Sterling Construction posts Q4 net income of US$9.4M, up from US$762,000 a year ago, citing help from an acquisition that last year weighed down results

HOUSTON , March 16, 2011 () – Sterling Construction Co.'s fourth-quarter net income surged, helped by an acquisition and comparison to results a year ago that were weighed down by acquisition-related costs.

But the Houston construction company cautioned on Wednesday that it doesn't see market conditions getting better soon.

President and Chief Operating Officer Joseph P. Harper Sr. said the company will be impacted if there is a continued deferral of new federal funding legislation or reductions in federal funding for states' highway and bridge construction projects.

The housing downturn and foreclosures are also a factor, Harper said. He said they hurt property and other local tax collections which are sources of funding for municipal road, bridge and water infrastructure construction.

Sterling Construction reported net income of $9.4 million, or 54 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31, up from $762,000, or 3 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected earnings of 15 cents per share.

The year-ago period included $1.2 million in direct costs related to the acquisition of Utah's Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Co. It also included $1 million for a provision for a loss on a lawsuit.

Revenue jumped 93 percent to $138 million from $71.7 million, benefiting from the inclusion of results from the Wadsworth buyout, which occurred in December 2009. The latest revenue figure beat Wall Street's estimate of $97.5 million.

Full-year net income declined 19 percent to $19.1 million, or $1.13 per share, from $23.7 million, or $1.71 per share. Annual revenue rose 18 percent to $459.9 million from $390.8 million.

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