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Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights Watsco, Comfort Systems USA and AAON

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – May 19, 2023 – Today, Zacks Equity Research discusses Watsco, Inc. (WSO - Free Report) , Comfort Systems USA, Inc. (FIX - Free Report) and AAON, Inc. (AAON - Free Report) .

Industry: Air Conditioning & Heating


The Zacks Building Products - Air Conditioner & Heating industry players are uniquely positioned to capitalize on the mega-trends and opportunities associated with the energy transition and the pro-environmental drive. The companies continue to experience growing demand for renewable generation and solutions in 2023 and beyond, creating significant growth opportunities.

Although the housing market slowdown, supply-chain disruptions and inflationary pressures have been creating hurdles for the industry players, companies like Watsco, Inc., Comfort Systems USA, Inc. and AAON, Inc. have been gaining from maintenance, monitoring and repairing services, along with prudent cost-management practices. Also, the replacement of older systems to reduce electricity consumption and carbon footprint, as well as planned investments in technologies to capture more growth, is acting as a major tailwind for industry participants.

Industry Description

The Zacks Building Products - Air Conditioner & Heating industry comprises designers, manufacturers, and marketers of a broad range of products for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration markets. The products include rooftop units, chillers, air-handling units, condensing units and coils.

The industry players also supply thermostats, insulation materials, refrigerants, grills, registers, sheet metal, tools, concrete pads, tape and adhesives. Air conditioning and heating equipment are sold in residential replacement, commercial and industrial HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), as well as residential new construction markets.

3 Trends Shaping the Future of the Air Conditioner & Heating Industry

U.S. Administration's Pro-Environmental Moves: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions for a cleaner environmental footprint has been a major focus of the U.S. administration. Many industry participants remain engaged in supporting industries and facilities by selling and maintaining clean and efficient energy systems to reach their environmental goals for carbon reduction, while providing resiliency to grid outages. The companies are gaining from the fast-growing controlled-environment agriculture industry, courtesy of their consistent supply of clean cooling solutions.

Overall, the companies are well-positioned to gain from the renewable energy drive of the pro-environmental U.S. administration. Meanwhile, the companies have been benefiting from an improvement in the non-residential market, along with a rise in repair and remodeling activities.

Technology Augmentation & Inorganic Moves: Persistent investments in technologies designed to revolutionize customer experience seem vital for the industry. Digitization of the companies' marketplace via e-commerce and iOS/Android-enabled apps, supported by a comprehensive database of product information, continues to see strong momentum. Importantly, new investments in the expansion of distribution, research and development projects, and marketing programs are contributing significantly to the companies' top lines.

The players are also actively pursuing accretive acquisitions to broaden their product portfolios and expand their geographic footprints, as well as market share. Meanwhile, services associated with maintaining, monitoring and repairing the existing equipment are providing industry participants with stable revenue sources. The industry generates a major share of revenues from these services, which consumers generally cannot suspend, even when the construction market fluctuates.

Housing Market Slowdown, Supply-Chain Woes, Rising Costs, Regulations: The recent slowdown in the U.S. housing market has been impacting the demand for industry players' products. Presently, the outlook for the housing industry is less favorable than the last couple of years due to several ongoing headwinds, such as a rapid increase in mortgage rates, housing affordability challenges, high inflation and growing concerns about the economy.

Meanwhile, supply-chain disruptions and rising raw material costs have been hurting the profit margins of industry participants. Supply-chain constraints remain a key issue, resulting in inefficiencies and larger inventory. Operating expenses of companies are rising due to the pandemic-led business challenges and sharp rises in variable operating expenses, including company-wide, performance-based compensation, and excessive logistics and freight costs.

The industry is susceptible to stringent governmental regulations on energy efficiency and gas emissions. HVAC systems use refrigerants for cooling, which is harmful to humans and the environment. Also, stiff competition and the impacts of seasonality on the industry's revenues are significant risks.

