Speaking at the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Aviation, Transportation and Industrials Conference in New York on Wednesday, March 14, Honeywell Chief Financial Officer Tom Szlosek explained that bolt-on acquisitions remain a top source for company growth in a number of units.
"We have not taken our foot off the accelerator at all on that," Szlosek said. "The team is fully engaged."
The company said at an investor conference Feb. 28 that M&A would be among its biggest priorities for 2018 given an influx of cash at the hands of the U.S. tax reform overhaul, as TheStreet's Anders Keitz reported.
Bolt-on acquisitions are at the forefront of Honeywell's M&A strategy this year, CEO Darius Adamczyk said at the investor conference, noting that he reviews bolt-on deal ideas monthly.
The company said it has $21 billion in cash that's available to be spent over the next three years. Honeywell plans to bring back about $7 billion from overseas within the next 24 months, much of which could serve as dry powder for deals.
"This new global mobility of our cash allows us to continue investing in our businesses in the U.S., to pay competitive dividends, to more aggressively seek out M&A, particularly in the U.S.; and to repurchase our own shares," said Szlosek following the release of Honeywell's year-end earnings in January. "Our preference is for attractive bolt-on acquisitions and our core markets."
The first business segment Szlosek highlighted Wednesday was safety and productivity solutions (SPS). "We're right smack dab in the middle of the supply chain," Szlosek said. "We know the customers and we know the technology quite well."
As far as SPS is concerned, Honeywell is thinking mostly about bolt-on acquisitions but they could go as high as $2 billion to $3 billion, Szlosek said.
"The market that we're serving is much broader than just warehouse automation," Szlosek said. That means that Honeywell could consider both horizontal expansion and vertical expansion in warehouse software.
"I think SPS has a very robust set of opportunities. I would say the same thing about [performance materials and technologies (PMT)]."
But within PMT, "We don't need a megadeal to continue the trajectory and market position," Szlosek said. He noted that the back half of 2017 was particularly strong in that segment. "We're confident in 2018 and we see a bright horizon," Szlosek noted.
Szlosek also reaffirmed Honeywell's strong guidance issued earlier this year.
"As far as Q1 is concerned we're on track with the guide we provided," Szlosek added, highlighting 3% to 5% top-line growth, a commitment to free cash flow conversion of 100% and dividend growth that will mirror earnings growth.
Honeywell said earlier this year it expects first-quarter earnings to be between $1.87 and $1.93 a share and full-year earnings in the range of $7.75 to $8, excluding separation costs and any adjustments to the provisional charge related to tax legislation.
Free cash flow is expected to be between $5.2 billion and $5.9 billion. Sales for the year are estimated to be between $41.8 billion and $42.5 billion, which would represent 2% to 4% organic growth. Long term, the company is targeting organic growth of 3% to 5%.