon Group Inc. "This, combined with Aecon's strong national presence and the improving outlook for industrial construction over the next couple of years, would suggest that 2011 and 2012 should be a period where Aecon's financial results increasingly reflect strength in both the private sector and public sector elements of the business."

"The ongoing strength of the bidding pipeline in Canada's public infrastructure markets, combined with a general increase in the size and duration of the projects Aecon is winning, provide us with increased visibility regarding our outlook for these markets," said Scott Balfour, President, Aecon Group Inc. "It is with benefit of this visibility that we remain positive about our outlook for the second half of 2010 and into 2011 and 2012."

    
    Backlog and New Business Awards
    -------------------------------
    

Backlog at March 31, 2010 was $2.1 billion, an increase of $760 million over the amount on hand at the same time last year, and a new record for backlog at the end of any first quarter. Most of the increase in backlog occurred in the Industrial segment, which includes Lockerbie & Hole, acquired by Aecon in the second quarter of 2009.

Not included in backlog, but significant to Aecon's activities, are the revenues from Aecon's growing alliances and supplier-of-choice arrangements that do not specify the amount of work to be carried out at any one time.

New contract awards of $362 million in the quarter represent an increase of $66 million over awards received in the first quarter of 2009.

    
    First Quarter Business Highlights
    ---------------------------------

    -   The January 2010 issue of Report on Business Magazine recognized
        Aecon, for the third year in a row, as one of the 50 Best Employers
        in Canada, an important strategic achievement in an industry where
        attracting the best people is key to profitable growth.

    -   In January 2010, Aecon announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary,
        South Rock Ltd., had been awarded two contracts valued at over $119
        million by Alberta Transportation and the City of Calgary. The two
        contracts were a $42 million contract for construction of an
        interchange at Crowchild Trail and Stoney Trail in Calgary, and the
        $77 million expansion of Highway 63 in Fort McMurray.

    -   Progress continued in the quarter toward resolution of issues
        surrounding Aecon's concession interest in the Quito International
        Airport project, while construction activity has been substantially
        reduced until the full resolution of issues is finalized. Assuming
        prompt approval by Ecuadorian authorities, commercial and financial
        close of the new agreement is expected during the second quarter of
        2010. Over 1.1 million passengers passed through the existing Quito
        airport in the first three months of 2010, a 10% increase over the
        first quarter of 2009.

    -   Average weekday traffic on the Cross Israel Highway in March 2010
        surpassed 127,000 vehicles, a 25% increase over 2009.

    -   Subsequent to the end of the quarter, Aecon announced that it had
        joined the construction joint venture extending the A30 highway near
        Montreal, one of the largest contracts in which Aecon has
        participated.

    Segmented Results
    -----------------
    

Aecon reports its results in four operating segments: Infrastructure, Buildings, Industrial and Concessions.

    
    -   Infrastructure
    

The Infrastructure segment includes all aspects of civil construction from highways, bridges and tunnels to airports, marine facilities, transit and power projects as well as utilities construction.

    
    Financial Highlights
                                                Three Months Ended March 31
                                               -----------------------------
    $ millions                                        2010             2009
                                                      ----             ----

    Revenues                                 $          98    $         112
    EBITDA                                            (7.3)           (10.3)
    Segment operating loss(1)                        (10.2)           (13.2)
    Segment operating margin(2)                      (10.4)%          (11.8)%
    Backlog                                            553              660

    (1) Segment operating profit (loss) represents the profit or loss from
        operations, before net interest expense, income taxes,
        non-controlling interests.
    (2) Segment operating margin is calculated as segment operating profit
        (loss) as a percentage of revenues.
    

First quarter revenues of $98 million in the Infrastructure segment represent a 12% decrease from the same quarter in 2009. Most of the decrease was due to a slowdown in the pace of construction at the new Quito airport as the details of the renewed concession agreement are finalized, and from civil operations in Western Canada.

The Infrastructure segment recorded an operating loss of $10.2 million in the first quarter of 2010, a $3 million improvement over 2009, as operating profit increases in materials and civil operations were partly offset by decreases in utilities and international operations. The improvement in materials operations was primarily due to a $7 million gain from the sale of land in the quarter.

Backlog at March 31, 2010 was $553 million, a $107 million decrease over the same time last year, due primarily to lower backlog in international operations and in civil operations. These decreases were partially offset by higher backlog in materials operations. New contract awards of $106 million in first three months of 2010 compared to $152 million in the prior year. Most of the decrease in new awards occurred in civil operations. Subsequent to the end of the quarter, Aecon Infrastructure announced its participation in one of the largest contracts in Aecon's history when it joined the joint venture expanding the A30 highway near Montreal.

