Honeywell (NYSE:HON) is clearly one of the more diversified companies operating in the U.S. today. From aerospace systems, to specialty materials (primarily chemicals), and on to automation and control solutions, the company ranges far and wide. Perhaps that diversity helped the company turn in results that were better than both what the dart-throwers on Wall Street had forecast and what most business scribes seemed willing to admit.

For the quarter, the company earned $608 million, or $0.80 per share. Those numbers were down from $719 million, or $0.97 per share, a year ago. Revenues for the period slipped to $7.7 billion, or 17% below the same quarter of 2008. Still, with the help of $200 million in cost savings, Honeywell managed to beat the Street's consensus estimate by $0.08 per share.

While we'd all prefer to see ascending numbers, Honeywell followed the likes of Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW), DuPont (NYSE:DD), and 3M (NYSE:MMM) in producing metrics that, if not spectacular, qualify as acceptable given economic circumstances. Let's take a quick trip through the company's diverse sectors and consider how each weathered the quarter.

The Aerospace unit, whose customers include Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Textron (NYSE:TXT), watched its sales slide by 16% year on year, primarily as a result of commercial aerospace. Among other wins during the quarter, the company was awarded a $185 million contract from the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense.

Automation and Control Solutions experienced a 14% sales decline, largely as a result of the soft economy and negative foreign exchange impact. However, margins for the unit did increase by 180 basis points thanks to cost-savings programs, and profit ticked up slightly from 2008.

Revenue for the Transportation Systems unit fell by 24% as sales of global original equipment were reduced and unfavorable foreign exchange results took their toll. Income also took the largest hit of any group, down 39% year over year. During the quarter, the company launched a gasoline turbocharging technology on BMW's 7-series and X6 automobiles.

Finally, profit remained flat as sales were down 23% in Specialty Materials, thanks to the combined impact of lower volumes and higher costs for some raw materials. The segment was boosted by the 600,000 gallons of renewable jet fuel that subsidiary UOP will deliver to both the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

But back to the numbers for other signs of the company's relative success. As CEO Dave Cote noted during his conference call: "In the quarter we generated over $1 billion of free cash flow with working capital a major driver. Having generated $2.3 billion of free cash flow year to date, we are confident in our cash performance." Cote also reiterated a prior EPS forecast of about $2.85 for the year, on sales of $31 billion.

In addition to the strength that diversity provides, I'm betting that a real economic turnaround could do wonders for this solid company.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in the companies named above. 3M is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. David welcomes your comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.