Recent Posts

Specialty Materials: Highlights From Quarterly Channel Checks

Despite recent negative headlines regarding a disruption in 787 aircraft production, we are sticking with a bullish thesis on the specialty materials group following a review of better-than-expected quarterly survey results. Communications with industry contacts confirmed much stronger demand/pricing trends in 2Q21, improving channel sentiment and upward forecast revisions, approaching catalysts, and more manageable inventory situations. Key data points collected over the past few months suggest there is an upward bias to consensus forecasts (looking out 3-4 quarters), with emphasis placed on companies levered to jet engine OEM demand and the premium alloy product categories (nickel-based alloys, cobalt-alloys, and specialty stainless steel). Continue reading

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5:06 AM

Allegheny Technologies (ATI): Raising Estimates On Projected Aerospace Demand Strength; New LEAP Outlook

We are increasing Allegheny Technologies (ATI) estimates to account for an increasingly favorable commercial aerospace sales outlook, better-than-expected specialty materials survey results and upward movement in product pricing. After adjusting for the new production schedules shared by jet engine manufacturers and rising single-aisle aircraft build rate assumptions, the company appears to be on-track to generate $1.05-1.10/share of earnings by CY23 on stronger mill volumes and favorable premium forge sales contribution. Continue reading

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8:49 AM

Carpenter Technology (CRS): Initiating Coverage With A Strong Buy; This Is Our New Top Pick

We are initiating coverage on Carpenter Technology (CRS) with a Strong Buy investment rating and $50/share target price. Following a short period of trading weakness, we are comfortable with the lower entry point. The shares look undervalued today, especially after the consideration of better-than-expected survey results and backdrop of macroeconomic strength, rebounding channel sentiment, commodity nickel price inflation and enhanced commercial aero demand visibility. Market intelligence suggests the specialty materials group is at or near a summer inflection point which should be followed by a multi-year period of above-average top-line growth. Continue reading

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11:47 AM

The Boeing Company (BA): Expect A Bumpy Path To Earnings Recovery; Lowering Estimates

We are lowering estimates on The Boeing Company (BA) to account for the approaching commercial aircraft segment shortfall. We expect total deliveries to fall about twenty jets below 2Q21 forecasts as another FAA inquiry has resulted in a 787-customer shipment halt, which translates into roughly $0.50/share of near-term earnings dilution in our model. Presumably, consensus expectations will reset following the company issuance of another disappointing monthly aircraft delivery report in early July. Continue reading

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7:32 AM

Allegheny Tech (ATI): Stainless and Premium Alloy Strength Sets Specialty Materials Group Apart From Metals Pack

This is no time to panic! We are sticking with bullish investment ratings on certain names from the specialty materials group despite recent downward metals and mining trading pressure. Companies like Allegheny Technologies (ATI) and Haynes International (HAYN) should benefit from strengthening top-line drivers throughout 2H21 and CY22. Continue reading

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10:04 AM

Aerospace: Upgrading Upstream Suppliers On Stronger Aero Sales Outlook And Potential Bottleneck Benefits

We are making a rotational call within the aerospace coverage group, now favoring upstream suppliers that appear to be positioned to benefit from a changing commercial aircraft production environment. The investor narrative may shift to the premium forgers and/or specialty materials providers earlier-than-expected as the supply chain readies for a sharp inflection in demand for 737MAX or A320neo applications, looking beyond negative near-term earnings expectations. As such, we are changing ratings on a few companies that fit into that description. Today, we are formally upgrading Hexcel Corporation (HXL) and Haynes International (HAYN) to Strong Buy investment ratings and moving Allegheny Technologies (ATI) over to Outperform. We had previously rated all three Hold. Continue reading

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8:28 AM

Specialty Materials: Increasing Our Titanium Industry Demand Projections For The First Time In 2-3 Years

Now there are two reasons for all of us to be excited about the summer: (1) Top Gun 2 will be in your local theaters on July 2; and (2) there now seems to be a light at the end of the titanium tunnel! This week, we formally increased our five-year ti industry forecasts to fully account for an improving aerospace outlook and better-than-expected survey results in May. While the underlying demand environment remains depressed in 1H22, nearing the lowest point since 2003-2004, there are hints of stabilization… Continue reading

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5:07 AM

Allegheny Technologies (ATI): Increasing Estimates On Improving Demand Outlook and Future Aero Build Rates

We are increasing Allegheny Technologies (ATI) estimates to reflect a growing upward bias associated with rebounding commercial aerospace demand momentum, incremental macroeconomic strength, and better-than-expected survey results. After accounting for the latest MAX, NEO and LEAP production schedule revisions and channel reports of rebounding premium alloy volumes , we now expect the company to generate generating positive EPS results by 1Q22. Continue reading

