United Tech Earnings Catch Up to Shares, and Peers (UTX, GE, MMM)

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United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) is looking like another conglomerate winner.  The company beat earnings estimates, gave positive commentary, and reiterated guidance.  The news, though, was mostly priced into the stock.

As far as earnings, United Tech reported $1.31 EPS versus the Thomson Reuters consensus of $1.29 EPS and the 6% gain in revenues to $14.86 billion compares to $14.75 billion expected.  For all of 2011, United Tech sees $5.05 to 5.35 EPS versus $5.33 estimates and its sees 2011 revenues of $56 billion to $57 billion versus $56.93 billion estimates.

The company’s shares closed at $81.72 on Tuesday, which is an all-time high.  Shares were under $75 just 90 days ago and shares were under $65 as recently as the end of August. It noted that it sees cash flow from operations (less cap-ex) to again meet or exceed net income to holders in 2011. Share repurchases is expected to be $2.5 billion and the acquisition amount was put at another $1.5 billion.

This week came earnings from 3M Co. (NYSE: MMM) and its net income was down under 1% to $1.28 EPS or $928 million versus $1.27 estimates.  The problem with the earnings beat is that it came on lower tax rates and the company is delaying some cap-ex spending in part on pension costs.  Shares fell to $88.50 on Tuesday after earnings versus a $90.32 close on Monday.

The key difference here was General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE).  GE beat earnings forecasts, said its core businesses were improving, continued to show gains in its financial operations, and more when it reported earnings last week.  Shares jumped to $19.74 on Friday after beating earnings versus $18.43 the day before, and shares closed at $19.98 on Monday.

United Technologies did not exactly do anything wrong.  Its only sin was that the good news was already priced in.  It should consider itself lucky as the stock is down only 0.4% at $81.41 right after the open and trading volume is not exactly robust at 300,000 shares versus 3.6+ million shares on average.

JON C. OGG