ABB Reports Fourth Quarter Results
Fourth-quarter earnings for power and automation technologies provider ABB, Ltd. (NYSE: ABB – $25.01) beat the company’s previously announced lowered expectations, as profit growth in its automation businesses helped offset slower growth in other areas. The company said adjusted net profit for the period fell to $525 million from $604 million a year earlier equal to $0.32 per share, and $0.09 better than consensus estimates. Revenue rose to $11.37 billion from $11.02 billion a year earlier, but analysts expected revenue of $11.35 billion. Zurich-based ABB, the world’s largest builder of power grids, said it would concentrate on cost-savings and organic growth to drive profit in 2014, which analysts currently have pegged at $1.62 per share for the full year. The company, that announced plans to raise its annual dividend from $0.70 per share to $0.7241, went on to say it would seek “more consistent returns” from its power systems business, which took a roughly $260 million charge in the fourth quarter after storms in the North Sea delayed wind-turbine projects. ABB is also seeking to sell several non-core businesses in deals that could raise more than $1 billion as new CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer is casting a fresh eye over the company’s portfolio after his predecessor spent more than $10 billion on acquisitions. Spiesshofer said he is open to selling assets that do not fit into its core business including parts of Thomas & Betts, the U.S. electrical components maker it acquired two years ago for $3.9 billion and components from Power-One Inc, the U.S. solar energy company it bought for about $1 billion last year. Earlier in the week, ABB announced a contract worth around $55 million to supply a submarine power cable system for a new wind farm located off the coast of Norfolk, U.K., but large power orders will continue to be a drag on the company for a while longer. While the shares have been one of the few disappointments in the conservative portfolio, I am going to retain the shares for potential price recovery and it’s nearly 3% dividend yield.