Profits at Eaton ( ETN), the maker of power-management equipment and components, have been gutted. Still, as has been the trend this earnings seasons, the Cleveland company managed to exceed analysts' estimates, sending the company's stock spiking 8%, or $3.74, to $48.69 in morning trading Monday. Before the bell, Eaton said it earned 89% less in the second quarter than it did a year ago. Excluding acquisition charges taken during both periods, Eaton said operating earnings came to $39 million, or 23 cents a share, above analysts' expectations of 17 cents. A year ago, the company had operating earnings of $344 million, or $2.10 a share. Sales, meanwhile, fell 32% to $2.9 billion, $100 million lower than what the company had been predicting for itself in the second quarter, Eaton said. It also made some ominous remarks regarding the rest of the year -- a sentiment that evidently did not concern investors, judging by Monday's trading. "As we survey our end markets, the year is shaping up to be considerably weaker than we had forecast in April," Eaton chief Alexander Cutler said in a prepared statement. "We now anticipate our overall end markets will decline by between 21% and 22% versus our earlier forecast of a decline between 15% and 16%." Cutler said Eaton was, therefore, "lowering" its estimates for full-year 2009 operating earnings (which exclude charges) to a range between $2 and $2.20 a share.
But Cutler's cautious tone did not seem to jibe with the company's EPS guidance numbers. (There was perhaps an element of expectations-management in his remarks.) Eaton's reduced estimates for the year were actually higher than analysts' consensus targets of $1.90 a share. Eaton projected third-quarter operating earnings at 90 cents a share to $1 -- also above analysts' targets of 89 cents.