* Cancels final dividend
* Q4 net profit drops 98 pct
* Clients keep pushing back orders
* To cut costs further, shed 250 further jobs
* Shares drop 7.4 pct, underperform mid-cap index
(Rewrites, adds background, CEO comment, updates shares)
By Harro ten Wolde
AMSTERDAM, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Dutch photocopier and printer maker Oce NV OCEN.AS said it will not pay a final dividend as its clients kept postponing orders in the fourth quarter, pushing its shares near their all-time low.
Oce said its fourth-quarter net income nearly evaporated to 700,000 euros ($942,200) from 35.8 million euros a year ago, as the impact of the global financial crisis expanded within its portfolio.
“Since October we not only feel the crisis in our financial and construction portfolio, but it has also expanded to our industrial and advertising markets,” Chief Executive Rokus van Iperen told Reuters.
Van Iperen also confirmed that -- as Oce had said in October last year -- clients were pushing back orders to the first and second quarters of 2009. The fourth quarter of Oce’s broken fiscal year ended in November. [ID:nLS183148]
By 1202 GMT, Oce shares were down 7.1 percent at 3.15 euros, having fallen as much as 9.4 percent, underperforming a 1.6 percent lower Amsterdam mid-cap index AMX .AMX. The shares dropped 75 percent in 2008, while the AMX fell 53 percent.
The company, which competes against Canon (7751.T), Ricoh (7752.T) and Xerox (XRX.N), said it would not pay a final dividend, following the payment of an interim dividend of 0.15 euros per share in October.
Oce was criticised last year by shareholder Hermes Focus Asset Management Europe, which holds a 10.1 percent stake in the company, about the performance of its Digital Document System (DDS) unit.
“We consider, in addition to our current strategy, other strategic options with an open mind,” Van Iperen said, adding that the sale of any of Oce’s units was not an option at the moment.
He said Oce was in talks with potential business partners for its DDS unit as well as its Wide Format Printing Systems division, and expected to announce deals in the first half of 2009.
The Venlo-based company said it would expand its cost cutting programme, scrapping 250 additional jobs, which would result in 30 million euros in extra cost savings.
It also wants to cut debt by 100 million euros by selling real estate and reducing inventories, amongst others.
Oce’s net debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) ratio was 2.5, which is below the maximum of 3.0 in its loan covenants. ($1=.7429 euros) (Editing by Andrew Macdonald and Simon Jessop)