Way back in 1912, Chicago financier Byron L. Smith placed an ad seeking an investment opportunity for “a growing manufacturing business.” Frank W. England, Paul B. Goddard, Oscar T. Hogg and Carl G. Olson all answered the ad, and together they formed a company designed to manufacture and sell metal-cutting tools.
A hundred years later, Illinois Tool Works (NYSE:ITW) sits in Glenview, Ill., now a fully diversified machinery company with 65,000 employees manufacturing industrial products and equipment. It has been quite an accomplishment for a company that expanded its original product line to include truck transmissions and pumps to help in the World War I effort, and the company has been innovating since its very first days.
Today, ITW consists of eight business segments: Transportation; Power Systems & Electronics; Industrial Packaging; Food Equipment; Construction Products; Polymers & Fluids; Decorative Surfaces; and All Other.
The company serves a wide range of industries and markets, including construction, general industrial, automotive, food institutional/restaurant and service, food and beverage, electronics, consumer durables and primary metals.
Patents and new product developments are the hallmark of ITW, and the company is a Fortune 200 company, boasting revenues of $18 billion and net income of close to $2 billion. ITW also has fantastic cash flows, providing the kind of liquidity necessary to continue its successful product innovations and growth.
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Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor of InvestorPlace. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.