The U.S. manufacturer on Friday reported profit of 48 cents per share, excluding one-time items, below the 53 cents that analysts, on average, had expected, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
It also set a lower-than-expected first-quarter profit target, sending its shares down 6 percent to $31.90 in premarket trading.
They have a tendency to seem a little more optimistic in guidance, a little less in delivery, said Eli Lustgarten, an analyst at Longbow Securities. It is a weaker quarter, you have a weaker first quarter coming ... There is probably a little more skepticism.
The company warned that demand in its key market remained spotty.
We expect challenging U.S. and European nonresidential construction markets for most of the year, said Chief Executive Michael Lamach.
Overall sales fell 10 percent in the quarter, more so at Ingersoll's largest division, which sells commercial air conditioning, heating and refrigeration units -- which saw demand fall in every region of the world outside Asia.
Ingersoll's fourth-quarter net profit attributable to the company came to $139.4 million, or 42 cents share. A year earlier, it recorded a net loss of $3.29 billion, or $10.27 per share, including a $10.56-per-share charge related to a decline in the value of its air conditioning business.
Ingersoll set a first-quarter profit target of 10 to 15 cents per share.
Analysts had expected first-quarter profit of 38 cents per share, excluding items, on $3.02 billion in revenue.
The company, whose competitors include United Technologies Corp 's Carrier air conditioning unit, raised its full-year profit forecast.
It now forecasts 2010 earnings per share of $2.20 to $2.60, up from its October forecast of $2.00 to $2.40. The forecast excludes expected restructuring expenses of 25 cents per share.
Ingersoll, which makes cooling units for homes, businesses and vehicles, last week passed the CEO reins to insider Lamach from Herb Henkel, who had served in that role since 1999 and remains chairman.
The company, which maintains its physical headquarters in Piscataway, New Jersey, last year moved its incorporation to Ireland from Bermuda, a move intended to lower its tax bill.
As of Thursday's close, Ingersoll shares had more than doubled in value over the past year, sharply outpacing the 35 percent rise of the Standard & Poor's capital goods industry index.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Derek Caney and Gerald E. McCormick)