The tool trade is definitely not boring -- at least not if you hold shares of Black & Decker (NYSE:BDK) these days. Following today's earnings release, the firm shot up to a 52-week high, making it almost a double off the past year's low.

Investors seemed to like the news this morning: earnings per share up 56% to $1.50. But comparable revenues from continuing operations were up 11%, though that is 19% if you include foreign exchange gains. The firm's oversized earnings growth came through a 1.8% increase in gross margin and a 1.7% improvement in operating costs.

And as though that wasn't enough to get the Street screaming, "Buy," the company also announced the $775 million acquisition of Pentair's (NYSE:PNR) tools group. The move gives Black & Decker a foothold in compressor and pressure equipment, along with metal and masonry tools in Europe.

The list of competitors to Black & Decker seems to get smaller every time we write about the firm. Nowadays, Stanley Works (NYSE:SWK), Makita (NASDAQ:MKTAY), and Danaher (NYSE:DHR), which makes tools for Sears (NYSE:S), are the notables among a dwindling crowd.

When I last opened my big, fat mouth about Black & Decker, I warned that the company didn't have a history of churning up the kind of free cash flow (FCF) that you might expect from a mature powerhouse. It was the prime reason I thought the stock was fully priced. I may need to revise that opinion.

After turning in FCF of $198 million so far this year, management forecasts $360 million in FCF for the full year. That would give the firm an enterprise value-to-FCF ratio of around 15, which is a discount to the market in general, but not a screaming bargain.

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Fool contributor Seth Jayson owns plenty of Black & Decker tools, but he has no position in any firm mentioned. View his Fool profile here.