If you haven't done so lately, you might want to take a gander at the stock chart of Mexico's big cement manufacturer, Cemex
Then, if you're up for more study, head for the company's CAPS page, where you'll discover that Motley Fool CAPS players who follow Cemex have awarded it full five-star status. They obviously realize that Cemex stands to benefit further as the global and U.S. economies continue to recover. Of course, cement makers have generally done nicely by their shareholders since March, including sector members Texas Industries
I'm convinced, however, that given its international structure, Cemex has more upside than the others. As last year came to a close, the company was involved in more than 50 countries through 64 cement plants and other facilities, and had an annual cement capacity of 96 million tons. It also produces substantial amounts of ready-mix concrete and aggregates, virtually around the world.
Beyond that, Cemex is the largest cement producer in the U.S., with 14 cement plants spread from Wampum, Pennsylvania, to Davenport, California. It also has a minority participation in four additional facilities. Its U.S. production capacity totals 17.5 million tons of cement annually. Indeed, those numbers are exceeded only by its Mexican operations, where 18 owned and minority participation plants can turn out 29.2 million tons of cement each year.
Other than riding the wave of improving worldwide economics, Cemex's biggest challenge going forward will be the continued strengthening of its balance sheet, which was roughed up when the company paid $15.3 billion for Australia's Rinker Materials in 2007. Unfortunately, that timing coincided with an intensification of the U.S. housing crisis. Within the past couple of months, however, Cemex has refinanced $15 billion of debt, sold its Australian operations, and completed an equity offering. So there's progress being made.
While the cement manufacturers continue to rise -- along with other building-materials companies, such as wallboard maker USG
Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies named above. He welcomes your questions or comments. Cemex is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. USG and Vulcan Materials are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. The Fool owns shares of Cemex. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool has a concrete disclosure policy.