The steel maker missed estimates in the second quarter of 2011, blew past forecasts in the third quarter, once again badly lagged the consensus in the final quarter of the year -- and just announced a very solid quarter to start the current year. Goldman Sachs analysts say the first-quarter results will be the high watermark for the year, and rates shares
a "sell" with a $23 price target
-- roughly 15% below the current stock price. "We remain of the view that steel prices will be lower in 2H2012 and thus, steel price-sensitive companies like U.S. Steel would see a material deterioration in earnings in the latter part of the year," they wrote in an April 24 note to clients.
On the other hand, any company that can top estimates while industry conditions remain challenging is likely to produce ever-stronger results as that industry starts rebound. As an example, check out Terex (NYSE: TEX)
, which provides a range of construction equipment (such as cranes, aerial lifts and other gear) that helps build roads, buildings and other infrastructure projects.
Terex really took it on the chin during the recent recession
. Sales fell from $8 billion in 2007 to just $3.9 billion in 2008, leading to an 80% drop in gross profits to $297 million. The top line has bounced back up to a recent $6.5 billion in 2011, should exceed $8 billion this year and top $9 billion in 2013, according to Merrill Lynch. Meanwhile, after falling from $90 back in 2007 to a recent $23, shares trade for less than six times Merrill's projected 2012 EBITDA
. That multiple slips even lower if you anticipate an improving economy
in coming years that boosts construction spending.General Cable (NYSE: BGC)
is another company geared up for an improving level of construction spending. The company's utility-grade cables are used in office parks, submerged power line programs and general construction.