Rockwell Automation boasts return-on-invested-capital of 31.5%

Rockwell Automation’s FY12 Q1 sales were up 8%, to $1.47 billion. The company’s release noted that it generated almost $211 million in free cash flow in the quarter—an impressive number, because it comes after Rockwell contributed $300 million to its pension trust and paid out bonuses based on 2011 performance.

Return-on-invested-capital in the quarter was 31.5%, Rockwell said. The company said FY12 sales would come in at $6.2 billion to $6.5 billion; FY11’s sales came in at almost precisely $6.0 billion.

Keith Nosbusch, chairman, CEO and president, spoke with market analysts about the company’s Q1 in a conference call. The following is an excerpt from the transcript:

Terry Darling – Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division
On the geographic discussion in terms of how the regions played out versus expectations. I’m wondering if you could give us a little more color on how you felt the U.S. performed up 8% versus expectations. And any timing issues that may be related there?

Keith D. Nosbusch
Sure. Well, the U.S. was strong, and we certainly think that at this point in the recovery, 8% year-over-year growth is very solid performance. We believe that MRO spending and medium and small project spending remain strong. There is also a continued strength of the OEM business here and their backlog continues to be strong, although limited in duration, but still continues to be operating at a reasonably high level. And we’re also seeing some strength in the heavy industries, oil and gas, in particular, and a little bit, although it’s a small market today, pulp and paper, has a little bit of strength in it. And transportation continues to remain strong, and we believe that will be a strong market throughout the year. And I think you’re seeing that in some of the commentary, particularly around the investments, that General Motors is planning to make over the short to mid-term.

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