PLOW: Wintry Profits

04/21/2014 7:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Glenn Rogers

Contributing Editor, Internet Wealth Builder and The Income Investor

We’ve seen one of the worst winters in 20 years; one beneficiary has been this Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based firm, which has been operating for over 60 years, suggests Glenn Rogers in Internet Wealth Builder.

That company is Douglas Dynamics, Inc. (PLOW). Guess what they make. That's right, snowplows!

More specifically, they make plows for light trucks that many private contractors use to clean driveways in both urban and rural areas and in parking lots everywhere.

The company also acquired a business that spreads salt, and sand, and all the other stuff that you curse when you're driving your new car over it, but that nasty stuff makes it possible for people to move around in winters like this one.

Additionally, they have a small operation that kicks in over the summertime, which is turf care products. The company also manufactures large equipment mounted brooms that are used to keep worksites clean and safe. These two divisions help balance out what is essentially a winter-driven business.

The company’s sales are primarily in North America but it also has several outlets in Europe, China, and Latin America. Douglas Dynamics (DDI) enjoys over 50% share in the professional/contractor market, competing with companies like TORO (TTC).

Throughout most of its history, DDI was private, eventually being purchased in 1991 by Armco Inc., a specialty steel company. Armco ultimately sold the business to an investment group, which took it public in 2010.

Recently, the stock dove when they announced a five million share offering designed to take money off the table for that group. The stock has since rebounded and strong fourth-quarter results played a large part in that recovery; net sales in the quarter increased 158.9% to $73 million.

It is also worth noting that, at current prices, the yield is about 5%. The company recently raised its quarterly dividend by a modest 2.4%, which it has steadily been doing annually since the stock went public.

This is a small company, which may make it an interesting acquisition target at some point. Given that there is a financial owner involved certainly makes this possibility more likely.

The investment thesis is that, coming off such a strong year, it is likely that the retailers who distribute their products will also have had a good year, as will the operators who will ultimately buy the equipment. This makes it likely that DDI's order book should be quite strong going into next winter.

Also, the strong financial performance allows them to maintain the dividend, potentially buy back stock, pay down debt, or do another acquisition. I think there's a decent chance that the stock will trade over $20 this year, and with the 5% yield, it's not a bad play.

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