United Technologies, manufacturer of jet engines, elevators, and products for the aerospace and building sectors, is expected to report fourth-quarter profit growth as sales of jet engines and elevators more than offset declining safety equipment revenue.

But analysts and United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX), which releases fourth-quarter and full-year 2011 results Wednesday before the market opens, expect flat growth or even a step back in 2012.

Analysts polled by Zacks forecast a fourth-quarter profit of $1.46 per share, up 9 percent from the same period last year when the company reported profit of $1.34 per share. Fourth-quarter revenue is expected to jump 1.4 percent to $15.07 billion, up from $14.86 billion.  

Full-year earnings per share are expected to be $5.47, identical to the company's own forecast, and revenue is expected to be $58.34 billion. 

Revenue and profit have climbed for the past three quarters, and so have the bullish expectations of analysts. According to Zacks, almost 80 percent of analysts now rate United's stock as a Buy, which outpaces competitors like Boeing, Honeywell International and General Electric, whose fourth-quarter earnings fell 18 percent.

But United Technologies has reported double-digit profit boosts in the past three quarters -- including 16.9 percent in the first quarter, 18.7 percent in the second quarter and 13 percent in the third quarter. In fact, United boosted its yearend profit forecast three times in the year. And analysts expect that to have continued in the fourth quarter along the same lines -- increases in orders and revenue across its jet engine, heating and cooling and aerospace sectors. Those stronger sales contrast with declining sales of safety equipment, analysts said.

In the third quarter, United's new equipment orders rose 19 percent from the year-ago period helped by a favorable currency exchange on exports, following a trend from the previous two quarters.

United has also seen its revenue increase throughout 2011.

United's report Wednesday will shed light on whether an improving U.S. dollar is taking away from the company's exports to overseas companies. United relies on deals outside of the U.S. for more than 60 percent of its sales.

But dilution from its acquisition of Goodrich Corp. and concerns about the European market led some analysts to cautious estimates for 2012.

All in, we think there is upside to management's estimate ... but it's still early, 2012 has many moving parts, and potential upside may take time, Barclays Capital analyst Joseph Campbell wrote in a research report in December.

Shares of United Technologies rose 47 cents to $77.27 in midday trading.