The financial performance of industrial companies has a history of rising and falling along with the broader economy, which is what makes them cyclical. As you might expect, the stock performance of these companies reacts to financial performance, meaning that economic weak patches often lead to investment opportunities.
1. Stanley Black & Decker: The problem of short-cycle products
Stanley Black & Decker is best known for the tools it makes and sells. This business is highly tied to consumers, with around 30% of the company's sales coming from just two large hardware stores in 2021. Making consumer-grade tools isn't the only thing it does by a long shot, as it also makes high-tech fasteners, but tools are a much bigger business. So when consumers are in a funk, Stanley Black & Decker's sales can quickly trail off. So far this year it has lowered its adjusted annual earnings guidance from $12 to $12.50 per share to a range of just $5 to $6 per share.
The thing is, consumers tend to be quicker to change their buying habits than businesses, which is why Stanley Black & Decker is said to have more short-cycle exposure. When things start to look up, the company will likely benefit more quickly than many of its industrial peers. So the stock's roughly 50% drop so far in 2022 is probably a buying opportunity for long-term investors.
To be fair, the company has a lot of work to do, so the stock price could fall further before it recovers. But it's better to be about right than to miss the opportunity waiting for the perfect entry point. Still, you'll want to monitor how management is handling supply chain issues, combating inflation, and pushing through price increases. All are going to be vital as it looks to restore margins and improve earnings. If history is any guide, management will get through this, and in the meantime, you can collect a historically generous 3.5% dividend yield.
2. Rockwell Automation: Still seeing plenty of demand
Rockwell Automation is a more typical industrial company, selling products and services directly to other companies. As its name implies it helps other companies automate their businesses. This is usually, by its nature, a money-saving effort, which means that economic downturns are a business negative in one sense, but also a business opportunity as potential customers shift into cost-cutting mode. Rockwell Automation's stock is down around 25% so far in 2022.
But there are two different things taking shape right now. On the one hand, Rockwell Automation is seeing fairly strong demand. In fact, in the fiscal third-quarter earnings release, management highlighted that its backlog of work to be done was at historically high levels. That suggests that business is very strong. But, at the same time, management is dealing with material supply chain problems. That is limiting its ability to complete work and hampering sales and earnings.
And yet, even as the company cut its full-year fiscal 2022 sales guidance, it is still expecting to see a year-over-year increase of between 10.5% and 12.5%. That's a bit lower than previously expected, but kind of hard to complain about. Adjusted earnings per share, meanwhile, came in at $9.43 in fiscal 2021 and are now projected to fall between $9.30 and $9.70 in 2022. This is hardly a company that's suddenly floundering so badly that investors should be running for the hills.
If history is any guide, Rockwell Automation will capably manage the current headwinds. And you can collect its modest 1.75% yield while you wait. Don't get too caught on that diminutive dividend yield, however; the dividend has grown by an impressive 10% a year, on average, over the past decade or so.
Hold on tight
The key with both Rockwell Automation and Stanley Black & Decker is that investors currently have the opportunity to buy strong and historically well-run companies following deep sell-offs. If you buy and hold, perhaps for the rest of your life, it's highly likely that you'll end up with a pair of winners here.