2011: An Up-and-Down Year for United Technologies

In these waning days of 2011, there's a chill in the air and snow in the forecast. What better time of year to curl up by the fire and ponder: What went wrong with the stocks you picked back in January? What went right? And should you keep these stocks in your portfolio, or go out and find something new?

That's what we aim to do today, as we flip back the calendar, and consider the year that was at United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) .

A few Foolish facts about United Technologies

Year-to-Date Stock Return (6.0%)
P/E 13.8
Dividend Yield 2.6%
1-Year Revenue Growth 3.6%
1-Year Profit Growth 14.2%
CAPS Rating (out of 5) ****

Source: Motley Fool CAPS.

What happened to United Tech this year?
2011 was a year of soaring highs and crashing lows for United Tech. Beginning the year with shares just shy of the $80 mark, UT started out boasting of "strong sales growth ... in the commercial aerospace aftermarket." Key customer Boeing was finally getting its 787 Dreamliner program on track, and with a strong sales pipeline for this and other Boeing planes (and Airbuses, too), UT was sitting pretty. UT itself looked to be getting further into the airplane business, announcing in February it was taking a stake in business-jet maker Eclipse Aerospace.

As further good news rolled in -- notably, the company's legislative victory in the contest to build Lockheed Martin's (NYSE: LMT  ) F-35 fighter jet engine -- UT continued to gain altitude. It eventually passed $90 a share in July -- and then came the crash. Boeing announced the contract for its new 737 "MAX" airplane engine would go to General Electric's (NYSE: GE  ) joint venture CFM, frightening away investors who might otherwise have praised United Tech's strong Q2 performance. The stock fell off a cliff, helped down when the overall market tanked after Washington's inadequate solution to our debt problem and subsequent S&P rating downgrade of U.S. debt.

United Technologies has not recovered well, and now lags the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 12% for the year, despite announcing in September that it would be purchasing Goodrich (NYSE: GR  ) and bulking up its business in the booming aerospace sector. But can UT maintain the momentum going into 2012?

What lies ahead?
Call me a crazy optimist, but I say, "Yes." At less than 14 times earnings, UT still looks cheap to me. It may have lost the MAX contract, but I believe United Tech's "sole provider" status on Lockheed's fighter jet trumps that loss. (The F-35 is a really big deal.) Plus, revenues from the Goodrich acquisition should help make up for engine business lost to GE on the MAX.

Long story short, I think United Technologies has got what it takes to succeed in the New Year. But here at The Motley Fool, our all-star analysts think they've found a stock that can do even better. Find out which company our experts prefer in our new free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." Thousands have already requested access and it'll only be available for a limited time. Simply click here -- it's free.

Fool contributor Rich Smith holds no position in any company mentioned above. (He has, however, publicly recommended buying shares of GE and Lockheed.) You can read about these calls -- and find more of his recommendations -- on Motley Fool CAPS, where Rich is known as TMFDitty, currently ranked No. 343 out of more than 180,000 members. The Motley Fool owns shares of Lockheed Martin. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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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