COMFORT SYSTEMS USA INC. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Position and Operating Results (Form 10-Q)


The following discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with our
historical Consolidated Financial Statements and related notes included
elsewhere in this Form 10-Q and the Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the
Securities and Exchange Commission for the year ended December 31, 2020 (the
"Form 10-K"). This discussion contains "forward-looking statements" regarding
our business and industry within the meaning of applicable securities laws and
regulations. These statements are based on our current plans and expectations
and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual future
activities and results of operations to be materially different from those set
forth in the forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause
actual results to differ include risks set forth in "Item 1A. Risk Factors"
included in our Form 10-K. We undertake no obligation to revise or publicly
release the results of any revision to these forward-looking statements, except
as required by law. Given these risks and uncertainties, readers are cautioned
not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. The terms
"Comfort Systems," "we," "us," or the "Company," refer to Comfort Systems
USA, Inc. or Comfort Systems USA, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries, as
appropriate in the context.



Introduction and overview



We are a national provider of comprehensive mechanical and electrical
installation, renovation, maintenance, repair and replacement services within
the mechanical and electrical services industries. We operate primarily in the
commercial, industrial and institutional markets and perform most of our work in
industrial, healthcare, education, office, technology, retail and government
facilities. We operate our business in two business segments: mechanical and
electrical.


Nature and economy of our business



In our mechanical business segment, customers hire us to ensure HVAC systems
deliver specified or generally expected heating, cooling, conditioning and
circulation of air in a facility. This entails installing core system equipment
such as packaged heating and air conditioning units, or in the case of larger
facilities, separate core components such as chillers, boilers, air handlers,
and cooling towers. We also typically install connecting and distribution
elements such as piping and ducting.



In our electrical business segment, our main activity is electrical construction and engineering in the commercial and industrial field. We also perform electrical logistics services, electrical maintenance work, and electrical construction and engineering services.



In both our mechanical and electrical business segments, our responsibilities
usually require conforming the systems to pre-established engineering drawings
and equipment and performance specifications, which we frequently participate in
establishing. Our project management responsibilities include staging equipment
and materials to project sites, deploying labor to perform the work, and
coordinating with other service providers on the project, including any
subcontractors we might use to deliver our portion of the work.



Approximately 86.3% of our revenue is earned on a project basis for installation
services in newly constructed facilities or for replacement of systems in
existing facilities. When competing for project business, we usually estimate
the costs we will incur on a project, and then propose a bid to the customer
that includes a contract price and other performance and payment terms. Our bid
price and terms are intended to cover our estimated costs on the project and
provide a profit margin to us commensurate with the value of the installed
system to the customer, the risk that project costs or duration will vary from
estimate, the schedule on which we will be paid, the opportunities for other
work that we might forego by committing capacity to this project, and other
costs that we incur to support our operations but which are not specific to the
project. Typically, customers will seek pricing from competitors for a given
project. While the criteria on which customers select a provider vary widely and
include factors such as quality, technical expertise, on-time performance,
post-project support and service, and company history and financial strength, we
believe that price for value is the most influential factor for most customers
in choosing a mechanical or electrical installation and service provider.



                                       22

  Table of Contents

After a customer accepts our bid, we generally enter into a contract with the
customer that specifies what we will deliver on the project, what our related
responsibilities are, and how much and when we will be paid. Our overall price
for the project is typically set at a fixed amount in the contract, although
changes in project specifications or work conditions that result in unexpected
additional work are usually subject to additional payment from the customer via
what are commonly known as change orders. Project contracts typically provide
for periodic billings to the customer as we meet progress milestones or incur
cost on the project. Project contracts in our industry also frequently allow for
a small portion of progress billings or contract price to be withheld by the
customer until after we have completed the work. Amounts withheld under this
practice are known as retention or retainage.



Labor, materials and overhead costs account for the majority of our cost of
service. Accordingly, labor management and utilization have the most impact on
our project performance. Given the fixed price nature of much of our project
work, if our initial estimate of project costs is wrong or we incur cost
overruns that cannot be recovered in change orders, we can experience reduced
profits or even significant losses on fixed price project work. We also perform
some project work on a cost-plus or a time and materials basis, under which we
are paid our costs incurred plus an agreed-upon profit margin, and such projects
are sometimes subject to a guaranteed maximum cost. These margins are frequently
less than fixed-price contract margins because there is less risk of
unrecoverable cost overruns in cost-plus or time and materials work.



As of September 30, 2021, we had 6,606 projects in process. Our average project
takes six to nine months to complete, with an average contract price of
approximately $841,000. Our projects generally require working capital funding
of equipment and labor costs. Customer payments on periodic billings generally
do not recover these costs until late in the job. Our average project duration,
together with typical retention terms as discussed above, generally allow us to
complete the realization of revenue and earnings in cash within one year. We
have what we consider to be a well-diversified distribution of revenue across
end-use sectors that we believe reduces our exposure to negative developments in
any given sector. Because of the integral nature of our services to most
buildings, we have the legal right in almost all cases to attach liens to
buildings or related funding sources when we have not been fully paid for
installing systems, except with respect to some government buildings. The
service work that we do, which is discussed further below, usually does not
give
rise to lien rights.



