Cooper buy boosts Eaton Corp results

Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:30pm EDT

(Reuters) - Electrical and hydraulic systems maker Eaton Corp (ETN.N) reported a better-than-expected 28 percent rise in operating profit as its acquisition of Cooper Industries last year gave a jolt to its electrical business.

Eaton, whose shares were up as much as 6 percent in morning trade, has been hit by weak demand for auto and truck parts in Europe, which until the fourth quarter of 2012 had been dragging down results.

While the closing of Eaton's $11.8 billion purchase of Cooper Industries in November added to already-strong results in its electrical businesses in the United States, the company said it expected global demand to remain muted in 2013.

"We entered 2013 expecting it would be a year of subpar global economic growth. We continue to believe our markets will grow 2 to 3 percent in 2013, most likely toward the lower end of the range," Chief Executive Alexander Cutler said.

However, Cutler said he expected Eaton's acquisitions last year, along with recent restructuring initiatives, to drive results in 2013. He said he expected North American demand in the company's hydraulics and vehicles businesses to pick up towards the second half of the year.

The company kicked off a number of restructuring programs in the last three months of 2012 that primarily targeted its hydraulics, vehicles and aerospace businesses.

While the new Eaton is electrical-focused, "having one's arms around the cyclical segments (hydraulics and vehicles) ... should help to alleviate concerns that investors can still be hurt by a machinery miss," MKM Partners LLC analyst Joshua Pokrzywinski said.

Eaton said it expected operating earnings of $1.05 to $1.15 per share, excluding items, for the second quarter ending June. The forecast is largely below the $1.12 per share analysts had expected, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income rose to $380 million in the first quarter from $311 million a year earlier. However, earnings per share dropped to 79 cents from 91 cents, reflecting an increase in the number of shares outstanding.

Eaton reported operating earnings of 84 cents per share for the first quarter ended March. Overall sales jumped 34 percent to $5.31 billion. Analysts on average expected earnings of 79 cents per share on revenue of $5.42 billion.

Revenue in the electrical products business rose 87 percent to $1.67 billion in the first quarter. Sales in the electrical systems and services business rose 79 percent to $1.52 billion.

The electrical business, which comprises electrical products and electrical systems and services, makes fuses, explosion-proof electrical equipment and lighting fixtures, and accounts for about 60 percent of its total revenue.

Separately, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left intact a jury verdict against Eaton by declining to hear the company's appeal of antitrust claims made by a rival over the sale of heavy-truck transmissions.

Eaton's shares have gained almost 20 percent in the last 12 months, outperforming the S&P 500 .SPX index. The shares were up 4 percent at $60.99 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.

(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane)