Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of crane maker Manitowoc (NYSE:MTW) were lifting higher in trading today, gaining as much as 5% to hit a new 52-week high of $32.06 a share, as of this writing.
So what: Yesterday, Manitowoc reported having received "strong reception" for its new launches at the ConExpo 2014 in Las Vegas, which concluded on March 8. Held every three years, the international exhibition is a good benchmark to gauge the sentiments of the construction industry, and serves as a major platform for companies like Manitowoc to showcase their new products.
Manitowoc unveiled 10 new products at ConExpo this year, including cranes and booms. The earlier editions of the exhibition had proved to be successful for the company, so expectations ran high this time as well. As an example, ConExpo was one of the reasons why Morgan Stanley upgraded Manitowoc stock in January.
The good news is that Manitowoc said the response at the event had exceeded its expectations. In other words, that should mean a good number of orders for the company.
Now what: While the company will not disclose its order figures until its first-quarter-earnings release, industry reports are providing some insight into how things went at the ConExpo. Engineering News-Record reports Manitowoc having sold 10 of its 300-ton MLC300 crane and 50 crawlers that use its next-generation variable position counterweight, or VPC technology. Manitowoc is betting big on the technology, with industry experts even calling it a game changer for the company.
The timing of the ConExpo couldn't be any better. Manitowoc's crane orders jumped 57% sequentially and 30% year over year during its last quarter. The company hasn't seen such strong order intake since the recession, and the technologically advanced products that debuted at the exhibition should help the company's order rate maintain momentum.
With the ConExpo reportedly proving to be a success, if non-residential construction activity in the U.S. continues to gather steam through the year, Manitowoc may exceed its projections of generating "modest top-line growth" in crane revenue for financial year 2014. That should be great news, especially when the company's other business of food service equipment has started showing signs of improvement.
Manitowoc shares may be trading at a substantial premium to those of peers and may slow down a bit in the near future, but their long-term story is intact and may have even gotten stronger. Investors should remain hopeful.