Sweet Ride

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, conglomerates – companies that were active in a number of different industries – were all the rage. In more recent times, the pressure has been heavy to split up these kinds of big companies and focus on the most profitable areas. But some conglomerate firms continue to generate healthy returns – even in today’s brutal market environment.

Which conglomerate combines a lengthy and impressive track record with significant growth prospects? The New Jersey-based Honeywell International (NYSE: HON) is one of the best choices.

Honeywell is an American multinational that produces a variety of commercial and consumer products, engineering services, and aerospace systems for a wide variety of customers. It’s been around a long time; in fact, it was first added to the Dow Jones Index in 1925. But unlike some other venerable firms, Honeywell has proved itself adept in the world of 21st century technology.

Honeywell has the structure of a diversified company, where three business units rise and fall in their markets and can boost each other depending on the larger economy. The sectors are aerospace, automation and control systems and performance materials.

Honeywell has a global workforce of approximately 130,000, of whom approximately 58,000 are employed in the United States. The current incarnation of the company is the product of a merger in which Honeywell Inc. was acquired by the much larger AlliedSignal in 1999. The combined company chose the name “Honeywell” because of its superior brand recognition in many markets.

Honeywell has many brands that commercial and retail consumers may recognize. Some of the most recognizable products are its line of home thermostats (particularly the iconic round type) and Garrett turbochargers. But the company also makes a variety of products that may be less visible but are no less essential to the functioning of the economy.

For instance, Honeywell Resins and Chemicals announced that it  introduced a new Aegis nylon resin designed to protect cables and electrical wiring used in industrial and consumer products. The new resin, Aegis H55WC, is designed to shield wires and cables from physical and chemical damage that can cause them to fail during installation or shorten their service life. It provides excellent protection from grease, oil and gas, and resists impact, abrasion and cuts. It is certified by Underwriters Laboratories for use in a variety of demanding applications, including residential and commercial buildings, machine tools, automobiles, appliances, offshore oil platforms and marine equipment.

Aegis H55WC also helps wire and cable manufacturers improve the electrical efficiency of their products. Because nylon is thinner than other insulating materials, more strands of conductive metal can fit inside the insulation without increasing the overall size of the wire or cable.

“This new resin provides wire and cable manufacturers with the critical protection they need from a resin producer they can rely on,” said Matthew Capeci, global business director for Honeywell Resins and Chemicals. “Because we are a fully-integrated global nylon 6 producer, we can provide a stable supply to serve their operations now and for years to come.”

A key indicator of how forward-thinking an industrial company can be is how it has adapted to the more environmentally conscious world of recent years. Honeywell has been a leader here as well, developing new kinds of refrigerants that do less harm to the environment. China, which has serious environmental problems, has been a key market for these products.

UOP LLC, another Honeywell subsidiary, has reported that its green fuels process technology has been selected by Petrixo Oil & Gas to produce renewable jet fuel and renewable diesel at a new refinery to be built in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.

Petrixo will use UOP Renewable Jet Fuel process technology to process approximately 500,000 metric tons per year of renewable feedstocks into renewable jet fuel and renewable diesel, also known as Honeywell Green Jet Fuel and Honeywell Green Diesel. The process technology is capable of processing a variety of renewable feedstocks.

Honeywell has seen a steady increase in its market capitalization, which now stands at $77.8 billion.  If this company isn’t already in your long-term growth portfolio, it should be.

 Tom Scarlett is an investment analyst with Personal Finance.