Comfort Systems to miss third quarter Wall Street estimates ...

Comfort Systems USA Inc. was hit by Wall Street Oct. 5 as hard as North Carolina was by Hurricane Floyd.

Comfort Systems (NYSE: FIX) announced in early October that it would miss third quarter Wall Street estimates by $0.10 per diluted share, and watched its stock plummet more than $5.19 per share, or nearly 45 percent in one day. It closed on Oct. 5 at $6.50 per share, down from its 52-week high $20.50.

Its stock was suspended from trading by the New York Stock Exchange for several hours on Oct. 5 while the exchange sorted out a price imbalance.

"Our company simply did not grow as quickly as expected," said Fred Ferreira, Comfort Systems USA's chairman and CEO. "From our vantage point, it appears the construction industry is operating near capacity."

The company said it was hurt by temporary closings at certain locations and the temporary halt in construction projects caused by Hurricane Floyd.

"We have grown our business over the past two years and expect growth to continue," Ferreira added. "While our backlog is strong and has continued to increase, it is not driving our internal growth at the same rate."

The company is expecting to report net income for the third quarter in the range of $360 to $375 million, or $0.33 to $0.34 per diluted share. Comfort Systems' income for 1998's third quarter was $232.4 million, or $0.33 per diluted share.

Comfort Systems said it also expects its fourth quarter earnings to be affected by the same problems. Ferreira said that the company anticipates that acquisition activity will slow until the end of 2000.

Operating with 115 locations in 80 cities, Comfort Systems' annualized revenues are approximately $1.3 billion. Third quarter results were expected to be released Nov. 3.

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