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Siemens results hit by weak healthcare unit

Shareholder arrives for Siemens annual shareholders meeting in Munich
Shareholder arrives for Siemens annual shareholders meeting in Munich

By Jens Hack

MUNICH (Reuters) - Siemens AG , Europe's largest engineering group, cautioned that global economic risks were increasing as its healthcare unit dragged quarterly results below expectations.

But the company, whose products range from hearing aids and light bulbs to fast trains and power plants, affirmed its full fiscal-year profit outlook on Thursday due to robust demand from factories in emerging markets.

Fiscal third-quarter net profit from continuing operations fell 47 percent to 763 million euros ($1.1 billion), lower than a consensus of about 1 billion euros in a Reuters poll.

The results suffered from a charge related to Siemens' exit from nuclear joint venture Areva NP as well as a hit from a halted particle therapy project it had with Rhoen Klinikum.

"The overall healthcare environment is a difficult one, particularly in areas of budget constraints of public healthcare budgets in Europe, for example," Chief Executive Peter Loescher told Reuters Insider TV in an interview.

Cash-strapped governments across Europe are pushing ahead with a drive to lower costs, while U.S. President Barack Obama is stepping up his drive to get healthcare spending under control in an effort to curb his country's bloated budget.

Shares of Siemens fell 1.3 percent to 89.95 euros by 0818 GMT, underperforming the STOXX Europe 600 Industrial Goods & Services index <.SXNP>, which was down 0.2 percent.

"While most of Siemens' core businesses perform solidly and in line with expectations, the growth momentum is declining, and various charges, that we also expect will continue in the future, should also overshadow the company's results," said ING analyst Axel Funhoff in a note.

Siemens this year announced an overhaul of its business that will see it adding a fourth business sector, infrastructure, to the existing ones of industry, energy and healthcare.

It has been offloading non-core assets such as IT unit Solutions and Services (SIS) since late last year, and it hopes to float Osram, the world's No.2 lighting maker after Philips.

Its efforts to sell its stake in Nokia Siemens Networks, the world's No. 2 maker of wireless-networking gear, have stalled for lack of an investor.

STEADY OUTLOOK

Siemens had raised its outlook for net profit from continuing operations to at least 7.5 billion euros in May.

Siemens said the healthcare division, which makes products such as MRI scanners, radiation equipment and respiratory machines, lost about 100 million euros of revenue because of the ended particle therapy project, and negative currency effects shaved off a further 6 percentage points of growth.

The division, which last year generated about 17 percent of group revenue, competes with companies such as Philips and General Electric's GE Healthcare.

Revenue and orders in the healthcare business declined in the Americas and Europe, which more than offset increases in Asia and Australia. The underlying business of healthcare was good, especially in the equipment sector, Loescher said.

Siemens already gave indications for fiscal third-quarter order intake and sales last month and warned of growth easing amid a slowdown in economic recovery.

Philips this month flagged a grim outlook after a surprise quarterly loss that was driven by writedowns on recent acquisitions to reflect weak consumer demand in Europe and the United States.

Rising commodity costs squeezed margins at Swiss engineer ABB , which said last week it had not been able to raise prices fast enough. France's Schneider Electric is due to report results on Friday.

GE last week tore through forecasts, boosted by strong demand outside the United States for its heavy equipment including jet engines and electric turbines.

(Reporting by Jens Hack; Writing by Maria Sheahan and Thomas Atkins; Editing by David Holmes and Sitaraman Shankar)

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