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Emerson Electric Gains on Growth Forecast

Updated from 10:42 a.m. EDT with comments from company conference call

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Emerson Electric (EMR) shares leveled off late Tuesday after surging past competitors earlier in the session as CEO David Farr warned in the conference call to investors that he expected the fiscal first quarter of 2012 to be "challenging."

Shares of the St. Louis-based industrial conglomerate closed at $48.31, up 19 cents, or 0.4% on Tuesday after the company touted well-positioned business segments to offset slow macroeconomic growth in the United States and Europe moving forward in 2012.

"It was a good year, it was a challenging year, it was a record year on many levels -- it was not the easiest year of my 11 years as CEO," Farr said on the conference call.

Emerson posted a fourth-quarter 2011 profit of $761 million, or $1.01 a share, on revenue of $6.55 billion, which were up against fourth-quarter 2011 profit of $749 million, or 98 cents a share, and $5.84 billion in revenue.

An average of analyst forecasts expected 96 cents a share on $6.59 billion in revenue.

Farr said that Emerson's climate technologies segment hurt them in the fiscal fourth quarter and that he expected it to continue to be "very challenging in the first half of 2012 and "moderate" recovery in the second half.

"Record profit margin during the fourth quarter was achieved despite significant headwinds," CEO David Farr said in a statement. "This level of profitability performance provides evidence of our success in repositioning Emerson in higher-margin businesses and executing through operational challenges."

Competitors Honeywell International (HON), General Electric (GE), ESCO Technologies (ESE) and others sank further into the red on Tuesday.

Though Emerson cited ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty and minimal-to-zero growth in Europe, the company said that its mix of businesses would help carry solid momentum to meet difficult challenges in 2012.

Emerson said it was confident in growth next year because of its high emerging market participation, record backlog, strong cash generation and profitability.

The company said that it expected reported sales growth of 4% to 6% next eyear, an operating profit margin of about 18% and earnings per share growth between 8% and 12%.

"Concerns over the U.S. and European economies continue, but in the face of that uncertainty, our strong finish to fiscal 2011 provides excellent momentum into next year," said Farr.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

>To contact the writer, click here: Joe Deaux.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to: http://twitter.com/JoeDeaux.

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