Greetings, United Technologies
Following first-quarter earnings Thursday morning, UTC shares dropped abruptly, then got yanked right back up on Friday, and ended the week right where they sat before earnings came out.
Why all the drama? Honestly, I can't say. The news looked great to me. UTC earned a cool bill-yun dollars last quarter -- up 22% year over year, despite revenues rising just 12%. And by the time the effects of share buybacks materialized, per-share earnings had risen 26% to $1.03.
Not a bad start to the new year. New UTC CEO Louis Chenevert promises to "continue to deliver superior performance" in the year ahead. Growth, however, may vary among UTC's several businesses. Chenevert described UTC's Carrier HVAC and Fire & Security markets as hurt by the "weak" residential construction market. (I suspect homebuilders like Ryland
In contrast, flying at comfortable cruising altitude above the troubled homebuilding sector, UTC's commercial aerospace businesses look "solid," as did Textron's
Back up a sec: Louis who?
Oh, yes. If you hadn't heard, UTC has a new head honcho this quarter -- although he's not really "new" to anyone who knows the company. After many years at GM, Chenevert moved to UTC's Pratt & Whitney subsidiary 15 years ago, then inherited the COO's chair two years back.
Still, being the "new" guy, it's probably best not to make too many changes too quickly. For instance, Chenevert echoed his predecessor's prediction of double-digit profits growth ($4.65 to $4.85 per share) in 2008. The company is also predicting that free cash flow will equal or exceed net income.
Always welcome news, this announcement nonetheless comes in a quarter where we saw free cash flow undershoot net income by 35%. Here's hoping UTC's new boss can match actions to words over the coming quarters.
Catch up on the latest UTC news: