If you believe the stories told about the California gold rush, most of the people who profited from the rush were the suppliers -- not the miners. In other words, you were much better off setting up shop to sell picks and shovels (or hooch) than grabbing your own pan and heading for a stream. Assuming that notion still holds true today, investors curious about getting into the metals market might want to dig into Bucyrus International
A maker of surface mining equipment like electric shovels and draglines, Bucyrus reported strong growth for the second quarter. Sales climbed 20% for the period, while operating income and net income grew up 90% and 292%, respectively. Due to a substantial increase in the number of shares outstanding, EPS growth was lower, but still more than double.
New machine sales rose almost 63% for the quarter as the company benefited from the recognition of revenue from the sale of two draglines back in 2004. Even with this growth, new machinery sales still only made up 39% of total revenue. Aftermarket parts and service, the rest of revenue, grew 2.3% for the quarter.
Bucyrus ended the quarter with a backlog of about $573 million in orders (about $324 million of that expected to ship within twelve months). That represents backlog growth of more than 13% on a sequential basis and more than 114% on a year-over-year basis.
As management said on the conference call, "Not a whole lot has changed from a macro viewpoint." Prices for mined products have stayed relatively firm, and mining companies are using this period of stronger cash flow to expand and update their mining equipment. These are the same trends that have also been pushing Joy Global
Unlike Joy Global, which sells surface and underground equipment, Bucyrus is all about surface mining. While Joy Global is the leader in electric shovels, Bucyrus is a big fish in the markets for draglines and blast-hole drills. That might seem like a lot of gobbledygook to those not familiar with the mining industry, but here's the important point -- Joy Global is bigger and more diversified, but Bucyrus has a very legitimate business in its own right.
It's hard for me to say what to do with this stock. While it seems that Wall Street's ardor toward mining companies and their suppliers has cooled, most of the equipment companies are sticking to their thesis that they are in the early years of a multiyear business upswing.
If you share that viewpoint, and believe that Wall Street will return to these names when they collectively realize that the upswing was not a flash in the pan, there could still be further upside to these shares.
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has a history of recognizing the importance of the supplier. One of its selections, Mine Safety Appliances
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).