UPDATE 2-Honeywell forecasts 2018 profit range below estimates, shares slip

(Recasts lead; adds profit, sales forecast, background and updates share price)

Dec 13 (Reuters) - Honeywell International Inc on Wednesday forecast a profit range for 2018 below Wall Street estimates, sending its shares down in pre-market trade.

The U.S. industrial conglomerate expects 2018 earnings per share of $7.55-$7.80. Analysts on average expected a profit of $7.79 per share in 2018, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Honeywell's shares slipped 1.3 percent to $151.70.

The company said it expects 2017 fourth-quarter earnings at the top of its previous guidance and raised its forecast for both quarterly and full-year 2017 sales.

Honeywell, which makes industrial equipment, said final quarter earnings should come in at around $1.84 per share, excluding separation costs, compared to its previous guidance of $1.79-$1.84 per share.

It forecast 2017 profit of $7.10 a share, compared with $7.05-$7.10, previously.

Honeywell said it expected 2017 sales of $40.6 billion, up from its previous forecast of $40.2 billion to $40.4 billion.

For next year, Honeywell sees new investments, products and restructuring efforts driving growth.

Honeywell said in October it would spin off its homes and global distribution and transportation systems businesses. On Wednesday it said those deals may be completed by the end of the year. The two businesses have $7.5 billion in annual revenue.

The company said it was targeting free cash flow of more than 20 percent and would buy back nearly $1.5 billion of its shares.

It reiterated that "M&A remains a top priority."

In September, the company announced plans to increase its annual divided by 12 percent. (Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Patrick Graham, Bernard Orr)