On the whole, the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average
Two diversified industrial giants, 3M
On the flip side, United Tech went a step further in addressing Europe's bleak situation, describing European markets as "awful" and stating, "We haven't seen anything that suggests we are going to see a sustainable recovery in Europe this year." Europe's woes have been built into many forecasts for 2012, however, so executives and analysts appear relatively unconcerned. Set the expectations low enough, and who knows -- you might be surprised.
The countries that concern investors the most are the ones that were supposed to show robust growth, notably emerging Asian economies and Brazil. Caterpillar
For American companies, China's economy still offers tremendous promise, and execution is more important than a slightly misguided forecast. American companies are performing well when you consider their European counterparts. Industrial conglomerate Siemens
Other European companies seem to be facing headwinds as well, and the outlook remains murky. Considering the uncertain environment, a company's outlook sometimes carries more weight than its recent results. Looking into the future, investors should focus on key metrics -- like backlog for a lot of industrials -- to see if companies can maintain their momentum. So far, the American conglomerates are finding pockets of growth even when China seems to be stepping on the brakes. A good bet is to stick with strong brands that have established themselves across the world. Our best analysts picked the best of the best in our special report, "3 American Companies Set to Dominate the World." Download a free copy for a limited time.
Isaac Pino does not own shares of the companies mentioned above. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating a diagonal call position in 3M. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.