For those investors feeling battered by further weakness in commodity stocks, the company with the biggest bruise whispers soothing words of comfort and joy.
Joy Global (Nasdaq: JOYG ) shares closed down more than 19% on Wednesday, following the release of quarterly results, while competitor Bucyrus International (Nasdaq: BUCY ) lost about 9%. While earnings were better than the average analyst forecast, a big chunk came from a one-time, tax-related windfall; and at least one analyst was disappointed by declining margins and the overall operating performance.
I see the earnings in a very different light. New orders for equipment rose to a record $1.5 billion during the fiscal third quarter, driving sales up sharply, while the company's backlog has nearly doubled over the past year to $3 billion. Despite that, the result was woefully insufficient to surmount a tsunami of negative sentiment that continues to flood the commodities space at large and, on Wednesday, Joy Global in particular.
Not only does the company continue to deliver solid earnings growth while expanding production capacity and increasing sales backlogs, but the discussion from management provides some of the most encouraging commentary on the status of global demand for commodities that investors will find anywhere.
Equipment manufacturers like Joy Global, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) , and Terex (NYSE: TEX ) -- getting trounced today itself -- know the state of commodity demand firsthand, so these observations from management should not be overlooked: "The Company continues to see strong demand for its equipment based on the fundamentals of commodity demand versus supply […] across all geographies and all commodities that the Company serves."
Echoing a phenomenon I observed for silver back in March, the discussion also noted an unusual disconnect for various commodities between the weaker prices observed on the paper-based exchanges and robust spot prices for physical delivery.
The company sees annual growth in global steel demand at 4% to 5% over the next five years, driven by continued growth in China and India. I hope shareholders of POSCO (NYSE: PKX ) are taking notes. Stockpiles of thermal coal in China remain below a three-day supply, with consumption expected to continue increasing as 80 new generating plants come online. This is music to the ears of U.S. coal producers like Massey Energy (NYSE: MEE ) and to investors in the Market Vectors Coal ETF (NYSE: KOL ) . I view the current commodity sell-off as a gift to the joy-seeking Fool.