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Joy Global (NYSE: JOY ) belongs to an industry that seems to be looking ahead to a prosperous future. Its good fourth-quarter numbers and superb backlog speak volumes about the company's potential.
Joy deserves a spot on your watchlist. I'll tell you why.
Higher sales in both segments pushed Joy's total revenue up to $1.3 billion, a solid 27% increase from last year. Sales of underground mining equipment climbed 15% while surface mining equipment sales surged 21%. Order bookings jumped 33% to $1.4 billion as mining markets continued to be robust.
How strong the mining sector has been is evident from bellwether Caterpillar's (NYSE: CAT ) last-quarter performance. An uptick in global mining activity led to higher sales for Cat's equipment across all regions. Its revenue shot up 41%, touching its peak of $15.7 billion. Same goes for engine maker Cummins (NYSE: CMI ) , whose largest segment, engines, saw sales surge 43% in its third quarter, backed by strong global oil and gas and mining activity.
A strong order book resulted in Joy ending the year with a solid backlog (a key indicator of future revenue) of $3.3 billion compared to $1.8 billion in the beginning. A strong top line helped Joy's net income grow by 18% to $172 million.
Joy's keen focus on expanding its business has come out clearly in the past few months. Its acquisition of mining and drilling equipment company LeTourneau Technologies in June seems to be paying off. It contributed $116 million and $102 million to Joy's total bookings and sales, respectively, in Joy's fourth quarter.
The current transaction under way is Joy's purchase of Chinese equipment manufacturer IMM. Joy is awaiting approval from Chinese regulators. This acquisition clearly highlights Joy's aim of gaining traction in the emerging markets, and once it comes through, it should add value to Joy's business.
Joy's inclination toward developing markets isn't surprising, though, given how industry giants like Caterpillar and Cummins are aggressively eyeing them, too.
Joy is now eager to shell out more on capacity upgrades and further expansions to tap the mining boom opportunities. It has raised its capital expenditure budget for 2012 to $200 million, up from $111 million spent in 2011.
This again seems to be very much in line with Cat's moves. China and mining are the two crucial focus areas for both companies. While Joy is already a mining equipment giant, Cat is getting deeper into the mining groove after its huge Bucyrus acquisition.
The Foolish bottom line
Growing demand from emerging markets is fueling investment by mining companies, which should keep Joy busy. When mining giants like Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX ) do well, you know Joy will have reasons for joy. Joy stands to gain since it caters extensively to emerging markets. Caterpillar expects mining production in markets like Asia and Latin America to rise further in 2012.
Joy's lukewarm outlook on 2012 demand might have bashed up its shares, and speculation about whether Joy could be a takeover target could be flying, but Fools needn't worry. In fact, it gives you an extra reason to keep watching the stock closely, apart from its solid performance and growth moves. Click here to add Joy to your stock watchlist to stay updated on all its news and analysis.