TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Aerospace and high-tech manufacturer Honeywell International posted a 3 percent increase in fourth-quarter profits Friday, citing stronger sales fueled in part by increased air travel.
The maker of aerospace products, building control technologies and automotive products reported net income of $419 million, or 49 cents per share. That matched the consensus forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.
A year ago, the Morris Township-based company posted a $407 million profit, or 47 cents per share.
Revenues totaled $6.64 billion, up 7.3 percent from $6.19 billion a year earlier.
"It was a good, solid quarter but it was expected," said Paul Nisbet, an aerospace analyst with JSA Research Inc. in Newport, R.I. "They didn't surprise anyone on the upside and certainly didn't disappoint either."
Honeywell's aerospace division - the company's largest - saw sales increase 7 percent to $2.52 billion for the fourth quarter and rise 11 percent to $9.74 billion for 2004. Global flying hours were up 9 percent last year, chief financial officer Dave Anderson said.
"We've seen a real recovery in passenger demand for air travel and so we're benefiting from that," he said. "Of course the other thing we're benefiting from are the products we've recently introduced, which are largely in the cockpit."
Honeywell on Friday raised its 2005 earnings per share forecast to $1.95 to $2.05 from $1.90 to $2, partly because of strong order rates. Analysts have predicted earnings per share of $1.98 to $2.08 for 2005.
The guidance does not include the pending acquisition of British industrial holding company Novar PLC, which the companies announced last month, officials said. Honeywell is currently awaiting approval from European regulators.
"We're on track and we hope to close the deal by the end of the first quarter," Anderson said.
Novar has three divisions, including a building-security and fire-alarms sector that Honeywell officials said fits well with the company's existing businesses. Honeywell will potentially look to sell Novar's two other, noncore businesses, officials said Friday.
Honeywell said its transportation systems division saw sales increase 13 percent, while specialty materials and the automation and control solutions divisions saw sales increases of 9 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
Company officials also said Friday that they had paid $82 million in severance costs associated with previously announced job cuts. Honeywell's global staff was reduced by 2,200 employees last year. The company has more than 108,000 employees worldwide.
For all of 2004, the company posted net income of $1.45 billion or $1.68 per share. In 2003, the company reported a profit of $1.32 billion, or $1.54 a share. Revenues for 2004 were up 10.8 percent, to $25.6 billion from $23.1 billion the prior year.
Honeywell shares were down 60 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $35.43 in morning trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.