When a company's numbers fail to live up to expectations, the markets are often quick to react and dump its shares. Manitowoc
I don't think it was in Manitowoc's case.
Building where it matters
Manitowoc's top-line growth was strong, and industry trends seem favorable in the near future. Even before it released its numbers, peers had given us enough evidence of the uptick in construction activity in the U.S. Sales in Caterpillar's
Sales in its Crane division climbed 29% from the comparable period last year. Everything went well -- orders were 10% higher and backlogs were up 16%, both from the year-ago quarter. In fact, a backlog value of $931 million represents the highest such level since the financial crisis.
The crane business is certainly looking good, and Manitowoc is making sure it complements growth in the U.S. with that in the emerging markets. The company is set to become the first player to make rough-terrain cranes in Brazil. Manufacturing in the new facility kicked off last month, and deliveries should start by mid-year. With the nation gearing up to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, Manitowoc seems to have hit the right note here.
From cranes to food
Products launched last year seem to be doing a good job with strengthening Manitowoc's other business, food-service equipment. Indigo ice machines, in particular, have emerged as the winner. As in the fourth quarter, this product played a major role in pushing up the division's revenue, boosting it by 4% from the year-ago quarter. What's more, these ice machines, along with the company's unique blend-in-cup dispensers, were recently recognized for their performance by none other than fast-food king McDonald's
The association with major fast-food players is what I feel will help take Manitowoc far, helping it gain greater traction not just in the U.S. but also in the emerging markets where these companies are investing heavily. After Singapore and China, it opened a "test kitchen" in India during the first quarter.
The Foolish bottom line
True, Manitowoc's first-quarter net profit, at $100,000, is nothing to write home about, but let's not forget how good a turnaround this was from the loss of $52.4 million incurred in the year-ago quarter. Also, larger tax expenses played a big role in muting profits this time. As long as Manitowoc sees healthy top-line growth, there continues to be real potential for it in the future.
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