Blizzards. Deep snows. Cold temperatures. This weather forecast for the winter ought to warm up at least one business, the Toro Company, the country's largest manufacturer of snow blowers. And investors in the past few weeks, mindful of forecasts of a snowy winter, have snowballed the stock from 57/8 to 75/8.Skip to next paragraph
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Analysts who follow the company say it might be premature for investors to shovel their money into it. Morton L. Siegel, a senior industry analyst at the Value Line Investment Survey, says that even a snowy winter won't help profits, since the company remains buried under a huge inventory of snow blowers.
Worse than a January thaw for Toro, Honda has begun to market snow blowers. Mr. Siegel says it's likely the Japanese manufacturer will try to cut itself into the already ''lousy'' market. Toro, he expects, will react quickly and try to freeze Honda out of the market.
Mr. Siegel says another problem for Toro is the fact that so much of the ''snow belt'' is economically depressed. ''Cleveland, Fort Wayne,'' he says, ''they are all disaster areas, and while $100 for a snow blower may not be much for a guy with a job, you won't spend it while you've got a strong back and a shovel if you are unemployed.''
In short, according to Siegel, investors plunking down their money on Toro stock at this time are - you guessed it - standing on a slippery slope.