Diversified U.S. manufacturer United Technologies Corp posted a 20 percent rise in profit that topped Wall Street's expectations and ended a four-quarter streak of declines.

The world's largest maker of elevators and air conditioners raised the low end of its 2010 profit forecast, despite weaker-than-expected revenue, saying cost cuts were paying off and citing rising demand outside the United States.

In addition to strong cost traction, we are seeing broader improvement in order trends, especially in the emerging markets, said Chairman and Chief Executive Louis Chenevert. These order trends give us confidence organic growth will resume in the second half of this year.

First-quarter profit attributable to common shareholders came to $866 million, or 93 cents per diluted share, topping the 90 cents per share analysts had expected, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. A year earlier the company earned $722 million, or 78 cents per share.

Revenue fell 1.3 percent to $12.09 billion, below the $12.26 billion analysts had expected.

United Tech, which also makes Pratt & Whitney jet engines and Sikorsky helicopters, boosted the low end of its 2010 profit per share forecast, predicting a range of $4.50 to $4.65, up from a prior $4.40 to $4.65.

The Hartford, Connecticut-based company has started to see demand pick up for economically sensitive products like Carrier air conditioners, which are ordered on shorter notice than big-ticket items like aircraft engines.

Chenevert took on the chairmanship on January 1, completing a four-year transition of power from predecessor George David. An executive with a manufacturing pedigree, Chenevert last year oversaw an aggressive round of cost-cutting at the company, including shedding some 15,000 jobs.

United Tech shares are up about 56 percent over the past year, outpacing the 36 percent rise of the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI>, of which it is a component.

U.S. industrials have by and large beat Wall Street's expectations for the first quarter, with companies including General Electric Co , Eaton Corp and Harley-Davidson Inc reporting better-than-forecast profit, largely on the strength of demand from emerging markets like China, which have been quicker to pull out of a severe global recession.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Derek Caney and Gerald E. McCormick)