A lot of earnings results from multinational corporations revealed improving growth in the international markets, including Asia and, surprisingly, Europe. But one company just reported the reverse and its first-quarter numbers were excellent based on strong domestic demand for its products.
Cummins Inc. (CMI) hit it out of the park with a 25% comparative gain in North American sales, while the company’s international sales were basically flat. Diluted earnings per share grew 23% in the first quarter of 2014; the company bought back three million of its own shares.
The company increased its full-year guidance based on improving domestic demand, and the stock soared on the news.
Citing lower demand for power generation and mining equipment, particularly in India and Australia, the weakness was offset by strong demand for engines (sales up 11% to $2.6 billion) and components (sales up 21% to $1.2 billion) in North America and to a lesser extent in Europe and China.
The company expects full-year 2014 sales to grow by six to 10% over 2013. This is new guidance, up from the previous expectation of sales growth between four and eight percent, based on improving North American demand.
A number of Street analysts boosted their earnings expectations for Cummins for 2015; the bottom line is expected to grow a little more than 20% (currently 17% for this year over 2013). That is very strong earnings growth for a $28.0-billion company in a mature industry.
Cummins’ 10-year stock chart is featured below:
Every company and industry has its own particular set of circumstances, but it’s material what large manufacturing corporations say about domestic business conditions, even if you aren’t interested in the stock.
Cummins figures it will gain further market share this year in the medium-duty truck market, with growth in engines and component sales, which currently represent 58% and 28% of total sales, respectively.
The company also says that sales of its emissions-related products will continue to improve as regulations tighten, particularly in Europe.
As part of Cummins’ business plan, it is buying up partially owned North American distributors; this should increase future margins quite significantly.
Management is less enthusiastic about business conditions overseas, while also noting that mining industry markets continue to experience weakness with further deterioration expected this year. (See “Why I’d Stay Away From These Three Heavily Touted Stocks.”)
While all corporate reporting has to be taken with a grain of salt, the numbers and outlooks presented by brand-name businesses are typically genuine.
As an equity investor, what companies report about their businesses is the most material news of all, and it’s valuable in terms of shaping your own market view.
There is momentum in the domestic market, but it’s still at the corporate level in the sense that rising earnings, share repurchases, and dividends have yet to create much wealth in the Main Street economy.
When a diesel engine manufacturing company like Cummins says business conditions are getting stronger in the domestic market, that’s good news, and its business forecast is just one small factor helping to mitigate the probability of a recession this year.