Ross Wilkers


Where ICF sees possible COVID-19 economic relief opportunities

One publicly-traded government services company has stated its belief that the various economic stimulus packages coming out of Congress and bills to address the coronavirus pandemic will present opportunities for itself and the industry at-large.

ICF is another significant federal market player who shares a similar line of thinking alongside PAE, which sees a likely "trickle down" effect for the entire market as long as the government's number one priority is shoring up the economy.

During ICF's second quarter call with investors Tuesday, CEO John Wasson did not give the type of specific set of figures analysts like to get for financial modeling purposes -- namely the size and duration of the contracts. But Wasson did spell out at a high-level what has already been signed into law as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

While the U.S. is still in the response phase, Wasson characterized what is to come as not just a recovery phase afterward, but then a reinvention that could include a very different structure and playbook for any future pandemic responses.

(That future was a key topic of my podcast conversation with Wasson back in April, click here to listen)

“As we get deeper into this response to this pandemic, more focused on being from immediate response to recovery, kind of reimagining public health, I think the opportunities could become quite sizeable,” Wasson said Tuesday.

Recall that the first $2 trillion CARES Act stimulus package also gave hundreds of billions to public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health.

One comparison can be seen in 2008, which was the last time a similar massive effort to shore up the economy happened through a $900 billion relief package enacted after the subprime mortgage crisis.

“The same potential opportunity is in front of us here over the next several years. If that funding moves into our clients in areas that fit with our expertise, which I think our view is it will, I think it can provide a very significant opportunity as we look forward,” Wasson said.

As those opportunities await, ICF reported a 21-percent increase in second quarter revenue from federal clients over last year to $170.7 million. Organic growth and contributions from the Incentive Technology Group acquisition that closed in January also factored in.

Fairfax, Virginia-based ICF did post an overall sales decline of 3.5 percent in the quarter to $354 million on lower pass-through revenue, which includes work with international governments that has slowed down amid COVID-related lockdowns and event cancellations.

But the company also holds a $2.4 billion backlog as of the quarter’s end and a book-to-bill ratio (backlog growth versus bookings for sales) of 1.0 on a trailing 12-month basis. That underlies ICF’s reiteration of its full-year financial outlook to $1.45 billion-$1.51 billion in revenue and $126 million-$136 million of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization).

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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