I would never say that the industrial maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) space is wildly popular with investors, but analyst coverage for Grainger (GWW), Fastenal (FAST), Applied Industrial Technologies (AIT), and MSC Industrial (MSM) does at least stretch into the double-digits. By comparison, Lawson Products (LAWS) is barely covered at all.
It takes more than obscurity to make a bargain, though. To that end, I'm concerned about the long history of uninspired financial performance from Lawson, as well as a business model that appears to overlap with many better-positioned rivals without a true, strong core of specialization. On the other hand, management is relatively new here and the MRO market...
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