UPDATE 1-Zumtobel reports first sales rise in eight quarters

Tue Mar 4, 2014 2:23am EST

* Q3 sales 292 mln euros vs Reuters poll avg 287 mln

* Adjusted EBIT zero vs poll avg 2 mln euros

* 2013/14 sales seen flat or slightly up, EBIT much higher (Adds details, forecast, rivals)

VIENNA, March 4 (Reuters) - Austrian lighting group Zumtobel narrowed losses and reported its first sales increase after seven quarters of decline as effects of a restructuring began to take hold.

The third-quarter results were broadly in line with analysts' forecasts and Zumtobel, battling more modern Asian rivals as well as a slump in the European building industry, said it was cautiously optimistic for the rest of the year and lifted its forecast.

Adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) were zero in the three months to Jan. 31, compared with a loss of 3 million euros ($4 million) a year earlier, while sales rose 1 percent to 292 million euros, Zumtobel said on Tuesday.

Analysts had expected third-quarter sales of 287 million euros and adjusted EBIT of 2 million euros, according to a Reuters poll.

Zumtobel said it now expects flat or slightly lower 2013/14 sales, compared with its previous forecast for a slight fall, while adjusted EBIT should improve substantially.

The company said it hoped for a stabilisation of commercial construction in Europe and that it had moved ahead in its shift from traditional lightbulbs to LED (light-emitting diode) technology, which now accounts for 32 percent of sales.

"The latest positive signals from the third quarter allow us to look toward the coming months with cautious optimism in spite of the continued limited visbility and the ongoing difficult market environment," said new Chief Executive Ulrich Schumacher, former CEO of Infineon.

European rivals Osram Licht and Dutch Philips have also benefited from cost cuts, but all the traditional lighting groups are struggling to compete with newer entrants such as South Korea's Samsung and Japan's Royoda Gosei in LED. ($1 = 0.7260 euros) (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by David Goodman)

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