Some companies talk about turnarounds and three or five-year plans, but a select few actually go out and execute them. Count Allegheny Technologies (NYSE:ATI) among the latter. From a stock price in the low single digits in 2003, this specialist in specialty metals has come roaring back.

Oddly enough, the top line doesn't quite tell the tale here. Sales were up just 15% overall in the quarter, as sluggish results in flat-rolled products (down 7%) muted the growth of high performance metals (up 55%) and engineered products (up 31%). You need not look far to see the real story, though. Operating income (excluding restructuring) more than doubled and net income (also excluding gains, charges, etc.) came close to tripling.

What really fueled the story were high performance metals, demand for titanium and nickel alloys from aerospace customers, and stronger overall demand for specialty alloys from the chemicals, energy, and power markets. Shipment volumes weren't up all that much, but ASP's were -- up 96% in the case of titanium -- and operating income jumped notably. And while the story was similar in engineered products, the flat-rolled business was hurt by lower shipments -- especially in the commodity business.

Now the story centers around how long this will keep up. Listening to what the likes of Boeing (NYSE:BA) and United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) have been saying, it doesn't seem like the commercial aviation or engine markets are slowing down. Likewise in energy, where high prices are apt to continue to spur exploration and production development. So demand is looking pretty good.

That leaves supply as the potential issue -- what will competitors like Carpenter (NYSE:CRS), Nucor (NYSE:NUE), TitaniumMetals (NYSE:TIE), and Kennametal (NYSE:KMT) do in their respective markets in terms of pricing and capacity? Somebody's eventually going to try to grab a piece of the pie with more capacity, and that'll bring prices down.

As with Carpenter, I come away from Allegheny with a lot of respect for the company and management but not a whole lot of interest in the stock. I'd rather buy when there's a little less excitement, and I think there are still some better deals in the steel sector versus the specialty alloy boys.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).