Top picks 2012: Caterpillar
The big machinery maker digs in for the long haul despite sluggish U.S. economic growth.
By J. Royden Ward, Cabot Benjamin Graham Value Letter
Caterpillar (CAT) is the world's largest manufacturer of earth-moving equipment. In addition, the company makes diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives.
Caterpillar equipment is used in mining, logging and farming, and in the construction, petroleum and transportation industries.
Caterpillar completed the purchase of Bucyrus International for $8.8 billion in July 2011. Bucyrus makes monstrous trucks, excavators, shovels, drills, and other equipment used in the mining of coal, iron ore, copper and gold.
Sluggish economic growth in the U.S. and overseas is not affecting Caterpillar’s business because many developed countries are catching up on infrastructure construction projects such as roads, highways and bridges, which require new equipment from Caterpillar and other heavy equipment makers.
In addition, the rapid development of infrastructure in emerging countries such as Brazil, China and India provides a bright outlook for Caterpillar in the longer term.
Finally, demand for Caterpillar and Bucyrus equipment will strengthen as a result of the need to replace aging construction and mining equipment.
I expect Caterpillar's sales to increase 13% and earnings to increase 22% in 2012, buoyed by infrastructure spending and the recent purchase of Bucyrus.
The dividend was recently increased for the 18th straight year and now provides a 2.1% yield. At 11 times my 2012 earnings per share estimate, CAT is clearly undervalued and a low-risk stock.
Steven Halpern's TheStockAdvisors.com offers a free daily review of the favorite stock ideas of the nation's top financial newsletter advisors.
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