James R. Lines is encouraged by the uptick in orders that showed new vigor in Graham Corp.'s depressed energy markets during the third quarter.
But Lines, the Batavia manufacturer's CEO, also knows that one quarter does not make a lasting trend.
"It is premature to anticipate that these are consistent trends," Lines said Thursday as Graham reported stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings. "The early stages of prior energy recoveries were marked with volatility, including both strong and weak order patterns."
Graham's third-quarter order bookings jumped by 78 percent to $40.5 million during the quarter that ended in December, up from $22.8 million a year ago, mainly because of a rebound in bookings from customers in the North American oil refining industry. That left its backlog of orders at $96 million - 16 percent more than a year ago.
But the stronger orders didn't help Graham's profits in the third quarter. The heat transfer equipment maker reported a loss of $11.6 million, or $1.19 per share, compared with a profit of $1.8 million, or 19 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, including a nearly $13 million write-down mainly at its commercial nuclear power business, Graham broke even, which was slightly better than the loss of 2 cents that the lone analyst following the company had expected.
Sales fell 5 percent to $17.3 million from $22.7 million.