We also perform larger projects. Taken together, projects with contract prices
of $1 million or more totaled $4.8 billion of aggregate contract value as of
September 30, 2021, or approximately 87% of a total contract value for all
projects in progress, totaling $5.6 billion. Generally, projects closer in size
to $1 million will be completed in one year or less. It is unusual for us to
work on a project that exceeds two years in length.

A stratification of projects in progress as of September 30, 2021, by contract
price, is as follows:




                                           Aggregate
                                           Contract
                              No. of      Price Value
Contract Price of Project    Projects     (millions)
Under $1 million                5,761    $       711.2
$1 million - $5 million           599          1,340.2
$5 million - $10 million          128            891.2
$10 million - $15 million          45            551.7
Greater than $15 million           73          2,059.8
Total                           6,606    $     5,554.1



In addition to project work, approximately 13.7% of our revenue represents
maintenance and repair service on already installed HVAC, electrical, and
controls systems. This kind of work usually takes from a few hours to a few days
to perform. Prices to the customer are based on the equipment and materials used
in the service as well as technician labor time. We usually bill the customer
for service work when it is complete, typically with payment terms of up to
thirty days. We also provide maintenance and repair service under ongoing
contracts. Under these contracts, we are paid regular monthly or quarterly
amounts and provide specified service based on customer requirements. These
agreements typically are for one or more years and frequently contain thirty- to
sixty-day cancellation notice periods.



                                       23

  Table of Contents
A relatively small portion of our revenue comes from national and regional
account customers. These customers typically have multiple sites and contract
with us to perform maintenance and repair service. These contracts may also
provide for us to perform new or replacement systems installation. We operate a
national call center to dispatch technicians to sites requiring service. We
perform the majority of this work with our own employees, with the balance being
subcontracted to third parties that meet our performance qualifications.



Profile and management of our operations



We manage our 38 operating units based on a variety of factors. Financial
measures we emphasize include profitability and use of capital as indicated by
cash flow and by other measures of working capital principally involving project
cost, billings and receivables. We also monitor selling, general, administrative
and indirect project support expense, backlog, workforce size and mix, growth in
revenue and profits, variation of actual project cost from original estimate,
and overall financial performance in comparison to budget and updated forecasts.
Operational factors we emphasize include project selection, estimating, pricing,
management and execution practices, labor utilization, safety, training, and the
make-up of both existing backlog as well as new business being pursued, in terms
of project size, technical application, facility type, end-use customers and
industries and location of the work.



Most of our operations compete on a local or regional basis. Attracting and
retaining effective operating unit managers is an important factor in our
business, particularly in view of the relative uniqueness of each market and
operation, the importance of relationships with customers and other market
participants, such as architects and consulting engineers, and the high degree
of competition and low barriers to entry in most of our markets. Accordingly, we
devote considerable attention to operating unit management quality, stability,
and contingency planning, including related considerations of compensation and
non-competition protection where applicable.



Economic and industrial factors

As a mechanical and electrical services provider, we operate in the broader
nonresidential construction services industry and are affected by trends in this
sector. While we do not have operations in all major cities of the United
States, we believe our national presence is sufficiently large that we
experience trends in demand for and pricing of our services that are consistent
with trends in the national nonresidential construction sector. As a result, we
monitor the views of major construction sector forecasters along with
macroeconomic factors they believe drive the sector, including trends in gross
domestic product, interest rates, business investment, employment, demographics
and the fiscal condition of federal, state and local governments.



Spending decisions for building construction, renovation and system replacement
are generally made on a project basis, usually with some degree of discretion as
to when and if projects proceed. With larger amounts of capital, time, and
discretion involved, spending decisions are affected to a significant degree by
uncertainty, particularly concerns about economic and financial conditions and
trends. We have experienced periods of time when economic weakness caused a
significant slowdown in decisions to proceed with installation and replacement
project work.


Operating environment and focus on management



During the five-year period from 2015 to 2019, there was an increase in
nonresidential building construction and renovation activity levels. In early
2020, the advent of a global pandemic led to some delays in service and
construction, including the potential for delayed project starts and air pockets
during 2020 and early 2021, and we believe those effects are now abating.



We have a credit facility in place with terms we believe are favorable that does
not expire until January 2025. As of September 30, 2021, we had $285.5 million
of credit available to borrow under our credit facility. We have strong surety
relationships to support our bonding needs, and we believe our relationships
with the surety markets are strong and benefit from our operating history and
financial position. We have generated positive free cash flow in each of the
last twenty-two calendar years and will continue our emphasis in this area. We
believe that the relative size and strength of our Balance Sheet and surety
relationships, as compared to most companies in our industry, represent
competitive advantages for us.



                                       24

  Table of Contents
As discussed at greater length in "Results of Operations" below, we expect price
competition to continue as local and regional industry participants compete for
customers. We will continue to invest in our service business, to pursue the
more active sectors in our markets, and to emphasize our regional and national
account business.



Cyclicality and Seasonality



The construction industry is subject to business cycle fluctuation. As a result,
our volume of business, particularly in new construction projects and
renovation, may be adversely affected by declines in new installation and
replacement projects in various geographic regions of the United States during
periods of economic weakness.



