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Gibraltar’s strong profit boosts stock

Gibraltar Industries’ turnaround is gaining strength – and so is the company’s stock.

The fourth-quarter profits for the Hamburg construction and industrial products manufacturer were more than twice as strong as analysts were expecting, and the company predicted that its earnings this year would rise by 24 percent, which is about twice as fast as analysts are forecasting.

That sent Gibraltar shares soaring Thursday – an increase of 25.1 percent, or $5.05, to $25.17.

Frank Heard, Gibraltar’s CEO, said the improvement was due to its acquisition last June of solar racking systems manufacturer Rough Brothers, as well as efforts to revamp Gibraltar’s existing operations to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Gibraltar earned $220,000, or 1 cent per share, during the quarter, up from a loss of $95.7 million, or $3.08 per share, a year ago, when the company’s small profits were wiped out by a big write-down.

Excluding restructuring charges, the company’s adjusted earnings jumped to $9.1 million, or 29 cents per share, from $700,000, or 2 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts had expected the company to earn 12 cents a share.

The company’s sales rose by 40 percent, to $282 million, from $202 million, easily topping analyst forecasts of $240 million, with the Rough Brothers acquisition accounting for most of the increase.

Revenues from Gibraltar’s residential products business rose by 2 percent, to $107 million, while its industrial and infrastructure product sales fell by 12 percent, to $85 million, stung by weaker industrial demand and the strong dollar. Its renewable energy products sales from Rough Brothers jumped by 51 percent, to just under $90 million.

Gibraltar said that it expects its earnings this year to improve to between $1.30 and $1.40 per share, up from $1.09 last year and better than the $1.21 per share that analysts were forecasting. Sales are expected to rise by about 3 percent, to $1.07 billion, from $1.04 billion.