Earnings: Xerox | United Technologies | Bank of America | DuPont

Xerox Profit Beats Expectations

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Xerox Corp. (XRX), the world's largest provider of office printers, copiers and related services, posted better-than-expected quarterly profit Tuesday, boosted by sales of its digital color systems and supplies.

Excluding costs related to restructuring, fourth-quarter profit was 38 cents a share, a penny better than the average forecast of analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.

The company, whose growth is driven by high-end printing and document-management services, said net income fell to $214 million, or 22 cents a share, from $282 million, or 27 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 3 percent to $4.38 billion. Equipment sales declined 1 percent, but post-sale revenue -- or sales of supplies and services -- increased 5 percent. Revenue from color products rose 13 percent.

Over the past three years, Xerox has grabbed market share with new digital printers and office systems, but it still struggles to boost equipment sales. However, it expects that over time its digital sales and services will yield higher profit margins.

The Stamford, Connecticut, company says sales of color printers yield five times the revenue of black-and-white systems, fueled by service contracts and supplies like paper and replacement ink and toner.

Xerox shares, which have risen 15 percent in the past 12 months, closed at $16.70 on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.

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United Tech Earnings Rise

BOSTON (Reuters) - Boosted by strong demand from the aerospace and commercial construction sectors, diversified manufacturer United Technologies Corp. (UTX) reported profit Tuesday that topped Wall Street's expectations.

The company, which makes products ranging from Pratt & Whitney jet engines to Otis elevators, reported fourth-quarter profit of $865 million, or 87 cents per share, compared with net income of $626 million, or 62 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, expected profit of 85 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

On a net basis, profit was up 38.2 percent. Factoring out a change in accounting standards, the company said it was up 20 percent.

Revenue came in at $12.79 billion, up 13.6 percent from $11.26 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected $12.19 billion.

"We believe we are well positioned for earnings increases in 2007, and especially on favorable compares at Carrier and Sikorsky," Chairman and Chief Executive George David said in a a statement. He confirmed the company's 2007 profit target of $4.05 to $4.20 per share.

While aviation has boosted the Hartford, Connecticut-based company, United Technologies said results at its Carrier air conditioner unit were hurt by a slowing U.S. housing market while Sikorsky, its helicopter operation, faced some operational problems.

United Technologies shares slipped 1.3 percent during the fourth quarter at a time when the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average, of which it is a component, rose 7.7 percent.

In 2006, the company bought back $2.07 billion in shares, saying it was spending less on acquisitions in the face of rising valuations. Last month the United Technologies board approved a plan to buy back about $4 billion in shares.

Bank of America Profit Up 47 Percent

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp. (BAC), the No. 2 U.S. bank, said Tuesday that fourth-quarter profit rose 47 percent, topping analysts' forecasts, helped by increased credit card fees and deposits.

Net income for the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company rose to $5.26 billion, or $1.16 per share, from $3.57 billion, or 88 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding merger costs, profit was $1.19 per share.

Analysts polled by Reuters Estimates on average forecast earnings of $1.18 per share.

Profit topped that of Citigroup Inc., the largest U.S. bank, which on Friday posted net income of $5.13 billion. Full-year net income of $21.13 billion exceeded Citigroup's (C) $19.8 billion of profit from continuing operations.

Bank of America's revenue rose 34 percent to $18.47 billion, topping the average $18.16 billion forecast. Noninterest expense rose 22 percent to $8.85 billion.

Results reflected the $34.2 billion acquisition of MBNA Corp. in January 2006. The purchase made Bank of America the largest U.S. credit card issuer.

Card services revenue more than doubled to $3.72 billion, helping push overall fees 66 percent higher, to $9.87 billion.

Lending income rose 9 percent to $8.6 billion, as net interest margin fell to 2.75 percent from 2.82 percent, but rose from 2.73 percent in the third quarter.

Bank of America shares closed Monday at $53.65 on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares had risen 22 percent in the last year, compared with a 15 percent gain in the Philadelphia KBW Bank Index.

CONSUMER BANKING GROWS

The company's consumer and small-business banking profit rose 44 percent to $2.53 billion as revenue jumped 46 percent to $10.63 billion.

Bank of America is selling cards through its 5,747 branches and building on MBNA's specialty in affinity cards, which let holders accrue points through cards imprinted with favorite organizations.

In the corporate and investment bank, profit rose 23 percent to $1.57 billion, as a 38 percent gain in investment banking income offset the third straight quarter-over-quarter decline in trading profit.

Credit quality weakened from the third quarter. The bank set aside $1.57 billion for credit losses, up 34 percent from the third quarter, and net chargeoffs rose 11 percent to $1.42 billion.

Net loans and leases rose 23 percent to $697.5 billion, deposits rose 9 percent to $693.5 billion, and assets rose 13 percent to $1.46 trillion.

DuPont Profit Meets Expectations

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chemical maker DuPont Co. (DD) Tuesday reported higher fourth-quarter earnings, boosted by a jump in coating profits and a $449 million gain linked mostly to tax settlements and insurance recoveries.

Net income rose to $871 million, or 94 cents a share, from $154 million, or 16 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding significant items, earnings increased to 45 cents per share from 13 cents.

The profit matched analysts' average forecast of 45 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue climbed 8 percent to $6.3 billion. About half that increase was due to higher sales prices and currency effects, the company said.

Worldwide sales volumes grew by 4 percent, primarily from increases in engineering and packaging polymers, elastomers and crop protection and seed products outside the United States.

The Coatings and Color Technologies unit posted an operating profit of $282 million, up from $153 million a year earlier, when it suffered from the impact of Hurricane Katrina.

Coatings also saw a 31 percent jump in the sales of the pigment titanium dioxide and a gain on the sale of assets.

However, losses at the Agriculture and Nutrition business widened to $350 million from $272 million due to seasonal weakness as well as a $194 million restructuring charge.

Shares of DuPont, whose products range from Kevlar suits to hybrid seeds, have risen about 27 percent in the last six months, outstripping a 19 percent gain for the Standard and Poor's Chemicals Index.

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