Royal Philips Electronics NV on Monday reported a strong rise in sales and a return to profit in the first quarter, thanks to a good performance by its lighting division. Philips is the world's largest lighting maker.
The company said net profit was 200 million euros ($270 million), from a loss of 59 million euros in the same period a year ago. Sales rose 12 percent to 5.68 billion euros.
Analysts polled by the company had estimated net profit at 109 million euros.
The company said in a statement Monday that sales at its lighting division were up 18 percent, while its consumer product arm — Europe's largest maker of consumer electronics — posted a sales increase of 11 percent. Sales at its health care arm, which makes medical imaging equipment, grew 7 percent.
"While our Q1 results of course compare very favorably with the recession-impacted Q1 2009, they are...(also) at a level that we have not seen before in a first quarter," said Chief Executive Gerard Kleisterlee in a statement.
"Nevertheless, economic uncertainty remains high and consumer confidence low."
Each of the divisions showed a major rebound in operating profit, with lighting turning from a 36 million euro loss to a 204 million euro profit. Philips said sales of energy-efficient LED bulbs have tripled, while its automotive lights and fixtures have benefited from inventory restocking in Europe.
Consumer products turned from a 53 million euro operating loss to a 157 million euro profit, with double-digit sales growth in emerging markets and single digit growth in Western Europe. Philips makes a wide range of electronics and household appliances, notably television sets and shavers. It said Monday it is launching a range of accessories for Apple's iPad.
The company also noted it expects television sales to benefit strongly from demand caused by the World Cup this summer in South Africa.
At healthcare, operating profit grew from euro1 million a year ago to 103 million euros. Bookings increased in the United States for the first time since the downturn began in 2008.
Philips noted it booked a one-time gain of 81 million euros on the sale of shares in LG Display and a 48 million euro impairment charge on its 19.9 percent stake in semiconductor maker NXP BV.
NXP announced last week it intends to file for a 1.1 billion euro initial public offering in the United States.
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