* Sets 2014-16 EBITA margin target of 11-12 percent
* Sets ROIC target of at least 14 percent
* To buy back 1.5 bln euros of shares
* Keeps current year targets amid tough markets
* Shares fall 1.5 percent
By Sara Webb
AMSTERDAM, Sept 17 Philips raised most
of its financial targets and announced plans to return 1.5
billion euros ($2 billion) to shareholders, saying it would reap
the benefits of a two-year revamp to focus on healthcare,
lighting and consumer appliances.
However, the Dutch group warned of tough conditions in many
of its markets and the new goals fell short of some analysts'
hopes, sending its shares lower in early Tuesday trading.
"(The) new targets appear a little conservative," Morgan
Stanley analysts said in a research note, adding there had been
hopes for a share buyback closer to 2 billion euros.
Over the past two years, Philips has sold off much of its
consumer electronics business - divesting its television, audio
and video operations where it was struggling to compete with
lower-cost Asian manufacturers, to focus on more profitable home
appliances such as soup mixers and electric toothbrushes, as
well as lighting for homes and offices, and healthcare.
Healthcare has become a particularly important market, with
demand for new ultrasound and scanning products helping it to
become the leading medical equipment supplier in the United
States and a top-three producer of hospital equipment worldwide.
The group said on Tuesday it was targeting a margin of 11-12
percent on earnings before interest, tax and amortisation
(EBITA) for 2014-2016, compared with the 10-12 percent it is
aiming for this financial year.
It is also targeting a return on invested capital of at
least 14 percent, compared with this year's 12-14 percent.
"We see substantial opportunities for profitable growth for
2016 and beyond," Chief Executive Frans van Houten said.
However, the group also kept its sales growth target of 4-6
percent unchanged and said it was feeling the impact of
uncertainty over healthcare spending and reforms in the United
States, weak economies and construction markets in Europe, as
well as currency volatility in Japan, India and Indonesia.
"We can achieve the 2013 targets," van Houten told
journalists on a conference call. "It's hard work and we have a
lot to do in the fourth quarter."
JP Morgan analysts said investors remained to be convinced
Philips can deliver double-digit percentage growth in margins.
"Given investor skepticism on Philips, quarterly execution
is more important than setting targets," they said in a note.
At 0855 GMT, Philips shares were down 1.5 percent at 24.54
euros. They hit 25.48 euros earlier this month, the highest
since the second quarter of 2010, and are up 25 percent so far
The stock trades at 14.9 times forecast earnings, a 15
percent premium to the average of its peers including Electrolux
, Alstom and Osram Licht,
according to StarMine SmartEstimates.
Philips said it would buy back 1.5 billion euros of shares
over the next two to three years, starting in October.
The group, which makes more than 40 percent of its sales and
70 percent of its EBITA from healthcare, set an EBITA margin
target for that business of 16-17 percent.
It is aiming for an EBITA margin of 9-11 percent in lighting
and 11-13 percent in its consumer division.