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7:31 AM

Aerospace: Suppliers Are Reacting To The New LEAP Production Targets

General Electric (GE) held a conference call with its major suppliers to review all details behind the newly implemented LEAP production schedule and to ensure supply chain alertness. Last week, the company effectively raised the CY22 production outlook to 360-370 engines to account for stronger single-aisle aircraft build rates. This was the third major scheduling adjustment announced by the aircraft OEMs and jet engine suppliers, which suggests an upward bias to CY22-23 expectations for the coverage group. Continue reading

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6:53 AM

The Boeing Company (BA): New Production Schedules Confirm Management Confidence In 737 Demand – Upgrading Shares To Outperform

We are upgrading the shares of The Boeing Company (BA) to an OUTPERFORM recommendation today, with a twelve-month price target of $275/share, following the early identification of positive trading catalysts expected to develop in the coming months. Notably, our latest aerospace channel checks, which included discussions regarding the latest commercial aircraft production schedules released to all major suppliers, seems to be indicating an upward bias to Street expectations (focusing on CY22 and beyond). Continue reading

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9:37 PM

The Boeing Company (BA): Dissecting A Fifth-Consecutive Quarterly Earnings Loss; Will Number Six Be The Last?

A relatively upbeat aerospace market and corporate outlook provided by The Boeing Company (BA) management team, which was confirmed later in the week by Airbus (AIR), indicates the OEMs are nearing a point of stabilization. Assuming the current 737 MAX electrical situation does not become systemic problem, we believe the earnings shortfall risk may be starting to abate. We plan to take a closer look at the industry drivers and company modeling assumptions upon completion of our aero supply channel checks.

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9:00 AM

Hexcel Corporation (HXL): One Step Closer To Stability, Assuming The Aircraft Production Rates Hold

We came away from the latest Hexcel Corporation (HXL) quarterly earnings update and investor call somewhat intrigued by the latest market outlook, continuation of the cost reduction strategy, and uptick in confidence communicated by the management team. We would consider a rating change should the shares pullback and market intelligence confirm a reversal in upstream demand. Our hesitancy relates to the unfavorable macro environment and expected change in wide-body aircraft schedules (lower for longer). Continue reading

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12:45 PM

Nucor Corporation (NUE): Gauging Upside/Downside Against Our Already Aggressive $10+ EPS Forecast For CY21

After raising estimates for the current quarter and year to reflect the better-than-expected mid-quarter guidance issued by the management team last week, we examined some of the larger NUE portfolio drivers, looking to gauge the upside and downside risk as it relates to two major issues: (1) the sustainability of the Section 232 trade protections during a new period of US Presidential leadership; and (2) the upside bias associated with the release of a large infrastructure bill. Starting with a $10.00+ and $8.28/share earnings forecast for CY21 and CY22, respectively, already well above consensus, we calculated roughly $1.75-2.00 of potential earnings upside associated with surging demand for niche carbon steel products dedicated for large-volume public construction projects. Conversely, we assume there to be $1.40-1.50/share of earnings dilution risk should President Joe Biden rescind Section-232 trade protections. This implies a +30% risk/reward profile. Continue reading

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12:50 AM

The Titanium Snapshot (ATI, HAYN, CRS)

We are not picking up any new market intelligence this month to suggest there is an upward bias to earnings expectations for the specialty materials peer group. Last month, we raised near-term forecasts to reflect the better-than-expected nickel-based alloy and jet engine demand trends. However, we see few similarities in the titanium space as volume growth is holding in negative territory and contacts are still forecasting negative full-year growth. The main difference between this market and other alloys is the excess inventory held by the aero supply chain which could push the recovery starting point 6-9 months to the right (for companies levered to commercial airframe applications). Continue reading

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10:45 AM

Steel: Adjusting Ratings, Raising Price Targets and Revising Estimates Following Strong Survey Results

We rearranged the steel coverage group investment ratings to account for recent trading strength, the divergence between the closing prices and price targets, and higher earnings outlook(s). Today’s actions were triggered by the better-than-expected carbon steel survey results and review of future market drivers. Among the major changes, we upgraded Nucor (NUE) after considering the new earnings outlook and the rising potential for a stimulus trading boost. At the same time, we lowered STLD and RS to OUTPERFORM (versus Strong Buy) following the recent surge in trading. While still positive on these two names, we would be less aggressive. Finally, we referred to the surprising level of bullishness building throughout the channel and strong survey data points. The most interesting takeaway involved steel contacts raising their year-end HRC price forecast by $100-125/ton. Continue reading

