Cummins Inc (CMI) best stock in 2010

Come on down Cummins Inc., you are the best performing stock in the S&P 500, surging more than 140 percent to beat out credit crisis comeback stories like AIG and hot tech companies such as Akamai Technologies and Priceline.com.

The maker of diesel engines, fuel systems and emission controls based in Columbus, Indiana benefited from an expansion into overseas markets such as China and India, powering trucks carrying everything from grain to iron ore to people.

"Global economic strength, a replenishment cycle of old trucks and some production capacity taking out during the recession are driving the gains," said Karen Finerman, President of hedge fund Metropolitan Capital Advisors and owner of Cummins shares.

The little engine company that could beat out Qwest (Q) and AIG (AIG), the next biggest movers in the U.S. benchmark, whose shares posted gains of more than 90 percent. Apple, the most popular and publicized winner of the year, gained just 50 percent.

The stock chart on Cummins was a thing of beauty for 2010, a diagonal line from left to right that even fended off the summer swoon in global markets. The stability may have been aided by governments around the world implementing emission standards that would require the purchase of efficient engines made by companies like Cummins.

"The chart looks constructive with a well defined upward slope," said Jim Iuorio of TJM Institutional Services. "They make hybrid and natural gas engines for buses, which should become more important as urban pollution controls become a greater issue globally."

In the third quarter, sales in non-U.S. markets jumped by 56 percent and accounted for about 60 percent of total revenue. Providing engines to power medium-duty trucks and buses in Brazil were a particular highlight. The company, located about 1 hour south of Indianapolis, has customers in 190 countries.

"What it comes down to is whether you believe the global economy will continue to grow and I believe it will," said Stephen Weiss of Short Hills Capital, who is looking to buy the stock on any dip. "They have exposure to commodities (engines for mining trucks and equipment), power and industrial."

In October, the company raised its 2010 sales forecast to $13 billion, which would be an increase of 11 percent from 10.8 billion in annual revenue last year.

And for the Wall Street cynics out there, analysts deserve credit for this one. In Dec. 2009, Barclays, UBS, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs all recommended buying the shares, citing a pick-up in truck orders.

Analyst sentiment has cooled slightly a bit on the name after the big gains this year. Nine analysts rate it a "buy" and nine call it a "hold" or "underperform." The average 12-month price target of Wall Street is $107.67, which would represent an almost 7.7 percent return in 2011, not including the dividend. That’s not a double, but not too shabby with a 10-year Treasury note well under 4 percent.

For the best market insight, catch ‘Fast Money’ each night at 5pm ET and the ‘Halftime Report’ each afternoon at 12:30 ET on CNBC. 

Ref: http://www.cnbc.com/id/40862558

John Melloy is the Executive Producer of Fast Money. Before joining CNBC, he was an editor for Bloomberg News, overseeing the U.S. Stock Market coverage team.

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