Auto Service World
News   October 16, 2002   by Auto Service World

Automotive and Truck Parts Lift Eaton Corp. Results

The automotive segment of Eaton Corp. continued to be a bright spot for the diversified manufacturer.
The company reports that its quarterly earnings more than doubled, lifted by stronger results from its car and truck parts sales.
The company, which also makes fluid power systems and industrial controls, reported net income in the third quarter rose to $93 million, or $1.30 a share, from $40 million, or 57 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $1.83 billion from $1.75 billion. All figures in U.S. dollars.
Cleveland-based Eaton also narrowed its estimates for fourth-quarter and full-year earnings, saying it expects its results to come in at the top end of analysts’ forecasts.
Analysts said the company expects little growth in its end markets during the first half of next year, with most gains coming in the latter half. They also warned that the company will face larger pension costs next year.
“With a bigger pension hit, a sloppy economy and concerns automotive could be a bit weaker, there’s a feeling Eaton will do fine but there’s concern about what that means, how fine is fine?” said Eli Lustgarten, an analyst with H.C. Wainwright.
In Eaton’s automotive segment, sales rose 13% to $383 million while operating profit rose 27% to $52 million. The company credited new products and higher North American vehicle production.
At the truck segment, sales increased 27% to $322 million and profit rose to $45 million from break-even a year earlier. North American heavy-duty truck product was up 67% as truckers bought new vehicles ahead of new, more stringent diesel engine emission standards effective Oct. 1.
The company’s shares fell 33 cents to $64.98 in midday trade on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has declined about 13% so far this year, while the Standard and Poor’s Index GSPMAC has dropped about 17%.
In the most recent quarter, Eaton had a one-time gain of 18 cents a share from the sale of its Navy Controls business and another gain of 22 cents a share as it stopped amortizing goodwill. Goodwill is the difference between the price paid to acquire a company and the fair value of its assets.
Those items were partly offset by 12 cents a share due to lower pension income and 9 cents a share for a contribution to the Eaton Charitable Fund.
Without those one-time items, third-quarter earnings would have been $90 million, or $1.26 a share, compared with $47 million, or 66 cents a share, a year earlier.
The results were in line with Eaton’s previous guidance. It had said on July 15 that earnings before items would be at the high end of analysts’ estimates, which ranged from $1.20 to $1.30 a share at the time.
Fluid power, the company’s largest segment, boosted sales by 2% to $609 million. Operating profit before restructuring costs rose 43% to $50 million.
In industrial and commercial controls, sales fell 8% to $506 million but would have been down 3% after adjusting for the recent sale of its Navy Controls business. Operating profit rose 7% to $49 million.
The company said it expects full-year operating earnings of $4.30 to $4.40 per share, with fourth-quarter income before items of 90 cents to $1.00.
It has been expected to earn 72 cents to $1.04 in the fourth quarter, with an average of 90 cents, according to market researcher Thomson First Call, For the full year, First Call estimates range from $4.00 to $4.40, with an average of $4.27.

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