What happened

Shares of Honeywell International (NASDAQ:HON) followed the broader markets down as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe earlier this year. But unlike the S&P 500, which gained back most of what it lost in March during May and June, Honeywell shares remain under pressure. The stock lost 18.3% in the first half of 2020, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, and the near-term outlook for the company remains hazy at best.

So what

Honeywell is a diversified manufacturer, but its biggest profit generator is its commercial aerospace unit. The pandemic hit that business hard, causing airlines to retrench and cut spending.

A building with Honeywell's logo out front

Image source: Honeywell International.

Other businesses were not immune to the downturn. Honeywell has warned it expects sales in its performance materials business to be down 15% in the second quarter and building technologies to be off 10%. Performance materials includes a number of products sold to the energy markets, which is dealing with its own COVID-related slump, and with construction projects on hold and workers at home, building tech has also dragged.

Some of those units should rebound in the quarters to come, but there are no quick answers to save the aerospace business. The airlines are likely to need two or three years to restore flight schedules to prepandemic levels, and until they do the companies that sell to airlines and plane makers are going to face growth challenges.

Now what

The good news is Honeywell is a strong collection of assets that are well positioned to perform as the economy recovers. The bad news for investors is that the recovery is mostly beyond Honeywell's control, and in areas including aviation there is going to be a long wait.

Honeywell currently trades at less than 17 times sales and offers a dividend yield of more than 2.4%. That's good value for those who have the stomach to handle uncertainty and who are willing to wait out the downturn.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.