Investing in the Third Industrial Revolution
January 23, 2018
It’s been a heck of a year for the stock market – or at least the first three weeks of it – and I think it’s only just getting started. There are a lot of spectacular stocks out there right now, but what I’m really keeping an eye on are the economic sectors that are on fire.
One in particular stands out: the industrials. This is an area that I love – and have loved for some time. In fact, I believe we’re in the early stages of a third industrial revolution. Today I want to talk about four stocks that are riding the sector’s waves.
1. Caterpillar (CAT)
This is a company I know you’re familiar with. It’s been around for 100 years, and if you’ve ever passed a construction site, a working farm or even checked out the locomotive on the local train track, you’ve probably seen the name.
Today, CAT is the leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. It’s also among the leaders in a laundry list of categories too long to mention.
A full 70% of CAT’s revenue comes from outside the United States, but it was the turn in North America that seemed to spark the stock to life. Monthly machine sales were down 51 months in a row from December 2012 to February 2017, but now they’re surging. This is how the figures shook out in November 2017:
- Asia Pacific: +43%
- Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EAME): +32%
- Latin America: +48%
- North America: +12%
- World: +26%
This stock is up triple digits in the last year and a half, which is also a reflection of the rebound in crude oil (resources were up 35% in November and construction was up 25%). Still, I believe there is a lot more upside to be captured here. JPMorgan just upgraded it in anticipation of another strong year thanks in part to tax reform, and the trading action remains positive. Plus, it offers a decent dividend while you hold on.
2. Boeing (BA)
This stock has been leading the strength in the industrials recently, as it is perhaps the ultimate proxy for global growth and how American excellence can benefit. As I’m sure you already know, Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company as well as a leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. It’s also a top U.S. exporter.
Orders for the next 20 years suggest that this juggernaut is only just taking off (pun intended). It’s been trading like a hot tech stock recently – it was up nearly 90% in 2017 and has tacked on an additional 14% so far here in 2018 – so while there may be some smoothing out in the nearer term, I expect it to continue riding the wave of growth for a very long time.
3. Wal-Mart (WMT)
Another name I suspect you’re familiar with, Wal-Mart is the largest retail company in the world. Over the last 50 years, it has grown from a single discount store to a behemoth of more than 11,500 locations across 28 countries. Each week it brings in over 260 million customers.
As you would probably expect, WMT is also the nation’s largest employer, and as a result it will be one of the biggest winners of the new Trump tax cut. But possibly even more important is the fact that it has figured out the internet. In the age of brick-and-mortar retail stores collapsing right and left, this stock has staged a remarkable rebound.
WMT is up more than 55% from its lowest point of last year, and I look for this strength to continue as the company’s initiative to boost its minimum wage will help retain its best workers. As a result, I also expect it to remain a proxy for the U.S. economy.
4. Sherwin-Williams (SHW)
Sherwin-Williams is more than just the local paint store on the corner. It’s a global giant that reflects the housing boom as well as strong auto and aerospace markets.
It too has been in an uptrend over the last couple of years, with the shares up nearly 60% in roughly the last year. And it’s always a good thing to see earnings estimates keep ticking higher. Wall Street anticipates 17.5% growth in 2017 and another 25% increase next year.