If you're one of the many Americans spending a lot of money keeping your lawn green, you may be doing business with The Toro Company
It is currently valued at around $960 million, its shares more than doubling over the last five years and up over 40% for the last 12 months. The company recently reported a 10% rise in quarterly profits... and that all makes our guest a happy man.
Ken Melrose is the chairman and CEO of Toro. He recently joined David and Tom Gardner for a round of "Buy, Sell, or Hold?"
David: Let's play our game, buy, sell, or hold. Ken, we'll be throwing out things happening, not in the stock market, but things happening in your world, the outdoor world, and asking: If they were stocks, would you be buying, selling, or holding and a sentence or two about why. You ready?
David: OK. First one up. In some sense I guess they are a competitor of yours. In fact, we recently read where some areas are using them as a more cost-efficient way to get rid of weeds, poison ivy, and other unruly plants. So buy, sell, or hold goats?
Ken: Goats... I would sell my goats. I just think there's a better solution than goats. Goats require too much maintenance. And you don't often get quite the manicured look you might want for your backyard.
Tom: It's certainly been a hot place to have your money over last couple years. What do you think, generally looking out across the U.S., about the real estate market -- buy, sell, or hold going forward over the next couple years?
Ken: I'd buy real estate. I think that's a good alternative to the stock market. My parents were both stock brokers so they would not like me to say this, but I think it's a good balance. I think real estate, your homes, other things in real estate make some sense to have a piece of your investment there. I'm basically, though, an equity guy. And so I'd probably buy more equities than I would real estate, but I would have real estate in my portfolio.
David: The U.S. sits on large, untapped natural gas and oil reserves. Buy, sell, or hold drilling more in Alaska?
Ken: I'd buy more. I think that's a great thing to invest in. To the extent that we can reduce our dependency on foreign oil, that's great and I think that will continue.
Tom: Seems like a lot of great business leaders dropped out in college. So, Ken Melrose, buy, sell, or hold the MBA degree -- is it a good idea?
Ken: Well, my daughter just got her MBA....
David: So you better answer "buy"!
Ken: And she's fully employed and she's doing great things at a local company here called General Mills. So, I think MBAs are good. I'd buy.
David: And last one up. They made quite a splash when they first came on the scene. Buy, sell, or hold Weed Eaters?
Ken: Weed Eaters I would sell. The Toro Trimmer is far better than the Weed Eater. Weed Eater is a brand name, and it's a competitor. So, get rid of your Weed Eaters and buy a Toro Trimmer.
David: And what makes your product better?
Ken: What makes it better... it's a Toro brand, got a great infrastructure for service, it cuts better, it has some novel inventions on being able to take the spool out, remove it with a click, and you're up and going in a jiffy.
David: OK, that's about seven different answers and reasons. Closing thought for you, Ken. The company's name is Toro. If my Spanish (and Latinate root) understanding is right, it means bull, right?
Ken: That's correct.
David: But I never seem to see a bull anywhere on the product or the brand. Are you excluding the bull? Where's the love for the bull?
Ken: Well, we used to have a bull on our logo for years and years and then we eliminated the bull because we wanted so much to implant or impregnate in the brain of everyone the name T-O-R-O. So, we changed the whole imagery with a very bold Toro logo.
But Toro came from the Bull Tractor Company in 1908, which began here in Minneapolis and created a subsidiary that made motors and they called the motor subsidiary the Toro Motor Company. We've long since dropped the name, and we do a lot more than just make motors now.
David: Certainly do. Ken Melrose is the chairman and CEO of Toro. Ken, thanks for joining us on The Motley Fool Radio Show.
Ken: Thank you, David and Tom.
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