ABB grapples with profit plunge amid structure overhaul

Zurich (AFP) –


Swiss-Swedish engineering giant ABB said Wednesday that profits plunged by a quarter last year due to the cost of overhauling its structure and activity portfolio.

ABB said net profit fell to 1.9 billion dollars (1.7 billion euros) in 2015 while sales slumped 11 percent to 35.5 billion dollars as orders dropped off.

The group wants to focus on its most profitable sectors after earlier embarking on a vast restructuring programme, including of its energy division hit by postponements of wind and solar projects.

ABB had also announced in September a one-billion-dollar cost-cutting plan by the end of 2017 by increasing the productivity of its white-collar staff.

However restructuring charges for the full year rose to 626 million dollars.

"We are shifting our centre of gravity, fully in line with our Next Level strategy by driving organic growth in targeted segments, strengthening competitiveness and lowering risk," chief executive officer Ulrich Spiesshofer said in the statement.

And he highlighted technological innovations such as the launch of a collaborative robot, YuMi.

Looking ahead ABB struck a cautious note, pointing to a mixed macroeconomic and geopolitical climate.

"Some macroeconomic signs in the US remain positive and growth in China is expected to continue, although at a slower pace than in 2015.

"The market remains impacted by modest growth in Europe and geopolitical tensions in various parts of the world," it said.