Honeywell International Inc. plans to freeze hiring in the United States and other developed markets and reduce its reliance on short-term debt as it prepares for "recessionary conditions" in the U.S. and Europe next year.
Honeywell, based in Morris Township, N.J., has significant operations in Minnesota.
Chief Executive David Cote predicts "weaker economic conditions" through 2009. A unit sale allowed Honeywell to pay more than $300 million in environmental and production costs sooner than necessary, letting the company reduce the impact on next year's results.
Honeywell on Friday narrowed its 2008 profit forecast and trimmed its sales projection on concerns that demand for industrial products and aircraft and automotive parts may wane amid the worst U.S. financial crisis since the Great Depression. Cote is relying on cost-cutting measures and product and geographic diversity to preserve earnings growth next year.
"We applaud the actions," wrote Scott Davis, an analyst with Morgan Stanley in New York, who has a "neutral" rating on the stock. "It will not be immune from aerospace and commercial construction challenges, but its cost position will be better than most."
Shares of Honeywell, which posted third-quarter earnings Friday, declined $1.56, or 5 percent, to $29.37. The shares have lost 52 percent this year.
Net income climbed to $719 million, or 97 cents a share, from $618 million, or 81 cents, a year earlier, topping average analyst estimates of 95 cents compiled by Bloomberg. Sales gained 6.2 percent to $9.28 billion.
Profit for 2008 is now forecast to be $3.76 to $3.80 a share, narrower than the 10-cent range it gave in July. It expects revenue of $37.2 billion, below a prior forecast of $37.6 billion to $38.2 billion. Analysts, on average, expect $3.80 a share and $37.9 billion in sales.
Honeywell is implementing a hiring freeze in developed countries, including the U.S., and maintaining staff levels in emerging markets, such as China and India. Honeywell has about 122,000 employees.