Although economic growth for fiscal 2013 remains calm, at least one industry is engendering confidence both now and, for early fiscal 2014. The Diversified Industrial Industry both offers solid downside shelter in testing economic times and performs well in healthier ones. The industry has returned an amazing 38.7% over the past year alone. Moving forward, development seems positive for the Diversified Industrial Industry, as an earnings increase up to 15.8% is anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2013. For 2014, earnings growth is expected at around 10.8%.
In this article, I pick two diversified industrial giants that have been gaining momentum and establishing strong footprints for future growth. These two companies have recently demonstrated this trend by increasing their quarterly dividends and as well as their forecasts for the near future. These are Honeywell International, Inc. (NYSE:HON) and Illinois Tool Work (NYSE:ITW). In this article, I keep my focus on their dividends stability by examining how their business strategy, financial situation and future prospects are projected to sustain their dividends.
How Honeywell Is On a Winning Streak
Honeywell International, Inc. is a technology and manufacturing company that serves customers with aerospace products and services, control, sensing and security technologies for buildings, homes and industry, turbochargers, automotive products, and chemicals. The company operates across four business segments: Aerospace, Automation and Control Solutions, Performance Materials and Technologies and Transportation Systems. The company has been generating increasing profits from all four segments year over a year.
Honeywell's strong implementation of strategic initiatives across its portfolio helps it to drive strong top and bottom line performance. Additionally, its short-cycle businesses, mainly Safety and Security, Energy, and Turbo Technologies are benefitting from improving end markets, geographic expansion, and new product introductions. Likewise, its long-cycle businesses are maintaining a healthy backlog, driven by positive macro trends and strong win rates. The company's production capabilities are impressive, which combined with strong cost management across its portfolio, is allowing it to further expand its segment margins.
These trends can be seen in Honeywell's recent quarterly results, wherein the company has delivered strong top and bottom line growth, including margin expansion across the portfolio. It has generated sales of $9.6 billion, representing an increase of 3%, with margin expansion of 130 bps. Thus, owing to strong cost management, its EPS increased by 10% over the past year quarter. The company's solid top and bottom line performance further enhances its cash generating potential. In the TTM, its operating and free cash flows are standing at $4 billion and $3.1 billion, respectively. In the past five years, its dividend increases are standing at 48%. Still, its massive cash flows are providing adequate cover to dividend payments, which stand at only $1.3 billion, providing a room for more increases. Further, its very high price to cash flow ratio of 17.5 demonstrates considerable cash generating potential. On top, its low payout ratio of only 40% makes me more positively inclined towards its dividend safety and possible further increases in dividends.
For the full year of 2013, Honeywell is projected to generate EPS of $4.90-$4.95, which is far higher from the last year's EPS of $3.69. Looking ahead to 2014, despite continued slow macro environment growth, the company is seeking to generate strong earnings growth driven mainly by its relentless seed planting in new products and technologies, penetration in high growth regions, and increasing traction on key process initiatives.
How Illinois Tool Works is On a Winning Streak
Illinois Tool Works is a manufacturer of a range of industrial products and equipment. Its segments include Industrial Packaging, Power Systems and Electronics, Transportation, Construction Products, Food Equipment, Polymers and Fluids, and Decorative Surfaces.
Illinois Tool Works is working on an Enterprise Strategy that includes three key initiatives- business structure simplification, portfolio management, and strategic sourcing. In addition, the company's portfolio management program aims to build a business portfolio that leverages its differentiated business model. As part of this initiative, it reviews its operations to identify those which may no longer be aligned with its long-run goals. Going forward, its focus will be on operations with strong differentiation and growth potential.
Illinois's business structure simplification initiative simplifies and puts into scale its operating divisions in order to enlarge organic revenue growth, improve global competitiveness and increase operational efficiency. It is expected to improve the company's profitability and returns through a combination of applying its 80/20 business process to more focused growth investments, new divisions, and reduced infrastructure. Finally, the company's strategic sourcing initiative concentrates on building sourcing capability to leverage purchasing scale, with the intent of increasing profitability and worldwide competitiveness.
Using this strategy, the company is expecting to enhance the business through 2017 and is concentrated on increasing organic revenue growth and enhancing profitability and returns. This strategy is working so far, as in the third quarter operating margins of 19.0% were mainly driven by an 80 basis point contribution from its enterprise initiatives. Additionally, in TTM, its free cash flow conversion is solidly over 100% of net income, and adjusted after-tax return on average invested capital was at 16.3%, above 110 basis points over the same period compared to the past year.
Illinois's strong cash flow conversion is a positive sign for its dividend stability. In the past ten years, it has been able to increase its dividends by 250% and, recently, the company has increased its quarterly dividend from $0.38 cents/share to $0.42 cents/share, which takes its annual dividend to $1.68/share. Still, the company's free cash flows are high enough to cover these dividend payments. At the end of the recent quarter, its free cash flows are standing at $732 million, while dividend payments are only at $171 million. This allows Illinois Tool Works to reduce share count, further enhancing EPS and dividends. The company has been working on a buyback program, and in the recent quarter, it has repurchased $357 million worth of outstanding shares. I strongly believe that with its strong enterprise strategy, Illinois Tool Works has the ability to sustain its dividend over a long period of time.
Regardless of prevailing global uncertainties, the increasing need for improved infrastructure, updated methods of agriculture and rising complexity of mining and manufacturing methods will enhance demand for technologically advanced equipment. Furthermore, the growth path for these companies will continue to expand as emerging, and developing nations inevitably become attractive destinations for such diversified industrial giants.
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.