Good Rockwell 3Q Numbers, and Keith Nosbusch Mounts Soapbox for Manufacturing

Have spent most of the day on the phone interviewing folks on various subjects. The morning began with a conference call announcing Rockwell Automation's 3Q 2010 results. Things are looking good for the Milwaukee-based company. The short take is this:

    * Revenue up 25 percent year over year and up 9 percent sequentially
    * Diluted EPS from continuing operations of $0.83
    * Company raises fiscal 2010 EPS guidance to $2.95 to $3.05 

Not bad in what Chairman and CEO Keith Nosbusch described as a global economy still burdened with a lot of uncertainty.

His estimates for Q4 reflect this: "We have performed very well in the early part of the recovery. Although macroeconomic conditions are uncertain, we are optimistic that the global recovery will continue. I am confident in our strategy and our ability to execute. We are well-positioned to take advantage of improving market conditions as we proceed through the cycle," he said.

The 3Q results make this optimism a good bit more than whistling in the dark. If nothing else, the manufacturing powerhouses of Asia, particularly China, where Rockwell is making serious inroads, will continue to fuel positive numbers for automation providers. Sales in the Rockwell's Asian markets were up 29% last quarter, 2% more than the 27% growth in North America.

The news release and complete results are available here.  

Our talk of Asian manufacturing success brought us around to the subject of the state of American manufacturing, one that is of obvious interest to Nosbusch. He and other big manufacturing names are becoming a lot more vocal about the need to revitalize American manufacturing. 

"We have to reinvigorate the country's understanding of importance of manufacturing and how it is a creator of wealth and high-paying jobs with great benefits. [Manufacturing] needs to develop a positive connotation. It is an important contributor to economic and other prosperity. It provides a great career with great opportunities for innovation."

Nosbusch admits the task is a complex one involving not just education or "buy American" programs, but a mix of business, academic and governmental initiatives involving everything from changing curricula to trade and tax policy.

The long form of Nosbusch's vision can be found in this PDF. It's worth the read. 

Meanwhile, some congresscritters are sitting up and taking notice. This news release from the office of Sander Levin (D-MI), chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, came out this morning. 

I'm deeply suspicious when the politicians start making laws about things they don't understand, but you know they're going to pass something, if for no other reason than to say they didn't ignore the issue. But we are the folks who do know something about this issue, and now is the time to let Mr. Levin and his colleagues know what's what, and what we think might be some sensible moves to keep American manufacturing in the game. If we don't give any input on an issue where we really do have an interest and expertise, we really shouldn't be whining later when everybody's interests but those of manufacturing get looked out for.  

Don't let Keith Nosbusch and a few others be voices crying in the wilderness. Who is better equipped to come up with plans for revitalizing American manufacturing than the folks actually doing the making of things?