Whether it's the high price of oil, the increasingly high price of money (in the form of interest rates), just the regular summer doldrums, or a combination of all three, a lot of stocks have slid back into my "interesting" range. One of them is industrial conglomerate Illinois Tool Works
Growth by acquisition is still a major focus at the company, with another 10 acquisitions occurring this quarter. Of the reported revenue growth of 9%, about half of it came from so-called organic growth and nearly 7% from acquisitions (the numbers don't round because of the negative impact of currency adjustments).
While it's normally quite Foolish to be a little cagey with companies that depend so much upon deals for growth, Illinois Tool Works isn't exactly normal in that regard. Margins continue to improve, returns on capital are very good (and have been for a while), and cash flow is strong. In other words, this is not a company that's trying to hide problems by buying other companies; it has a sound vision and strategy, and acquisitions just happen to be part of that.
The good news and bad news of the quarter in terms of product/sector performance was no real surprise. Businesses like industrial plastics and polymers did well, as did welding and packaging, while autos continue to be a source of weakness. Again, given recent performance at the likes of General Motors
It's funny what sort of names a market swoon will make you think about owning. Companies like Dover
Illinois Tool Works isn't quite there, but it's close enough to merit serious consideration. While some may worry about the impact of residential construction and autos on the company, I think that misses the forest for the trees. This is a diversified conglomerate with some pretty good returns and a valuation that at least earns it a spot on my watch list.
For more amalgamated Foolishness:
- No Do-Over for Dover
- More Blocking and Tackling From Danaher
- Illinois Tool Works Surfs the Late Cycle
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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).