WRAPUP 1-U.S. manufacturers top Street's profit forecasts

Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:02pm GMT

Quotes

   

* United Tech, Textron, Rockwell Auto top EPS views

* United Tech, Rockwell revenue light

* United Tech CFO sees "slow-growth world"

* Textron writes down golf mortgage portfolio

By Scott Malone and Nick Zieminski

Jan 25 (Reuters) - Three major U.S. manufacturers reported better-than-expected profit and stuck to their forecasts of earnings growth this year, with solid emerging market demand and a modest U.S. recovery offsetting weakness in Europe.

Both United Technologies Corp (UTX.N) and Rockwell Automation Inc (ROK.N) posted earnings that beat analysts' forecasts despite slightly missing revenue estimates, reflecting their focus on cost controls.

Textron Inc (TXT.N) posted earnings from continuing operations that beat expectations, but the world's largest maker of corporate jets took a loss in the quarter after a large charge to write down the value of golf course mortgages -- one of the company's last hangovers of the financial crisis.

United Tech, the world's largest maker of elevators and air conditioners, beat analysts' earnings forecasts by a penny even as revenue grew just 0.6 percent to $14.97 billion, $100 million short of forecasts , according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The shortfall reflected slowing Chinese elevator orders and a sharper-than-expected decline in demand in North America for air conditioning equipment, Chief Financial Officer Greg Hayes said in an interview.

"Overall, it was a very slow-growth fourth quarter," Hayes said.

United Tech and Rockwell reiterated their 2012 profit growth targets.

The shaky global economy -- and particularly Europe's debt crisis -- is taking a toll on big industrial companies' results. Germany's Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE) posted a sharper-than-expected drop in operating profit on Tuesday, and CEO Peter Loescher warned investors that he expected a tough year.

Likewise, General Electric Co (GE.N) on Friday reported a revenue decline that was sharper than Wall Street expected.

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TEXTRON TAKES A MULLIGAN

Textron reported a 7-cent-per-share net loss in the quarter after taking a number of charges, including 41 cents per share to write down the value of its golf mortgage portfolio.

That was a legacy of the company's prior efforts to diversify its finance arm into businesses other than providing loans to buyers of Textron-made jets, helicopters and other equipment.

Chief Executive Scott Donnelly has dramatically scaled back that operation, which took a heavy toll on Textron during the financial crisis.

Factoring out those charges, the maker of Cessna aircraft and Bell helicopters posted a profit of 49 cents per share, topping analysts' expection of 34 cents. Revenue came to $3.25 billion, modestly above forecasts.

The company set an initial 2012 target of profit from continuing operations of $1.80 to $2.00 per share, up from $1.31 in 2011. It said revenue would rise about 11 percent to $12.5 billion, helped by strong growth at Cessna and Bell.

"Although the guidance came in ahead of our estimate ... the operating performance was pretty much in line with our forecasts," wrote RBC Capital Markets analyst Robert Stallard, in a note to clients.

Rockwell reported a 22.1 percent rise in first-quarter profit to $183.3 million, or $1.27 per share, compared with $150.1 million, or $1.04 per share a year earlier. Analysts had expected $1.21 per share.

EUROPE STILL A DRAG

Emerson Electric Co (EMR.N) and TE Connectivity Ltd (TEL.N) reminded investors about Europe's economic weakness.

Emerson posted a slight improvement in trailing three-month orders, blaming Europe for lower orders in the company's network power business, which makes uninterruptible power systems and other products. Orders fell in the climate segment, reflecting weak global air conditioning markets.

Emerson, however, noted strong investment by oil and gas producers and said U.S. commercial construction was improving. [ID:nL2E8CP1ZS]

TE Connectivity, the company formerly called Tyco Electronics, said industrial markets were weak in Europe and Japan, as it reported disappointing profit and lowered full-year sales and profit forecasts.

United Tech shares were unchanged at $77.78 in premarket trading. Textron rose 8.8 percent to $23.51 from $21.61.

(Reporting By Scott Malone in Boston and Nick Zieminski in New York, additional reporting by Lynn Adler in New York; Editing by Derek Caney)

((scott.malone@thomsonreuters.com)(+1 617 856 4342)(Reuters Messaging: scott.malone.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: USA MANUFACTURING/RESULTS

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