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Stocks: Shares to Watch After Fastenal's Rally — WSJ

By Paul Vigna 

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (October 15, 2019).

Fastenal Co. shareholders got a pleasant surprise on Friday, leaving investors to wonder what other companies can buck the economic headwinds.

The Winona, Minn.,-based company, which makes and sells industrial equipment, reported surprisingly strong earnings. The stock responded by logging its best one-day performance since 1987, rising 17%.

Sales climbed about 8%, and earnings topped forecasts. While the company said economic activity was still generally slow, the results showed that companies can still perform well in the current malaise. After the rally, Fastenal shares are up 35% year to date.

With that in mind, here are four other companies set to report earnings in the next few weeks that could also provide some ground-level insights into the strength or weakness of the economy:

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. If you don't regularly track freight reports, you might not be aware that the amount of goods being hauled across the U.S. is down from a year ago. One report, the Cass Freight Index, has been down every month this year.

J.B. Hunt is one of the largest truckload carriers in the U.S., with rigs in every state in the Lower 48, making the company a good place to examine why freight is light.

The company is reporting third-quarter earnings Tuesday morning, with a conference call at 5 p.m. EDT.

J.B. Hunt is expected to report earnings of $155 million, or $1.45 a share, on sales of $2.3 billion, according to FactSet. A year ago, it earned $162 million on sales of $2.2 billion. Notice there isn't much growth expected there -- a running theme with all these companies.

Shares are up 18% this year, trading at $109.58.

Caterpillar Inc. This one is a no-brainer. Caterpillar, which sells heavy equipment to virtually every industry in every geographic region, is one of the recognized corporate bellwethers. More tractors and diggers sold by Caterpillar is a good sign.

Caterpillar reports third-quarter earnings on Oct. 23, at 6:30 a.m. EDT, with a conference call at 8:30 a.m.

The company is expected to earn $1.6 billion, or $2.92 a share, on sales of $13.4 billion. A year ago, it earned $1.7 billion on sales of $13.5 billion.

Caterpillar shares are up just 1% this year, at $128.38.

Waste Management Inc. If energy consumption is at one end of economic activity, waste is at the other, and somebody has to pick it up. If you live almost anywhere in the U.S., you've likely seen a Waste Management truck in town.

The company reports third-quarter earnings on Oct. 23 before the market opens, with a conference call at 10 a.m.

The company is expected to earn $485 million, or $1.14, on sales of $4 billion. A year ago the company earned $499 million on sales of $3.8 billion.

Shares, at $116.15, are up 31% this year.

Duke Energy Corp. Utility companies don't get a lot of attention, but nothing gets done in the modern world without them. Electricity output is a good proxy for economic activity.

Duke Energy, based in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest utility companies in the U.S. It has generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts, another 3,000 megawatts of renewables and serves customers across the Southeast and Midwest.

The company reports third-quarter earnings on Nov. 8, at 7 a.m. EST. It will hold a conference call at 10 a.m.

The company is expected to report net income of $1.2 billion, or $1.70 a share, on sales of $7.1 billion. A year ago, it earned $1 billion on sales of $6.6 billion.

Shares are up 10% this year, at $95.13.

Write to Paul Vigna at paul.vigna@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 15, 2019 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)

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