Rockwell Auto lifts low end of forecast as Europe, Asia improve

Wed Jan 29, 2014 7:44am EST

(Reuters) - Industrial automation company Rockwell Automation Inc (ROK.N) lifted the lower end of its 2014 forecast after reporting a 23 percent jump in first-quarter profit due to sales increases in Europe, Asia Pacific and the United States.

Rockwell, which makes motion control and machine safety systems and software, raised the low end of its earnings forecast to $6.00 per share from $5.95. It maintained the high end of the range at $6.35.

Analysts on average forecast earnings of $6.23 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales growth at Rockwell and its peers was rocky over the past two years as weak spending in Asia and Europe more than offset higher revenue from the United States.

However, revenue from Rockwell's Europe, Middle East and Africa operating region jumped 10 percent to $324.4 million in the first quarter ended December 31. Sales in Asia Pacific rose 5 percent.

"Sales in the United States were robust and I was pleased to see the Asia Pacific region return to growth," Chief Executive Keith Nosbusch said in a statement on Wednesday.

Rockwell's net income rose to $198.1 million, or $1.41 per share, from $161.4 million, or $1.14 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.47 per share, comfortably beating the average analyst estimate of $1.39.

Revenue rose 7 percent to $1.59 billion.

Rockwell shares have gained 28 percent in the past 12 months, outperforming the S&P 500 index .SPX, which has risen about 19 percent.

They closed at $115.01 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza)

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