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said sales ticked higher in the third quarter, and its forecast for the full year remains intact, but the company's latest earnings missed analysts' estimates.

Sales for the third quarter ended June 30 totaled $3.57 billion, up slightly from $3.55 billion for the same period a year ago. The company earned $360 million, or 85 cents a share, up from $281 million, or 67 cents a share, last year.

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Emerson said the increase in earnings reflects a gain of $82 million, or 19 cents a share, from discontinued operations. Income from continuing operations for the quarter was 66 cents a share vs. 68 cents last year. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected 74 cents a share.

Third-quarter sales increases in the heating, ventilating, air conditioning and industrial automation businesses were largely offset by declines in the electronics, appliance, telecommunications and tools businesses. Underlying sales, which are adjusted to remove the impact of exchange rates, acquisitions and divestitures, fell almost 4% for the third quarter.

"Demand in the United States was down significantly during the quarter in many of the markets we serve, which adversely affects our overall margins," Chief Executive David N. Farr said in a press release. "I am pleased that even with underlying sales down, our focus on cost containment, restructuring, and key new products allowed us to improve our segment earnings in the third quarter versus the prior year period."

The company also said that while "underlying orders turned slightly positive in June and the overall pace of business appears to be strengthening, the underlying trends are mixed, providing an unclear signal for a recovery in demand."

Emerson said for fiscal 2003 it still expects earnings to be slightly above the $2.52 reported last fiscal year. Wall Street's consensus forecast is $2.49 for the year.