NEW YORK ( Real Money) -- Why do people keep talking about how industrial and tech names still seem undervalued even after this remarkable run? I think I have the answer: Europe. Just last week on "Mad Money," I interviewed the CEOs of Avnet (AVT), PPG (PPG) and Eaton (ETN) -- three great American corporations that do a huge amount of business overseas. All of these companies, like so many terrific U.S.-based enterprises, diversified into Europe many years ago as they recognized that the European Union opened up a gigantic market of 700 million people, all served by one currency. We forget that, before the euro, it was difficult to do business in Europe because of all the different fluctuating currencies and interest rates in each country. The euro truly did unite Europe when it comes to commerce, and it enticed our companies to buy and build there with alacrity.
So we have Avnet, the technology superstore; Eaton, the electrical-equipment concern; and PPG, the proprietary-coatings-and-glass company. These three have represented the cream of the crop in their respective industries, and each company knew it offered superior products and that it could take share from the locals.
Now, if you'll recall, Europe really didn't come down with its version of the economic flu until well after the U.S. economy hit the wall. The illness, moreover, was magnified by two-interest rate hikes that crushed industries in almost every European country except Germany. No company had been prepared for the ultimate depth of the European recession, and the above three firms saw dramatic sales declines in their respective European businesses. That, in turn, hurt overall revenue and earnings, because the continent represented roughly one-quarter of the entire geographic revenue mix.
Now, though, all three of these companies see a noticeable stabilization in Europe that has occurred just this past quarter. Yes, it is true that none of these CEOs -- Avnet's Rick Hamada, Eaton's Sandy Cutler and PPG's Chuck Bunch -- expect anything robust to come from Europe anytime soon. But all expect 2014 to be better than 2013. When you combine easy sales and earnings comparisons with a weaker dollar vs. a resurgent euro -- the currency pair is at $1.38 Monday, a two-year high -- you get the possibility of a pretty huge swing in earnings. Chuck Bunch indicated that even a couple percentage points' swing in European revenue could be huge, because a massive amount of costs had been taken out amid the prolonged downturn.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV