NEW YORK, Jan 27 (Reuters) - As earnings season heats up, a slew of large multinational companies have posted disappointing results and outlooks with a common culprit to blame - a strong dollar.
The impact has crossed sectors, ranging from industrials to technology, affecting companies that garner a large portion of their sales from outside the United States.
After hitting a 6-1/2 month low in May, the dollar has surged nearly 20 percent against a basket of major currencies, putting companies that derive a large portion of their sales from overseas at risk as their products become more expensive for consumers in other currencies.
Microsoft, which gets nearly three-fourths of its revenue from overseas, also succumbed to pressure from the stronger dollar, although the tech giant did not specify the impact. Its shares plunged 10.4 percent to $42.11, the biggest drop since July 2013.
United Technologies, which gets about 62 percent of its sales from outside the United States, cut its 2015 full-year outlook due to the negative impact from the stronger dollar, sending its shares down more than 1.5 percent to $117 on Tuesday.
Fellow industrial 3M Co shed 0.1 percent to $164.02 after it posted lower quarterly results and reduced its 2015 outlook due to foreign exchange. The Post-It notes maker garners more than 60 percent of its sales from overseas.
"This is a slow motion crash," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
"A lot of these companies, their expenses are taken in the local currency where they are operating - sales, research and development, whatever their out of North America operations are, but then when you roll them back up, it takes a couple of quarters for this to actually be shown."
Other notables names citing currency headwinds so far in the earnings season include Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and IBM.
Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Dan Grebler