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Solid performance keeps Siemens on track

With the Eurozone on the edge of another financial meltdown Siemen's figures this year are particularly interesting.

The fact that the performance of the German-headquartered global giant failed to provide a remedy for the financial gloom drew the ire of many financial commentators, but stripping away the elevated expectations they highlight a solid performance.

In its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended on 30 September, overall sales grew nearly five per cent to €20.35 billion, but emerging markets rose eight per cent to contribute €7.235bn to that total.

Revenue in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, by contrast, rose only three per cent.

With more than a third of the company’s revenue derived from emerging markets it is cushioned against the stalled growth in the global economy, allowing it to ride out the Eurozone crisis.

“The macroeconomic environment continues to be highly volatile and difficult to assess,” said Siemens CEO Peter Loscher.

“Over the past months, the forecasts of experts have become more and more cautious. However, even the most recent forecasts call for global GDP growth of three per cent – in other words, growth roughly at last year's level.”

It is clear that the global economy is moving at two speeds. The growth forecast for industrial countries is at 1.4 per cent for 2012.

For emerging countries it is four times as high, 5.6 per cent, and even higher for the BRIC countries at 6.8 per cent.

Loscher acknowledged that the company is already seeing signs of a slowdown among customers of its short-cycle businesses.

“Yet it is equally clear that we are also benefiting from the dynamic growth in emerging countries.

“There are many places in the world – from Istanbul to the metropolises of Asia and Latin America – where the daily news is not dominated by crisis summits and emergency measures but by growing self-confidence, by successes, and by rising expectations.

“And all these places are home to Siemens customers and to Siemens. Our growth rates there are above average.

“Against this backdrop, Siemens will continue to grow faster than the global economy as a whole.”

For a company that makes a diversified portfolio of products from trains to renewable energy plants and medical scanners to industrial drives you would expect a varied level of performance and that is certainly true.

Over the whole year the industry and energy sectors delivered an especially strong performance; both were able to grow new orders at a double-digit rate.

The industry sector increased earnings by 36 per cent to €3.6bn, buoyed by the huge order from Deutsche Bahn for ICx trains - the biggest order in the history of the company.

However, the industry automation and drive technologies divisions also contributed significantly to the success of the sector.

The energy sector significantly increased new order volume too – by 15 per cent to about €34.8bn for the year, despite uncertainty in the nuclear sector post-Fukushima and disappointing performance in renewable energy that saw €231m written off against the order book in the fourth quarter.

“As far as renewable energy is concerned, our expectations have not yet been met in the area of solar thermal power because regulatory conditions have deteriorated and projects have been delayed,” Loscher explained.

“However, the progress being made in the first Desertec projects shows this market does have a future.

“This year, our wind business won its first order for an offshore wind park in China, which is a milestone in our entry into the world's largest wind energy market.”

In the healthcare sector the picture is mixed.

“The strength of the imaging business, which has been able to maintain its leading market position, contrasts sharply with the operational challenges at the diagnostics business.

“In the pioneering area of particle therapy, we came to the conclusion that the time is not yet ripe for the broad commercial deployment of this highly innovative technology.”

As for next year revenue is expected to grow moderately and new order volume to remain significantly higher than revenue.

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