Earnings roundup

Highwoods sells Atlanta property, but just misses earnings expectations

From staff and wire reportsMay 1, 2013 

Real estate company Highwoods Properties reported first-quarter earnings that fell just short of expectations, but there appeared to be extenuating circumstances.

The Raleigh-based company also announced that it recently reaped $43.3 million from the sale of industrial property in Atlanta and reaffirmed its earnings outlook for the year.

Highwoods reported that funds from operations, a measure of profitability for real estate investment trusts, totaled $57.2 million, or 68 cents per share after excluding debt extinguishment and acquisition costs. That compares to $53.5 million, or 70 cents per share, a year ago.

Wall Street was expecting funds from operations to be a penny per share higher, but the results were impacted by a rise in costs associated with the company’s employee retirement plan that may not have figured into analysts’ calculations. Those costs totaled $3.4 million in the quarter, up from $2.4 million a year ago. However, the company noted that costs stemming from the employee retirement plan for the year are expected to total $6.9 million, down from $7.6 million a year ago.

Highwoods sold 11 industrial buildings in Atlanta that encompassed 862,000 square feet, as well as 15 acres of industrial-zoned land.

“Over the past 12 months, we have taken advantage of investor demand for industrial properties, selling 1.2 million square feet, 37 percent of our Atlanta industrial portfolio,” CEO Ed Fritsch said in a statement.

Highwoods, the largest office landlord in the Triangle, reported earnings Tuesday after the markets closed. Earlier in the day, its shares closed at $41.03, up 32 cents. Its shares have risen 23 percent this year.

Staff writer David Ranii

Martin Marietta’s loss shrinks

Martin Marietta Materials, which sells construction materials, reported a smaller loss for its first-quarter as higher prices helped partially offset lower shipments for the period.

The Raleigh company’s total shipments declined 8.8 percent from the first quarter last year. The previous year benefited from an unseasonably warm winter, which accelerated the start of construction projects in many markets.

Martin Marietta, however, increased its pricing, and that helped its results for the period. The company said improved pricing bodes well for its future performance as shipments pick up during the remainder of the year for its aggregates business. Additionally, its specialty products business benefited from a new lime kiln completed in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Martin Marietta produces rock, gravel and other materials used to build roads, subdivisions and commercial buildings.

President and CEO Ward Nye said that improved housing starts, construction employment and highway obligations should benefit the company. It reaffirmed its expectations of gains in both its aggregate and specialty products businesses.

The company posted a loss of $27.8 million, or 61 cents per share, for the quarter. That is compared with a loss of $36.7 million, or 81 cents per share, in the prior year. The prior period includes a 34 cent per share charge for business development expenses.

Martin Marietta’s total revenue slipped to $385 million from $394 million a year earlier.

Analysts polled by FactSet, on average, were expecting a smaller loss of 37 cents per share on lower revenue of $360.2 million for the period.

Shares of the company increased $2.19, or 2.2 percent, to $100.65 in afternoon trading. Its stock is at the high end of its 52-week trading range of $63.64 to $106.57.

Associated Press

SciQuest revenue jumps

SciQuest reported Tuesday that its first-quarter revenue was up 48 percent from the previous year. The sales growth was attributed in part to 10 new customers.

The company also completed the integration of two acquisitions made in the second half of last year.

SciQuest’s technology allows customers to buy goods and services more efficiently online. It has more than 300 customers, including casinos, universities, drugmakers and governments.

The Cary company reported revenues of $20.7 million for the quarter that ended March 31, slightly less than analysts’ estimates of $20.78 million.

Diluted earnings per share was 8 cents, compared with 5 cents during the first quarter of 2012. That beat Wall Street estimates of 7 cents.

SciQuest expects revenue for the second quarter to be between $20.5 million and $21 million.

The company’s stock closed at $22.86 Tuesday, up 4 cents.

Staff writer Mary Cornatzer

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