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Technology provider Emerson Electric's (NYSE: EMR ) first-quarter numbers may be disappointing, but it looks like the company has been weighed down by a variety of climate and economic factors beyond its immediate control.
Keeping in mind that the company does have a well-diversified business with multiple revenue streams, I decided to take a Foolish look to see if Emerson is a good long-term bet.
Emerson's quarterly sales fell to $5.31 billion, a 4% decline when compared to the year-ago period. A major factor was the flooding in Thailand, which delayed around $300 million in revenue from the quarter. Emerson's supply chain was disrupted due to flooding, leading to delays in production of electronics and computer servers. Net income also fell sharply, by 23%, and earnings of $0.50 per share just missed market expectations.
Emerson earns nearly 28% of its revenue from its network power division, which supplies power management gear and backup power systems for computer data centers. A 10% dip in revenue for this segment, caused by a sluggish telecommunications market combined with the flood situation, was exacerbated by overall weak sales.
Telecom carriers delayed their investments owing to uncertainties in the industry, given the then-pending AT&T and T-Mobile merger. Now that this deal has been canceled, spending in the sector is expected to resume.
Demand was also affected by the European debt crisis, and credit control measures undertaken by the Chinese government. Low infrastructure spending in the U.S. didn't help, either.
A not-so-bad future
Emerson's climate technologies division also took a hit as customers cut down their inventory of heating and cooling systems in the quarter, due to weak construction and housing markets in the U.S., China, and Europe.
But the situation is improving as the U.S. construction industry seems to be on the rebound. In fact, in January, Emerson's industrial automation and tools and storage businesses did well in the U.S., indicating a better nonresidential construction market. Also, the fact that the company operates in Eastern European markets that are stronger gives reason to feel positively about its industrial automation sales there.
Final Foolish thought
With the climate and economy creating temporary roadblocks, Emerson is likely to see better days ahead. The company's $300 million in delayed orders should be recovered in 2012 and I am not worried about this one-time situation. This could be a good time to get in cheap on a stock that you can hold long term.
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