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ITT to Gain From Strength in End Markets, Risks Persist

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ITT Inc. ITT has impressed investors with its recent growth momentum, driven by strength in its major end markets, acquisitions and innovation investments.

Shares of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have gained 7.4% compared with the industry’s growth of 6.7% over the past six months.

Factors to Consider

ITT is well positioned to benefit from strength across its end markets like chemical, industrial pumps, oil and gas auto, rail, commercial aerospace, friction OEM and friction aftermarket. Also, the company’s investments made toward commercialization of market leading technologies and enhancing productivity are helping it strengthen the top line.

Also, the company’s acquisition of Rheinhutte Pumpen Group (closed in May 2019) has been expanding its Industrial Process segment’s portfolio of engineered industrial pump technologies. Moreover, the buyout of Matrix Composites (July 2019) has been strengthening the company’s Connect and Control Technologies segment’s aerospace product offerings. Notably, in fourth quarter of 2019, these buyouts positively impacted revenue growth by 3.3%.

Moreover, ITT remains highly committed toward increasing shareholders’ wealth through share repurchase programs and dividend payouts. In this regard, in February 2020, it approved a 15% hike in the quarterly dividend rate. In 2019, the company bought back $41.4 million worth of shares while paid out dividends amounting to $52.1 million. Also, in 2019, its adjusted free cash flow increased 3% year over year to $318.8 million. We believe that improvement in cash flows will support its capital-allocation strategies.

However, escalating cost of sales remains a concern for the company. In the third quarter and fourth quarters of 2019, the company’s cost of sales rose 5.8% and 4.9%, respectively, on a year-over-year basis, on account of higher commodity, tariff costs and rise in investment expenses.

Further, analysts have become increasingly bearish about ITT over the past seven days. The company’s earnings estimates for first-quarter 2020 have been lowered from 99 cents to 81 cents.

Key Picks

Some better-ranked stocks are Graco Inc. GGG, Griffon Corporation GFF and Tetra Tech, Inc. TTEK. While Graco sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Griffon and Tetra Tech carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Graco pulled off positive surprise of 0.40%, on average, in the last four quarters.

Griffon delivered positive earnings surprise of 20.34%, on average, in the trailing four quarters.
Tetra Tech came out with positive surprise of 8.31%, on average, in the last four quarters.

5 Stocks Set to Double

Each was hand-picked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2020. Each comes from a different sector and has unique qualities and catalysts that could fuel exceptional growth.

Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

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