It's holiday shopping time, Fools, and even our corporations are going on a buying spree. In today's news, industrial conglomerate Honeywell International
Now, you might be wondering: What does a company that makes everything from programmable thermostats, to specialty chemicals, to aircraft engines, want with a manufacturer of crash test dummies? The answer: Nothing, perhaps. According to research service Capital IQ, First Technology actually operates in three main divisions. The "crash test dummy" unit, known formally as "Safety and Analysis," manufactures dummies, the walls they're banged into, and the software that tells how much it hurt. Fun stuff, but it really only accounts for 22% of operating profit, and just 16% of revenues. Much more important to the company's revenue and profit streams are its lucrative Automotive and Special Products unit, accounting for 55% of profits despite bringing in just 31% of revenues, and its "Homeland Security" play, the Gas Sensing department, which, well, detects dangerous gases.
Those last two probably interest Honeywell most of all. Given the various sensors it manufactures for measuring objects' position, acceleration, and so on, the Automotive and Special products division seems perfectly suited for integration into Honeywell's own engine manufacturing unit. Meanwhile, Gas Sensing, despite being First Technology's least profitable segment, seems ideal for capitalizing on the government's need for technology to detect harmful gases, whether accidentally or intentionally released.
This same Homeland Security angle led General Electric
However valuable First's technologies might be, however, some analysts are questioning the price that Honeywell intends to pay for the company. Indeed, at $555 million, including assumption of the company's debt, this deal is valued at more than 78 times the $7.06 million that First Technology has earned over the last 12 months. That looks pricey, but you need to also bear in mind that this profits number is just one-third of what First Technologies earned last year, and less than half the firm's average profit over the past six years. If Honeywell can capitalize on the Gas Sensing division's potential, and return the rest of the company to its historical levels of profitability, this deal may not seem quite so expensive in a few years' time.
Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any company named above.