    
    -   Buildings
    

The Buildings segment includes all aspects of Aecon's commercial, institutional and multi-unit residential building construction and renovation activities.

    
    Financial Highlights
                                                Three Months Ended March 31
                                               -----------------------------
    $ millions                                        2010             2009
                                                      ----             ----

    Revenues                                 $         139    $         109
    EBITDA                                             1.0             (0.8)
    Segment operating profit (loss)          $         0.8             (1.0)
    Segment operating margin                           0.6%            (0.9)%
    Backlog                                            687              520
    

First quarter revenues of $139 million in the Buildings segment represent a 28% increase over the $109 million recorded in 2009. The increase was due primarily to Ontario operations, where several large projects, including three Infrastructure Ontario projects, impacted results. This increase was partly offset by a revenue decrease in Seattle, which was primarily caused by the completion of a large multi-year project earlier this year.

Segment operating profit of $0.8 million in the first three months of 2010 represents a $1.8 million improvement over 2009, as improved operating results in Quebec offset a small decline in Ontario. In addition to two large Ontario projects where the full extent of losses was realized in prior periods and where revenues continue to be recorded without corresponding margin, we have begun work on a large project in Ontario where profit recognition has yet to commence due to Aecon's accounting policy for large multi-year contracts. Under this policy, profit is recognized only when construction reaches a stage of completion that is sufficient to reasonably determine a project's probable results, which is generally 20%.

Backlog of $687 million at March 31, 2010 was $167 million higher than at the same time last year, due to increases in the segment's Ontario and Quebec operations. New contract awards of $89 million were recorded in 2010, down slightly from the $94 million recorded in 2009.

    
    -   Industrial
    

Industrial operations include all of Aecon's industrial manufacturing and construction activities including in-plant construction, fabrication of specialty pipe, assembly of custom module units and the design and manufacture of once-through heat recovery steam generators.

    
    Financial Highlights
                                                Three Months Ended March 31
                                               -----------------------------
    $ millions                                        2010             2009
                                                      ----             ----

    Revenues                                 $         170    $          97
    EBITDA                                             9.2             13.9
    Segment operating profit                           6.4             13.2
    Segment operating margin                           3.8%            13.6%
    Backlog                                            879              179
    

First quarter revenues of $170 million in the Industrial segment were 77% higher than in 2009, due primarily to the acquisition of Lockerbie & Hole in the second quarter of 2009. Revenue increases from Aecon-Lockerbie site construction projects in Western Canada, along with revenues from Lockerbie & Hole Mechanical, contributed a majority of the quarter-over-quarter revenue increase in the segment. Additional revenues from the addition of Lockerbie's Ontario operations were more than offset by declines in the balance of Ontario fabrication and construction operations, and Innovative Steam Technologies.

Operating profit of $6.4 million in the quarter represents a decrease of $6.8 million from the same quarter last year. Although the Lockerbie acquisition resulted in increased segment revenues this quarter, the impact of additional revenues was more than offset by reduced margins in Ontario, as very strong contributions from a few Ontario construction projects were not repeated in 2010, and in the oilsands, which has seen a shift in mix-of-work toward site construction activity from higher margin fabrication and module assembly work.

Backlog of $879 million at March 31, 2010 was $700 million higher than at the same time last year, due largely to the acquisition of Lockerbie & Hole in the second quarter of 2009. Overall, new contract awards of $150 million in the first three months of 2010 were $124 million higher than in the same period in 2009. Most of the increase in new awards occurred in Ontario and Mechanical operations.

    
    -   Concessions
    

The Concessions segment includes the development, operation and financing of infrastructure projects by way of public-private partnership, build-own-operate-transfer or other alternative financing contract structures.

This segment focuses primarily on investments in transportation infrastructure concessions, including the Cross Israel Toll Highway and Quito International Airport concession companies.

    
    Financial Highlights
                                                Three Months Ended March 31
                                               -----------------------------
    $ millions                                        2010             2009
                                                      ----             ----

    Revenues                                 $          21    $          25
    EBITDA                                             6.6              8.5
    Segment operating profit                           5.2              4.4
    Segment operating margin                          24.8%            17.6%
    

Concession revenues of $21 million in the first quarter of 2010 were $4 million lower than in the same quarter of 2009. The majority of the decrease came from Aecon's interest in the operator of the Cross Israel Highway, as revenues generated in 2009 from the installation of tolling equipment on a new section of the highway were not repeated in 2010.

Segment operating profit of $5.2 million in the quarter compares to a profit of $4.4 million in the same quarter of 2009. Higher operating profits from the Quito airport concessionaire, which includes the results from operating the existing Quito airport while the new airport is being constructed, offset a decline in operating profits from the operator of the Cross Israel Highway. The improvement in operating results from the Quito airport concession reflects the benefit of lower amortization costs in the quarter due to a lengthening of the period over which the value of the concession rights for the existing airport is being amortized.

