Ingersoll-Rand (IR) has had a stellar year in 2012, rallying more than 53% on the year. Part of that performance is thanks to the firm's shareholder yield, which weighed in at more than 13% at last count. IR is a diversified manufacturing firm that owns brands ranging from Club Car golf carts to Schlage locks to Trane air conditioners. Clearly, IR has huge exposure to the construction business, a fact that looks attractive as housing numbers heat up.
Ingersoll-Rand owns the leading market position in most of the businesses it operates. That share comes with some attractive attributes as spending moves from a cyclical low onto what are likely to be more normal conditions in the next few years.
Already, construction numbers have shown some enviable upward momentum, and that's been showing through on the top line of IR's income statement in recent years.Financially, IR is in good shape, with a reasonable debt load and strong cash-generation capabilities. Most of IR's shareholder returns in the last year have come from net share buybacks, a more under-the-radar way to return cash than dividends. But with share prices up so much in the last year, expect dividend boosts to become the firm's favored method of giving you cash. A planned spin-off should free up even more cash in fiscal 2013. L-3 Communications Defense electronics maker L-3 Communications (LLL) is another firm that's provided excellent shareholder yield in the last year. The firm has returned a full 19% of its market capitalization in the form of dividends, buybacks, and net share repurchases. The firm's products include communications systems, bomb-detection equipment, and aircraft systems used for reconnaissance and intelligence missions. Not surprisingly, L-3 is a major defense contractor, earnings 75% of its sales from the DoD. Only around 10% of the firm's sales come from commercial customers, a fact that could change if defense spending gets cut at the hands of the fiscal cliff. To help mitigate the blow, L-3 is spinning off part of its Government Services arm, a move that increases the percentage of sales that come from mission-critical products versus easily cancelled services. Meanwhile commercial sales have room for growth in the next several years, especially as security concerns remain heightened.
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