While the mining equipment made by this company is better suited for softer materials like coal than for diamonds, I couldn't resist a nod to the "Fab Four." After all, even a girl with kaleidoscope eyes could see that demand for mining equipment is scorching hot in this global commodities boom.
Wisconsin's Bucyrus International (Nasdaq: BUCY ) has excavated another terrific quarter, earning $62.2 million on $621 million in sales. Bucyrus was purely a surface mining specialist until acquiring underground specialist DBT in May 2007, and because of that purchase only the surface mining segment results are comparable to the prior year period.
Sales from the surface mining segment rose 41.3% year-over-year and offering up a nice dose of operating leverage. On a consolidated basis, the operating margin was 16%, which compares favorably with the 12.6% margin reported this week by competitor Terex (NYSE: TEX ) . Given the enormous increases in prices for steel, energy, and other input costs, these margins from Bucyrus are impressive.
Fools who follow my coverage of this sector know I keep a close eye on backlogs. Among the mining equipment manufacturers -- especially Bucyrus, Terex, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) , and Joy Global (Nasdaq: JOYG ) -- these backlogs not only provide a window into the future revenue stream of the given company, but collectively they serve as a forward-looking barometer for the entire global mining industry. Bucyrus reported a total backlog of $2.17 billion; an improvement of 50.8% since the start of the year.
In an environment for equities that is truly brutal, the persistently positive earnings from mining equipment manufacturers feel like an oasis in a world of earnings angst. Choosing a favorite among would be tough, but it's clear Bucyrus is smiling at tangerine trees and marmalade skies.