Amid mixed earnings, multinationals serve as bellwethers
Once again, we saw mixed reports from large multinational industrial companies. These are the sectors to watch: large multinationals that make heating and air conditioning systems, electric motors, truck parts, plumbing equipment.
Johnson Controls--which makes heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems as well as automotive interiors, beat on top and bottom line. Most importantly, they gave a preliminary look at 2014, saying "improving end markets will enable the company to modestly grow revenues in the upcoming year." They are expecting earnings to grow 30 percent in the first quarter of 2014, which is terrific.
Regal Beloit, which makes electric motors used in machines all over the world, also beat on the topline but was light on revenues. They had growth in power generation, and modest growth in China. They are buying a European motor company, which is pretty good.
Masco also reported better than expected top and bottom line growth. As a maker of faucets and cabinets, they are right in the middle of the remodeling boom in the U.S. The Plumbing division saw sales up more than 11 percent, there was some concern that margins had slipped in the Cabinet division. Revenue was up 12 percent, better than consensus.
Air Products, which makes industrial gases, reported revenues below expectations and gave 2014 earnings guidance that implied very modest growth of about 4 to 7 percent. Not bad, but guidance is likely to disappoint the Street.
Goodyear Tire also beat on earnings but was short on revenues. Their outlook for the full year is unchanged in North America and Europe. Still, they are talking about 10 to 15 percent growth in their Segment Operating Income through 2016. Says the company: "We are seeing growth in unit volumes, including in our North America business, driven by the Goodyear brand."
A tougher time, however, is underway in the trucking business. Truck and parts manufacturer Cummins lowered its revenue and EBIT forecast and is down notably, blaming it on lower spending from their customers: "Revenues were below our expectations as we continue to face an environment of weak demand for capital goods in most of our major markets."
Rival Paccar, however, is doing better. They beat on top and bottom line. The company said, "Our customers in North America are benefiting from higher fleet utilization and record freight tonnage, which are driving industry fleet replacement."
Tableau Software analytics and data visualization software, went public only in May, priced at $31, opened at $47 and is now near $70. On Tuesday, the company had a strong report with a big move up in revenue; they also guided higher for Q4 revenue. They also filed for a secondary offering...a good time to do it!
When the stock went public on May 17, I interviewed a smiling Christian Chabot, the CEO. Little wonder he was smiling: Insiders owned the company at 43 cents...which is now trading at $70. Wow.
If you want to know why people are excited about the company, here's my initial comment on the day they went public:
"It's simple: Big Data. It's the new magic word, like "cloud computing" was a year ago. Their software allows customers to analyze large data sets using proprietary drag and drop commands. The company's description of what it does is refreshingly free of a lot of the jargon terms that characterize so many company descriptors. They help people see and understand data, to quickly analyze, visualize and share information. Get it? And no leveraged buyout here.
And anyone can hire them. If you run a pizza delivery service, you can use their software to analyze your phone calls and where your deliveries are going. And you can hire them if you're JP Morgan to analyze any data. It's completely scalable."
—By CNBC's Bob Pisani