Philips warns of weak profit
Royal Philips Electronics NV yesterday warned that its fourth-quarter profits were worse than expected owing to a weak European market, making it harder to charge consumers as much as it wanted for light bulbs. Philips, the world’s largest lighting maker, is scheduled to report full earnings on Jan. 30. The company did not release profit or loss figures, but said free cash flow would be 1 billion euros (US$1.28 billion) versus 1.2 billion euros a year ago. Sales grew by a “mid single digit” amount, the company said.
Food lifts M&S’ sales
British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) yesterday said sales at its stores rose 0.5 percent in the final three months of last year, helped by a better-than-expected performance at its food unit. The group’s overall sales in Britain grew 0.5 percent in the 13 weeks to Dec. 31 compared with a year earlier, M&S said in a trading update published as much of Britain’s retail sector struggles to overcome a weak economic climate. Food sales rose 3 percent, above analyst expectations for a gain of 1.5 percent, according to Dow Jones Newswires. Sales of general merchandise, including clothing, dropped 1.8 percent in the period.
Cook likely topped pay list
Tim Cook could well end up being the highest-paid CEO in the US last year, after Apple Inc granted him 1 million restricted stock units in August for taking the reins shortly before co-founder Steve Jobs died. An Associated Press review of a securities filing shows Cook’s pay package was valued at US$378 million. The vast majority came in a grant of 1 million restricted stock units worth US$376 million at the time. Half of the stock units will vest in August 2016, the other half in August 2021. In comparison, Jobs accepted a US$1 annual salary for years and owned about 5.5 million shares, worth about US$2.3 billion today.
Siemens warns on earnings
German engineer Siemens said it would struggle to reach its full-year targets because the volatile global economy was forcing its clients to cut spending, German news Web site the Wall Street Journal Deutschland reported. Chief financial officer Joe Kaeser yesterday said it would require “tough work” to meet the company’s outlook, adding “our guidance is very ambitious.” Siemens has said it sees profit from continuing operations for its 2011/2012 year to September flat at 7.01 billion euros, excluding a 1 billion euro positive effect related to the exit from a nuclear power joint venture with French group Areva.
Economy flat in final quarter
The French economy was flat in the last three months of last year, the Bank of France said yesterday, confirming an earlier estimate amid concerns the eurozone debt crisis could spark a recession. The central bank said there was no growth between the third and fourth quarters of last year, an outcome which should allow the government to come very close to meeting its full-year target for a 1.5 percent expansion. Third-quarter growth came in at 0.3 percent, the national statistics institute INSEE said last month. On the basis of the third-quarter performance, the French economy should grow 1.7 percent growth for the year, it said.