NEW YORK (TheStreet) – Industrial earth-moving giant Caterpillar(CAT) - Get Report saw its stock reach a new 52-week low of $83.05 recently as slower-than-expected global economic growth continues to pressure the stock.
Caterpillar, headquartered Peoria, Ill., makes diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines. This is in addition to its construction and mining equipment. These segments, while profitable, have struggled amid weak global economic environment, leading to 2% and 19% year-over-year declines, respectively in third-quarter Resource Industries revenue and Construction Industries revenue.
The company reports fourth-quarter and full-year results Tuesday. And investors are getting nervous. But Caterpillar, a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) , continues to focus on what it can control. Not to mention it pays a solid dividend yield of 3.27%, compared to the average 2% dividend paid out by companies in the S&P 500 (SPX) .
The stock closed Friday at $85.61, down 1.39%, adding to its year-to-date decline of 6.47%, trailing both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Down 0.84%) and the S&P 500 (down 0.34%). Investors should take this recent pullback on Caterpillar stock as a buying opportunity.
The stock still has an average analyst 12-month price target of $96, suggesting potential gains of around 13%. And its high analyst 12-month target of $122 would yield 42% gains from Friday's close. In other words, it's not time to panic.
Despite various headwinds in major overseas markets like China, Caterpillar has shown it can make the best out of a bad situation by being profitable for eight consecutive quarters. Not to mention, the shares are cheap at a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 14, which is six points lower than the average P/E of companies in the S&P 500.
What's more, Caterpillar's profits have risen by year-over-year double-digit percentages in each of the last four quarters, including a 12% year-over-year jump in the October quarter. And the company will try to extend that streak Tuesday.
For the period ending in December, analysts will be looking for $1.55 in earnings per share on revenue of $14.18 billion. For the full year, the company is expected to report earnings per share of$6.57, up 13% year over year on revenue of $55.04 billion.
The expected 13% year-over-year jump in earnings is why investors should remain patient with Caterpillar, which is projected to grow earnings at a 10% annual rate in the next five years, according to CNN Money. The earnings growth, along with its $8.7 billion in operating cash flow can fuel more stock buybacks and dividend increases.
In short, Caterpillar stock, at 3% above its 52-week low, presents excellent value for investors looking for a well-managed company with consistent earnings growth that pays a strong yield of 3.27%.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.