Philips swings to a loss as its sales tail off in Europe

PROFITS at electronics group Philips took a sharp turn for the worse in the fourth quarter, leading to a loss of €160m (£133.9m) compared to gains of €465m a year earlier.

This contributed to an annual loss of €1.29bn – down from a €1.45bn profit in 2010 – which the Dutch company put down to operational issues in its lighting department and suspended orders in its health equipment division, due to tightened hospital budgets.

Sales in Europe were weak, dropping six per cent on the previous year, but overall comparable sales increased three per cent to €6.7bn in the period and grew to €22.6bn for the year.

The company said the deal to sell its struggling TV division, which lost €272m in the fourth quarter, is on track to close this quarter.

Recovery is not expected to be quick, with restructuring charges hitting the 120 year old company in the first half of this year.

While the results were in line with profit warnings earlier this month, shares dipped two per cent to €15.23.