Why Alcoa's Forecast Is A Bright Spot For Aerospace Shares

by: Josh Hutheson

On Tuesday after the market close, Alcoa (NYSE:AA) reported earnings that were solid but the outlook was the real bright spot in the report. Alcoa said that for the year, it sees global aluminum demand growth of 7%, up from 6% in 2012 and ahead of the 6.5% rate required to meet the company's forecast of a doubling in global aluminum demand between 2010 and 2020. The market took note and sent the Dow Jones up just over 60 points, signaling that the economy should continue on its recovery path. An analyst noted that "Alcoa's results are generally considered a bellwether for the global economy and the fact that the aluminum giant forecasts higher demand in 2013 appeased investors."

Looking further into Alcoa's commentary, we can see where the company expects to see higher pockets of demand from and in turn should be more profitable than usual. Alcoa said that it projects global growth in the aerospace (9-10 percent), automotive (1-4 percent), commercial transportation (2-7 percent), packaging (2-3 percent), building and construction (4-5 percent), and industrial gas turbine (3-5 percent) markets. This suggests that companies in aerospace, the end demanders, and the suppliers to aerospace companies should see an uptick in results. Here are two such companies:

Spirit AeroSystems (NYSE:SPR) is one of the world's largest non-OEM designers and manufacturers of aerostructures for commercial aircraft. In the U.S., Spirit's core products include fuselages, pylons, nacelles and wing components. Additionally, Spirit provides aftermarket customer support services, including spare parts, maintenance/repair/overhaul, and fleet support services in North America, Europe and Asia. Spirit Europe produces wing components for a host of customers, including Airbus.

Analysts have a price target of about $22 on the stock, which suggests investors stand to return over 30% on their investment in the company. The stock seems to be trading at a cheap multiple, with analysts expecting EPS of $2.01 next year for a forward P/E of about 8, a multiple usually reserved for no-growth companies. In Spirit's case, that is not true with revenue expected to jump 10% in 2012 and another 12% in 2013. The company does have some debt though, to the tune of $1 billion, that makes it a bit riskier than the other names on the list.

Astronics (NASDAQ:ATRO) is a leader in advanced, high-performance lighting, electrical power, specialized avionics products and automated test systems for the global aerospace and defense industries. Astronics' strategy is to develop and maintain positions of technical leadership in its chosen aerospace and defense markets, to leverage those positions to grow the amount of content and volume of product it sells to those markets and to selectively acquire businesses with similar technical capabilities that could benefit from its leadership position and strategic direction.

Analysts have a price target of about $34 on the stock and with the stock currently at $24, the upside is plenty. The price target is driven by the growth forecast with analysts expecting EPS jumping about 24% in 2013 to $1.89 on revenue growth of 12%.

Notably, demand for aluminum and other commodities is strongly correlated with a growing economy and companies in other sectors should see strength in demand for their products as well. Graphite, an industrial mineral, is one of those commodities. It was recently said that we've seen a softening of GDP growth in many countries throughout the world, notably in China. This, more than anything, has pushed graphite prices down. The inverse is also true and USA Graphite (OTC:USGT) should be one of those stocks that stand to benefit.

The company is focused on the acquisition, exploration and development of world-class graphite properties in North America. USA Graphite is poised to be the only U.S. graphite supplier as the USA has been importing 100% of its supply for the past five years (USGS 2010). The company has significant holdings in Nevada, offering considerable potential for the discovery and development of large flake, high-grade graphite whereby mineralization is exposed at surface.

The demand for graphite should come from a multitude of directions. In addition to Graphite's traditional uses, such as steel production, aviation, lubricants and brake linings - exponential growth is expected from new applications in battery technologies with current and future market drivers in portable electronics (ie: iPhones, iPads, and personal computers), as well as hybrid and electric vehicles, and developing green energy markets such as solar and wind power, pebble bed nuclear reactors and fuel cells.

Looking back into Alcoa's release, the company also forecast strong growth in building and construction. Mattresses are one product that demand increases with the building of new homes. One company that sells mattresses is Select Comfort (NASDAQ:SCSS). The company is leading the industry in delivering an unparalleled sleep experience by offering consumers high-quality, innovative and individualized sleep solutions and services, which include a complete line of SLEEP NUMBER beds and bedding. The company is the exclusive manufacturer, marketer, retailer and servicer of the revolutionary Sleep Number bed, which allows individuals to adjust the firmness and support of each side at the touch of a button. The company offers further personalization through its solutions-focused line of Sleep Number pillows, sheets and other bedding products.

Analysts peg the value of the stock at $38.50, suggesting upside of over 40%. Analysts are bullish on the growth of the company with EPS expected to jump 24% next year in combination with a 19% growth in revenue. The company has a solid balance sheet with no debt on the books and cash of over $150 million.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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