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Value

Lincoln Electric Holdings, Inc. (LECO - Analyst Report) is expected to post double digit earnings growth in 2011 and again in 2012. Shares of this Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) have regained pre-Recession highs. Yet, the company still offers value with a forward P/E of 14.6.

Lincoln Electric, founded in 1895, manufactures arc welding products, robotic arc-welding systems, and plasma and oxyfuel cutting equipment.

It is headquartered in Cleveland and has 43 manufacturing locations, including manufacturing facilities and alliances in 19 countries. The company also has distributors and sales offices in more than 160 countries.

Arc welding is used in many industries including metal working for transportation, construction and petrochemicals. Arc welding applications are used to manufacture heavy machinery and structural steel.

Arc welding is also the dominant joining method for building oil and natural gas pipelines and refineries.

Raised the Dividend

On Nov 3, Lincoln Electric announced that its Board had approved a 9.7% increase in the quarterly dividend to 17 cents from 15.5 cents per share.

The dividend is currently yielding 1.7%.

Lincoln Electric Beat By 6.5% in the Third Quarter

On Oct 27, Lincoln Electric reported its third quarter results and surprised on the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 4 cents. Earnings per share were 66 cents, 71% higher than the year ago results of 38 cents.

It was the 10th consecutive earnings surprise, continuing its impressive earnings surprise streak.

Sales jumped 35.1% to $701.6 million from $519.3 million in the year ago quarter despite there being "ongoing global economic and political uncertainty" in many of its key markets.

Analysts Still Bullish on 2012

Given the momentum in the third quarter, it's not surprising that the analysts are also optimistic about the fourth quarter and the full year.

The 2011 Zacks Consensus Estimate has risen to $2.47 from $2.44 in the last 30 days.

That is earnings growth of 62.3% as the company made just $1.52 in 2010.

What is expected in 2012?

Analysts are still bullish about 2012. 1 estimate has moved higher in the last 30 days pushing up the Zacks Consensus to $2.78 from $2.70 per share.

That is further earnings growth of 12.8%.

The company is scheduled to report fourth quarter results on Feb 17 so stay tuned.

Breaking Out to New Highs

Shares sold off, as did the overall markets, in the summer of 2011. It turns out that that was a buying opportunity.

Because shares have sharply rebounded and are now trading at new 52-week highs and look to be busting out to new multi-year highs, surpassing those of 2008 before the Great Recession.

But even with the hot share price, Lincoln Electric still has value fundamentals.

In addition to a P/E under 15, which is what I use as a cut-off for value, it also has a price-to-book ratio of 2.8. A P/B ratio under 3.0 usually indicates value.

Looking at other fundamentals, Lincoln Electric has a 1-year return on equity (ROE) of 15.9%. That is above its peers which average 13.1%.

Lincoln Electric is one of those older manufacturing companies that continues to consistently perform quarter after quarter. It has both value and momentum, an unusual combination.

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 on twitter at traceyryniec.

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