Diversified U.S. manufacturer Honeywell International Inc posted a 15 percent profit drop that was far less severe than analysts had forecast, sending its shares higher in light premarket trading.

The world's biggest maker of cockpit electronics on Friday reported third-quarter profit of $608 million, or 80 cents per share, compared with $719 million, or 97 cents per share, a year earlier.

Earnings were boosted 4 cents per share by a lower-than-expected tax rate, though the company expects that to be offset in the fourth quarter.

Revenue fell 17 percent to $7.7 billion.

Analysts, on average, looked for profit of 72 cents per share on $7.88 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Its shares rose 2.3 percent to $39.40 in premarket trading.

Honeywell held its full-year profit target steady at $2.85 per share.

For the year, Wall Street expects profit of $2.78 per share.

The Morris Township, New Jersey-based company has faced declining demand for its thermostats and other control systems as commercial construction has slowed around the world. Its aviation unit has also been hit by declining air travel.

Honeywell has twice this year cut its profit forecast, first in April and again in July. As of July it expected to earn $2.85 per share for the year, well below its December forecast of $3.20 to $3.55 per share.

Much of corporate America revised its earnings targets in the first half of 2009, as it scrambled to keep up with a downturn that was faster and more severe than many executives had anticipated.

Its competitors include United Technologies Corp in aerospace and building control systems, Goodrich Corp in aviation and DuPont Co in specialty materials.

So far this year, Honeywell shares are up about 13 percent, lagging the 14 percent rise of the Standard & Poor's capital goods industry index <.GSPIC>.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Derek Caney)