Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce released the manufacturing shipments and new orders data that showed new orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft dipped 2% from the previous month. This is the second month in a row that orders are down sequentially. The annual rate of expansion in April 2012 was the slowest since the beginning of 2010. Still, new orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft were up 8.2% in April 2012 from the previous year and about 9.2% higher in the first four months of 2012 compared to the same period a year ago.
While year-over-year comparisons remain firm, a decelerating growth in new orders sounds an alarm that the recovery in U.S. manufacturing may falter. The deepening of the eurozone crises and the economic slowdown in China threaten to derail the rebound in capital goods orders. If that happens, the following four capital goods manufacturers will be adversely affected by a relapse in capital goods orders.
General Electric (GE) is a $203.5 billion diversified machinery company providing a range of products and services, including aircraft engines, energy infrastructure, household appliances, and financial services. The company pays an annual dividend yielding 3.5% on a payout ratio of 52%. General Electric has a relatively heavy exposure to Europe, with about a fifth of its revenues coming from the battered region. The company's stock is trading at $19.4, some 5.6% up year-to-date. It is popular with Ken Fisher and George Soros.
Illinois Tool Works (ITW) is a $27.2 billion maker of diversified manufacturing equipment and industrial products. It pays an annual dividend yielding 2.6% on a payout ratio of 36%. Out of some $17.8 billion in revenues in 2011, about 52% was generated abroad, with 32% of revenues generated in Europe and another 19% in the Asia Pacific region, including China. The company's stock is changing hands at $56.35 a share, about 17.4% up year-to-date. Ray Dalio sold out his stake in the company in the first quarter of 2012. Joel Greenblatt acquired a negligible amount of shares of Illinois Tool Works in the same quarter.
Dover (DOV) is a $10.7 billion diversified machinery makers focusing on energy, communications, technology, and engineered systems industries. The company pays an annual dividend yielding 2.2% on a payout ratio of 26%. About 17% of Dover's revenues come from Europe and another 17% comes from Asia, including China. Ken Fisher holds a 3.84% stake in the company. Dover stock is trading at $58.4 a share, which is 1.2% below the price level at the beginning of the year. Ray Dalio and Joel Greenblatt acquired small shares in the company in the first quarter of 2012.
IDEX Corporation (IEX) is a $3.4 billion diversified machinery manufacturer of fluid systems, hydraulic tools, dispensing equipment, and other engineered industrial products. The company pays an annual dividend of 2.0% on a low payout ratio of 29%. IDEX Corporation has a relatively high exposure to Europe as 27% of its revenues come from Europe. The company's shares are changing hands at $40.3 a share, up 8% year-to-date. The company is popular with fund manager Mario Gabelli, who holds a 1.8% stake in the company. Ray Dalio sold out his stake in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.