"No news is good news," goes the old saying -- a sentiment that investors in Morgan Stanley
Once upon a time, investors hoped for "guidance hikes" when their companies spoke to earnings before earnings were actually due. These days, they're happy just to hear United Technologies (UTC) reiterate the same news it told us last month: Business is good, and profits are still expected to come in within the previously stated range of $4.15 to $4.25 per share.
Jawing with analysts at the CIBC World Markets Industrials Conference up in New York City on Tuesday, COO Louis Chenevert apparently allayed investor concerns regarding a weakening U.S. economy's effect on his company's fortunes. Emphasizing the firm's geographical diversification, with more than 60% of revenues coming from outside U.S. borders, Chenevert argued that business in emerging markets such as India could offset any feared weakness here at home. The Indian summers can be scorchers, and Chenevert sees big opportunities in subcontinental swelter for UTC's Carrier air conditioning division. Chenevert also allayed concerns regarding the slowing U.S. defense spending we've seen at firms like General Dynamics
Most interesting of all, perhaps, was Chenevert's comment that he's very interested in working down inventories at UTC. As faithful Fool readers will recall, this is a theme that's been touched upon before by UTC CEO George David. The fact that Chenevert is still talking about it this week tells me two things: that inventories remain a problem, months after David last addressed them as such; and that we want to look carefully at whether any progress at all has been made on inventories, when UTC reports its Q3 numbers in two weeks.
How much confidence does UTC have that things will go as planned? At least $2 billion worth of confidence.