April 22 - Philips, the Dutch healthcare, lighting and consumer appliances group, reports better-than-expected first-quarter results as two years of restructuring pays off. But as Sonia Legg reports shares fell partly due to tough European and US healthcare markets.
Tough healthcare markets in Europe and the United States are a major challenge for Philips. That confession helped fuel a three per cent fall in the Dutch group's share price despite better than expected first quarter results. Philips has been restructuring. For the past two years its been cutting jobs and selling off tv, audio and video operations. CEO Frans Van Houten says the focus on healthcare, lighting and consumer appliances is producing results . (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRANC VAN HOUTEN, CEO, PHILIPS, SAYING: "We are well positioned to meet the global challenges - a growing world population with much chronic disease does need more productive ways of delivering healthcare and Philips technologies can help with that. We see a world that spends 90% of its electricity bill on lighting and with energy lighting that can be cut by 50-60% so there is good demand out there for the new Philips." Net profit for the first quarter at the world's largest lighting maker was down 21 million euros on the year to 162 million. But sales for the period were up 1 per cent. And Philips - also the world's third largest hospital equipment provider - still expects to achieve full year financial targets. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRANC VAN HOUTEN, CEO, PHILIPS, SAYING: "We should not talk ourselves into a further spiral down. I think it is important that people become more entrepreneurial and regain confidence in the economy and in that sense I do side with the IMF - we need to look at the positives and give people the confIdence that Europe has a compelling future for the people out there." Philips says innovation is the key to its future success, with minimally invasive technology - using imagery and ultra sound - transforming the way we treat diseases over the next decade