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Honeywell CEO Cote admits 'I was wrong' for not giving a better 2017 outlook

Abigail Stevenson

Jim Cramer was shocked when Honeywell (NYSE: HON), which has a huge assortment of businesses, saw its stock fall sharply in the beginning of October after management painted what was interpreted as a grim outlook for 2017.

Honeywell's CEO Dave Cote told the " Mad Money " host that perhaps the long-term message may have gotten lost in that presentation.

"I gave credit for people understanding what our long-term profile was. I was wrong," Cote said. "This is one where I could have done a significantly better job of communicating this story. We tried to do it in the context of 2017 is going to be good, but it seemed to get totally lost."

Honeywell released an updated presentation of the overall business on Thursday that painted a much brighter picture for the future.

Cote explained that instead of presenting the company's prospects in an overall package, the company attempted to explain the moving parts of the company.





Honeywell made some big moves this year. It tried and failed to take over United Technologies (NYSE: UTX), and then announced the sale of its Technology Solutions business and spun off its chemicals and resin business to create a new independent company called AdvanSix.

And while most of these moves were received well by Wall Street, investors were shaken when management adjusted its third-and-fourth-quarter 2016 and overall expectations.

"I have to tell you, I was astounded by the reaction," Cote said about the stock's 7 percent fall on Oct. 7 in response to the guidance.

Cramer noted that the presentation in the beginning of October addressed upfront the weakness in aerospace. Many investors associate Honeywell with aerospace, thus, they may have interpreted it as more of a dire situation than it actually was.

Cote said he agreed the aerospace industry is not as troubled, stating that while the bizjet market is declining, the commercial, defense and aerospace segments are doing fine. Honeywell also indicated in its updated presentation that the company's oil and gas business bottomed in the third quarter.

Cote rebuffed the theory that the company is squeezing the business to generate margins.

"I can understand how you might feel that way. I can understand feelings, but then you should at least search for some data that causes you to say that," Cote said.

Moving forward, Cote is transitioning the company's model to be less of a hardware model, with almost 50 percent of its engineers working to develop software. He added that based on the M&A profile of the company and its focus on technology and software, he thinks it is the best positioned industrial company when it comes to understanding the importance of physical and digital products.


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