Michael Baker posts $2.3 million quarterly loss

| Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 2:30 p.m.

Michael Baker Corp. expects revenue to decline 4 percent to 5 percent this year largely from tighter public budgets for its engineering and construction services, the company said Tuesday after posting a quarterly loss.

Based in Moon Township, Michael Baker executives said state and federal belt-tightening — along with funding uncertainties from government sequestration cuts that began Friday — would dampen revenue this year.

To offset lower revenue, Michael Baker expects to save about $1 million this year in occupancy costs by shuttering an unspecified number of small project offices, said spokesman David Higie. He could not say how many jobs could be cut as a result. The company eliminated 150 jobs last year in a cost-cutting initiative that reduced operating costs by $21 million.

Michael Baker employs 3,000 people in 100 offices nationwide, including 725 people in Western Pennsylvania.

The company on Tuesday posted a $2.3 million loss, or 24 cents a share, for the October-December quarter, mostly due to one-time charges of $5 million. That compares with

a $4.4 million profit, or 47 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue fell 9.6 percent to $141 million from $156 million, mostly due to lower revenue from its transportation segment.

The charges in the quarter included $1.1 million in severance paid in December to Bradley Mallory, the former PennDoT secretary who stepped down as Michael Baker's CEO at the board's request in mid-December, as well as a money set aside for a receivable on an international transportation project.

The company is still searching for a new CEO, said Chief Legal Officer H. James McKnight in a conference call with analysts,

For the full year, earnings dropped 84 percent to $2.8 million, or 29 cents a share, compared with $17.3 million, or $1.85 a share. Revenue increased 10.2 percent to $593 million from $538 million, driven mostly by an acquisition in late 2011.

Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 or tolson@tribweb.com

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