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Will a leaner Carrier push the stock to all-time highs?

Carrier Global stock price

Carrier Global Corporation (NYSE: CARR) delivered its fourth quarter earnings on February 5, 2024. The results themselves were unremarkable. The company reported quarterly earnings per share (EPS) of 53 cents on revenue of $5.10 billion. The revenue was flat year-over-year (YOY), but the EPS came in 33% higher YOY. The company also delivered stronger than expected free cash flow performance of $829 million. 

However, the report is significant for current investors or those looking to get involved with CARR stock. That's because this was the last earnings report in which the company will have its security business, Global Access Solutions.  

Carrier completed the sale of that business unit as well as its Commercial Refrigeration business to Honeywell International Inc. (NASDAQ: HON) in December 2023. The company is bringing in approximately $4. 5 billion in net proceeds as a result of the two sales. And if that wasn't enough, the company has plans to sell its industrial fire businesses.  

If you're unfamiliar with Carrier, skimming through the earnings presentation helps you understand why the company is making these decisions. These are low-growth and non-core businesses. The company's exit will free up cash for debt reduction and potential share repurchases.  

That would allow the company to focus exclusively on its high-growth residential heating and cooling and heat pump businesses. 

Out with the old, in with the new 

In a separate move, Carrier completed its acquisition of Viessmann Climate Solutions. The company is considered to be the best company in Europe's residential hearing market and is launching new products for the European and North American markets. 

As the company cited when it first announced the Viessmann acquisition, Carrier is transitioning to be a pure-play, global leader in intelligent climate and energy solutions. 

CARR stock is a hold  

CARR stock has been rangebound since the earnings report. That is mainly due to a lack of clarity. Although the company is getting leaner, the two departing business units will still show up on the company's balance sheet for the first half of 2024. That means it may take a couple of quarters before investors get a feel for what a leaner Carrier looks like.  

That sentiment is showing up on the Carrier analyst ratings on MarketBeat. Analysts have a consensus Hold rating on CARR stock with a price target of $58.29, just 7.2% higher than the current price. However, if the stock hits that number, it would bump up against its all-time high, which has been a point of resistance for the stock.  

Carrier is trading at around 19.8x forward earnings, which is consistent with the 20.2x average of industrial stocks. However, you also have to factor in the company's dividend. The 1.4% yield is consistent with the sector average, and it's been growing at a 48% clip in the last three years. Plus, with the company expecting a 50 basis point increase in operating margins this year, that dividend may be moving higher.  

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