Industrial manufacturing is one of those out-of-favor industries nowadays. Between post-Brexit uncertainty and a general global economic malaise, investors aren't exactly lining up to buy industrial stocks. But when the market zigs, it can be a great time for you to zag and invest in great companies that could be poised to do well over the long term.
We asked three of our contributors to each highlight an industrial stock they think will be a great investment over the long term. Here's what they had to say.
Polaris can still recall its strengths
Rich Duprey: Shares of Polaris Industries (NYSE:PII) have lost 28% of their value over the past year because sales in the company's primary off-road vehicle business have slowed. A collapse in oil prices has impacted oil-dependent states pretty hard, and that's where Polaris makes a lot of its sales. Although pricing has bounced back from the lows of last December, it hasn't returned to levels high enough to encourage companies to invest in more personnel or equipment.
On top of that, Polaris suffered a series of setbacks in the form of product recalls thanks to a persistent fire hazard in its ORV segment. Especially hurtful was the 160,000-vehicle recall of its popular RZR side-by-side, which has been the industry's leader since it was introduced a decade ago. Several smaller though equally pernicious recalls risk damaging Polaris' reputation for building a quality product, just as rivals like Arctic Cat accelerate production of their competing brands.
Why buy now? At less than 14 times earnings estimates and with an enterprise value trading at under 15 times its free cash flow, Polaris isn't an expensive stock. It might not be bargain-basement material, but it's still a good value.
Moreover, the recall issue should sort itself out in due time and be viewed as a transitory problem. The power-sports vehicle manufacturer has thrown a lot of resources at the issue that caused the recalls and believes it has gotten to the root of it. Furthermore, commodities have stabilized and show no indication of dropping again, suggesting there's still a runway for higher prices in the future.
And let's not forget Polaris Industries' growing motorcycle business. The Indian Motorcycle brand has been a hit since it was reintroduced three years ago, and although growth is slowing, Polaris is still able to post double-digit growth rates, whereas industry leader Harley-Davidson is stuck in a nearly two-year sales slide. Polaris continues to steal market share from its rival, and with even its Victory brand posting positive sales results last quarter, along with expanding distribution of its Slingshot three-wheeled motorcycle, the operating segment will account for a growing proportion of total sales. This will make Polaris Industries an even more formidable power-sports player than it already is.
A fast-growing industrial opportunity?
Rich Smith: With its stock priced at nearly $170 a share, and up 41% over the past year, Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) is not your typical "cheap stock," but it might still be a good industrial stock to buy in August.
Huntington, for those not familiar with it, is one of America's two biggest builders of military warships -- aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and amphibious assault ships in particular. It might sound like a niche business, but it's been a very good business for Huntington to be in over the past few years.
According to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, for example, Huntington has only enjoyed 2.5% annual revenue growth over the past three years, but its earnings before interest and taxes have surged 31% annually on rising profitability from its several shipbuilding businesses, and net income is growing at nearly 40%.
Last year, Huntington did $7 billion worth of work -- mostly for the U.S. military -- and it boasted 11% margins on that work, which was more than twice the profit margin it enjoyed just three years ago. Today, the stock is selling for just 18.5 times earnings, and analysts project it will keep growing profits at better than 27% annually over the next five years. When you consider that nobody is expressing hopes of the military budget growing at anywhere near that rate, that speaks to the quality of Huntington Ingalls' operations -- and its ability to earn strong profits in just about any spending environment.
With Huntington Ingalls now selling for a PEG ratio of just 0.67, I think now might be a fine time to look at buying into this profits growth story. Because you never know -- if defense spending does resume growing at some point in the future, this story could get even better.
Unleashed and ready to grow again
Tyler Crowe: The past several years have been a bit of a soul-searching endeavor for General Electric (NYSE:GE). After taking on any type of business under the sun and trying to fit it under a single conglomerate, the company is getting back to what it does best: manufacturing. Having shed several billions in assets from its GE Capital business, the company was able to drop its label as a Systemically Important Financial Institution, aka too big to fail. Without this designation in place, the company can free up some restricted capital that will allow it to reinvest heavily in the business and return cash to shareholders.
The biggest catalyst General Electric has going for it over the next several years is its push into the Industrial Internet of Things. The company is taking that consumer idea of connecting everything to a network and applying it to engines, turbines, and other major industrial equipment that can benefit from constant monitoring and optimization. Selling new equipment with the ability to connect to its Predix software platform will give companies a new tool to improve operations, and for GE, it means a steady stream of recurring revenue for software licenses.
General Electric is a very different company now than it was just a few years ago, but that new look is for the better. With new levers to pull with its Industrial Internet of Things push and the ability to pursue those without the SIFI designation hanging over it, General Electric is a company worth keeping an eye on.