Manitowoc in 2012: Soaring Like a Crane

The year is nearing its end, and now's a good opportunity to look at what happened throughout 2012 to the stocks you follow. If you know the important things that a company achieved, as well as any challenges it failed to overcome, then you can make a better decision about whether it really deserves a spot in your portfolio.

Today, I'll look at Manitowoc (NYSE: MTW  ) . The company has an interesting mix of businesses, manufacturing cranes for the construction industry while also building food-service equipment for restaurants and other food-based companies. That mix has been enough to help Manitowoc avoid the fate of less-diversified companies that have been more exposed to the growth slowdown around the world. Below, you'll find more on what moved shares of Manitowoc this year.

Stats on Manitowoc

Year-to-date stock return

68.3%

Market cap

$2.04 billion

Revenue, past 12 months

$3.86 billion

Net Income, past 12 months

$82.8 million

1-year revenue growth

11.8%

1-year net income growth

NM

Dividend yield

0.5%

CAPS rating

****

Source: S&P Capital IQ. NM = not meaningful due to year-ago loss.

What pushed Manitowoc higher this year?
After three years of annual losses, Manitowoc looks poised to turn the corner and become profitable in 2012. That's not inconsistent with what some of its peers among construction-oriented companies have seen this year. Construction equipment leader Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) , for instance, has produced record results in 2012, even though its projections for a possible slowdown in the coming years have made investors nervous about the stock. Similarly, Terex (NYSE: TEX  ) has benefited from a push upward in construction even as overseas markets start to quiver.

Manitowoc has tied itself more to the U.S. economy than Caterpillar, Terex, and farm equipment maker Deere (NYSE: DE  ) , though. That has left it less vulnerable to global macroeconomic effects, even though Manitowoc is working to expand its overseas presence with projects supporting Brazil's upcoming hosting of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. Moreover, as conditions in Europe haven't deteriorated any further, investors hope that Manitowoc's business there won't suffer too badly.

Historically, Manitowoc's food-service business has been a stalwart even in tough times, with the division producing more operating profits from 2009 to 2011 than its crane-building business. With strong support from McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) and other customers, the company can ride on the coattails of customer moves into faster-growing markets. For Manitowoc to justify its big jump in price, though, it'll need both sides of its business to ramp up in 2013 and beyond.

Manitowoc has plenty of potential, but Caterpillar is still the industry leader. Find out whether to buy Caterpillar instead of Manitowoc inside our new premium research report on Caterpillar, which goes through all of its long-term challenges and the ways it intends to meet them. Just click here to access it now.

Click here to add Manitowoc to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.


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