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6:04 PM

Specialty Materials: Increasing Estimates On The Premium Alloy Suppliers Levered To Jet Engine

Positive data points and contact commentary collected during quarterly checks on the specialty materials group serves as the key catalyst behind the upward estimate revisions we applied to certain names within our coverage universe. Today, we raised estimates on Allegheny Tech (ATI) and Haynes International (HAYN) to reflect the upward bias associated with enhanced aerospace and turbine sales exposure. Continue reading

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10:31 AM

Allegheny Technologies (ATI): Upgrading The Shares To A Hold As GE Provides Early Jet Engine Supplier Optimism

We are upgrading the shares of Allegheny Technologies (ATI) to a HOLD. After speaking with industry contacts and reviewing aerospace OEM production schedules, we believe earnings estimates are more likely to move higher from the current point. Despite our concerns regarding the extended valuation, we decided to move to a neutral position on the shares as we can no longer identify a “smoking gun” that could push the stock price meaningfully lower. Continue reading

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8:50 AM

Haynes International (HAYN): Another Weak Report But An Inflection Point May Finally Be On The Radar (Recap)

The HAYN management team is echoing a similar sentiment as most of its direct competitors: While most of the operating results reported this month have been underwhelming and CY21 earnings expectations are generally subdued, the specialty materials peer group seems to be approaching a point of stabilization. Companies levered to the premium alloys expect an inflection point to develop within the next 2-3 quarters with the titanium turn seen lagging by 1-2 quarters. Continue reading

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8:30 AM

Allegheny Technologies (ATI): The Company Closes Out CY20 With A Fourth-Straight Earnings Beat (Recap)

Allegheny Technologies (ATI) reported an adjusted 4Q20 earnings loss of $0.33/share, which exceeded consensus expectations on better-than-expected AAS segment results, stabilized jet engine demand, and portfolio reshaping (Tier4: -$0.40; Street: -$0.36). CEO Bob Wetherbee and his leadership team were highly focused on portfolio optimization and their aggressive efforts started to bear fruit, clearly demonstrated by four consecutive quarterly EPS beats (against the COVID-19 market backdrop). Continue reading

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1:20 PM

Aerospace: Submitting Our Industry Flight Plan For 2021

Ahead of the quarterly updates set to be released by several aerospace-levered companies over the next few weeks, and the swearing-in of President Joe Biden, we are submitting our Aerospace Flight Plan For 2021, broadly defined as an industry preview and data point refresher. The intention of this report is to provide a simple listing of industry headlines expected to materialize over the next twelve months that could sway investor sentiment or become a catalyst for estimate revisions on individual companies. We sat down over the weekend and updated our industry models to fully reflect our increasing conservative macro-outlook and to match some of the new data points provided by channel contacts. Continue reading

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1:04 PM

The Boeing Company (BA): Downgrading To Underperform On Commercial Aircraft Demand And Balance Sheet Concerns

We downgraded the shares of The Boeing Company (BA) to UNDERPERFORM this evening following a thorough review of important macro drivers and the secondary data collected from our aero supplier surveys. Ahead of the company’s 4Q earnings update, scheduled for late-January, we believe BA shares could dip below $200 should the investor focus shift to a muted earnings growth outlook and balance sheet stress. Coincidently, we are also less-bullish on our beloved Cleveland Browns heading into the Sunday playoff game, but we digress… Continue reading

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4:47 PM

Allegheny Technologies (ATI): What Are The Odds The Dreamliner Turns Into A Supplier Nightmare?

We lowered earnings estimates for two of The Boeing Company suppliers potentially over-levered to the Dreamliner program: Allegheny Technologies (ATI) and Hexcel Corporation (HXL). The shares of both companies have traded higher over the past few months, but the valuation looks overextended to us. We remain particularly guarded on the ATI due to the enhanced program leverage. Our UNDERPERFORM rating includes a revised target price of $11/share (up from $8), reflecting about 40% downside versus the Thursday close. Continue reading

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9:52 AM

Hexcel Corporation (HXL): What Are The Odds The Dreamliner Turns Into A Supplier Nightmare?

