Our economy may be pulling back noticeably, but thankfully, there are still some solid companies that continue to raise their hands and run to the front of the classroom with incredibly solid earnings. Manitowoc (NYSE: MTW) is a member in good standing of this happily stellar bunch.

Wisconsin-based Manitowoc, which makes a variety of cranes, food-service equipment, and marine products, saw its earnings hoisted primarily by strong international demand for its cranes. On a continuing operations basis, the company's performance rose fully 119% to $96.1 million from $43.9 million in the December 2006 quarter. Looking at the diluted per-share line, the latest quarter hit $0.74, vs. $0.35 a year earlier. These results compared with a $0.68 consensus estimate.

Manitowoc isn't a particularly sexy company, but if the object of investing is to locate solid operations with the prospect of carrying their share price higher, the company appears worthy of Foolish analysis. Its crane unit produces a range of hoisting equipment, including "articulated boom cranes." I frankly can't imagine anything more exciting than a crane with the ability to enunciate effectively. Nevertheless, the segment's earnings for the quarter were up 83%.

The food-service group makes all sorts of cooling equipment, including refrigerators and freezers, and my favorite: long-draw beer dispensing equipment. This cool segment's earnings were up 11% year over year.

The marine segment constructs military and commercial vessels, double-hulled tank vessels, and articulated tug and barge units. Ah, yes, talking tugs ... Anyway, that unit's operating earnings rose 68% in the quarter.

Manitowoc's results are directionally similar to those turned in last month by equipment manufacturer Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT). In the meantime, I'm inclined to pay attention to a company whose earnings nearly doubled in 2007, especially when it trades at less than 12 times analysts' 2008 EPS estimates.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does welcome your comments or questions. The Motley Fool continues to operate under a disclosure policy.