Siemens seeking acquisitions to tap broad growth

FRANKFURT/MUNICH Wed May 4, 2011 10:39am EDT

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FRANKFURT/MUNICH (Reuters) - Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE), a bellwether of the euro zone's biggest economy, is looking for acquisitions of up to 3 billion euros to boost core areas after raising its full-year outlook on strong demand from emerging markets.

Siemens, whose products range from hearing aids and light bulbs to fast trains and power plants, said on Wednesday it saw broad growth in all markets, with strong appetite from developing regions for its industrial automation technology.

"We are looking very much in the core areas of our portfolio. We have an active process ongoing," Chief Executive Peter Loescher told Reuters Insider when asked about acquisitions.

Finance director Joe Kaeser later told analysts he could imagine bolt-on acquisitions of around "1 to 3 billion" euros.

"Big acquisitions worth 10 billion euros ($14.8 billion) do not fit the company right now," he added.

Siemens on Wednesday posted better-than-expected earnings for the quarter to March, mirroring recent gains by European engineering rivals.

France's Schneider Electric (SCHN.PA) posted a 27 percent rise in quarterly sales, while Swiss engineering peer ABB's (ABBN.VX) net profit jumped over 40 percent.

"Siemens continues to have a very strong growth profile, and I think the quarter is just an expression of it," Loescher told Reuters Insider.

Siemens's quarterly growth was driven by its bread-and-butter industry division, with robust demand from factories using Siemens technology to run industrial plants with less manpower.

Demand also accelerated in Siemens's energy business, which competes with Alstom SA (ALSO.PA) and General Electric (GE.N) in providing know-how along the entire chain of energy conversion -- from oil and gas production to electricity distribution.

Alstom, however, on Wednesday posted lower annual results, hit by its energy business.

Siemens, which is looking to float its Osram lighting business, said quarterly earnings were also boosted by a 1.5 billion euro gain on the sale of its stake in Areva NP to partner Areva SA CEPFi.PA.

EMERGING MARKETS

Siemens said emerging markets on a global basis grew faster than revenue overall and contributed a third to group revenues, with those from China and India each up 20 percent.

"It is positive that it has upgraded its forecast. The new orders are very solid. That is the most important aspect," fund manager Christoph Ohme of DWS asset management said.

Siemens upgraded its outlook, saying it now expects net income from continuing operations to reach at least 7.5 billion euros for its year through September after it rose a higher-than-expected 122 percent in the second quarter.

"The new guidance looks extremely bullish at first sight, but is strongly affected by the Areva NP divestment and the underlying low tax rate," said DZ Bank analyst Karsten Obinger.

Siemens, known for its conservative outlook, said growth could slow down in its second-half as it will be difficult to repeat last year's steep bounce from recession.

Signs of weakening German business sentiment emerged last month after hitting a two-decade high in February, lending further evidence to a slowing rate of expansion in Europe's largest economy.

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Gould and Arno Schuetze; Writing by Marilyn Gerlach; Editing by Louise Heavens and Will Waterman) ($1=.6751 Euro)

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