Actuant: The Best Is Yet to Come

It's party time for the investors of industrial-products manufacturer Actuant (NYSE: ATU  ) . The company reported an estimate-beating 61% surge in its fourth-quarter earnings per share, on double-digit growth in core sales. Let's analyze whether these bright numbers mean shining future returns too.

The Wisconsin-based manufacturer of branded hydraulic and electrical tools and motion-control systems reported a 30% jump in its fourth-quarter top line. Sales surged to $403 million as core sales -- i.e, total sales less the impact of acquisitions, divestitures, and foreign currency rate changes -- grew by 10%. Core sales growth was mainly due to the Industrial and Energy segments, which grew at 19% and 28%, respectively.

Higher global demand contributed to higher sales in all the companies in the industry. Along with Actuant, which experienced higher sales in all segments, peers Eaton (NYSE: ETN  ) and Kennametal (NYSE: KMT  ) also reported a 21% and 29% rise in their last reported quarterly revenues, respectively. Besides the rise in demand, Actuant's continued investments and acquisitions are bound to add to the top line.

Where is the company investing?
Actuant recently acquired Weasler Engineering, a major global designer and manufacturer of engineering components with a leadership position in North America, for $155 million. Actuant believes that Weasler's strong aftermarket presence and good management team should add value to their Engineered Solutions segment. Weasler has performed well in its first quarter as a part of Actuant. The 31% surge in the Engineered Solutions segment sales was mainly due to the acquisition of Weasler.

Apart from such additions to the business, the company is also returning value to the shareholders. It has announced a stock-repurchase program covering up to 7 million shares. This is the first time the company is planning a share buyback.

Actuant has also forecasted fiscal 2012 sales of $1.60 billion to $1.65 billion and EPS of $1.80 to $2.00. That's some healthy growth and illustrates the company's confidence in its future prospects.

The Foolish bottom line
Actuant has been performing consistently for the past few quarters. In the next fiscal year, the company expects core sales to grow by 5%-8%. The global macro trends, such as the rise in energy demand, should also help the company deliver sustainable growth. Actuant is one underlooked stock that's definitely worth watching.

Fool contributor Abantika Chatterjee owns no shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Kennametal. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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