* Nine-month sales up 5.9 pct at 3.33 bln euros
* Nine-month net profit up 0.4 pct at 390 mln euros
* Sees like-for-like sales down between 1-2 pct in 2012
(Adds details, CFO and analyst comments)
PARIS, Nov 8 French group Legrand
expects its like-for-like sales to fall in 2012, reflecting a
less buoyant economy in Europe where slowing residential and
construction markets have dimmed demand for its electrical
fittings and switches.
The world's largest maker of switches and sockets said on
Thursday its organic sales could be 1-2 percent lower in 2012,
slightly below a previous forecast of flat growth in the full
"It's not a dynamic year, clearly. It's a year of negative
organic growth for several companies," Chief Financial Officer
Antoine Burel told reporters.
While markets in France, Italy and Spain are unlikely to
pick up in the fourth quarter, acquisitions will compensate for
the decline in like-for-like sales, he said.
Legrand expects deals to boost sales by around 4.5 percent
in 2012, with margins reaching 19.5 percent, up from 19 percent
Burel also told reporters that Legrand, which has acquired
three companies this year, will continue to look for small deals
to strengthen its position in fast-growing markets and new
businesses. "There are ongoing discussions between Legrand and
potential targets," he said.
Espirito Santo analyst Rob Virdee said the company has been
able to deliver high margins despite a more difficult demand
"Shorter term the main drawback is that Legrand is 100
percent exposed to the construction markets, which not only are
still to see a recovery, but in Europe are continuing to
decline," he added.
Net profit rose 0.4 pct to 390 million euros ($498 million)
in the first nine months as sales increased 5.9 percent to 3.33
billion, lifted by acquisitions, the weaker euro and stronger
revenues in North America, where the residential market showed
signs of improvement.
Excluding acquisitions, sales fell 1.6 percent.
Shares in Legrand, which have gained around 25 percent of
their value since the start of the year, were trading flat at
30.41 euros at 1030 GMT, in line with the CAC40 index.
($1 = 0.7840 euro)
(Reporting by Elena Berton; Additional reporting by Gilles
Guillaume; Editing by Dan Lalor and Toby Chopra)