The Manitowoc Company, Inc. (NYSE:MTW) is facing a cycle “unlike any other”. This Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) is expected to see an earnings decline in 2014 of 16% as crane sales weaken.

Manitowoc has weathered its share of business cycles. Founded in 1902, it navigated the Great Depression and several world wars.

It operates in two segments: cranes and foodservice equipment. Cranes is the larger segment. Both are sold globally from the company’s headquarters in Wisconsin.

Sales Declined in the Third Quarter

On Oct 27, Manitowoc reported third quarter sales of $986 million, a decline of 2.5% from $1.01 billion in the year ago quarter.

It was a tale of two different companies.

Foodservice sales rose 3.8% to $417 million due to higher sales of hot side brands and ice/beverage equipment as well as favorable foreign exchange rates.

Margins, however, fell 250 basis points to 14.8% due to unfavorable product mix and delayed benefits from consolidation efforts.

But Crane segment sales fell 6.7% to $569 million from $610 million in the year ago quarter.

The company continued to see a decline in the rough-terrain and boom truck markets in North America and Latin America.

The backlog saw a slight decrease from the second quarter to $715.6 million. That’s still 26% higher compared to the end of the third quarter 2013.

It reaffirmed 2014 guidance.

Estimates Cut for 2015

The analysts are bearish on 2015. 6 estimates have been cut in the past 60 days.

The Zacks Consensus has fallen to $1.42 from $1.62 in that time.

That is still earnings growth of 15% but it’s coming down as the analysts get worried over what could be coming down the road.

Manitowoc is scheduled to report fourth quarter results on Jan 29. It doesn’t have the greatest track record, having missed the last 3 quarters.

But investors should get an idea about what 2015 is shaping up to look like despite the global economic uncertainty.

Shares Sink Over the Last Year

With everyone nervous over the global economy and estimates falling, the shares have sunk near 52-week lows.

Manitowoc is in the Mining/Machinery industry which ranks in the bottom 7% of all Zacks Ranked Industries. For investors who want to buy in the industry, there really isn’t any company with a strong Zacks Rank. Estimates have been cut across the board.

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), however, even though it is a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell), has managed to beat the Zacks Consensus 4 times in a row. It is one to watch in the industry.

Manitowoc’s valuation is now more attractive, with a forward P/E of just 13. But until those earnings estimates turn around, I’m staying away.

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