Q3 net income rises 86% to $738 million

  • Orders up 33%, demand for power and automation technologies strong in all regions
  • Revenues grow 26%, EBIT increases 55% to $1 billion
  • EBIT margin 14.4% from continued strong business execution
Zurich, Switzerland, October 25, 2007 - ABB's net income rose 86 percent in the third quarter to $738 million on continued growth in market demand, particularly for power infrastructure, and further operational improvements.

Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose to $1 billion on a 26-percent increase in revenues (19 percent in local currencies), leading to an EBIT margin of 14.4 percent compared with 11.8 percent in the same quarter of 2006. Cash flow from operating activities increased to $886 million versus $523 million in the third quarter a year ago.

Orders increased 33 percent (25 percent in local currencies) to $8.3 billion, reflecting investments to expand power infrastructure in emerging markets and to replace aging equipment and strengthen grids in mature markets. Industrial businesses also continued to invest in productivity improvements and cost reductions by lowering energy consumption.

"A combination of strong market growth and operational discipline has once again paid off," said Fred Kindle, ABB President and CEO. "Our market and technology leadership together with performance improvements are helping us to reap the full benefits from continuing global growth and heightened concerns about climate change and energy efficiency."

2007 Q3 key figures
Q3 07
Q3 061
Change
$ millions unless otherwise indicated
US$
Local
Orders
8,321
6,280
33%
25%
Order backlog (end September)
22,170
15,164
46%
33%
Revenues
7,190
5,684
26%
19%
EBIT
1,035
669
55%
as % of revenues
14.4
11.8
Net income
738
397
86%
Basic earnings per share2 ($)
0.32
0.18
Cash flow from operating activities
886
523
69%
1Adjusted to reflect the reclassification of activities to discontinued operations; 2Net income divided by the weighted average number of shares outstanding in the period

Summary of results
Orders continued to grow strongly in the third quarter, led by very high demand for products and systems needed to refurbish and expand power infrastructure. Demand for more energy-efficient technologies also continued to grow in most industrial sectors. It was the eleventh consecutive quarter of double-digit order growth for the group.

Power interconnections in Europe to improve the reliability and efficiency of existing grids, along with infrastructure expansion in the Middle East, were the main growth drivers for the power divisions in the third quarter. Asian markets were also strong as utility customers continued to invest in new power equipment.

In the automation divisions, customer investments in developed countries during the third quarter continued to be driven by the need to improve process efficiency, while in emerging markets, capacity expansion fuelled most growth. Demand was strongest in the metals and minerals sector, particularly the steel and aluminum industries. Orders were also higher for products to improve the energy efficiency of many industrial processes. Orders were lower in the oil and gas business as the result of fewer large project orders in the quarter compared to one year ago.

For the Group, the volume of large orders (more than $15 million) grew 96 percent to $1.4 billion (84 percent in local currencies) and accounted for 17 percent of total orders received compared to 12 percent in the same quarter in 2006. Base orders (less than $15 million) increased by 24 percent (17 percent in local currencies).

Higher revenues in the third quarter reflect both the increase in base orders during the quarter, as well as execution of the growing order backlog. Price increases to offset higher raw material costs compared to the same quarter a year ago, also contributed to the revenue growth. The order backlog amounted to more than $22 billion at the end of September 2007, compared to $20 billion at the end of the previous quarter and $15 billion at the end of the same quarter in 2006.

EBIT increased across all divisions, mainly the result of higher revenues. High capacity utilization, strong project execution and increased production and engineering in low cost countries lifted EBIT margins in all divisions except Process Automation, where it remained stable.

The increase in net income was primarily the result of higher EBIT and a lower tax rate, mainly reflecting the geographic distribution of earnings and the accelerated use of tax-loss carry forwards. Net income also benefited from an improved net finance expense resulting from lower debt levels.

Cash flow from operating activities improved compared to the third quarter of 2006 as higher earnings more than offset increases in working capital to support growth.

ABB's financial position further improved in the third quarter, with net cash growing by approximately $1 billion from the end of the previous quarter to $3.3 billion. Gearing at the end of September was 22 percent compared with 25 percent at the end of the second quarter (see Appendix II for more information). The remainder of the company's Swiss franc 1-billion convertible bond maturing in 2010 was converted in the third quarter, which increased ABB's equity by approximately $170 million.

Divestments
In August 2007, ABB announced it had agreed to sell its ABB Lummus Global business to Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (CB&I) for $950 million, subject to approvals from regulators and CB&I's shareholders.

As previously reported, ABB discovered in connection with the divestment certain suspect payments in a number of countries, which it reported to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. ABB retains liability for related potential fines and penalties.

ABB Lummus Global serves the upstream and downstream oil and gas, petrochemical and refining industries worldwide and employs about 2,400 people, with revenues in 2006 of $988 million.

