Can Emerson Light It Up?

The Fed can keep raising rates, but it won't change the fact that a lot of companies out there (in a wide variety of industries) have been underinvesting in their basic infrastructure. You can underinvest for a while, but sooner or later, you either have to spend the money on new and improved gear, or cut back production. With many companies treating market share as their most precious commodity, Emerson (NYSE: EMR  ) could yet have a few more years of good growth.

Performance in the company's fiscal third quarter was encouraging to this Fool. Reported revenue rose nearly 17%, with organic growth of around 12%. That performance puts it in the upper tier with other industrial conglomerates like Dover (NYSE: DOV  ) and ITTIndustries (NYSE: ITT  ) . Although gross margins were down very slightly, operating margins expanded, and profits were up 18% on the way to a 37% gain in earnings per share.

As I suggested in the opening paragraph, Emerson is serving a variety of industries that are either catching up on delayed internal capital expenditures and/or trying to expand their businesses. Companies in the energy and chemicals sector need more process-control equipment, and that doesn't seem likely to abate when you consider the number of new power plants on the books and energy/chemical projects around the world.

What's more, data-storage vendors like EMC (NYSE: EMC  ) and IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) continue to sell more gear, and companies like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) have pretty ambitious building plans of their own. All of that suggests good demand in the near term for the network power business.

Emerson isn't the cheapest industrial stock that I follow, nor is it my favorite, but it's hard to ignore both the strong recent order growth and the outlook for demand in many of its segments. Though investors may continue to fear the effect of rate hikes and energy prices on economic health, I think Emerson has a chance of staying electrified, if only on the basis of catch-up spending in many of its key markets.

For more industrial Foolishness:

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).


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