Consolidated Results

The Consolidated Results for the first quarters of 2010 and 2009 are available at the end of this News Release.

    
    Balance Sheet Highlights

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (thousands of dollars)                   March 31, 2010    Dec. 31, 2009
                                             --------------    -------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cash and cash equivalents, restricted
     cash, marketable securities and
     term deposits                            $     361,529    $     414,447
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Other current assets                            693,625          714,164
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Property, plant and equipment                   202,730          200,883
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Other long-term assets                          362,204          359,844
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Assets                              $   1,620,088    $   1,689,338
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Current liabilities                       $     792,627    $     843,826
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Non-recourse project debt                        76,703           70,000
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Other long-term debt                             57,355           63,037
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Other long-term liabilities                      95,957           96,469
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Convertible debentures                          159,331          158,614
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Shareholders' equity                            438,115          457,392
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Liabilities and Shareholders'
     Equity                                   $   1,620,088    $   1,689,338
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    

Conference Call

A conference call has been scheduled for Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. ET to discuss Aecon's 2010 first quarter financial results. Participants should dial 416-981-9024 or 1-800-732-5617 at least 10 minutes prior to the conference time of 10:30 a.m. A replay will be available after 12:30 p.m. at 1-800-558-5253 or 416-626-4100 until midnight, May 12, 2010. The pass code is 21467971.

About Aecon

Aecon Group Inc. is Canada's largest publicly traded construction and infrastructure development company. Aecon and its subsidiaries provide services to private and public sector clients throughout Canada and on a selected basis internationally. Aecon is pleased to be recognized as one of the 50 Best Employers in Canada as published by Report on Business Magazine.

The information in this news release includes certain forward-looking statements. These "forward-looking" statements are based on currently available competitive, financial and economic data and operating plans but are subject to risks and uncertainties. In addition to general global events outside the Company's control, factors could cause Aecon's actual results, performance or achievements to vary from those expressed or inferred herein, including without limitation, the successful integration of recent acquisitions, Aecon's conversion to International Financial Reporting Standards, the failure to achieve the targets associated with the construction of the new Quito airport or operation of the existing Quito airport, as well as the associated political risk in Ecuador. Risk factors are discussed in greater detail in the Section entitled "Risk Factors and Uncertainties" in Management's Discussion and Analysis of operating results and Financial condition for the year ended December 31, 2009 filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. Forward-looking statements include information concerning possible or assumed future results of operations or financial position of Aecon, as well as statements preceded by, followed by, or that include the words "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "estimates," "projects," "intends," "should" or similar expressions. Important factors, in addition to those discussed in this document, could affect the future results of Aecon and could cause those results to differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements.

    
    Consolidated Statements of Income (Loss) for the three months ended
    March 31, 2010 and 2009
    (in thousands of dollars, except share and per share amounts) (unaudited)

                                                       2010             2009
                                             --------------------------------

    Revenues                                  $     426,181    $     340,885

    Direct costs and expenses                      (398,834)        (308,257)
                                             --------------------------------

                                                     27,347           32,628

    Marketing, general and administrative
     expenses                                       (27,557)         (24,162)

    Foreign exchange losses                            (788)          (1,576)

    Loss from investments accounted for
     using the equity method                         (2,123)               -

    Gain on sale of assets                            7,080               23

    Depreciation and amortization                    (8,063)          (8,047)

    Interest expense                                 (7,835)          (1,636)

    Interest income                                   2,812            2,906
                                             --------------------------------

                                                    (36,474)         (32,492)
                                             --------------------------------

    Income (loss) before income taxes and
     non-controlling interests                       (9,127)             136
                                             --------------------------------

    Income tax recovery (expense)
    Current                                           4,606           (1,203)
    Future                                             (955)           1,455
                                             --------------------------------

                                                      3,651              252
                                             --------------------------------

    Income (loss) before non-controlling
     interests                                       (5,476)             388

    Non-controlling interests                        (1,142)          (1,014)
                                             --------------------------------

    Net loss for the period                   $      (6,618)   $        (626)
                                             --------------------------------
                                             --------------------------------

    Loss per share
    Basic                                     $       (0.12)   $       (0.01)
    Diluted                                   $       (0.12)   $       (0.01)

    Weighted average number of shares
     outstanding
    Basic                                        55,077,223       50,207,924
    Diluted                                      69,888,645       50,953,865
    

%SEDAR: 00004778EF

SOURCE Aecon Group Inc.

For further information: For further information: Mitch Patten, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Aecon Group Inc., (416) 297-2615, aecon@aecon.com, www.aecon.com


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