Kennametal Inc. (NYSE:KMT) is an industrial equipment manufacturer, particularly metal-cutting tools, drill bits, and other pieces of equipment where resistance to wear is required. These products are used in many end markets, primarily industry and construction. KMT operates in an oligopoly, and produces niche industrial products with few competitors, giving it pricing power in the market. Being an industrial supplier, however, means that the company's success depends on the health of industrial end markets. Any economic shocks in an industry using machine tools directly affects KMT returns, so when oil prices rise, for example, the expansion of the oilfield services industry leads to increased demand for KMT's tungsten-carbide tools. The company earned $2 billion in sales but incurred a net loss of $120 million in 2009.
End markets often reflect the state of the economy they operate in, so KMT has made several acquisitions and divestments to shift some of its dependence away from the U.S. economy and towards more international markets, in order to reduce its risk. Rising costs for materials like steel and tungsten affect the entire machine tools industry, and force Kennametal to raise prices or cut costs to avoid shrinking margins.(Read more at Wikinvest )