Shares of Ingersoll-Rand (NYS: IR) hit a 52-week high yesterday. Let's look at how it got here and whether clear skies are ahead.

How it got here
Shares of Ingersoll-Rand have been recovering for the last year from a major drop and have finally reached a new peak. Operations are performing well with revenue rising slightly in the second quarter (excluding Hussmann) to $3.8 billion and adjusted earnings per share rising to $1.15 from $0.92 a year ago. But the stock's rise has been more about beating expectations than beating the company's previous results. The company has beaten earnings estimates by an average of 22% in the last three quarters, and shares have responded over that time.

While the stock has done well over the last nine months, Ingersoll-Rand hasn't been a great performer over the past five years. In fact, it hasn't performed well at all. The stock is down 4.1% compared to industrial equipment makers Caterpillar (NYS: CAT) , Deere & Company (NYS: DE) , and United Technologies (NYS: UTX) , who have all risen over that time.


IR Chart

IR data by YCharts

We can get a peak into the reason Ingersoll-Rand has underperformed long term below. The company isn't growing as quickly as Caterpillar or Deere and doesn't have a strong return on assets either.

Ingersoll-Rand 2.0 -6.6% 4.8% 12.8
Caterpillar 3.6 22.1% 6.7% 8.5
Deere 4.5 14.5% n/a 8.8
United Technologies 3.2 -4.6% 7.6% 12.4

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

But like I said, the expectations were low enough over the past year for the company to easily jump them, and that's why the stock has risen.

What's next?
So will Ingersoll-Rand continue to rise? If the economy continues to slowly improve, which I think it will, so with Ingersoll-Rand. But I think there are better ways to play the recovery.

Caterpillar and Deere have a better exposure to industrial market around the world and the U.S. agriculture market, where farmers will have strong profitability (if not yield). They're both also trading at lower forward P/E ratios and are growing quickly.

Before giving a ringing endorsement, I would like to see revenue growing faster and a better value in the stock in relation to peers. But our CAPS community disagrees and has given the stock a four-star rating (out of five). What do you think? Leave your thoughts in our comments section below.

Interested in reading more about Ingersoll-Rand? Click here to add it to My Watchlist, and My Watchlist will find all of our Foolish analysis on this stock.

The article How High Can Ingersoll-Rand Fly? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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