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Alternative energy lifts CDI's earnings

The Philadelphia firm posted a 72.6% increase in its 1st-quarter profit.

High gasoline prices may be giving motorists migraines, but they portend future growth for CDI Corp., its chief executive said yesterday in reporting banner first-quarter earnings.

"We're seeing continued client investing . . . in new and alternative energy," Roger Ballou said, listing projects in wind, solar, biodiesel and coal gasification. "Spending is ramping up at a giant rate."

CDI provides engineers for capital-intensive projects such as those. Ballou said he saw no sign that capital spending was falling off.

The Philadelphia staffing and project-engineering company reported a 72.6 percent increase in profit to $8.5 million, or 42 cents a diluted share, from $4.9 million, or 25 cents a share, in last year's first quarter.

Revenue rose from $307.3 million a year ago to $331.9 million in this year's first quarter. Ballou said CDI expected 7 percent to 9 percent revenue growth for the second quarter and the year.

CDI's profit was boosted by an appellate-court decision that reversed an earlier legal defeat in a contract case. CDI had set aside $1.6 million to cover costs. Even without the $1.6 million, CDI's earnings would have been up 52 percent, the company said.

Ballou said soft spots included a decline in revenue from Todays Staffing, its temporary-hiring division for office and retail help. CDI also lost traction in its aerospace-engineering business, which was partly affected by problems at one of its major clients, Airbus, the European plane manufacturer.

CDI shares closed up 23 cents, or about 0.8 percent, at $30.36 a share yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.

For CDI Corp.'s first-quarter earnings report, go to