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Can United Technologies (UTX) Beat Earnings Yet Again?

Diversified conglomerate United Technologies Corporation UTX is scheduled to report first-quarter 2016 results before the opening bell on Apr 27. In the last reported quarter, the company beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a couple of cents. On a trailing four-quarter basis, United Technologies boasts an average positive earnings surprise of 5.12%, successfully beating the estimates on every occasion. Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Key Factors in the First Quarter
United Technologies is continuing with its strategic initiatives to trim operating costs and restructure its portfolio to focus on the core businesses. These include an overhaul of its organizational structure in the aerospace business along with some key changes in the leadership positions. United Technologies anticipates that the streamlined organizational set up would enable it to better serve its customers. The strategic move is also expected to ensure a successful entry and production ramp-up of its Geared Turbofan engines to thwart intense competition from other established market players.  

During first-quarter 2016, United Technologies announced the opening of an 180,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Singapore, through its subsidiary P&W NGPF Manufacturing Company Singapore Pte Ltd. The new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, which is Pratt & Whitney’s first in Singapore, is expected to produce innovative hybrid metallic fan blades and turbine rotating components for the company's new PurePower Geared Turbofan engine family. The new facility is another major step in the company's strategy of creating and modernizing its manufacturing infrastructure with over $1 billion of investments globally. The increase in demand of these engines is likely to augment revenues.

However, United Technologies is highly exposed to the market price volatility and availability risks related to raw material supply across the globe. A disruption in deliveries from suppliers, supplier capacity constraints, contract manufacturer production disruptions, price changes, or decreased availability of raw materials could have an adverse effect on its ability to meet delivery schedule, thereby increasing operating costs. These headwinds look all the more potent with the strengthening of the U.S. dollar and the Fed interest rate hike.

During the quarter, United Technologies thwarted an acquisition bid by Honeywell Technologies, citing regulatory hurdles and monopolistic market. The news created market speculation about the possible merger of two blue-chip stocks into an industry behemoth and raised concerns about achievable synergies, management roles and cultural fit. Although United Technologies dispelled the rumors with a clear-cut stance, uncertainty regarding another possible buyout in the future could affect the revenues and earnings to some extent.

Earnings Whispers

Despite attempts to restructure its business, our proven model does not conclusively show that United Technologies is likely to beat earnings this quarter as it lacks the key components. A stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), #2 (Buy) or #3 (Hold) for this to happen. This is not the case here as you will see below:

Zacks ESP: Earnings ESP, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, is currently pegged at 0.00%.

Zacks Rank: United Technologies has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). The Sell-rated stocks (#4 and #5) should never be considered going into an earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.  

Stocks to Consider

Here are some companies you may want to consider as our model shows that these have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

First Bancorp FBP, earnings ESP of +12.50% and a Zacks Rank #2.

Crane Co. CR, earnings ESP of +1.16% and a Zacks Rank #2.

Canadian National Railway Company CNI, earnings ESP of +1.47% and a Zacks Rank #1.

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