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Three Durable Goods Stocks to Consider Now

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Orders for durable goods continue on a positive track. Will customer demands keep up the momentum?

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The Department of Commerce released its latest monthly report on durable goods on Tuesday, noting a 3.6%, or $8 billion, increase in new orders for manufactured durable goods in May. Durable goods refers to goods that last for three or more years such as appliances, cars, and computers. The new orders portion of the Department of Commerce's report is a leading economic indicator used to assess manufacturing activity and business demand. May's increase marks the third straight month of new order growth, and, per USA Today, is the first time new orders of durable goods have increased for three consecutive months since the fall of 2011.

Investing Ideas

Given the positive news regarding orders for durable goods, my firm decided to look for stocks with encouraging profitability and inventory trends. Many industries manufacture durable goods, so we decided to focus specifically on computers, electronics, and machinery for this screen. To begin, we constructed a universe comprised of stocks from the following industries: computer peripherals, computers wholesale, diversified computer systems, diversified electronics, diversified machinery, electronic equipment, electronics wholesale, farm and construction machinery, machine tools and accessories, personal computers, and semiconductors.

Next, we used the DuPont equation to analyze the profitability of these companies. The DuPont equation takes into account the firm's return on equity (ROE). ROE is essentially a company's net profits divided by its average equity. In general, the higher the ROE, the more profitable the company is.

DuPont stretches that equation into three parts:

= (Net profit/equity)
= (Net profit/sales)*(Sales/assets)*(Assets/equity)
= (Net profit margin)*(Asset turnover)*(Leverage ratio)

This enables us to examine the strength of a company's major sources of profitability. Generally, an increase in net profits or asset efficiency is viewed as a positive source of growth, while an increase in leverage ratio (debt) is viewed as a negative. So for our purposes, we screened for companies with an increasing net profit margin and asset turnover, and a decreasing leverage ratio.
We then looked for companies demonstrating faster growth in revenue than inventory over the last year. Inventory is the portion of goods that a company has yet to sell, so revenue growth that outpaces inventory growth is indicative of healthy turnover and a strong ability to sell products.

The List

1. Universal Electronics Inc (NASDAQ:UEIC): With its subsidiaries, develops pre-programmed wireless control products and audio-video accessories that enhance home entertainment systems.

Market cap at $419.17 million, most recent closing price at $28.14.

MRQ net profit margin at 2.57% vs. 1.57% y/y. MRQ sales/assets at 0.313 vs. 0.297 y/y. MRQ assets/equity at 1.447 vs. 1.486 y/y.

Revenue grew by 10.59% during the most recent quarter ($114.72 million vs. $103.73 million y/y). Inventory grew by 5.23% during the same time period ($89.58 million vs. $85.13 million y/y). Inventory, as a percentage of current assets, decreased from 43.96% to 41.42% during the most recent quarter (comparing three months ended March 31, 2013 to three months ended March 31, 2012).

2. Alamo Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALG): Provides equipment and related replacement parts for maintenance and agriculture.

Market cap at $480.36 million, most recent closing price at $39.83.

MRQ net profit margin at 4.39% vs. 4.36% y/y. MRQ sales/assets at 0.371 vs. 0.346 y/y. MRQ assets/equity at 1.371 vs. 1.571 y/y.

Revenue grew by 1.62% during the most recent quarter ($158.43 million vs. $155.91 million y/y). Inventory fell by 7.63% during the same time period ($118.22 million vs. $127.99 million y/y). Inventory, as a percentage of current assets, decreased from 37.04% to 35.76% during the most recent quarter (comparing three months ended March 31, 2013 to three months ended March 31, 2012).

3. Emerson Electric Co. (NYSE:EMR): Operates as a diversified manufacturing and technology company.

Market cap at $39.51 billion, most recent closing price at $55.31.

MRQ net profit margin at 9.41% vs. 9.21% y/y. MRQ sales/assets at 0.251 vs. 0.245 y/y. MRQ assets/equity at 2.253 vs. 2.296 y/y.

Revenue grew by 0.69% during the most recent quarter ($5.96 billion vs. $5.919 billion y/y). Inventory grew by -3.12% during the same time period ($2.327 billion vs. $2.402 billion y/y). Inventory, as a percentage of current assets, decreased from 25.17% to 22.84% during the most recent quarter (comparing three months ended March 31, 2013 to three months ended March 31, 2012).

Editor's note: This article was written by Mary-Lynn Cesar, Kapitall Contributor. Accounting data sourced from Google Finance. All other data sourced from Finviz.

Kapitall's lists break complex concepts down to their basics, offering education and investing ideas to novices that double as a refresher course for more seasoned investors. Inspired by video game design, Kapitall's revolutionary brokerage platform combines a graphical user interface with tools that make it easy to build portfolios, share ideas and execute trades.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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