After a remarkable recovery from the depths of the recession, the manufacturing sector continues to thrive in America. Recent data shows that the U.S. trade deficit sank to its lowest level in four years in November. Meanwhile, industrial stocks have climbed 183% over the past five years, and experts believe (link opens a PDF) that manufacturing will fully recover to pre-recession levels by the end of 2014.
For investors in the manufacturers, the future looks bright. And even more so when you consider what lies ahead for specific companies:
- The backlog for airplane manufacturer Boeing (NYSE:BA) stands at 5,080 planes worth more than $400 billion. At its French rival Airbus, those numbers reached 5,559 aircraft, or the equivalent of nine years' worth of production.
- General Electric (NYSE:GE) rolled out 14 new products in 2013 related to the "industrial Internet," a technology it believes could "lift growth back to levels not seen since the late 1990s."
- Honeywell (NYSE:HON), a leading global maker of automotive turbochargers that increase fuel efficiency, believes the turbocharger market will grow 67% in the next five years.
To be sure, high expectations can leave investors disappointed when manufacturers hit a bump in the road. Automaker Ford's (NYSE:F) sales last month were a case in point. Still, its sales seem to be headed in the right direction for the year ahead.
In the following presentation, industrials analyst Isaac Pino highlights the most important manufacturing trends -- both positive and negative -- that investors should watch for in 2014.