Feb 11 (Reuters) - Ingersoll-Rand Plc, the maker of Trane air conditioners and Thermo King mobile refrigeration units, forecast first-quarter profit below analysts’ estimates, hurt partly by weak U.S. construction spending in a colder-than-usual winter.
The diversified U.S. manufacturer forecast first-quarter adjusted earnings of 23-28 cents per share, below the average analyst forecast of a profit of 34 cents per share.
Construction spending barely rose in December and U.S. manufacturing activity slowed sharply in January on the back of the biggest drop in new orders in 33 years.
“Most investors have expected a conservative guide from IR (Ingersoll-Rand) at this point, though this may be a little lower than expected,” Jefferies & Co analyst Steve Volkmann wrote in a note.
Ingersoll is more sensitive than other U.S. industrials to the housing and commercial construction markets as they account for about 60 percent of the company’s annual revenue.
A recovering U.S. housing market and strong construction spending in October and November boosted demand for Ingersoll’s heating and cooling systems in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.
Revenue at the company’s climate solutions business rose 8 percent to $2.32 billion.
Total revenue rose 6 percent to $3.10 billion. Analysts on average had forecast $3.03 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company’s net income from continuing operations attributable to common shareholders more than halved to $77.7 million, or 26 cents per share, from $162.1 million, or 53 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items related to the spin-off of its security business, Allegion Plc, Ingersoll earned 61 cents per share, in line with estimates.
Ingersoll’s shares were down 1 percent at $58.40 before the bell on Tuesday. They have risen 3.6 percent since Ingersoll completed the spin-off on Dec. 1, compared with a 0.33 percent decline in the broader S&P 500 index in the same period.