January 27, 2012 / 12:42 PM / 6 years ago

Investors tune in to Philips outlook, TV sale

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - When Philips Electronics reports earnings on Monday, investors will be bracing themselves for developments on restructuring, costs cuts and whether the TV business will be sold in the first quarter.

A woman looks at flat screen TV sets in the Philips pavilion before the opening of the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin, August 31, 2011. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The world’s biggest lighting maker, warned investors earlier in January to expect a fourth-quarter hit at its lighting division and healthcare unit due to weak European consumer markets and inventories it was unable to shift.

Europe’s largest consumer electronics producer and a top-three maker of hospital equipment, has been hammered by rising raw material costs, sagging consumer confidence, sluggish construction markets and government budget cuts in the healthcare sector.

Given the most recent profit warning, the market isn’t expecting any surprises when Philips reports fourth-quarter numbers on Monday.

Investors will instead be looking for Chief Executive Officer Frans van Houten’s insight into market conditions in Europe and North America and when to expect results from recently undertaken restructurings and cost cuts.

They also want assurances from him that the sale of the TV business, which still needs to be approved by Hong Kong-based TPV shareholders and regulators, won’t be scuppered. TPV is holding an exceptional shareholder meeting on February 22 to vote on the deal.

Since van Houten took the top job in April, he has issued two profit warnings, reset financial targets, slashed 4,500 jobs, seen several top executives replaced and tried to hive off the loss-making TV business.

The most recent profit warning, on January 10, gave investors advance notice that underlying profits fell by more than 40 percent and sales growth had slowed across its biggest divisions.

“The profit warning highlights weakness in all three of the firm’s divisions with Europe cited as the main culprit impacting demand in Healthcare and pricing in Consumer and Lighting,” said Mark Fielding, Citi Investment analyst.

Sales for the quarter were seen falling 10.3 percent to 6.627 billion euros ($8.72 billion), core profit was seen falling 42.3 percent to 504 million and net profit was seen down 99 percent to 2.2 million, according to analysts surveyed by Reuters.

The guidance for 2013 of 4-6 percent sales growth, 10-12 percent core profit and 12-14 percent return on invested capital was expected to be reiterated.

Philips also said earlier in January its free cash inflow for the fourth quarter will be around 1 billion euros compared to 1.2 billion euros in the same period in 2010.

($1=0.7601 euros)

Additional reporting by Donny Kwok in Hong Kong; Editing by Mike Nesbit

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