SPX chief sees project delays, cuts forecasts

SPX Corp., the world's largest maker of dry cooling towers for power plants, has seen some projects in its flow technology and industrial divisions pushed into next year amid the global credit crisis, the Charlotte-based Fortune 500 company said Wednesday.

Customers unable to determine how their capital spending may be affected by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression have delayed the planning process for some projects until next year, Chief Executive Officer Christopher Kearney said. The company hasn't had any order cancellations in its current backlog.

The company trimmed its 2008 profit and sales forecasts, trailing analysts' estimates, as Kearney expects customers “to be more cautious in coming months.” Orders for sanitary pumps and valves used to process food and pharmaceuticals have been delayed, and U.S. demand for power transformers has declined as utilities gauge the impact of the economic slowdown on electricity use.

“We are seeing some projects get pushed into 2009,” Kearney said. “In our flow segment and our smaller industrials business, we have seen some softness in the short-term cycle of the business.”

SPX fell $6.88, or 16 percent, closing at $37 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. It had lost 57 percent this year before Wednesday.

Third-quarter profit from continuing operations rose to $110.5 million, or $2.01 a share, from $94.9 million, or $1.74, a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Excluding some items, the company earned $1.66 a share, topping analysts' average estimate by 1 cent.

The company lowered the top end of its 2008 profit forecast. SPX forecast fourth-quarter profit of $1.90 to $2, compared with the $2.06 predicted by analysts.

Fourth-quarter sales are projected to grow 18 percent to 22 percent, Chief Financial Officer Patrick O'Leary said.