The mechanical and electrical contracting industries are also subject to
seasonal variations. The demand for new installation and replacement is
generally lower during the winter months (the first quarter of the year) due to
reduced construction activity during inclement weather and less use of air
conditioning during the colder months. Demand for our services is generally
higher in the second and third calendar quarters due to increased construction
activity and increased use of air conditioning during the warmer months.
Accordingly, we expect our revenue and operating results generally will be lower
in the first calendar quarter.



Results of operations (dollars in thousands):




                         Three Months Ended September 30,              Nine 

Ended months September 30,

                            2021                  2020                   2021                    2020
Revenue              $ 833,896    100.0 %  $ 714,099    100.0 %  $ 2,217,552    100.0 %  $ 2,157,698    100.0 %
Cost of services       674,684     80.9 %    566,903     79.4 %    1,808,416     81.6 %    1,747,714     81.0 %
Gross profit           159,212     19.1 %    147,196     20.6 %      409,136     18.4 %      409,984     19.0 %
Selling, general
and
administrative
expenses                95,287     11.4 %     90,888     12.7 %      271,050     12.2 %      268,857     12.5 %
Gain on sale of
assets                   (180)        -        (377)    (0.1) %      (1,021)        -        (1,243)    (0.1) %
Operating income        64,105      7.7 %     56,685      7.9 %      139,107      6.3 %      142,370      6.6 %
Interest income              1        -            7        -              7        -             99        -
Interest expense       (1,586)    (0.2) %    (1,733)    (0.2) %      (4,443)    (0.2) %      (6,904)    (0.3) %
Changes in the
fair value of
contingent
earn-out
obligations            (1,244)    (0.1) %      3,423      0.5 %        4,523      0.2 %        1,824      0.1 %
Other income
(expense)                   20        -         (15)        -            112        -             10        -
Income before
income taxes            61,296      7.4 %     58,367      8.2 %      139,306      6.3 %      137,399      6.4 %
Provision for
income taxes            14,999                 8,279                  33,553                  30,100
Net income           $  46,297      5.6 %  $  50,088      7.0 %  $   105,753      4.8 %  $   107,299      5.0 %



We had 37 operating locations as of December 31, 2020. In the first quarter of
2021, we combined two operating locations into one. Additionally, we completed
an immaterial acquisition of a mechanical contractor in Utah, which reports as a
separate operating location. In the third quarter of 2021, we completed the
acquisition of Amteck, which also reports as a separate operating location. As
of September 30, 2021, we had 38 operating locations. Acquisitions are included
in our results of operations from the respective acquisition date. The
same-store comparison from 2021 to 2020, as described below, excludes one month
of results for our electrical contractor in North Carolina, which was acquired
February 1, 2020 and reports together with our existing North Carolina
operation, three months of results for TAS, which was acquired on April 1, 2020,
nine months of results for TEC, which was acquired on December 31, 2020 and two
months of results for Amteck, which was acquired on August 1, 2021. An operating
location is included in the same-store comparison on the first day it has
comparable prior year operating data, except for immaterial acquisitions that
are often absorbed and integrated with existing operations. While the electrical
contractor in North Carolina was integrated with our existing North Carolina
operation, due to the size of the acquired operations, we have elected to
exclude their results from our same-store comparison.



                                       25

  Table of Contents

Revenue-Revenue for the third quarter of 2021 up $ 119.8 million, or 16.8%, to $ 833.9 million compared to the same period in 2020. The increase includes an 8.8% increase in sales from comparable store activity and an 8.0% increase related to TEC and Amteck acquisitions.



The following table presents our operating segment revenue (in thousands, except
percentages):




                            Three Months Ended September 30,
                              2021                    2020
Revenue:
Mechanical Services    $ 690,680     82.8 %    $ 625,660     87.6 %
Electrical Services      143,216     17.2 %       88,439     12.4 %
Total                  $ 833,896    100.0 %    $ 714,099    100.0 %




Revenue for our mechanical services segment increased $65.0 million, or 10.4%,
to $690.7 million for the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in
2020. The increase consisted primarily of an increase in activity in the
industrial sector at one of our Texas operations ($64.8 million) and in the
education sector at one of our Utah operations ($9.8 million), partially offset
by a reduction in activity in the education sector at one of our Florida
operations ($9.1 million).



Revenue for our electrical services segment increased $54.8 million, or 61.9%,
to $143.2 million for the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in
2020. The increase primarily resulted from the acquisitions of TEC in December
2020 ($22.4 million) and Amteck in August 2021 ($34.6 million), partially offset
by expected decreases driven by a higher volume of large jobs in the prior
period at our Texas electrical operation ($5.4 million).



Revenue for the first nine months of 2021 increased $59.9 million, or 2.8%, to
$2.22 billion compared to the same period in 2020. The increase included a 5.9%
increase related to the North Carolina electrical contractor, TEC, TAS and
Amteck acquisitions, partially offset by a 3.1% decrease in revenue related
to
same-store activity.



