Trimble (NASDAQ:TRMB) is a company that I've admired from a distance for some time now, but haven't taken the time to write about at any length. I think it's past time we got better acquainted.

I first became aware of Trimble when I started researching precision agriculture. This budding field involves the application of positioning technologies like GPS to farming. Trimble's positioning solutions -- which extend to construction, transportation, and other industries -- are backed by more than 900 patents. That intellectual property portfolio should support the company's competitive position relative to other precision ag players like Raven Industries (NASDAQ:RAVN) and privately held Ag Leader.

Demand for Trimble's wares got socked this year along with other agricultural equipment suppliers like Lindsay (NYSE:LNN) and AGCO (NYSE:AGCO). The long-term outlook for this sector, especially in emerging markets like China, is nevertheless very strong.

Having read some of Trimble's annual reports, I've come away very impressed with the culture in place here. The philosophy of being a solutions provider, rather than a mere product company, should serve the firm very well as it seeks to satisfy its customers' evolving needs.

Trimble can't be called cheap, with an enterprise value of around 18 times EBITDA and a trailing price-to-earnings multiple that's through the roof. That's the main reason I haven't seriously considered an investment in the company. This is a very fine business, though, as demonstrated by the firm's prodigious free cash flow. Based on the all-in excess cash flow metric I concocted earlier this year, Trimble's operations have covered its cash demands more than 2.5 times over, based on a five-year average. Fewer than 9% of U.S.-listed businesses with market capitalizations between $2 billion and $5 billion measure up to that standard.

So no, I'm not ready to add Trimble to my portfolio today, but it's a company I'm monitoring with great interest.

Motley Fool CAPS players have awarded Trimble the highest possible ranking of five stars. See what they have to say about the stock, and share your own views, right over here.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.