(Corrects sales to billions from millions in fourth paragraph)
* Q2 EPS ex-items of $0.83 vs $0.84 estimate
* Company blames taxes for shortfall
* Q2 sales rose 20 percent to $ 4.08 billion
CHICAGO, July 20 (Reuters) - Illinois Tool Works Inc (ITW.N) reported improved quarterly results on Tuesday, driven by especially strong demand for automotive, industrial packaging and welding products.
But the results came in a penny per share shy of expectations, pulled down by a higher tax rate than the company had forecast.
The diversified manufacturer posted a second-quarter profit of $420.8 million, or 83 cents a share, up from $176.6 million, or 35 cents a share, a year before.
Sales at the company, which makes everything from industrial fasteners and adhesives to professional kitchen equipment, rose 20.1 percent to $4.08 billion.
But the results were slightly lower than the 84 cents a share analysts, on average, had expected the Glenview, Illinois company to report.
Illinois Tool blamed the shortfall on taxes, saying its second-quarter tax rate of 31.6 percent was 260 basis points higher than it had forecasted and cost it about 3 cents a share in lost earnings. (Reporting by James B. Kelleher, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)