A reader recently commented that the only thing cheap in this market seems to be me. I guess he had a good point; I probably say something like "Good company, but the stock is too expensive" in more than half of my columns these days. Well, here's another one to add to the roll call. Donaldson
Unlike many industrial companies, Donaldson hardly produced breakaway revenue growth this quarter. True, the reported growth of about 4% (more than 7% with constant currency) isn't bad, but it's not spectacular, either. At least the margin story is still bright: Both gross and operating margins improved by meaningful amounts, and the company posted better-than-23% growth in operating income.
There was also a gap between the performance of the company's two primary businesses: engine products and industrial products. In engines, revenue and pre-tax earnings were both up by mid-to-high-single-digit amounts. In industrial, though, the growth was more on the low-single-digit scale. Robust 37% growth in the company's PowerCore technology underlined all of that.
By and large, we're talking about a solid company here. Water and life-sciences filtration may still get a large share of the press, but Donaldson's businesses still have growth opportunities ahead of them -- even with the upcoming decline in new truck builds, and increased competition from the likes of CLARCOR
Yet I'm still concerned about Donaldson's value. I'm more than happy to give the company the benefit of the doubt when it comes to discount rates and such, but even then, the stock still looks expensive. Sooner or later, valuations do matter. Donaldson, CLARCOR, Pall
This might be an interesting stock to consider if it ever went on sale. But that day is not today.
For more industrial Foolishness:
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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).