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Tetra Tech to zero in on its engineering and consulting services

Tetra Tech in last 2 months has landed contracts in Afghanistan, developing countries and southern U.S. states

Tetra Tech Inc., a consulting and engineering services firm, has landed contracts in Afghanistan, developing countries around the world and southern U.S. states. And that was just in the last two months.

The Pasadena company's employees have designed levee systems to protect Washington, D.C., monuments and government buildings from flooding. Tetra Tech staffers have treated soil contamination from the herbicide Agent Orange in Vietnam.

Company executives cite Tetra Tech's work helping countries search for new water supplies, restoring coral reefs off Miami Beach and protecting Filipino residents from typhoon damage by funding new design ideas.

Solving just about any kind of water problem has always been important for the company, Chief Executive Dan L. Batrack said.

"Tetra Tech's biggest differentiator — and this really goes all the way back to the founding of the company — is providing support to both our public and our private companies and clients in solving their most important and complicated water problems," Batrack said.

Federal contracts have picked up lately, he said, pointing to business won from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Navy, the Energy Department and USAID, the Agency for International Development.

Batrack said Tetra Tech's fiscal fourth quarter, ended Sept. 28, was "one of the best quarters that we've seen from the federal government in some time."

Now, Tetra Tech is honing its focus, trimming down over the coming year to emphasize its engineering and consulting services as well as its technical and support services to clients. The company is winding down its remediation and construction management work.

Tetra Tech is positioning itself as a one-stop shopping source for the projects it undertakes. "Large firms such as ours can offer fully integrated services, from front-end science and planning through construction management," Batrack said.

The company began in 1966 as the Water Management Group of Tetra Tech Inc.

In 1973, it launched what it called "the first remote control submarine for exploration and military" research. By 1979, it was helping to analyze data used in exploring Alaska's North Slope for oil. Three years later, it was bought by Honeywell International Inc.

In 1988, Tetra Tech's management purchased the firm. Tetra Tech went public in 1991.

The latest

This month, Tetra Tech announced it had been awarded a $216-million contract with USAID to support the agency's programs to "enable Afghan women to acquire, and over time, apply advanced management and leadership skills in public, private and civil service sectors careers."

In October, the company said it had been awarded a $650-million USAID contract to help improve the delivery of water, transportation and sanitation services in developing nations. Tetra Tech also received a $76-million contract with the Environmental Protection Agency to assist a Superfund team in eight Southern states.

Accomplishments

In April, Tetra Tech was named "Top Water Firm" for the 10th consecutive year by trade publication Engineering News-Record.

The company said it worked last year on more than 57,000 separate projects in more than 110 countries.

Since its split from Honeywell, the company has grown from 300 employees to more than 14,000.

Challenges

Tetra Tech's business is affected by politics and swings in the world economies. A downturn in the global mining industry, for example, hurt profits in 2013.

The company also lost income when federal funding cuts went into effect last year during a political impasse on Capitol Hill.

In Eastern Canada, the company said in its 2013 annual report, "a political scandal resulted in an almost complete disruption of government contracting in the region."

Analysts

Of the 10 analysts that regularly cover Tetra Tech, five consider it a strong buy. One more rates it as a buy. Four say investors should hold the stock.

Zacks Investment Research has a hold rating on Tetra Tech, saying rivals offer investors a better return.

ron.white@latimes.com

Twitter: @RonWLATimes

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