Across scores of companies, a strong dollar is taking its toll on revenue and profits, low oil prices tend to be a negative rather than the help they are to consumers, and the economy isn't exactly on solid footing around the world.
But Honeywell is handling its challenges better than you might think, even boosting its earnings expectations for the year because of surprisingly strong margins. The recent earnings conference call gave investors an important peak inside of a company's operations and how Honeywell was able to grow its bottom line, despite headwinds. Here are the five biggest takeaways for investors from Honeywell's conference call.
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Macro challenges remain
The first quarter wasn't terribly strong for any company on a macro basis, and Honeywell was no different. What's impressive was the double-digit earnings growth given this weak backdrop. Below, I'll get into some of the impressive numbers that show Honeywell handling the macro environment better than you might have expected.
That foreign currency translation is going to sting
How bad is the strong dollar for U.S. companies right now? This quote should paint a pretty vivid picture.
When the dollar gets stronger, it makes foreign sales look smaller, even if sales prices and profits are the same in a foreign country's local currency. That's taken a toll on Honeywell's revenue, but it also makes profit expansion impressive (I'll get to that below).
The Middle East is still investing in oil
From an overall energy investment perspective, I thought this quote was very informative. In the U.S., we're hearing about the decline of oil drilling and the cutback in spending from big oil companies, but that's not the case worldwide. In the Middle East, there's a lot of investment, and there doesn't seem to be any discernible slowdown.
That's partly because OPEC sets a production target rather than being driven by market forces, but it means companies like Honeywell won't have the same negative impact as some others in energy.
Margin expansion is driving profit growth
Honeywell isn't growing much on the top line, but bottom line performance has been outstanding. Increased margins due to a company wide focus on operations have improved dramatically and are driving double-digit earnings-per-share growth.
There's only so much companies as large as Honeywell can squeeze out of operations, but if management can take some of the increased profits from existing operations and invest it in new products, this could create a new growth cycle long term.
Confidence in 2015 is increasing
The negative macro economic environment, a strong dollar, and low oil prices don't seem to be having much of a negative impact on Honeywell this year, which is a sign that the company is stronger than it's been in a long time.
With shares trading at 17 times the high end of earnings expectations, and investors getting a 2% dividend yield from the stock, I think Honeywell's operational performance makes this an attractive stock. It won't ever be a high-growth business, but it provides products and services the industry needs to survive, and it's growing profitability, which is the kind of stability I want in a market that may be due for a correction at any moment.
The article 5 Things Honeywell International Inc.'s Management Wants You to Know originally appeared on Fool.com.
Travis Hoium has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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