Philips Q1 profit up 80%
Royal Philips Electronics NV, the world’s largest maker of lights, yesterday said its first-quarter earnings rose sharply due to a deal with Sara Lee Corp in which Sara Lee licenses the rights to their jointly developed “Senseo” coffeemaker brand for nine years. Net profit was 248 million euros (US$327 million), up 80 percent from 137 million euros, including a net 160 million euros gain from the Sara Lee deal. Sales rose 6.7 percent to 5.61 billion euros, mostly due to a 9 percent sales increase at its healthcare equipment arm. The company added that Europe’s economy remains weak, but that its earnings could still improve in the second half of the year due to cost cutting.
Inflation surges to 5.2%
Singapore’s inflation accelerated more than economists estimated last month, justifying the central bank’s decision to tighten monetary policy this month. The consumer price index rose 5.2 percent from a year earlier, after climbing 4.6 percent in February, the Department of Statistics said in a statement yesterday. That exceeded the predictions of 17 of 18 economists in a Bloomberg News survey, where the median estimate was for a 4.7 percent increase. Core inflation rate was 2.9 percent last month. The Monetary Authority of Singapore recently raised its inflation forecast for this year, as it diverged from most other Asian central banks that have left borrowing costs unchanged or eased monetary policy in recent weeks.
Industrial sentiment falls
French industrial sentiment fell this month to remain below its long-term average, figures released yesterday by the national statistics office showed. The Insee office said that its confidence index of major French companies declined to 95 points this month from 98 last month, after revising the latter figure higher by two points. Sentiment remained therefore below the indicator’s long-term average of 100 points. On Friday, Insee data showed that French industrial orders had stagnated in February, with foreign orders 1.5 percent lower than in January.
Firms upbeat on economy
Companies are growing more upbeat about the US economy this year and plan to take on more workers as demand improves, a survey released yesterday in Washington showed. About 78 percent of businesses, the most in a year, project the world’s largest economy would expand more than 2 percent this year, according to the National Association for Business Economics’ survey. That compares with 65 percent in the group’s January report. About four in 10 firms, the most since July last year, said they expected employment to pick up in the next six months, showing businesses are looking beyond higher oil prices and Europe’s debt crisis. At the same time, 66 percent said they expected no change in prices in the next three months, indicating US Federal Reserve policymakers would have room to keep interest rates low to nurture the almost three-year-old expansion.
L’Oreal eyeing Cadum
France’s L’Oreal is interested in buying soap and baby products company Cadum in a deal that could be worth 200 million euros, Les Echos reported yesterday. L’Oreal CEO Jean-Paul Agon is looking to open exclusive negotiations with Milestone capital, a Franco-British investment fund that owns Cadum, the newspaper reported. Milestone acquired Cadum in 2007, investing 17.5 million euros in a leveraged buyout.