Fools, we have another record. As a student of the ways companies communicate with their shareholders -- especially at quarterly reporting time -- I judge it to be noteworthy that Illinois Tool Works (NYSE: ITW) used more than 40 words and numerals in the headline of its latest earnings release.

After that, however, the company's information was clear and informative. For instance, we were told that earnings were down 16.2% in the face of an 11.4% hike in quarterly revenue. The culprit in the dichotomy was a pair of previously announced impairment and European tax charges that chopped $0.22 a share from the company's earnings. Absent those charges, Illinois Tool Works earned $0.79 for the quarter, a 16% increase from the March 2007 results.

All things considered, CEO David Speer said he was "...very pleased with our operating performance in the 2008 first quarter, especially in light of difficult end market conditions in North America and the modest slowing but still positive growth in international end markets." Beyond that, he thinks that the company's markets will continue to be challenging, but remains "optimistic about our acquisition opportunities based on our strong pipeline of potential deals."

Illinois Tool Works manufactures a range of industrial products and equipment. It's simply the latest in a group of -- perhaps somewhat dull -- industrial companies that I'm watching carefully, because I'm unconvinced that things like stratospheric oil prices won't bite the market at some point. For instance, as you were told earlier this week, Eaton Corp. (NYSE: ETN) has reported a solid quarter, and I'm awaiting word from the likes of Dover (NYSE: DOV) and Manitowoc (NYSE: MTW).

These companies may not have the sizzle of a Google or perhaps a Crocs. But for the most part, they're well managed and operating successfully amid the sort of soft market conditions that David Speer told you about. On that basis alone, I'm inclined to keep a close eye on their progress.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith appears to be his usual skittish, Chicken Little self about the market. He doesn't own share in any of the companies mentioned, but he does welcome your questions or comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy that's anything but boring.