Insituform Technologies: Ready to Deliver?

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Insituform Technologies Inc. (INSU), together with its subsidiaries, provides proprietary trenchless technologies to rehabilitate, replace, maintain, and install underground pipes.

It operates in two segments, Rehabilitation and Tite Liner. The Rehabilitation segment offers Insituform CIPP Process for the rehabilitation of sewers, pipelines, and other conduits; iPlus Infusion Process, a trenchless method used for the rehabilitation of small-diameter sewer pipelines; iPlus Composite Process for the rehabilitation of large-diameter sewer pipelines; PolyFlex and PolyFold Processes that are the methods of rehabilitating transmission and distribution water mains; Thermopipe Lining System, a polyester-reinforced polyethylene lining system for the rehabilitation of distribution water mains; and iTAP Process, a robotic method for reinstating potable water service connections from inside a water main. This segment also provides Insituform RPP Process used for the rehabilitation of forced sewer mains and industrial pressure pipelines; Insituform PPL Process for the rehabilitation of drinking water and industrial pressure pipelines; Sliplining, a method used to push or pull a new pipeline into an old one; and Pipebursting for replacing deteriorated or undersized pipelines.

The Tite Liner segment offers Tite Liner process, a method of lining new and existing pipe with a corrosion and abrasion resistant high-density polyethylene pipe; and Safetyliner Liner, a grooved HDPE liner that is installed in an industrial pipeline using the Tite Liner process. The company has operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Chile, Europe, and Asia. Insituform Technologies was founded in 1971. It was formerly known as Insituform of North America, Inc. and changed its name to Insituform Technologies, Inc. in 1992. The company is headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri.

Things got rough for INSU in 2007. Earnings went down 60%, from 90 cents in 2006 to 36 cents. This year analysts see 58 cents coming to the shareholders (range of 53 cents to 69 cents) and next year, 74 cents (range of 60 cents to 97 cents). With that disparity for earnings among analysts, it's obvious this is one tough company to predict.

One thing that is easy to see is the backlog. At the end of the first quarter, it stood at $285.6 million, up 42% from the same time last year. For a company with sales of $495.6 million last year, that's a significant number, one that suggests earnings will indeed improve this year. Part of the driver behind the improvement comes from the TiteLiner division which services the oil industry. With oil prices going ever higher, the ability to deliver black gold through seamless pipes is a priority. In addition to better TiteLiner orders, the sewer rehabilitation group is seeing increased demand in Europe and Asia.

Other numbers: Return on Equity was rather meager at 2.8% in 2007. Analysts see 4% this year and 5% next year. Sales are predicted to reach $535 million this year and $570 million next year. Book Value is $12.87. Price to Sales is .8. Price to Book is 1.13. Beta is high at 1.86.

On January 22 of this year, the stock hit a 52 week low of $11.01. The high was $22.95. There are 5.2 million shares short, representing about 17 days of trading volume and 19% of the float. There are 27.764 million shares outstanding. Current assets out number current liabilities by 2.82 to 1.

One other, non-data point: There's a new CEO at the helm who should bring stability to the executive offices. Also, there are issues with the board of directors which recently added a dissident shareholder who subsequently resigned. Turmoil at the board level needs to be addressed for investors to fully gain confidence in INSU.

But the stock has done well over the last 6 months. After hitting $11.01 in January, it lifted to $19.20 before settling back again to its current level. This stock may be ready to deliver better earnings as it increases its global presence. The new CEO will have his hands full but with that improved backlog of orders, it looks like it will be a pleasant task.

Disclosure: none

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