Swiss stocks - Factors to watch on Feb 14

ZURICH Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:22am EST

ZURICH Feb 14 (Reuters) - Swiss stocks were expected to open slightly lower on Thursday, dragged down by index heavyweight Nestle, in line with European markets seen opening lower as bigger-than-expected contractions in German and French economies rattle investors.

The Swiss blue-chip SMI was seen falling 0.1 percent, according to premarket indications from bank Julius Baer.

The following are some of the main factors expected to affect Swiss stocks on Thursday:

NESTLE

Nestle said it expected 2013 to be as challenging as 2012 as it reported sales growth picked up in the last three months of 2012 after a disappointing third-quarter for the world's biggest food group.

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ABB

Switzerland's ABB said it would focus on costs to offset near-term uncertainty about growth in Europe and the U.S. as it posted a narrower-than-expected fall in fourth-quarter profit.

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ZURICH INSURANCE

* Zurich Insurance reported a 3 percent rise in 2012 profit on Thursday, as growing profits from its Latin America and Malaysia businesses helped offset large loss reserves on its German business taken in the last two quarters.

* Zurich proposes three board members - Susan Bies, Victor L. L. Chu and Rolf Watter - for re-election.

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ACTELION

Europe's largest biotech company Actelion said it would hike its dividend by 25 percent as investors wait for a U.S. regulatory decision on its new heart and lung drug, Opsumit, which it hopes will cut its dependency on current mainstay Tracleer.

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CLARIANT

Swiss specialty chemicals firms Clariant on Thursday posted 2012 net income of 238 million Swiss francs and said it would hike its dividend by 10 percent as it flagged higher future margins and profits on its scaled down business.

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COMPANY STATEMENTS

* Banque cantonale vaudoise (BCV) said 2012 net profit rose 3 percent to 311 million Swiss francs.

* Oerlikon Balzers opens its 8th coating center in India.

* LEM Holding SA published Q3 results from October to December for the financial year 2012/13

* BELIMO Holding AG says innovative product line helps boost sales.

* Cytos Biotechnology Ltd announces full year 2012 financial results.