Question: How to save the American Factory? Answer: Allow the continued devaluation of the dollar.

Well I have officially seen everything. A couple of weeks back I was reading in the local newspaper and found that the Canadian company Bombardier Aerospace was looking to build a new US assembly plant. The reasoning, the weakened dollar and skilled labor in US will allow for competitive building and selling of its newly updated C series plane to the rest of the world. While I do welcome any new factories in the US and in Kansas City, I think it is interesting how the fate of America as a power has turned. Obviously that isn't to say that we are in dire straits here in the US, but that our role in this world is shifting.

More on it here:

My prediction: Headlines in newspapers (or online) in 2012 across Europe, Brazil, Japan, and/or China reading, “Business Outcry for Government Sanctions Against Cheap US Products.”

Rules of the Machine Shop

Rules that you should carry through life, also known as the official rules of the machine shop:
  1. We don't fuck around.
  2. If one is to build one must over build.
  3. If one is to load one must over load.
  4. A good machinist never screws up. A great machinist can fix/repair/hide anything he/she has ever screwed up.
  5. Everytime you build something idiot proof, they build a better idiot.
  6. Sweet talking machines is an acceptable and encouraged action when having troubles.
  7. Hydraulics don't have any feelings.
  8. Sucking is in fact better than blowing.
  9. You got time to sleep, you got time to sweep.
  10. Don't complain about tools you don't own.
Sorry for the cuss word, but I didn't make the rules.


Stock Analysis BEZ and ROK

I look for stocks in several different manners, I do screens, I read the news to understand so called expert opinions, and I look for trends. I am definitely a value investor but also have been known to make purchases based on dividend investing (largely influenced by my friend Grant). A past simple example of a trending purchase included Microsoft before it released Vista and Office 2007. The stock was cheap and new programs were coming out that would significantly affect there bottom line. In my mine easy money.

Well a current trend that my own job is closely tied to is the modernization of manufacturing. Over the past 10 years the costs for modernizing a production facility has significantly decreased due the wider availability of new efficient electronic controls. Two companies that should do well going well into the future are Rockwell Automation (ROK) and Baldor (BEZ). These two are interrelated somewhat due to recent sale of Reliance motors and Dodge gearboxes and bearings from Rockwell to Baldor. More on that later.

Rockwell Automation owns a key product that will provide profitable business for years to come, namely Allen-Bradley. Allen-Bradley is the Cadillac of the PLC Factory controls world. They are the most expensive, most well made, most utilized PLC setup for most factories in the US. Their programming is straight forward, their controls are extremely durable, and system is modular by design and easier allows for constant updating of a manufacturing process. So what you say, well based on that ease of use companies are willing to shell out more money for a safe, reliable product. Let's put it this way, you own a factory making 1,000,000 widgets a day. Well every minute that line is under repair you are losing a roughly 700 widgets that could possibly be made. So every minute counts, and when every minute counts an engineer or a maintenance department can justify Allen-Bradley equipment really quickly due to its proven reliability, its wide availability and modular integration (aka less downtime).

Analysis of the stock shows that they failed to meet analysts predicted profit this last quarter and the price of the stock has fallen significantly. Personally, I am sitting back and waiting for the stock to even out. Over the long term this should be a good stock with good ROE 12.5%, nice divided yield 2.10%, and strong international earnings potential. As stated before they sold their Reliance and Dodge brands to Baldor this last year and now should see some benefits from concentrating on the programing and controls part of the business. Also, it previously (before the latest quarter) had shown up on my two favorite screens, earnings momentum and the Magic Formula.

Funny enough, through the analysis of ROK is when I found Baldor. Baldor makes motors, lots of them, in all sorts of useful sizes and types, and most importantly, at high electrical efficiencies. Baldor happened to be the last three motor purchases for my factory due to their competitive pricing, excellent customer and technical service, and a robust, reliable product that is made in the USA. Their acquisition of Reliance and Dodge was an excellent move. They essentially bouught their biggest competitor and doubled their business. Baldor typically made small to medium size motors, Reliance made medium to large size motors, it was a real good fit for both parties with only a little bit of overlap. Additionally, Reliance was known for all of the same things as Baldor (reliability, pricing, service, made in USA). The Dodge gearbox and bearing acquisition was brilliant as well, due to most of these Baldor and Reliance motors being directly fitted up internally with these bearings and to gearbox at the end user's factory.

Why do I think Baldor is great purchase for a long time? Easy, factory conversions from DC Motors to AC Motors. What's that you say? Forget the literal electrical stuff and I will explain it in simple terms. Lots and lots of processes run on variable speed electric motors. Examples of variable speed applications could be belt speeds on a conveyor belt, turning speed of a farm's irrigation system, or rpm speed of a milling machine. A lot of the equipment that is still utilized today were originally designed and built in the 80's and 90's with DC Motors. It was the only option available at the time that allowed for adjustable speed. Consequently DC Motors over time get really dirty and eventually fail. They can be rebuilt several times over, but that can be quite costly, or they can be replaced with new DC Motors which can be quite costly, or they can be replaced with new AC drives and motors which is quite costly. The “drive” is the electrical control that commands the motor, if you switch from DC to AC then a new drive has to be purchased as well. Why a switch from DC to AC? AC setups are 20-40% more efficient electrically and have minimal maintenance costs, usually no more than a bearing change every few years.

Enter Baldor's product line. First they are one of the few remaining companies that produce new DC Motors, and as such, they charge a premium. Second, Baldor and Reliance make high efficiency AC motors and drives that are among the best in the business. These motors and drives are well priced as well (not the lowest and not the highest). Third, the leaders in the drive market is still considered to be Allen-Bradley owned by Rockwell Automation. Well because Rockwell Automation is no longer in the motor business but recently sold the Reliance motors to Baldor, they still sell their AC motor and drive package with Reliance Motors and they charge a premium price. Which should means that Baldor may lose a sale on a drive but should still retain the same profitability of the motor.

To sum up, if you need a DC Motor, Baldor has a strong chance at a sell, if you want to switch to an AC motor and drive, Baldor has high likely hood of at least a new motor sale, and heck if you want to repair your DC motor, Baldor may even be your supplier of spare parts. This is the kind of market that even a Buffet fan would love. This DC to AC motor conundrum will probably continue to occur for the next 3-10 years until the majority of the equipment is AC driven. High usage DC Motors need overhauls every 3-5 years, so every overhaul is a good possibility of money in Baldor's pocket. That will provide a constant stable income for Baldor during these difficult economic situations in just repair sales. When you add that to strong OEM sales, an excellent quarterly reporting last week (23% increase net income), and decent dividend of 2.01%, it looks great for a long term prospect, especially when the economy turns up again. The one bad thing is Baldor's stock has increased ~10% since the quarterly report and may be a little high right now. I purchased shares $27.50 last week and already the stock is at $33.88, but I still think there is room to grow.

Good luck and in this market, happy hunting.


Hiatus Over, Good Stocks Found...

Sorry for the delay, I have had trouble finding stocks to recommend or time to finish entries. I think that I have roughly 10 started. Regardless, big update later today. Hope you all enjoy it.

Coming in the next two weeks:

How to save the American factory and Rules from the Machine Shop (not Fight Club).