Aerospace and high-tech manufacturer Honeywell International Inc. (HON) on Wednesday reported an 8 percent increase in third-quarter profits behind double-digit growth in sales for three of the conglomerate's four business divisions.

The Morris Township-based company said profits were $372 million, or 43 cents per share, for the three months ending Sept. 30. That compares with $344 million, or 40 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The most recent quarter's profits were exactly where analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected them to be.

The most recent quarter marked the third in a row in which the company's profits were higher than the same quarter last year. The upward trend comes after a five-year stretch of shrinking profits.

Sales were $6.4 billion for the quarter, compared with $5.8 billion for the year-ago period.

Honeywell saw sales in its aerospace unit — the biggest of the company's divisions — increase by 11 percent, largely because commercial sales continued to rise as airlines rebounding from the industry-wide slump after the Sept. 11 attacks ordered more planes.

The profits would have been higher in the quarter if it weren't for a $105 million pension expense, $64 million in environmental cleanup costs and other litigation matters.

The company's profits were $17.5 billion, or $1.19 per share, up from $15.6 billion, or $1.07 per share, in the first nine months of 2003.

Sales for the first three quarters were $1 billion, up from $917 million for the first three quarters of 2003.