Zacks Industry Rank Indicates Bright Prospects

The Zacks Building Products - Air Conditioner & Heating industry is a six-stock group within the broader Zacks Construction sector. The industry currently carries a Zacks Industry Rank #15, which places it in the top 6% of more than 250 Zacks industries.

The group's Zacks Industry Rank, which is basically the average of the Zacks Rank of all the member stocks, indicates bright near-term prospects. Our research shows that the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries outperform the bottom 50% by a factor of more than 2 to 1.

The industry's positioning in the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries is a result of the positive earnings outlook for the constituent companies in aggregate. Looking at the aggregate earnings estimate revisions, it appears that analysts are gradually gaining confidence in this group's earnings growth potential. Since March 2023, the industry's earnings estimates for 2023 have increased to $5.02 per share from $4.83.

Before we present a few stocks that you may want to consider for your portfolio, let's take a look at the industry's recent stock-market performance and valuation picture.

Industry Outperforms S&P 500, Sector

The Zacks Air Conditioner & Heating industry has outperformed the broader Zacks Construction sector and Zacks S&P 500 composite over the past year.

Over this period, the industry has gained 41.5% compared with the broader sector's 14.9% rise. Meanwhile, the Zacks S&P 500 composite has gained 5.1% during the period.

Industry's Current Valuation

On the basis of the forward 12-month price to earnings, which is a commonly used multiple for valuing Air Conditioner and Heating stocks, the industry is currently trading at 27.1X versus the S&P 500's 18.3X and the sector's 14.9.

Over the past five years, the industry has traded as high as 39.9X, as low as 19.4X and at a median of 24.6X.

3 Air Conditioner and Heating Stocks to Buy Now

Below, we have discussed three stocks from the Zacks Air Conditioner & Heating universe with solid growth potential. The chosen companies currently sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Watsco: Headquartered in Miami, FL, the company distributes air conditioning, heating and refrigeration equipment, along with related parts, in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. It has been benefiting from an improvement in the e-commerce business, strong performance across geographies and product categories, backed by a richer mix of high-efficiency systems, solid heat pump sales, a solid commercial business, product diversity and technology-driven gains in market share. Increased focus on accretive acquisitions and enhancing shareholder value bode well.

Watsco, which currently sports a Zacks Rank #1, has gained 34.5% over the past year. Yet,  WSO has seen an upward estimate revision for 2023 earnings to $14.50 per share from $13.79 over the past 30 days. This depicts analysts' optimism over the company's prospects. Watsco is expected to witness 2.1% earnings growth in 2023.

Comfort Systems: Based in Houston, TX, the company is a national provider of comprehensive heating, ventilation and air conditioning installation, along with maintenance, repair and replacement services. A solid backlog level and substantial ongoing investments in training, productivity and technology are expected to drive growth. Overall positive trends, primarily in industrial, technology, and manufacturing markets served by the company, as well as accretive buyouts, are encouraging. The acquisitions have expanded its scale, increased recurring service revenues, and enhanced expertise in complex markets, including industrial, technology and life sciences.

Comfort Systems, which currently flaunts a Zacks Rank #1, has gained 80% over the past year. The company is expected to witness 35.5% earnings growth in 2023. FIX has seen an upward estimate revision for 2023 earnings to $7.17 per share from $6.35 over the past 30 days.

AAON: Based in Tulsa, OK, AAON engineers, manufactures and markets air conditioning, as well as heating equipment. The company maintains a balance between new construction and replacement applications, and is making the most of robust replacement demand, broadly across the non-residential building market. Despite inflationary cost pressure, the BasX acquisition, which was closed in December 2021, has been delivering solid results for AAON. While supply-chain issues and inflation caused similar issues, BasX has been flexible in adapting to challenges.

AAON currently carries a Zacks Rank #2. The stock has gained 82.5% over the past year. AAON has seen an upward estimate revision for 2023 earnings to $2.84 per share from $2.68 over the past 30 days.  The company's earnings for 2023 are expected to grow 52.7%.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit  for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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