September 20, 2012 / 6:43 PM / 5 years ago

United Tech CFO: Policymakers grasping at straws to fix economy

(Reuters) - The global economy is deteriorating with policymakers “grasping ... at straws” to solve the economic crisis in Europe, spur weak growth in the United States and manage China’s slowdown, a top executive at United Technologies Corp (UTX.N) said.

The world’s largest maker of elevators and air conditioners expects no improvement in the economy in the near future, and is counting on growth from its July takeover of aircraft components maker Goodrich Corp to boost earnings in 2013, United Tech Chief Financial Officer Greg Hayes said at an investor conference in Boston on Thursday that was monitored over the Internet.

“We’re still grasping a little bit at straws here in terms of how do we stabilize the global economy,” said Hayes, whose company also makes Pratt & Whitney jet engines and Sikorsky helicopters. “We still see downward pressure rather than recovery, I would say, in most of the global markets.”

The Hartford, Connecticut-based company still expects 2012 earnings to be roughly flat with last year’s level, in a range of $5.25 per share to $5.35 per share, with sales up about 5 percent to a range of $58 billion to $59 billion, he said.

“China has noticeably slowed down,” Hayes said, adding that current forecasts of 7 percent growth in the Chinese economy this year are “probably a stretch.”

His cautious tone mirrored the message of top executives at 3M Co (MMM.N) and Honeywell International Inc (HON.N), who on Wednesday said they too are facing weak demand in Europe and Asia.

    Hayes said the company had become less confident that demand would improve in 2013. United Tech won’t issue a formal 2013 forecast until December, but analysts on average expect earnings to rise by about 19 percent in 2013, reflecting the addition of Goodrich, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    United Tech shares were down 1.4 percent at $80.60 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Reporting By Scott Malone; editing by Carol Bishopric

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