Joy Global shares digging out from their deep hole

By Harvard Zhang

Joy Global Inc.’s shares surged after the opening bell Thursday after the company – plagued by abysmal conditions in the mining industry, tumbling metal prices and sluggish global demand – turned in a deeper-than-anticipated fiscal first quarter loss.

In the quarter ended Jan. 29, the Milwaukee, Wis.-based maker of mining equipment swung to a worse-than-expected net loss of $40.2 million, or 41 cents per diluted share, in contrast to a profit of $30.5 million, or 31 cents per share, a year ago.

The per-share loss was more serious than a consensus 13 cents loss that analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had expected.

Joy’s first-quarter sales dropped 25.2 percent to $526.3 million from $703.9 million a year ago.

The mining company has faced mounting pressure from a bleak U.S. coal market, as well as dwindling demand for copper and coal from China, which is experiencing an economic slowdown.

The mining companies that are Joy Global ’s customers have been cutting back on equipment expenses, as commodity prices weighed on their revenue.

“Overall a tough quarter, without a doubt,” Ted Doheny, CEO of Joy Global, said in a Thursday conference call with analysts. “We’re now targeting $100 million in year-over-year cost savings.”

Investors, despite the downbeat earnings, gave Joy’s latest results a warm welcome: In New York Stock Exchange trading Thursday, Joy’s battered shares soared $2.77, or 21% to close at $16.09. Even with Thursday’s rebound, Joy shares are down a punishing 71 percent over the past two years.

Joy Global’s battered shares

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The mining-product manufacturer’s shares tumbled 71 percent in the past two years despite Thursday’s stock surge. (Harvard Zhang/MEDILL)

“If you think there’s gonna be a revival in capital expenditure for mining companies in the back half of 2016, you buy in the stock,” said Gordon Johnson, Managing Director at New York City-based Axiom Capital Management Inc., in an interview. “If you don’t, you should be selling it. We do not.”

The Wednesday earnings report was “no-doubt horrible,” Johnson added. “Joy Global didn’t buy back any stock, they miss on the bottom line, they cut their guidance, their bookings are at record lows, that is indicative of their future revenues.”

For the full year, Joy Global expected an adjusted per-share earnings of 10 cents to 50 cents, roughly in line with analysts’ estimate of 24 cents. Last year’s per-share net was $1.95.

The company’s sales forecast said it expects sales in a range of $2.4 billion and $2.6 billion, also in line with analysts’ estimate of $2.49 billion – and down sharply from last year’s revenue of $3.17 billion.

Photo at top: An excavator operating at a mining site. Mining-product manufacturer Joy Global’s shares surged despite posting worse-than-expected first-quarter profits. (Tobias Mandt/Flickr)