(Corrects year of 20.1 percent margin to 2013)
* 2013 adj op profit 882.3 mln vs Reuters poll avg 863 mln
* Sees 2014 driven by U.S. buoyancy, recovery in Europe
* CEO says model protects it from currency swings
* Raises dividend to 1.05 eur/share from 1.00 eur/shr
* To pursue four to six acquisitions per year
By Natalie Huet and Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier
PARIS, Feb 13 Switch-maker Legrand
posted better-than-expected annual profit on Thursday and said
it was confident it would able to protect its margins from
currency swings in emerging markets.
The world's largest maker of electrical switches and sockets
also predicted its North American business would remain strong
through 2014, while Western Europe gradually recovered.
Legrand said profit margins rose in 2013 while sales were
little changed, and that it had benefited from its ability to
fine-tune production across different regions depending on
market conditions and currency moves.
The company said it expected 2014 organic sales growth of 0
to 3 percent, driven by a buoyant market in North America, where
revenue grew 4.7 percent last year, and by a gradual improvement
in Western Europe.
Legrand said emerging markets remained a "generally
favourable environment" but noted uncertainties due to recent
Shares in Legrand, which gained 26 percent last year, were
2.6 percent higher at 0804 GMT, the second biggest gainers on
the CAC 40 blue-chip index, giving the company a market
capitalisation of around 11 billion euros.
The company generates around 20 percent of sales in U.S.
dollars, 40 percent in euros and 40 percent in other currencies,
Chief Executive Gilles Schnepp told reporters on a conference
He said swings in currencies like those witnessed in recent
months across emerging markets did not affect the company's
Legrand is aiming for a 2014 adjusted operating margin
before acquisitions of between 19.8 and 20.2 percent, compared
with 20.1 percent in 2013.
"Legrand benefits from a particular situation: we have an
almost perfect balance between production costs and revenue. In
other words, we produce in the currencies in which we sell,"
"We are very confident as to our ability not to see
...profitability affected by currency variations."
Rival Schneider Electric cut its full-year revenue
forecast in October, blaming unfavourable exchange rates, and
said it would raise prices and shift production to emerging
markets to preserve margins.
In 2013, Legrand took over six companies representing
additional sales of about 200 million euros ($272 million) and
it will continue to pursue four to six acquisitions per year,
Schnepp said, declining to provide more details.
Full-year adjusted operating income rose 0.9 percent to
882.3 million euros, well ahead of analysts' expectations, at
863 million on average in a Reuters poll. Sales reached 4.46
billion euros, up 0.5 pct on an organic basis.
($1 = 0.7359 euros)
(Editing by Andrew Callus and John Stonestreet)