Better Buy: Stelco Holdings Inc. or Russel Metals Inc.?

Manufacturing sales saw a boost in September, but investors should be careful with stocks such as Stelco Holdings Inc. (TSX:STLC).

| More on:
The Motley Fool

In a recent article, I’d discussed the September 2017 manufacturing survey released by Statistics Canada. Manufacturing sales rose 0.5% in September to $53.7 billion. In Ontario, which made up almost half of manufacturing sales in Canada at $24.4 billion, sales fell in primary metal industries by 3.6%.

The ongoing NAFTA renegotiations, which have taken a sour turn in recent months, have sparked general anxiety in Canadian manufacturing. The Bank of Canada estimated that investment in Canada could experience a 0.7% decline if NAFTA is scuttled. In October, I’d covered stocks that could experience downward pressure if the three sides are unable to salvage the agreement.

Let’s compare two stocks that could be impacted by these trends and make a determination over which is the better buy moving forward.

Stelco Holdings Inc. (TSX:STLC) is a Hamilton-based steel company. Stelco stock debuted on the Toronto Stock Exchange on November 3. Shares have increased 11.5% since its initial public offering; as of close on November 24, the stock was priced at $17. Stelco plans to use the raised capital to make inroads in the auto industry, where it previously had a strong foothold.

Stelco released its third-quarter results on November 13. Revenue declined 10% to $336 million in comparison to $373 million in the third quarter of 2016. Stelco failed to post operating profits compared to $44 million in the previous year. The company did report positive performance year to date. Year-to-date revenue was up 16% to $1.15 billion compared to $990 million in the first three quarters of 2016.

Russel Metals Inc. (TSX:RUS) supplies metal products to the United States and Canada and is based in Mississauga. Shares have climbed 12.8% in 2017 and 2.5% month over month. The company released its third-quarter results on November 8.

Russel Metals posted revenues of $851 million compared to $639 million in the third quarter of 2016. Net income jumped to $34 million from $16 million in the prior year. Year-to-date revenues have increased to $2.47 billion from $1.92 billion in Q3 2016, and net income climbed to $160 million compared to $74 million. Revenues in the metals service increased 19% due to a 10% rise in tonnes shipped compared to the third quarter of 2016.

Russel Metals stock also boasts a dividend of $0.38 per share, representing a 5.2% dividend yield.

Which should you buy?

Stelco recently emerged from bankruptcy protection after being hampered in court since 2014. The company has ambitions to re-emerge as a top supplier in the Ontario auto sector. Canada has posted record automobile sales in 2017, but an end to NAFTA could spell complications in the industry. Stelco also faces ongoing pressure to fund the losses in at-risk pension funds, which could put a cap on investment in operations going forward.

Russel Metals has shown impressive growth in successive quarters and boasts an attractive dividend. Even with pressure in the Canadian manufacturing sector resulting from NAFTA renegotiations, the stock is a solid long-term buy.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Ambrose O'Callaghan has no position in any stocks mentioned.

More on Metals and Mining Stocks

Arrowings ascending on a chalkboard
Metals and Mining Stocks

If This Fast-Rising Stock Isn’t Yet on Your Radar, it Should Be

This stock is up 44% in the last year and climbing, and yet there is even more to come with…

Read more »

Super sized rock trucks take a load of platinum rich rock into the crusher.
Metals and Mining Stocks

Is Agnico Eagle Mines a Buy in July 2024?

Although quite a few gold stocks are worth looking into for their dividends, the less-than-modest capital-appreciation potential can be a…

Read more »

Gold bars
Metals and Mining Stocks

The Best Gold Stock to Invest $1,000 in Right Now

Want to invest in precious metals? Here's the best gold stock to buy right now, and it isn't a traditional…

Read more »

A worker wears a hard hat outside a mining operation.
Metals and Mining Stocks

1 Canadian Mining Stock Worth a Long-Term Investment

This mining stock has a huge future ahead of it, especially as copper surges in demand around the world. And…

Read more »

People walk into a dark underground mine.
Metals and Mining Stocks

How to Turn Your TFSA Into a Gold (or Copper) Mine Starting With $10,000  

These two top stocks can turn any TFSA into a gold mine -- or a copper mine, if you really…

Read more »

Safety helmets and gloves hang from a rack on a mining site.
Metals and Mining Stocks

1 Canadian Mining Stock to Buy and Hold Forever

Canadian investors can consider gaining exposure to quality mining stocks such as Wheaton Precious Metals in June 2024.

Read more »

A stock price graph showing growth over time
Metals and Mining Stocks

Why Cameco Stock Soared 23% This Year

Cameco stock continues to ride high on strong supply/demand fundamentals and growing momentum in the nuclear industry.

Read more »

growing plant shoots on stacked coins
Stocks for Beginners

1 Copper Stock to Buy as Copper Prices Shine

The price of copper continues to climb, and more copper production is on the way for this top stock up…

Read more »