Face-Off on Stocks: Alcoa, Caterpillar, United Technologies
Shareholders in Alcoa, the aluminum giant, would just as soon put 2010 behind them. The stock is off more than 11% so far this year while the broader S&P 500 ($INX) is up about 12%. Shares look cheap at these levels, seeing as Alcoa currently offers deep discounts to its own five-year average and the broader market on a forward earnings basis. On the other hand, aluminum prices can be very fickle, especially every time China moves to cool down its red-hot economy.
United Technologies, a conglomerate including Otis elevators, Carrier heating and cooling, Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines and Sikorsky helicopters, has been getting along on restructuring savings and overseas growth. The stock is up nearly 14% this year, which is about a couple percentage points better than the S&P 500. Domestic demand in commercial and industrial infrastructure remains sluggish, but sales to emerging markets and the jet engine business are encouraging. Shares are at a discount to the S&P 500 by forward earnings, but with 41% of UTX's sales coming from the U.S., slow growth at home could cause profit to come up short.