The following table presents our operating segment revenue (in thousands, except
percentages):




                              Nine Months Ended September 30,
                               2021                      2020
Revenue:
Mechanical Services    $ 1,868,096     84.2 %    $ 1,823,117     84.5 %
Electrical Services        349,456     15.8 %        334,581     15.5 %
Total                  $ 2,217,552    100.0 %    $ 2,157,698    100.0 %




Revenue for our mechanical services segment increased $45.0 million, or 2.5%, to
$1.87 billion for the first nine months of 2021 compared to the same period in
2020. The increase included a $90.5 million increase related to TAS, of which
$60.5 million resulted from an increase in activity in the industrial sector and
$30.0 million resulted from an additional three months of revenue for TAS in
2021 as compared to 2020. This increase was partially offset by a reduction in
activity in the industrial sector at one of our Texas operations ($24.3 million)
and in the education sector at one of our Virginia operations ($19.4 million).



Revenue for our electrical services segment increased $14.9 million, or 4.4%, to
$349.5 million for the first nine months of 2021 compared to the same period in
2020. The increase primarily resulted from the acquisitions of the North
Carolina electrical contractor in February 2020 ($8.3 million), TEC in December
2020 ($53.3 million) and Amteck in August 2021 ($34.6 million), as well as an
increase in same-store activity for our North Carolina electrical contractor
($13.5 million), partially offset by expected decreases driven by a higher
volume of large jobs in the prior period at our Texas electrical operation
($94.8 million).



Backlog reflects revenue still to be recognized under contracted or committed
installation and replacement project work. Project work generally lasts less
than one year. Service agreement revenue, service work and short duration
projects, which are generally billed as performed, do not flow through backlog.
Accordingly, backlog represents only a portion of our revenue for any given
future period, and it represents revenue that is likely to be reflected in
our
operating

                                       26

  Table of Contents

results over the next six to twelve months. Therefore, we believe that the predictive value of backlog information is limited to guidance on the general direction of short-term revenue and should not be interpreted as an indication of continued revenue performance over multiple quarters.



The following table presents our operating segment backlog (in thousands, except
percentages):




                           September 30,              December 31,               September 30,
                               2021                       2020                       2020
Backlog:
Mechanical Services    $ 1,458,652      75.1 %    $ 1,267,200      83.8 %    $ 1,240,482      86.8 %
Electrical Services        482,725      24.9 %        244,214      16.2 %  
     188,105      13.2 %
Total                  $ 1,941,377     100.0 %    $ 1,511,414     100.0 %    $ 1,428,587     100.0 %






Backlog as of September 30, 2021 was $1.94 billion, a 5.5% increase from June
30, 2021 backlog of $1.84 billion, and a 35.9% increase from September 30, 2020
backlog of $1.43 billion. Sequential backlog included the acquisition of Amteck
($89.8 million) and a same-store increase of $11.6 million, or 0.6%. The
sequential same-store backlog increase was primarily a result of increased
project bookings at our North Carolina operation ($47.2 million), TEC ($40.3
million), our Colorado operation ($35.5 million) and our Arizona operation
($22.3 million). The sequential backlog increase was partially offset by
completion of project work at TAS ($127.6 million). The year-over-year backlog
increase included the acquisitions of TEC ($152.9 million) and Amteck ($89.8
million), as well as a same-store increase of $270.1 million, or 18.9%.
Same-store year-over-year backlog was broad-based, and increased primarily due
to increased project bookings at our North Carolina operation ($73.9 million),
one of our Virginia operations ($37.9 million), our Texas electrical operation
($34.2 million) and another one of our Texas operations ($20.6 million).



Gross Profit-Gross profit increased $12.0 million, or 8.2%, to $159.2 million
for the third quarter of 2021 as compared to the same period in 2020. The
increase included a 4.4% increase related to the TEC and Amteck acquisitions, as
well as a 3.8% increase in same-store activity. The same-store increase in gross
profit was primarily due to improvements in project execution at TAS ($11.9
million) and our Texas electrical operation ($3.3 million), partially offset by
a decrease at our Arizona operation ($4.5 million) and our Indiana operation
($2.4 million) compared to the prior year. Additionally, we had decreased
volumes at one of our Florida operations ($4.0 million). As a percentage of
revenue, gross profit for the third quarter decreased from 20.6% in 2020 to
19.1% in 2021 primarily due to lower margins at our Arizona and Indiana
operations and one of our Florida operations.



Gross profit decreased $0.8 million, or 0.2%, to $409.1 million for the first
nine months of 2021 as compared to the same period in 2020. The decrease
included a 3.7% decrease in same-store activity, partially offset by a 3.5%
increase related to the TAS, TEC, Amteck and North Carolina electrical
contractor acquisitions. The same-store decrease in gross profit was primarily
due to stronger project execution in the prior year at one of our Florida
operations ($10.7 million) and our Indiana operation ($6.6 million).
Additionally, we had decreased volumes at one of our Virginia operations ($6.3
million), which was offset by increased volumes on a same-store basis at TAS
($11.9 million). As a percentage of revenue, gross profit for the nine-month
period decreased slightly from 19.0% in 2020 to 18.4% in 2021 due to the factors
explained above.



Selling, General and Administrative Expenses ("SG&A")-SG&A increased
$4.4 million, or 4.8%, to $95.3 million for the third quarter of 2021 as
compared to 2020. On a same-store basis, excluding amortization expense, SG&A
decreased $1.8 million, or 2.1%. The same-store decrease is primarily due to a
decrease in tax consulting fees ($2.5 million), as well as a decrease in bad
debt expense ($2.1 million) driven by reserves recorded in the prior year for
certain receivables due to the business interruptions caused by COVID-19,
specifically with respect to receivables with retail, restaurants and
entertainment companies. Additionally, in the current quarter, we collected some
of these reserve amounts and lowered our assessed risk on collectability as
business impacts relating to COVID-19 have stabilized. These decreases were
partially offset by increases as a result of higher same-store revenue as well
as an increase in travel related expenses ($0.8 million), which were lower in
the prior year as a result of COVID-19. Amortization expense increased $0.9
million during the period, primarily as a result of the TEC and Amteck
acquisitions. As a percentage of revenue, SG&A for the third quarter decreased
from 12.7% in 2020 to 11.4% in 2021.



                                       27

  Table of Contents
SG&A increased $2.2 million, or 0.8%, to $271.1 million for the first nine
months of 2021 as compared to 2020. On a same-store basis, excluding
amortization expense, SG&A decreased $12.1 million, or 4.8%. This same-store
decrease is primarily due to a decrease of $7.1 million in bad debt expense in
the first nine months of 2021 as compared to the same period in 2020 driven by
reserves recorded in the prior year for certain receivables due to the business
interruptions caused by COVID-19, specifically with respect to receivables with
retail, restaurants and entertainment companies. Additionally, in the current
year, we collected some of these reserve amounts and lowered our assessed risk
on collectability as business impacts relating to COVID-19 have stabilized.
Furthermore, tax consulting fees decreased $2.4 million as compared to the same
period in 2020. Amortization expense increased $2.4 million during the period,
primarily as a result of the TAS, TEC and Amteck acquisitions. As a percentage
of revenue, SG&A for the nine-month period decreased from 12.5% in 2020 to
12.2%
in 2021.



We have included same-store SG&A, excluding amortization, because we believe it
is an effective measure of comparative results of operations. However,
same-store SG&A, excluding amortization, is not considered under generally
accepted accounting principles to be a primary measure of an entity's financial
results, and accordingly, should not be considered an alternative to SG&A as
shown in our consolidated statements of operations.




                                         Three Months Ended         Nine Months Ended
                                           September 30,              September 30,
                                         2021         2020          2021          2020

                                           (in thousands)             (in thousands)
SG&A                                   $  95,287    $  90,888    $  271,050    $  268,857
Less: SG&A from companies acquired       (5,329)            -      (11,889)
            -
Less: Amortization expense               (7,751)      (6,889)      (21,967)      (19,596)
Same-store SG&A, excluding
amortization expense                   $  82,207    $  83,999    $  237,194    $  249,261




Interest Expense-Interest expense decreased $0.1 million, or 8.5%, to
$1.6 million for the third quarter of 2021 as compared to the same period in
2020. Interest expense decreased $2.5 million for the first nine months of 2021
as compared to the same period in 2020. The decrease in interest expense is due
to a reduction in our average interest rate on our outstanding borrowings in
2021 compared to the prior year as well as a lower average outstanding debt
balance as compared to the prior year.



Changes in the Fair Value of Contingent Earn-out Obligations-The contingent
earn-out obligations are measured at fair value each reporting period, and
changes in estimates of fair value are recognized in earnings. Expense from
changes in the fair value of contingent earn-out obligations for the third
quarter of 2021 increased $4.7 million as compared to the same period in 2020.
This increase in expense was primarily the result of our lowering the obligation
related to our Texas electrical operation due to a downward adjustment of their
forecasts in the third quarter of 2020. Income from changes in the fair value of
contingent earn-out obligations for the first nine months of 2021 increased
$2.7 million as compared to the same period in 2020. This increase was primarily
caused by lower than previously forecasted earnings at TAS in the first earnout
period ended June 30, 2021, partially offset by higher expenses at TAS related
to the second earnout period driven by higher than previously forecasted
earnings at TAS in the third quarter of 2021.

Provision for Income Taxes-Our provision for income taxes for the nine months
ended September 30, 2021 was $33.6 million with an effective tax rate of 24.1%
as compared to a provision for income taxes of $30.1 million with an effective
tax rate of 21.9% for the same period in 2020. The effective tax rate for 2021
was higher than the 21% federal statutory rate primarily due to net state income
taxes (4.0%) and nondeductible expenses, including nondeductible expenses
related to TAS (1.0%), partially offset by deductions for stock-based
compensation (1.2%) and benefits from claiming the energy efficient commercial
buildings deduction (the "179D deduction") allocated to us (0.7%). The effective
tax rate for 2020 was higher than the 21% federal statutory rate primarily due
to net state income taxes (4.8%) and nondeductible expenses, including
nondeductible expenses related to TAS (2.2%), partially offset by a decrease in
unrecognized tax benefits as a result of settlement with the Internal Revenue
Service upon completion of its examination of our amended federal returns for
2014 and 2015 (6.0%).


