Top picks 2012: Titanium Metals
Dreamliner launch should help profits soar at this aerospace industry supplier.
Our top stock pick for 2012 is Titanium Metals (TIE), or TIMET for short.
The Dallas company produces and sells titanium sponge, melted products, and various mill products, and is a large recycler of titanium scrap. In addition to making aircraft lighter and more fuel efficient, titanium is used in oil and gas exploration, some automotive applications, and consumer products like golf clubs.
TIMET is heavily dependent on the commercial aerospace industry, which bought 66% of its mill products in 2010. In comparison, TIMET estimates that the broader titanium industry sent about 48% of its output to the makers of airplanes and their components. As such, the company should be a big beneficiary of a strong aerospace cycle, and the launch of Boeing's (BA) 787 Dreamliner in particular.
While known for its use of composites, the Dreamliner nonetheless uses 116 metric tons of titanium per aircraft. In comparison, the popular single-aisle Airbus A320 uses only 12 metric tons of titanium, while the competing Boeing 737 uses 18 metric tons. Even the large 747 uses only 76 metric tons.
Boeing is currently only able to make about 2.5 Dreamliners a month, and plans to gradually ramp that up to 10 a month by the end of 2013. Even at this rate, however, Boeing still has a 6.5-year backlog of 787 orders to fill.
The airplane maker also just increased production rates on its 737 from 31.5 to 35 per month, and pushed production on the 777 to seven per month.
The need for lighter, more fuel-efficient planes will drive a strong multi-year aerospace cycle. As the titanium company most tied to the industry, TIMET should see years of strong growth ahead. For a kicker, the company is controlled by billionaire Texas investor Harold Simmons, who owns over 50% of the stock. Simmons is a serial buyer of TIMET shares, and could always look to take the company private at some point.
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