1 Stock Trying to Haul the Dow Higher Today

Caterpillar isn't out of the woods yet, as 2014 looks to be as rough as last year. However, there are silver linings in its recent earnings report.

Jan 27, 2014 at 3:00PM

Last week was a rough one for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI), and Monday looked like it might continue that trend before the index a modest 0.33% in midafternoon trading. The S&P 500 is also up, while the Nasdaq remains mired in the red. The markets have been trending downward over the last week due to a mix of concerns. Emerging market strains, anxiety over tapering by the Federal Reserve, and weak manufacturing data from China have caused a small pullback from investors. In addition, new home sales dropped 7% in December from November levels; although it should be noted sales were still up 4.5% year over year and are still at the highest level since 2008. With those concerns in mind, one large Dow component is doing its part to bring the blue-chip index higher.


Caterpillar mining equipment has faced weak demand. Source: Caterpillar

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) was trading nearly 6% higher just before 3 p.m. EST. "We expected there would be a decline in mining sales in 2013, and it turned out to be worse than we anticipated," Reuters quoted CEO Doug Oberhelman as saying in prepared comments. "As a result, we took substantial actions to reduce costs which helped mitigate the impact on profit."

By the numbers, 2013 saw a weaker performance than 2012. However, the company's workforce reductions; reduced costs in sales general and administration, research and development; and lowered inventory paid off with better than expected profitability in the fourth quarter. Caterpillar's fourth-quarter earnings per share came in at $1.54, which was well ahead of the previous year's fourth-quarter mark of $1.04 and analyst estimates of $1.28 per share.

Despite management expecting a similarly rough 2014, there are some silver linings for Caterpillar investors. First, even amid a rough market with economic headwinds and weak demand, the company was able to increase its quarterly dividend 15% in 2013, along with repurchasing $2 billion of common stock. Second, the company's effort to shore up costs and trim inventory enabled its manufacturing and power systems to set a record for operating cash flow in 2013 at $9 billion; Caterpillar ended the year with $6.1 billion in cash. Third, the company trimmed its debt-to-capital ratio by almost 8 percentage points to 29.7% -- its lowest rate in 25 years.


Ford's 2014 Focus. Source: Ford

Outside of the Dow, Ford's (NYSE:F) Focus continues to be the best-selling vehicle nameplate in the world, according to the company's analysis of Polk global vehicle registration data. While Toyota may dispute these claims, as some of its vehicle sales are tallied under different model names in different regions, you can't deny that the Focus is improving its sales globally.

With strong growth in China, global Focus registrations from January through September 2013 grew to more than 850,000 -- a 16.1% increase over the first nine months of 2012.

"Our success with Focus serving more and more customers around the world underscores the strength of our One Ford plan," said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln, in a press release. "We remain absolutely committed to developing a full family of vehicles that, like Focus, offer outstanding quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value."

Investors will be watching closely as Ford reports its fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow. It will be key to see if surging sales of its most profitable products, its F-Series pickups, can outweigh losses in Europe. Ford has beaten expectations six of the last seven quarters, and met expectations once. 

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Fool contributor Daniel Miller owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends Ford. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. 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.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.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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