We currently estimate that our effective tax rate for the full year 2021 will be between 23% and 26%. From 2022, we expect our effective tax rate to be between 25% and 30%. However, our effective tax rates could be

                                       28

Contents

lower of these ranges, or lower, as we continue to claim the credit for increasing research activities (the “R&D tax credit”) and the 179D deduction.


Outlook



At the beginning of 2020, we were experiencing good ongoing market conditions;
however, beginning at the end of the first quarter of 2020, we experienced
negative impacts to our business due to the business disruption caused by
COVID-19. In March 2020, the World Health Organization categorized COVID-19 as a
pandemic, and the United States declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national
emergency. Since the start of the pandemic, our activities have generally been
classified as essential services, although from time to time certain jobs and
service sites have temporarily or partially closed due to government action,
decisions by owners, or upon positive tests for COVID-19. We have also
experienced delays in the award of new construction work, instances of delayed
starts, as well as increased cost and reduced availability or delays in delivery
of some materials and equipment. Across our operations, we have implemented
safety precautions and other COVID-19 related working guidelines that have added
cost or inefficiency as we strive to create a safe environment for our team
members and our communities. The Company considered the ongoing impact of
COVID-19 on the assumptions and estimates used to determine our results and
asset valuations as of September 30, 2021 and determined that there were no
material or systematic adverse impacts on the Company except for previously
disclosed delays, cost and availability constraints for labor and materials, and
operational inefficiency.


The initial business impacts relating to COVID-19 have stabilized, although we
continue to experience sporadic delays in the award or commencement of some
projects and increased cost or lead times for materials and equipment. Current
vaccine mandates by certain customers or authorities have also hindered our
ability to pursue certain work, or to staff or maintain scheduling on work that
is subject to such mandates. In addition, the Department of Labor's Occupational
Safety and Health Administration is drafting an emergency regulation pursuant to
a vaccine policy that was announced by President Biden on September 9, 2021, and
the scope, timing and impact of the new regulation is currently unclear. It is
impossible to predict what impact the regulation might have on our business
and
industry.



Despite the ongoing effects from COVID-19, we have a good pipeline of
opportunities and potential backlog, and we have been generally successful in
maintaining activity levels and productivity and in procuring needed materials
despite ongoing challenges. Considering all these factors, we currently
anticipate solid earnings and cash flow for the remainder of 2021, and we feel
that we have good prospects in 2022. We continue to prepare for a wide range of
pandemic-related challenges and economic circumstances; however, despite
challenges, we currently expect supportive conditions for our industry are
likely to continue in 2022.



Liquidity and capital resources (in thousands):



                                                            Nine Months Ended
                                                              September 30,
                                                           2021           2020

Cash provided by (used in):
Operating activities                                    $   152,654    $   216,400
Investing activities                                      (119,605)      (130,514)
Financing activities                                       (20,224)       (66,134)
Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents    $    12,825    $    19,752
Free cash flow:
Cash provided by operating activities                   $   152,654    $  

216,400

Purchases of property and equipment                        (15,864)       

(19,459)

Proceeds from sales of property and equipment                 1,802        
 1,890
Free cash flow                                          $   138,592    $   198,831




Cash Flow



Our business does not require significant amounts of investment in long-term
fixed assets. The substantial majority of the capital used in our business is
working capital that funds our costs of labor and installed equipment deployed
in project work until our customer pays us. Customary terms in our industry
allow customers to withhold a

                                       29

Contents

small portion of the contract price until we have completed the work, usually for six months. Amounts withheld under this practice are called withholding or withholding. The average duration of our projects, along with typical retention conditions, generally allow us to complete the realization of income and cash benefits within one year.



Cash Provided by (Used in) Operating Activities-Cash flow from operations is
primarily influenced by demand for our services and operating margins but can
also be influenced by working capital needs associated with the various types of
services that we provide. In particular, working capital needs may increase when
we commence large volumes of work under circumstances where project costs,
primarily associated with labor, equipment and subcontractors, are required to
be paid before the receivables resulting from the work performed are billed and
collected. Working capital needs are generally higher during the late winter and
spring months as we prepare and plan for the increased project demand when
favorable weather conditions exist in the summer and fall months. Conversely,
working capital assets are typically converted to cash during the late summer
and fall months as project completion is underway. These seasonal trends are
sometimes offset by changes in the timing of major projects, which can be
impacted by the weather, project delays or accelerations and other economic
factors that may affect customer spending.



Cash provided by operating activities was $152.7 million during the first nine
months of 2021 compared with $216.4 million during the same period in 2020. This
decrease was primarily driven by a $59.1 million change in receivables, net
driven by strong collections in the prior year and a $13.2 million change in
billings in excess of costs, which was attributable to timing of payments and
project billings. In addition, operating cash flows in the prior year benefited
by approximately $20.9 million from the deferral of payroll taxes allowed by the
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act ("CARES Act") that normally
would have been paid by September 30, 2020. This was partially offset by a $31.1
million change in accounts payable and accrued liabilities, which was driven by
timing of payments.