We cannot recall another time during our long history in sell-side research when the best idea highlighted from our coverage was: investors should avoid the entire peer group right now. Ultimately, we deemed it more appropriate to shift the note topic to the new developments detected in our propriety channel checks that may be interpreted as bearish by investors. We lowered earnings estimates for two of The Boeing Company suppliers potentially over-levered to the Dreamliner program: Hexcel Corporation (HXL) and Allegheny Technologies (ATI). Continue reading

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8:19 AM

Steeling The Signals: December Update

Broad-based indications of strength are evident throughout the steel channels and there appears to be increasing probability of upward movement in spot market prices (looking out 3-4 quarters). The contact narrative shifted to the unusual carbon sheet and plate supply constraints, heading into a normally seasonal-slow demand period, and future production deficit anxieties.
Nucor Corporation (NUE) issued earnings outlook that may be considered disappointing by The Street. Management provided a 4Q20 EPS guidance range of $1.02-1.07. The language within this morning’s release regarding Steel Mill trends aligns with the feedback collected from our checks. We also heard from Steel Dynamics (STLD) today, which issued an adjusted 4Q20 guidance range of $0.80-0.84, beating expectations. Continue reading

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12:43 PM

The Titanium Snapshot – December Update

Feedback coming out of the specialty materials channel supports the bearish call we are making on the global titanium market and selected companies within the specialty materials peer group. Bottomline, raw material providers, mill contacts, metal distributors, fabricators, and premium forgers are all voicing concerns about an extended period of end-demand weakness, a difficult CY21 environment, operating inefficiencies, and destabilized pricing environment.

Names within in our coverage universe with titanium leverage include Allegheny Technologies (ATI), Howmet Aerospace (HWM), Carpenter Technology (CRS) and Haynes International (HAYN). Continue reading

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2:10 PM

Steel Dynamics (STLD): The Opposite of SteelMageddon – Raising Estimates and Target Price

What is the opposite of Steelmageddon? Whatever word just popped into your head is probably the best way to describe current domestic steel industry fundamentals. Following a closer look at the drivers behind the carbon flat rolled markets, and communicating with several channel contacts, we decided to increase our carbon sheet price forecasts and the estimates on STLD. Continue reading

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9:52 AM

Aerospace: The Runway To Recovery Will Be Long And Bumpy For Upstream Suppliers

Consensus estimates still look aggressive, in relation to fundamentals, for aerospace suppliers levered to premium forge, composite materials, metal fabrication, and raw materials. We believe the tier-3/4 peer group may still be 4-5 quarters away from an inflection point, which could be followed by muted demand in CY22 regardless of the COVID-19 vaccination outcome. After updating various industry models, we generated a CY21 baseline growth forecast for upstream aero suppliers at down 12-13% for CY21. We also lowered estimates on Allegheny Tech (ATI) and Hexcel Corp (HXL) this morning, after completing this market analysis and reviewing the negative survey data points referenced in this report. Continue reading

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8:32 AM

Haynes International (HAYN): We Are Not Ready To Clear The Shares For Takeoff; Initiating Coverage With A HOLD

Today, we are formally initiating coverage on Haynes International (HAYN) with a HOLD rating. While we certainly understand the initial exuberance around the aerospace suppliers and specialty materials peer group, following Monday’s vaccination news, we caution investors that underlying fundamentals are still quite weak. We prefer to wait for evidence of better titanium and nickel-based alloy trends before turning more constructive on this company or the peer group. Continue reading

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8:37 AM

The Boeing Company (BA): 3Q20 Results Were Generally In-line, But CY21 Visibility May Be Waning

Despite a relatively solid earnings update, which beat our forecast for the first time in four quarters, we are unable to construct a convincing bull-case argument. We ultimately came away with from yesterday’s update with limited earnings and FCF visibility, still digesting the conservatism embedded in management’s commentary. While there were no formal changes made to aircraft build rates, downward adjustments seem almost inevitable against the backdrop of waning demand. Continue reading

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7:58 AM

Reliance Steel & Alum (RS): One Of The Names That Could Really Surprise To The Upside Next Week

We like the set-up for Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co (RS) heading into next week’s earnings report and reiterate our OUTPERFORM recommendation on the shares. After reviewing all key portfolio drivers, we see very high probability of a 3Q20 earnings beat (and favorable guidance) primarily driven by ferrous and nonferrous metals pricing strength, healthy shipment levels, a tolling recovery, and improved cost position. Continue reading

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6:23 AM

Aerospace: Airbus Is Not Budging On The A320

The Airbus management team appears to be sharing their production strategy and updated aircraft build schedules with suppliers this week, which includes an intention of holding the A320 rate steady at 40/month (well into 2021). Granted, there is lingering contact apprehension about the global airline operator willingness to accept these new jets (during the slow season), but today those comments were drowned out by the collective sound of channel relief. As we reported last week, […]

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3:35 PM
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