It's hard not to applaud Black & Decker (NYSE:BDK). They're a market leader, they produce solid returns on capital, they generate good cash flow, and they seldom disappoint the Street. None of that has done the stock much good this year; a nearly two-year rally stalled out in late 2004, and the stock has fallen 11% year to date.

While the stock may be taking a breather, the business marches merrily on. Sales were up about 23% this quarter as the company coupled mid-single-digit organic growth with a strong contribution from acquisitions like Porter-Cable and Delta Tools. Operating profitability improved a bit, and the company managed to achieve more than 29% operating income growth.

However, cash flow is lagging. Year-to-date free cash flow is in line with last year's level, which management guidance suggests will continue for the full year. I find it unfortunate that the company doesn't include a cash flow statement with earnings; they're otherwise diligent in communicating their performance. Nevertheless, it looks like working capital management is the culprit this year -- perhaps due to the inventories and trade receivables taken on in the acquisitions.

Black & Decker is a very strong player, which is actually proving to be a bit of a mixed blessing. While having a controlling share of the North American tool market means they can't be ignored by the likes of Lowe's (NYSE:LOW), Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation Home Depot (NYSE:HD), or Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD), it's also true that powerful suppliers make retailers nervous. Accordingly, I wouldn't be surprised if these retailers are subtly (or not-so-subtly) promoting rival products from the likes of Makita (NASDAQ:MKTAY), Stanley Works (NYSE:SWK), or Techtronic (NQB: TTNDY) to undermine Black & Decker's leverage.

Conspiracy theories aside, I'm basically lukewarm on this one. I think it's a fine company, and the price isn't too unattractive. The biggest issue I have with Black & Decker is simply that there are literally thousands of other stocks to choose from, and I just happen to like some other ideas better.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).