The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry, which generally also includes refrigeration, is an industry that fluctuates and trends with the construction industry. The crash of the housing market, beginning in 2007, led to a significant crash in the construction industry, and many HVAC stocks experienced steep declines as well. Positive turnarounds in the housing and construction spaces over the past three years indicate the potential for positive trends in the HVAC market going toward 2020. The following are five companies that, according to recent numbers, appear at the forefront of the comeback.
Comfort Systems USA Inc.
Comfort Systems USA Inc. (NYSE: FIX) is a major player in HVAC systems engineering, sales and maintenance for professional, industrial and government clientele. With the housing market still somewhat uncertain, commercial real estate is a popular play, and companies that can afford the upfront cash expenditures are rapidly scooping up commercial properties and land with considerable value, upgrading these spaces for new businesses or companies looking to expand. Comfort Systems is an expert in this area, fixing up old buildings and installing HVAC systems that make the structures seem brand-new.
As of August 2016, Comfort Systems had a market capitalization of $1.1 billion. It offers investors a 0.96% dividend yield. A figure that should be of particular interest to investors is the stock’s price-to-earnings ratio (P/E), which, at 18.9, is far below the industry’s 44.8 average. The stock was up 2.87% year to date (YTD) in August 2016, but this percentage was lower than the industry average of 15.58%. On a more positive note, Comfort Systems’ five-year average annualized return of 27.53% shoots well beyond the 6.09% industry average.
Ingersoll-Rand PLC (NYSE: IR) is also a dominating force in terms of non-residential HVAC services, as the company brings in more than 70% of its revenue from commercial clients. Ingersoll-Rand’s exposure to this business affords it the same potential upside as Comfort Systems, likely putting the two up as primary competitors in the non-residential HVAC space.
Ingersoll-Rand has a market cap of $17.5 billion and offers investors a 1.82% dividend yield, nearly double that of Comfort Systems’ dividend yield. At 12.4, the stock’s P/E ratio is well below the industry average. The stock was up 22.72% YTD in August 2016, and its five-year average annual return of 26.84% also beats out the industry average.
Lennox International Inc. (NYSE: LII) specializes in HVAC and refrigeration equipment for both commercial and residential clients, meaning the company takes in considerable revenue from the commercial sector and is also poised to benefit greatly from the residential space as the housing market recovers. Lennox is all the more in a better position for the low amount of debt it retained following the housing market crash, and the company has performed well since 2011.
Lennox has a market cap of $6.9 billion. It offers investors a dividend yield of 0.95%. Of special note is the stock’s exceptionally high return on equity (ROE) figure. At 523%, it dwarfs the industry’s 15% average. This is more than ample proof that Lennox knows how to utilize its equity capital efficiently, and it's an even better indication to investors of how effectively the company uses its money to generate returns. Lennox was up 27.51% YTD in August 2016. Its five-year average annualized return is 42.33%, more than double that of the industry average.
United Technologies Corp.
United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) provides products and services to building systems and the aerospace industry, allowing for better and more efficient system functionality. With product usage in the aerospace industry down, United Technologies is facing potential downtrends in 2018 and beyond. However, the stock is a good play for investors in 2016. The company has seen strong growth, specifically in terms of earnings per share (EPS) and strong stock performance.
United Technologies has a market cap of $90.7 billion. It offers investors a considerably high 2.4% dividend yield. The stock was up 14.98% YTD in August 2016. Its five-year average annualized return is 12.15%.
Johnson Controls Inc.
Johnson Controls Inc. (NYSE: JCI) is widely recognized for its York brand of products. Like United Technologies, Johnson’s business goes well beyond the HVAC space, branching out to instrumentation construction and components production for the aviation and automotive industries. While this multi-pronged business allows for greater potential profit, Johnson also felt greater impact during the housing market crash, as the automotive industry took a hit, as well. In the spanning years, Johnson has bounced back considerably and looks like a positive play for investors in 2016.
Johnson has a market cap of $28.8 billion. It offers investors a respectable dividend yield of 2.61%. YTD, the stock is up 14.74%, and it has a more impressive five-year average annualized return of 11.19%.