HONEYWELL/

(REUTERS)

Honeywell Quarterly Results Narrowly Beat Views

Features Reuters

Honeywell International Inc reported a slightly better-than-expected quarterly profit, as an improving U.S. economy helped boost sales at the company's division that makes sensors, safety systems and airconditioning equipment.

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Sales in the company's automation and control business increased 2.8 percent, partially offseting a 5.8 percent decline in its aerospace business and helping total sales beat average analyst estimate.

Honeywell shares rose as much as 4.6 percent to a record $103.92 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The U.S. economy has been a source of strength for the company, Chief Financial Officer Tom Szlosek told Reuters.

"The U.S. actually was a nice high-growth region for us in the second half of the year," Szlosek said in an interview. "It was across the portfolio... I think the macros are looking up for the U.S."

Honeywell forecast earnings of $1.36-$1.41 per share on revenue of $9.4 billion-$9.6 billion for the first quarter.

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Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $1.40 per share on revenue of $9.76 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The U.S. economy managed to stay strong despite global weakness.

The International Monetary Fund predicted on Tuesday that growth in the United States would continue to strengthen in 2015, raising its growth projection to 3.6 percent from 3.1 percent.

Honeywell reported net sales of $10.27 billion in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. Analysts had expected $10.21 billion.

"Pleasingly, sales came in above expectations - small, but important since sales weakness has in the past been punished by the market," Morgan Stanley analyst Nigel Coe wrote in a note.

Sales from the company's aerospace business were hurt by discounts to aircraft makers and a strengthening dollar.

The dollar rose nearly 13 percent in 2014, its biggest yearly gain since 1997, when measured against a basket of major currencies. Honeywell gets more than half its total revenue from outside the United States.

Net income attributable to Honeywell rose about 1 percent to $956 million as the company had to pay less tax.

Tax expenses fell 30.7 percent to $329 million.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.43 per share, topping average analyst estimate of $1.42 per share.

Honeywell shares had risen 9.1 percent in the past year through Thursday, against a 11.8 percent rise in the S&P 500 Index.

(By Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Lewis Krauskopf; Writing by Sweta Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Joyjeet Das)