Divisional performance Q3 2007
Power Products division
2007 Q3 key figures
Q3 07
Q3 061
Change
$ millions unless otherwise indicated
US$
Local
Orders
2,678
1,934
38%
30%
Order backlog (end September)
6,977
4,948
41%
30%
Revenues
2,413
1,815
33%
26%
EBIT
405
248
63%
as % of revenues
16.8%
13.7%
Cash flow from operating activities
271
129
1Adjusted to reflect the reclassification of a transformer business in South Africa to discontinued operations

Third-quarter orders grew in all businesses, led by transformers, and in all regions. Investments by utility customers in Europe to strengthen and refurbish grid infrastructure fuelled strong order growth. Orders also grew strongly in Asia and the Middle East as customers continued to invest in new infrastructure to support economic growth. Orders continued to grow in the Americas but at a slower pace than in the previous several quarters as demand eased in the U.S., due in part to the slowdown in the housing sector.

Revenues grew at a double-digit pace in all businesses compared to the same quarter in 2006 on both higher volumes and higher prices to offset increases in raw materials costs. EBIT and EBIT margin increased strongly as the result of higher revenues and factory loading and productivity improvements. Costs associated with the transformer consolidation program announced in 2005 amounted to $15 million in the third quarter, compared to $5 million in the same quarter in 2006.

Power Systems division
2007 Q3 key figures
Q3 07
Q3 06
Change
$ millions unless otherwise indicated
US$
Local
Orders
1,828
1,050
74%
63%
Order backlog (end September)
8,136
4,898
66%
51%
Revenues
1,401
1,072
31%
22%
EBIT
121
76
59%
as % of revenues
8.6%
7.1%
Cash flow from operating activities
151
73

Orders increased strongly in the third quarter, mainly the result of power infrastructure investments in Europe, including a project in Germany valued at more than $400-million to connect the world's largest offshore wind farm to the mainland grid. Base orders increased 25 percent (17 percent in local currencies), reflecting continued favorable demand. Customer investments in the Middle East to develop the electricity-intensive aluminum industry also contributed to the order growth. Orders were lower in the Americas, reflecting the timing of orders and not a change in demand. Orders in Asia were flat.

Revenues were higher across all businesses versus the same quarter in 2006 on execution of the strong order backlog. EBIT and EBIT margin increased on higher revenues, improved capacity utilization and ongoing benefits from improved project selection and execution.

Automation Products division
2007 Q3 key figures
Q3 07
Q3 06
Change
$ millions unless otherwise indicated
US$
Local
Orders
2,322
1,857
25%
18%
Order backlog (end September)
3,413
2,341
46%
33%
Revenues
2,203
1,700
30%
22%
EBIT
384
270
42%
as % of revenues
17.4%
15.9%
Cash flow from operating activities
390
289

Demand continued to grow in the third quarter of 2007 with higher orders for both standard products and engineered products and systems, including a $110-million order for an advanced railway power converter system in Germany. Orders grew across all regions. Demand for energy-efficient industrial products in a variety of industries also contributed to the order growth.

Revenues increased versus the same quarter in 2006 due to higher volumes resulting from the continued good order intake and execution of the growing order backlog. Revenues also grew from price increases necessary to cover higher raw material costs. EBIT rose on higher revenues while the EBIT margin primarily reflects strong capacity utilization.

Process Automation division
2007 Q3 key figures
Q3 07
Q3 06
Change
$ millions unless otherwise indicated
US$
Local
Orders
1,914
1,828
5%
(2%)
Order backlog (end September)
5,435
4,055
34%
21%
Revenues
1,512
1,322
14%
7%
EBIT
157
139
13%
as % of revenues
10.4%
10.5%
Cash flow from operating activities
120
171

Higher orders for process automation solutions in the metals and minerals sectors were largely offset by lower orders in pulp and paper and a reduction in large oil and gas orders. Orders were higher in the Americas, driven by the U.S., Canada and Chile, and almost doubled in Asia, led by China, India, and South Korea. Orders in Europe decreased mainly as the result of lower orders from eastern Europe in the quarter. Large orders decreased from last year's very high level while base orders grew by 14 percent in the quarter (6 percent in local currencies).

Revenue growth in the quarter mainly reflects the timing of the execution of system orders. EBIT grew in line with revenues and the EBIT margin remained at a similar level as a year ago.

Cash flow from operations decreased from a year ago, reflecting the working capital required to execute large systems orders.

Robotics division
2007 Q3 key figures
Q3 07
Q3 06
Change
$ millions unless otherwise indicated
US$
Local
Orders
370
295
25%
19%
Order backlog (end September)
627
465
35%
25%
Revenues
344
281
22%
16%
EBIT
20
5
300%
as % of revenues
5.8%
1.8%
Cash flow from operating activities
41
7

Orders increased in the third quarter compared to the low levels of the year-earlier period, led by higher demand from general industry, such as packaging, consumer electronics and food. Orders from the automotive industry remained at low levels reflecting both weak market demand and improved project selection. Orders were higher in all regions and were strongest for paint systems.

