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This is one company that actually cashed in on the rotten winter. Douglas Dynamics, Inc. (PLOW - Snapshot Report) saw sales jump 60.4% in the first quarter as heavy snowfall boosted demand. This Zacks #1 Rank (strong buy) is trading at just 14x forward estimates.

If you haven't figured it out from the ticker symbol (PLOW - Snapshot Report), Douglas Dynamics manufactures snow and ice control equipment, including snowplows and sand and salt spreaders, for light trucks. Its brands include WESTERN, FISHER and BLIZZARD.

The company also sells related parts and accessories.

Douglas Dynamics Beat By 80% in Q1

As someone who lived through the worst blizzard in my lifetime in the Chicago area, its not surprising that Douglas Dynamic saw record sales of parts and accessories.

On May 9, the company reported that first quarter sales rose 60.4% to $23.5 million compared to the first quarter of 2010. Historically, the first quarter is usually the slowest of the year because customers are reluctant to purchase new equipment or make repairs late in the snow season.

They also usually wait for the pre-season incentives to buy. Douglas Dynamics usually reports a loss in the first quarter.

But in 2011, the snow season was so bad that customers had no choice but to buy new parts and make repairs.

Because of the surge in sales, the company easily beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Earnings per share were a loss of 4 cents compared to the Zacks Consensus of a loss of 25 cents.

Outlook for 2011

Was last winter's weather a freak occurrence? The company was being cautious about the rest of the year due to a lack of clear direction regarding the recovery and continuing tightness in the credit market.

But it does expect its performance to improve versus 2010.

Zacks Consensus Estimates Rise

The analysts seem to agree with the company- that there will be improvement in 2011.

Douglas Dynamics made 56 cents per share in 2010 but analysts expect it to make $1.08 in 2011. That is earnings growth of 93%.

1 estimate has risen for 2011 in just the last week, pushing the Zacks Consensus up by 4 cents.

Growth is expected to continue in 2012, with the Zacks Consensus rising to $1.17 from $1.15 in the last 7 days.

Juicy Dividend

Douglas Dynamics has been rewarding shareholders while business improves. In December 2010 it paid a dividend of 20 cents per share.

In March 2011, the company again paid 20 cents per share, payable to shareholders on Mar 31. But it also announced a special dividend of 37 cents per share. That was also payable on Mar 31.

Currently, the dividend is yielding a very attractive 5.3%.

Douglas Dynamics Is a Value Stock

In addition to a P/E under 15, which is the traditional cut-off for a value play, Douglas Dynamics has a price-to-book ratio of 1.9, which is also under the value cut-off I use for P/B of 3.0.

The company only began trading in 2010. Shares have been moving in a narrow trading range for much of 2011. Investors will be watching for further improvement over 2010's results.

Tracey Ryniec is the Value Stock Strategist for Zacks.com. She is also the Editor of the Turnaround Trader and Insider Trader services. You can follow her at twitter.com/traceyryniec.

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