Are TEX’s fundamentals good enough to offset its bearish momentum?

The market appears to be picking up bearish momentum, as fear and uncertainty about the extent and long-term ramifications of coronavirus has spilled into the stock market. Short-term pressure point that will simply translate to yet another opportunity to “buy the dip,” or early indication of broader pressures and concerns that could finally trigger the kind of “sea change” market reversal that eventually gets called a bear market? It’s hard to say for sure; the truth is that most economic indicators continue to point to enough strength to keep the economy moving along at a generally healthy pace. If, however, this is something that does lead to longer-term slowdowns in economically sensitive industries, like Transportation, its effect could bleed into a variety of other industries as well.

Seeing the market moving into a potential corrective pattern isn’t an automatically bearish indication; but it does act as a good signal to start thinking about your investments in more conservative terms. That can mean being cautious about how much money you put into any single investment, or how quickly you take on new positions. It can also act as a sign to be very cautious about the kinds of stocks you want to work with. Economically sensitive industries, like Heavy Machinery have generally been among the strongest performers in the market for the last year; but if the market does reverse, many of those stocks could be at a critical tipping point.

Terex Corporation (TEX) is a stock in the Heavy Machinery industry that has diverged sharply from the broader industry pattern. The stock is down nearly 30% since late February of last year, and is only a few dollars away from 52-week lows reached in the third quarter of 2019. The stock has a number of interesting fundamental strengths that could offer an interesting investment opportunity under the right conditions. Does its value proposition line up with those fundamentals, or is this a stock at a low price that is at too much downside risk to justify a new investment right now?

Fundamental and Value Profile

Terex Corporation is a manufacturer of lifting and material processing products and services that deliver lifecycle solutions. The Company has three business segments: Aerial Work Platforms (AWP), Cranes and Materials Processing (MP). It delivers lifecycle solutions to a range of industries, including the construction, infrastructure, manufacturing, shipping, utility, quarrying and mining industries. The AWP segment designs, manufactures, services and markets aerial work platform equipment, telehandlers and light towers. The AWP segment’s products are used by its customers to construct and maintain industrial, commercial and residential buildings and facilities, and for other commercial operations, as well as in a range of infrastructure projects. The Cranes segment’s products are used by its customers for construction and manufacturing facilities, among others. The MP segment’s products are used by its customers in construction, infrastructure and recycling projects. TEX’s current market cap is $1.8 billion.

Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings  grew more than 20.5% while revenues declined about -21.6%. In the last quarter, earnings dropped by a little more than -32%, while sales decreased -21.6%. TEX operates with a narrow, but strengthening margin profile. In the last twelve months, TEX posted negative Net Income that improved to 2.08% in the last quarter. That narrow margin is a concern, but also not unusual in the Heavy Machinery industry.

Free Cash Flow: TEX’s free cash flow is healthy, at a bit over $588 million. That marks an improvement since late 2018 from about $496 million, and translates to a Free Cash Flow Yield of 6.34%.

Debt to Equity: TEX has a debt/equity ratio of 1.46. That number implies a high level of leverage, which of itself isn’t particularly alarming in the Heavy Machinery industry. Their balance sheet shows $1.65 billion in cash and liquid assets against about $4.2 billion in long-term debt.

Dividend: TEX pays an annual dividend of $.44 per share, which translates to a yield of about 1.67% at the stock’s current price.

Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for TEX is $12.15 and translates to a Price/Book ratio of 2.09 at the stock’s current price. Their historical average Price/Book ratio is 2.14. That suggest the stock is only about 2% below its “fair value” price; however it is also trading about 76% below its historical Price/Cash Flow ratio. That provides a long-term target price at nearly $45 per share.

Technical Profile

Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: The red diagonal line measures the length of the stock’s downward trend from February 2019 to its bottom in early October; it also informs the Fibonacci trend retracement lines shown on the right side of the chart. The stock picked up bullish momentum from October until mid-November, driving to the 50% Fibonacci retracement line; it then pulled back a bit, and rallied back to that level again in late December. Since then, the stock’s momentum has turned decidedly bearish, dropping back to its current price around $25.50. The stock’s next most likely support level is around $23, back at its 52-week low. If the stock can pick up bullish momentum, its first level of resistance is likely to be around $28 per share, with additional room between $29 and $30 where the 38.2% and 50% retracement lines rest.

Near-term Keys: The stock’s bearish momentum is strong enough that right now the only realistic short-term trade is on the bearish side, either by shorting the stock or working with put options. The stock would need to find support and begin moving higher before any kind of bullish set up can be considered; more to the point, a reversal of the current short-term downward trend can’t be marked until the stock droves above $29. The stock’s fundamentals are interesting, and could be strong enough to make an interesting case for its value proposition; but considering the current strength of bearish momentum, I think the smarter bet is to wait for the stock to find support before taking a value-based, long-term trade seriously.

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