Cash Provided by (Used in) Investing Activities-During the first nine months of
2021, cash used in investing activities was $119.6 million compared to
$130.5 million during the same period in 2020. The $10.9 million decrease in
cash used primarily relates to cash paid (net of cash acquired) for acquisitions
in 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.



Cash Provided by (Used in) Financing Activities-Cash used in financing
activities was $20.2 million for the first nine months of 2021 compared to
$66.1 million during the same period in 2020. The $45.9 million decrease in cash
used in financing activities is primarily due to an increase in net proceeds
from debt, which was driven by fewer payments in the current year, partially
offset by less borrowings to pay for acquisitions in 2021.



Free Cash Flow-We define free cash flow as cash provided by operating
activities, less customary capital expenditures, plus the proceeds from asset
sales. We believe free cash flow, by encompassing both profit margins and the
use of working capital over our approximately one year working capital cycle, is
an effective measure of operating effectiveness and efficiency. We have included
free cash flow information here for this reason, and because we are often asked
about it by third parties evaluating us. However, free cash flow is not
considered under generally accepted accounting principles to be a primary
measure of an entity's financial results, and accordingly free cash flow should
not be considered an alternative to operating income, net income, or amounts
shown in our consolidated statements of cash flows as determined under generally
accepted accounting principles. Free cash flow may be defined differently by
other companies.



Share Repurchase Program



On March 29, 2007, our Board of Directors (the "Board") approved a stock
repurchase program to acquire up to 1.0 million shares of our outstanding common
stock. Subsequently, the Board has from time to time increased the number of
shares that may be acquired under the program and approved extensions of the
program. On December 8, 2020, the Board approved an extension to the program by
increasing the shares authorized for repurchase by 0.7 million shares. Since the
inception of the repurchase program, the Board has approved 10.3 million shares
to be repurchased. As of September 30, 2021, we have repurchased a cumulative
total of 9.7 million shares at an average price of $21.57 per share under the
repurchase program.



The share repurchases will be made from time to time at our discretion in the
open market or privately negotiated transactions as permitted by securities laws
and other legal requirements, and subject to market conditions and

                                       30

Contents

other factors. The Board may modify, suspend, extend or terminate the program at
any time. During the nine months ended September 30, 2021, we repurchased 0.3
million shares for approximately $25.5 million at an average price of $73.69 per
share.



Debt


Revolving credit facility and term loan



We have a $600.0 million senior credit facility (the "Facility") provided by a
syndicate of banks. The Facility is composed of a revolving credit line in the
amount of $450.0 million and a $150.0 million term loan, and the Facility
provides for a $150.0 million accordion or increase option for the revolving
portion of the Facility. As of September 30, 2021, the Facility capacity was
$570.0 million, as the term loan was paid down by $30.0 million since the
inception of the Facility. The Facility also includes a sublimit of up to $160.0
million issuable in the form of letters of credit. The Facility expires in
January 2025 and is secured by a first lien on substantially all of our personal
property except for assets related to projects subject to surety bonds and
assets held by certain unrestricted subsidiaries and our wholly owned captive
insurance company and a second lien on our assets related to projects subject to
surety bonds. As of September 30, 2021, we had $115.0 million of outstanding
borrowings on the revolving credit facility, $49.5 million in letters of credit
outstanding and $285.5 million of credit available.



There are two interest rate options for borrowings under the Facility, the Base
Rate Loan option and the Eurodollar Rate Loan option. These rates are floating
rates determined by the broad financial markets, meaning they can and do move up
and down from time to time. Additional margins are then added to these two
rates.



Certain of our vendors require letters of credit to ensure reimbursement for
amounts they are disbursing on our behalf, such as to beneficiaries under our
self-funded insurance programs. We have also occasionally used letters of credit
to guarantee performance under our contracts and to ensure payment to our
subcontractors and vendors under those contracts. Our lenders issue such letters
of credit through the Facility for a fee. We have never had a claim made against
a letter of credit that resulted in payments by a lender or by us and believe
such claims are unlikely in the foreseeable future. The letter of credit fees
range from 1.25% to 2.00% per annum, based on the ratio of Consolidated Total
Indebtedness to "Credit Facility Adjusted EBITDA," which shall mean Consolidated
EBITDA as such term is defined in the credit agreement.



Commitment fees are payable on the portion of the revolving loan capacity not in
use for borrowings or letters of credit at any given time. These fees range from
0.20% to 0.35% per annum, based on the ratio of Consolidated Total Indebtedness
to Credit Facility Adjusted EBITDA.



The Facility contains financial covenants defining various financial measures
and the levels of these measures with which we must comply. Covenant compliance
is assessed as of each quarter end. We were in compliance with all of our
financial covenants as of September 30, 2021.



Notes to Former Owners



As part of the consideration used to acquire six companies, we have outstanding
notes to the former owners. Together, these notes had an outstanding balance of
$35.5 million as of September 30, 2021. In conjunction with the acquisition of
Amteck in the third quarter of 2021, we issued a promissory note to former
owners with an outstanding balance of $10.0 million as of September 30, 2021
that bears interest, payable quarterly, at a stated interest rate of 2.5%. The
principal is due in equal installments in October 2024 and October 2025. In
conjunction with the acquisition of the Utah mechanical contractor in the first
quarter of 2021, we issued a promissory note to former owners with an
outstanding balance of $3.5 million as of September 30, 2021 that bears
interest, payable quarterly, at a stated interest rate of 2.5%. The principal is
due in April 2023. In conjunction with the acquisition of TEC in the fourth
quarter of 2020, we issued a promissory note to former owners with an
outstanding balance of $7.0 million as of September 30, 2021 that bears
interest, payable quarterly, at a stated interest rate of 2.5%. The principal is
due in December 2023. In conjunction with the acquisition of TAS in the second
quarter of 2020, we issued a promissory note to former owners with an
outstanding balance of $4.0 million as of September 30, 2021 that bears
interest, payable quarterly, at a stated interest rate of 3.5%. The principal is
due in April 2022. In conjunction with the acquisition of the electrical
contractor in North

                                       31

  Table of Contents

Carolina in the first quarter of 2020, we issued a promissory note to former
owners with an outstanding balance of $5.0 million as of September 30, 2021 that
bears interest, payable quarterly, at a stated interest rate of 3.0%. The
principal is due in installments in February 2023 and February 2024. In
conjunction with the acquisition of a Texas electrical contractor in the second
quarter of 2019, we issued a promissory note to former owners with an
outstanding balance of $6.0 million as of September 30, 2021 that bears
interest, payable quarterly, at a stated interest rate of 4.0%. The remaining
principal is due in April 2023.



Outlook



We have generated positive net free cash flow for the last twenty-two calendar
years, much of which occurred during challenging economic and industry
conditions. We also continue to have significant borrowing capacity under our
credit facility, and we maintain what we feel are reasonable cash balances. We
believe these factors will provide us with sufficient liquidity to fund our
operations for the foreseeable future.



Off-balance sheet arrangements and other commitments



Certain of our vendors require letters of credit to ensure reimbursement for
amounts they are disbursing on our behalf, such as to beneficiaries under our
self-funded insurance programs. We have also occasionally used letters of credit
to guarantee performance under our contracts and to ensure payment to our
subcontractors and vendors under those contracts. The letters of credit we
provide are actually issued by our lenders through the Facility as described
above. A letter of credit commits the lenders to pay specified amounts to the
holder of the letter of credit if the holder demonstrates that we have failed to
perform specified actions. If this were to occur, we would be required to
reimburse the lenders. Depending on the circumstances of such a reimbursement,
we may also have to record a charge to earnings for the reimbursement. Absent a
claim, there is no payment or reserving of funds by us in connection with a
letter of credit. However, because a claim on a letter of credit would require
immediate reimbursement by us to our lenders, letters of credit are treated as a
use of the Facility's capacity just the same as actual borrowings. Claims
against letters of credit are rare in our industry. To date, we have not had a
claim made against a letter of credit that resulted in payments by a lender or
by us. We believe that it is unlikely that we will have to fund claims under a
letter of credit in the foreseeable future.



Many customers, particularly in connection with new construction, require us to
post performance and payment bonds issued by a financial institution known as a
surety. If we fail to perform under the terms of a contract or to pay
subcontractors and vendors who provided goods or services under a contract, the
customer may demand that the surety make payments or provide services under the
bond. We must reimburse the sureties for any expenses or outlays they incur. To
date, we are not aware of any losses to our sureties in connection with bonds
the sureties have posted on our behalf, and we do not expect such losses to be
incurred in the foreseeable future.



Under standard terms in the surety market, sureties issue bonds on a
project-by-project basis, and can decline to issue bonds at any time.
Historically, approximately 15% to 25% of our business has required bonds. While
we currently have strong surety relationships to support our bonding needs,
future market conditions or changes in our sureties' assessment of our operating
and financial risk could cause our sureties to decline to issue bonds for our
work. If that were to occur, our alternatives include doing more business that
does not require bonds, posting other forms of collateral for project
performance, such as letters of credit or cash, and seeking bonding capacity
from other sureties. We would likely also encounter concerns from customers,
suppliers and other market participants as to our creditworthiness. While we
believe our general operating and financial characteristics would enable us to
ultimately respond effectively to an interruption in the availability of bonding
capacity, such an interruption would likely cause our revenue and profits to
decline in the near term.



Contractual Obligations



As of September 30, 2021, we have $49.5 million in letter of credit commitments,
of which $16.1 million will expire in 2021 and $33.4 million will expire in
2022. The substantial majority of these letters of credit are posted with
insurers who disburse funds on our behalf in connection with our workers'
compensation, auto liability and general liability insurance program. These
letters of credit provide additional security to the insurers that sufficient
financial resources will be available to fund claims on our behalf, many of
which develop over long periods of time, should we

                                       32

Contents

never encounter financial constraints. Posting letters of credit for this purpose is standard practice for entities that operate their self-insurance programs through third party insurers as we do. While some of these letter of credit commitments expire within the next twelve months, we expect almost all of them, especially those that support our insurance programs, will be renewed each year.

© Edgar online, source Previews

About Donald Martin

Check Also

Frost inside? That’s because Australian homes are more akin to tents than detached eco-buildings | Philip Oldfield

AWhen winter sets in and temperatures drop, it can sometimes be as cold inside as …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.