(Reuters) - Honeywell International Inc on Friday forecast full-year earnings in a range that was largely above analysts’ estimates, as the company benefited from robust demand for aircraft parts in a booming airline industry.
The company, which spun off its home and transportation businesses in the fourth quarter, said it was in a better position to focus on its more profitable businesses, including aerospace, as record orders for jets boosted demand for its aircraft parts.
Honeywell has also taken advantage of a boom in e-commerce as it sees rising sales of its warehouse automation equipment and software to customers such as Amazon.com Inc.
“We now have a simpler, more focused portfolio ... with about 60 percent of the (business) growing sales at or above 5 percent organically,” Chief Executive Officer Darius Adamczyk said.
Honeywell forecast 2019 earnings in the range of $7.80 and $8.10 per share, while analysts were estimating a profit of $7.88 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Adamczyk said Honeywell’s balance sheet was stronger post spin-offs and it had $14 billion in cash for possible acquisitions and share buybacks among other things. He, however, added that the company was not looking at “large” deals currently.
“The M&A pipeline is good, but we are conscious buyers, and we don’t like to overpay,” Adamczyk said.
Honeywell cautioned it was likely to grow at a slower rate in China this year, echoing downbeat sentiment at other manufacturing peers, including Caterpillar Inc and 3M Co, which have warned of a profit hit due to the country’s economic slowdown.
“We expect to grow in China in 2019 for certain. How much that’s going to be? Well, we’ll see,” Adamczyk said. Honeywell reported a 9 percent sales growth in the region last year.
Overall, analysts were upbeat about Honeywell’s ability to hit the top end of its full-year earnings forecast range, saying the company’s strong balance sheet would act as a cushion against geopolitical uncertainties such as potential additional tariffs and Brexit.
“As usual, we believe that Honeywell is sticking with its historical DNA to ‘under-promise, over-deliver’ and would expect that the ranges have a sufficient level of conservatism baked in,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Deane Dray said.
Excluding currency impacts, aerospace business sales rose 10 percent. Sales in the safety and productivity unit, which houses Honeywell’s warehouse automation business, grew 15 percent.
Excluding items, the company, which makes everything from jet engines to catalysts used in petroleum and refining, earned $1.91 per share, beating estimates of $1.89 per share
Net sales fell 10.3 percent to $9.73 billion, factoring the impact of the two divestitures.
Reporting by Divya R and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Anil D'Silva