At a time when the market resembles a biplane pilot enthralling air show attendees with a series of death-defying loop-de-loops, I'm intrigued by a group of almost boringly basic companies that themselves frequently fly under the radar of market observers.
These companies operate under such names as Applied Industrial Technologies
First, they turn out basic components of our industrialized economy, like electrical and mechanical components, bearings, and other engineered equipment. Second, most never capture the attention of those searching for "hot" investment plays. And third, all have recently reported very solid -- record, in some cases -- quarterly results.
As a case in point, Applied Industrial Technologies Thursday reported strong -- "record" works here -- results for its June quarter, which also happens to be the final period in the company's 2007 fiscal year. For the quarter, its net income increased to $24.5 million, or $0.56 per share, from $20.2 million, or $0.44 a share, a year earlier. If you'd rather not do the math, that's a 22.2% jump on the net income line. Sales for the quarter were up 4.7% to $528 million.
The Cleveland-based company's product offerings include power transmission components, bearings, fluid power systems, industrial rubber products, and safety and maintenance products. Its customers include companies operating in the agriculture and food processing, chemical, automotive, mining, metals, and forest products industries. I take it to be testimony to managerial competence that Applied Industrial Technologies was able to crank out its strong quarterly and annual income in the face of soggy conditions in the nation's housing and automotive industries.
But beyond its newly disclosed results, I'm intrigued by some of Applied Industrial's other metrics. For instance, its PEG ratio (the P/E divided by the expected five-year growth in earnings, such that the lower the number, the better) is a healthy 1.2 -- not bad for a "slow growth" industrial company. And its forward P/E is just 11 times, or well below the average for the broad markets.
At the same time, its dividend -- raised 25% last month -- now represents a forward yield of about 2.35%. And beyond all that, more than a few CEOs would love to swap balance sheets with the company.
So, Fools, when your stomachs settle after you've watched the market's current round of acrobatics, I'd strongly recommend attention to Applied Industrial Technologies, and perhaps to its solid, growing -- and maybe a touch boring -- brethren.
To look at related Foolishness:
- An Efficient Quarter at MSC Industrial Direct
- 5-Star Stocks in the Bargain Bin
- AIT Cruises: Fool by Numbers