U.S. growth offsets Europe's woes for some industrials

Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:46pm EDT
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By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - Some U.S. manufacturers shook off weak European demand in the latest quarter, with makers of products ranging from bulldozers to cars finding solid demand at home was enough to offset weakness abroad.

Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N: Quote), Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote), Boeing Co (BA.N: Quote) and Rockwell Automation Inc (ROK.N: Quote) reported earnings that topped Wall Street's expectations.

Caterpillar and Boeing raised their forecasts for the rest of the year, while Ford and Rockwell cut theirs, in part due to Europe's ongoing financial crisis.

Wednesday's earnings reports were less grim than a day earlier when United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N: Quote), printer maker Lexmark International Inc LXK.N and phone company AT&T Inc (T.N: Quote) warned that belt-tightening by their corporate customers was taking a toll on results.

"The U.S. has a few positive things going for it. There's a stronger currency, which will draw in investment, the housing sector is slowly repairing itself and commercial construction is still very tepid but that's not going to get worse and could become a positive," said Peter Klein, senior portfolio manager at Fifth Third Asset Management in Cleveland, Ohio.

"I don't think we're looking at a recession or a recessionary environment (in the United States), we're just looking at a really slow period," he said.

Sixty-five percent of the 195 companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index .SPX .INX that have reported earnings so far this quarter have topped Wall Street estimates, with earnings on average up 13.6 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. But the majority -- 59 percent -- have missed revenue forecasts, with mean revenue up just 3.9 percent.


A scratched and worn Caterpillar logo is pictured at the back of a bulldozer in the rental equipment yard of Holt Caterpillar, the largest Caterpillar dealer in the United States, in San Antonio, Texas March 19, 2012. REUTERS/Richard Carson