UTX Earnings Lack GE Oomph, a Set-Up for 3M

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United Technologies Corp. (UTX) reported third-quarter results before markets opened Tuesday morning, and the results were just okay. Profit up 1.2%, earnings per share (EPS) better than the consensus estimate, while revenue missed estimates by about $1 billion.

The company lowered its full-year revenue by $1 billion, but did raise the low end of its guidance by $0.10 and is now projecting full-year EPS of $6.10 to $6.15. Since our review of the conglomerates last month, United Tech has posted a new 52-week high above $112, before falling below $107 again.

3M Corp. (MMM) reports earnings on Thursday and is expected to post EPS of $1.75 on revenues of $7.85 billion. Compared with a year ago, EPS is forecast down and revenues are forecast about $350 million higher. Like United Tech, since mid-September 3M has posted a new 52-week high above $123 a share, above the consensus price target of $122.60.

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For 3M, the question is whether it will follow the lead of United Tech and see its results weigh down the share price, or it will follow General Electric Co. (GE), which posted a new 52-week high on the day it reported third-quarter results and has continued to climb since. The tea leaves favor the United Tech path.

Shares of United Technologies were down 0.1% a few minutes after Tuesday's opening bell, at $107.52 in a 52-week range of $74.44 to $112.46.

3M shares were up 0.2% at $123.51, after hitting a new 52-week high of $123.56 in the first few minutes of trading. The low is $86.74.

GE opened sharply higher but fell back to down fractionally, at $26.11 in a 52-week range of $19.87 to $26.35.

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