This Company Isn't Sexy... But Its 55% Upside Sure Is

posted on 06-07-2019

When I was a kid, it was a privilege to be allowed to mow the lawn. I recall the enjoyment of using the walk-behind lawn mower to tackle our half-acre of grass in 100-degree heat.
Nowadays, mowing the lawn is a chore, often outsourced to landscaping companies or local teenagers looking to score summertime spending money. Regardless of how it gets done, it remains something that has to be done.

The turf management industry isn't all that sexy, so the companies in the industry don't always get the respect they deserve. One such company is Toro (NYSE: TTC).

It's easy to overlook this stock, but it's proven to be one you can put in your portfolio and simply forget about, exactly what we look for in our 10 Best Stocks To Hold Forever. (Check out our report here.) And for Toro, if you left it alone for the last three years, something we recommend for our "Forever Stocks," you would have seen it climb more than 90%, compared with the S&P 500 Index's 45% gain.

Toro designs and makes turf maintenance equipment for residential, golf course, agricultural and sports field customers. The company has been around for a long time, with next year marking its centennial. Toro also has major partnerships with the Wimbledon Championships, the Super Bowl and Rose Bowl, and the Walt Disney World Resort.

Strong Home Market

Toro already has a strong footprint in the U.S. market, with leading positions in the professional and residential consumer segments. Toro also continues to gain ground with individual residential customers thanks to its "zero-turn" mowers. The walk-behind mower market remains robust and offers a recurring revenue stream: The replacement market in the U.S. for walk-behind mowers is an impressive 4.5 million to 6.5 million units a year.

One of Toro's markets poised to rebound the fastest is golf-related products. The sale of golf-related equipment was hit hard as golf course operators tightened spending during the economic downturn. As the economy strengthens, look for golf course operators to increase their spending. This should remain a stable market for Toro as existing courses seek equipment and irrigation replacement, not to mention the new golf course development in international markets.

Serious International Potential

International sales made up some 30% of sales in fiscal 2012, compared with 20% in 2004. Part of this has come from acquisitions. Even still, there remains some very big opportunities in overseas markets. Toro has been investing in new product designs that are specifically for international markets.

The other big benefit to international growth is that it should lead to margin expansion. The majority of sales in overseas markets are in Toro's professional segment, not residential. The professional segment generates an operating margin of around 17.5%, compared with residential's 8%. And so, Toro's international expansion has the potential to be a win-win, with higher sales and higher margins.

Innovative Irrigation

Even for a company that makes lawn mowers, you can still see innovation alive and well. The company is currently generating close to 40% of sales from new products, above its long-term goal of 35%. This comes as the company continues to invest around 3% of sales in new product development. Thanks to this continued innovation, Toro is generating returns on equity at decade highs, currently above 40% on a trailing 12-month basis.

A game-changer for Toro could prove to be its international irrigation business. The micro-irrigation segment is a $2 billion market worldwide, and this market is growing at 10% annually, given water and food remain scarce in many undeveloped and emerging countries. Micro-irrigation requires less acreage than flooding and sprinklers and is more efficient.

On fiscal 2014 EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) estimates of $325 million, and using a justified enterprise value-to-EBITDA multiple of 15, Toro's fair value is roughly $85, a nearly 55% premium to its current price near $55 a share. The stock -- which offers a 1% dividend yield -- has remained resilient over the past decade and should continue this trend.

Drought conditions could put a strain on Toro's sales. The company is also somewhat reliant on steel prices, with steel being the largest contributor to cost of goods sold. A sharp rise in steel prices could squeeze margins.

The Investing Answer: Buy Toro with upside to $85 as the company enjoys increased sales on the back of rebounding markets in the U.S. and new growth markets internationally.