The significant third-quarter revenue growth reflects the increasing order backlog that has developed in the past several quarters. EBIT and EBIT margin improved due to cost-cutting initiatives, better project execution and the non-recurrence of costs taken in the same quarter last year associated with a large project.

Cash flow from operating activities was higher, reflecting higher earnings and customer payments on a large project.

Non-core activities and Corporate
Non-core activities generated EBIT of $12 million in the third quarter, primarily the result of real estate activities, while Corporate costs continued to decline.

Strategy 2007 to 2011
On September 5, the company announced its strategy and financial plan for the period 2007 to 2011. The company aims to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for revenues over the period of between 8 and 11 percent and an EBIT margin between a minimum of 11 percent and 16 percent. Earnings per share are expected to grow at a CAGR of 15-20 percent while return on capital employed, after tax, is forecast to exceed 30 percent by 2011. ABB expects free cash flow to amount to 100 percent of net income, on average, over the period.

Outlook
The business environment for ABB during the rest of 2007 and into the first half of 2008 is expected to remain in line with the positive market conditions seen in the first nine months of this year.

Overall demand for power transmission and distribution infrastructure is expected to continue on a high level in all regions. Equipment replacement and improved network efficiency and reliability are forecast to drive higher demand in Europe and North America. The current slowdown in the U.S. construction sector may result in some easing of demand in power distribution in the U.S. in the next several quarters but the impact on the ABB Group is not expected to be significant.

Automation-related industrial investments are expected to continue at a high level in most sectors, although below the growth rates seen in 2006. Overall, automation-related demand growth is expected to be strongest in Asia, with more modest growth in Europe and the Americas.

The company expects a further significant decline in the tax rate in the fourth quarter of 2007 as it expects to recognize additional deferred tax assets for tax-loss carry forwards. The mid-term guidance for a sustainable 27-percent tax rate, however, remains unchanged.

ABB is well-positioned to benefit from increasing customer investments to reduce costs and mitigate climate change by using more energy-efficient products and systems.

More information
The 2007 Q3 results press release and presentation slides are available from October 25, 2007 on the ABB News Center at www.abb.com/news and on the Investor Relations homepage at www.abb.com/investorrelations.

ABB will host a media call today starting at 10:00 a.m. Central European Time (CET). U.K. callers should dial +44 20 7107 0611; from Sweden, +46 8 5069 2105; from the U.S. and Canada +1 866 291 4166; and from the rest of Europe, +41 91 610 56 00. Lines will be open 15 minutes before the start of the conference. Audio playback of the call will start one hour after the call ends and will be available for 72 hours: Playback numbers: +44 20 7108 6233 (U.K.), +41 91 612 4330 (rest of Europe) or +1 866 416 2558 (U.S./Canada). The code is 339, followed by the # key.

A conference call for analysts and investors is scheduled to begin today at 3:00 p.m. CET (9:00 a.m. EDT). Callers should dial +1 412 858 4600 (from the U.S./Canada) or +41 91 610 56 00 (Europe and the rest of the world). Callers are requested to phone in 15 minutes before the start of the call. The audio playback of the call will start one hour after the end of the call and be available for two weeks. Playback numbers: +1 866 416 2558 (U.S./Canada) or +41 91 612 4330 (Europe and the rest of the world). The code is 245, followed by the # key.

Investor calendar 2008
Q4 and full-year 2007 results
February 14, 2008
Q1 2008 results
April 24, 2008
Annual General Meeting
May 8, 2008
Q2 2008 results
July 24, 2008
Q3 2008 results
October 23, 2008

ABB (www.abb.com) is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs more than 110,000 people.

Zurich, October 25, 2007
Fred Kindle, CEO

Important notice about forward-looking information
This press release includes forward-looking information and statements including the sections entitled "Strategy 2007 to 2011," "Outlook" and Appendix I, as well as other statements concerning the outlook for our business. These statements are based on current expectations, estimates and projections about the factors that may affect our future performance, including global economic conditions, the economic conditions of the regions and industries that are major markets for ABB Ltd. These expectations, estimates and projections are generally identifiable by statements containing words such as "expects," "believes," "estimates," "targets," "plans" or similar expressions. However, there are many risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control, that could cause our actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information and statements made in this press release and which could affect our ability to achieve any or all of our stated targets. The important factors that could cause such differences include, among others, costs associated with compliance activities, the amount of revenues we are able to generate from backlog and orders received, raw materials prices, market acceptance of new products and services, changes in governmental regulations, fluctuations in interest rates and currency exchange rates and such other factors as may be discussed from time to time in ABB Ltd's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Reports on Form 20-F. Although ABB Ltd believes that its expectations reflected in any such forward-looking statement are based upon reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that those expectations will be achieved.


Download/view complete press release including appendices in PDF format. Appendices are not included on this web page.

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