Ah, earnings season … those few times a year when investors get to peek into the inner workings of their favorite companies and potentially see the value of their holdings explode or implode, depending on even the tiniest nuggets of news or rumors. Think of it as kind of like Christmas for investors -- sometimes you get the exact gift you want, and other times you get a lump of coal.
And in that vein, I want to examine the earnings bill of health of four of our most esteemed industrial conglomerates.
The General looked pretty impressive again, producing its fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings growth. The GE Capital, Healthcare, Transportation, Aviation, and Oil & Gas segments all contributed to the stellar performance. The company also grew its backlog to a record high of $189 billion. I can only really knock the company on the top line. Second-quarter revenue decreased 4% to $35.6 billion; however, excluding NBC-Universal, it grew at a 7% clip. Overall, things looked pretty impressive at GE this quarter.
- For more analysis on GE’s dominant quarter, see General Electric Doesn't Connect.
On Tuesday, Minneapolis-based 3M reported Q2 earnings per share of $1.60, up 3.9% from the same quarter a year ago. For the quarter, sales also increased 14.1% to $7.7 billion. Both organic sales growth and increased pricing power helped drive the higher figure. Better still, 3M saw revenue increasing across all geographic areas despite the Japanese disaster that eroded 2.4 percentage points of revenue growth. The company also saw sales growth across five of its six reporting segments during the period. In all, 3M's second quarter looks impressive no matter how you slice it.
- For further reading on 3M's inner workings, see: Why the Street Should Love 3M's Earnings.
Honeywell's second quarter seemed largely in line with the bullish results that most industrial conglomerates produced this earnings season. For Q2, Honeywell's revenue grew 15% to $9.1 billion, which sits pleasantly at the high end of previous guidance. Meanwhile, earnings per share jumped to $1.00, a 41% increase over the same quarter last year. The company enjoyed 8% organic growth resulting from new products, emerging-market growth, and strong end markets, all helping to drive these impressive results. Perhaps most inspiring, the company raised its fiscal 2011 guidance. Management says it now believes the company should earn somewhere between $3.85 and $4.00 per share, which works out to a cool increase of between 28% and 33% from last year's figures.
- To get a better idea of Honeywell's international initiatives, check out Honeywell Powers Up in India.
Siemens lagged its megacap brethren in its most recent quarter, yet the company saw several positives emerge. For its third quarter, revenue rose only 2% to $25.5 billion, but there were improvements in every geographic region to help drive its growth. Perhaps a sign of better days to come, orders for the company grew at an impressive 20% clip. In part because of those new orders, Siemens' backlog reached its highest level ever, now totaling a whopping $138 billion. CEO Peter Loscher reassured investors by saying, "We continued to grow … and are on track to reach our targets for fiscal 2011."
- For more analysis on Siemens, take a look at High-Priced Stocks Worth Every Penny.
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Fool contributor Andrew Tonner holds no position in any of the firms mentioned in this article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of 3M. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.