July 23, 2012 / 5:12 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 2-Churchill Corp estimates surprise loss on project delays

* Estimates Q2 rev at C$292 mln-C$298 mln vs. expectations of C$355.5 mln

* Shares fall as much as 31 percent (Adds conference call details, analyst comment, share movement)

July 23 (Reuters) - Construction company Churchill Corp estimated a surprise second-quarter loss as frequent rain hampered work at an airport runway project and a residential project, sending its shares down 31 percent to a three-year low.

Utilization of the company's earthmoving equipment fell in May and June, while administrative delays in starting new mining projects in Northern Saskatchewan also pushed back sales, Churchill said.

The company, which is also building a C$170 million, 33,000-seat football stadium in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said the project has also been delayed as its subcontractors failed to deliver some steel structures on time.

Cost of the project will rise as a result, Churchill said.

"We are pursuing a claim against the structural steel cut subcontractor for these losses," Don Person, CEO of the company's general contracting segment, said on a conference call with analysts.

The segment is estimated to report a core loss of between C$500,000 to C$900,000 in the second quarter, compared to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $7.6 million a year earlier.

"The big issue with Churchill is that the material de-rating of expectations that will take place following today's profit warning is the second such occurrence in less than a year," said AltaCorp Capital analyst Maxim Sytchev in a research note.

Sytchev downgraded the company to "underperform" from "sector perform" and cut his price target on the stock to C$9 from C$15.50.

The company, which will report second-quarter results on Aug. 8, estimated net loss of between C$4.0 million and C$4.4 million on revenue of between C$292 million and C$298 million.

Analysts were expecting earnings of C$4.50 million on sales of C$355.5 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Churchill's shares, which have lost more than a third of their value in the past year, fell to a low of C$8.20, making it one of the top percentage losers on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The stock was down 29 percent at C$8.46 in afternoon trading on Monday. (Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian, Sriraj Kalluvila)

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