‘Renaissance’ in U.S. Manufacturing Could Lift Small Cap Manufacturing Stocks

Assembly line photo courtesy of Oregonlive.com

Concerns over the so-called “fiscal cliff” and a slowdown in global economic growth have hit manufacturing stocks hard in recent months. Based on this, many manufacturing companies have reduced their guidance.

But TheStreet.com’s Real Money site has noted that manufacturing in the U.S. “has gone through a renaissance over the past decade,” reducing cost structure and increasing productivity, compared to their global competitors (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443545504577563400285418034.html).

With that in mind, Real Money picked two large caps that it believes are now selling cheaply and offer a dividend as well: Dover Corporation (NYSE: DOV), a manufacturer of specialized products and components; and The Timken Company (NYSE: TKR), a manufacturer of bearings, assemblies, alloy steels and mechanical transmission systems.  Some of the details to watch for, according to Real Money, are a strong balance sheet, insider buying and valuations, along with the dividends they pay.

With manufacturing as a focus, here are four randomly chosen small caps that might also deserve a look:

Burlington, MA-based CIRCOR International (NYSE: CIR, http://www.circor.com/) manufactures valves and sub-systems used in the energy, aerospace and industrial markets. CIR has more of a global manufacturing presence than the U.S. stocks Real Money offered. It has more than 7,500 customers in 100 countries. On Aug. 3 Stifel Nicolaus upgraded CIR from hold to buy and set a $41 price target. CIR’s market cap is $615 million and its 52-week trading range is $26.15-$42.79. It closed Aug. 7 at $35.33, up 45 cents.

Atlanta-based Mueller Water Products (NYSE: MWA, http://www.muellerwaterproducts.com/) manufactures products that are used in the transmission, distribution and measurement of drinking water and water treatment facilities. Products include iron pipe, water and gas valves, fire hydrants, water meter products and systems, among other things. In December 2010 it acquired Echologics Engineering Inc, a water leak detection and pipe condition assessment company. On Aug. 7 TheStreet Ratings upgraded MWA from sell to hold. Its market cap is $623 million and 52-week trading range is $1.94-$4.06. At the close of market Aug. 7 MWA was trading at $3.97, up 5 cents for the day.

Braintree, MA-based Altra Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: AIMC, http://www.altramotion.com/) manufactures a range of mechanical power transmission and motion control products for customers in the energy. general industrial, mining, transportation and turf and garden industries. Forbes noted Aug. 3 that AIMC had crossed above its 200-day moving average of $17.57. Its market cap is $468 million and 52-week trading range is $10.12-$22.18. AIMC closed Aug. 7 at $17.58, down 7 cents for the day.

Bloomfield, CT-based Kaman Corporation (NYSE: KAMN, http://www.kaman.com/) operates in the aerospace and industrial distribution markets as a manufacturer and subcontractor. Since November 2011 KAMN has acquired five companies. Most recently, in July 2012, a subsidiary, Kaman Industrial Technologies Corp., acquired Miami-based Florida Bearings Inc. On Aug. 7, KAMN’s Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of 16 cents a share to shareholders of record on Oct. 9. KAMN’s market cap is $867 million and 52-week trading range is $25.73-$36.07. It closed Aug. 7 at $32.82, up 47 cents on the day.


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