* 2012 adjusted EBITA up 10 pct to 3.51 bln eur
* Sees low single-digit organic sales growth in 2013
* Expects flat to slightly up adjusted EBITA margin in 2013
* China rebound seen in H2 2013
* 2011 net profit restated due to accounting fraud
(Adds fraud details, analyst comments, share price)
By Elena Berton and Gilles Guillaume
PARIS, Feb 21 Schneider Electric forecast 2013
organic sales would resume growth and margins would be at least
stable as cost cuts and price hikes helped underlying profit
rise 10 percent, despite a weaker China and tough Europe.
Schneider, whose products help utilities
distribute electricity and which makes automation systems for
the car and water treatment industries, said markets would
remain mixed in 2013 and revealed it had to revise down its 2011
profit because of an accounting fraud.
Schneider, like other engineering and infrastructure
companies, has been hit by stalling growth in some regions as
well as a deep recession in Europe, where austerity-minded
companies and governments have slashed capital spending.
It expects a slow recovery in North America, challenging
conditions in Europe and a second-half recovery in China.
"For 2013, in an economic environment that remains mixed, we
target low single-digit organic growth in sales and a stable to
slightly up adjusted EBITA margin," Chief Executive Jean-Pascal
Tricoire said in a statement.
Societe Generale analysts wrote in a note that Schneider's
guidance for 2013 was encouraging, noting that current analysts'
consensus for sales growth this year was pegged at 2 percent.
Finance chief Emmanuel Babeau told Reuters China demand
began stabilising at the end of 2012 after growth stalled
earlier in the year: "There won't be a sudden recovery in the
first quarter, we rather expect an acceleration during 2013."
Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said Schneider's
guidance for 2013 was in line with consensus forecasts.
"The results are likely to lead to modest upgrades to
consensus, but valuation looks reasonably full," they wrote.
Schneider's shares, which have gained around 15 percent in
the last year, were the top performers on Paris' benchmark CAC
40 index at 1107 GMT, up 3.3 percent at 57.22 euros.
Schneider had to revise its 2011 net profit to include a 27
million euro hit resulting from an internal accounting fraud,
according to a document published on the company's website.
"We discovered an accounting problem at the end of 2011 due
to a fraud in France, where an employee had been manipulating
documents, creating fake documents," Babeau said during a
presentation to analysts.
The former employee presented overestimated revenues for a
business unit by delaying accounting for rebates Schneider gives
to its customers. As a result, accounts underestimated the level
of provisions for these rebates, the document said.
Net profit for 2011 has been revised to 1.793 billion,
compared with the 1.82 billion figure reported last year.
"It's been a wake-up call and we have put in place a series
of measures to prevent it from repeating again," Tricoire said.
A Schneider spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the
company planned to take legal action against its former
employee, but said authorities had been informed, as required in
Despite the slowdown in China and dire conditions in
southern Europe, Schneider was able to increase profit by
raising prices and shrinking costs.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation
rose 10 percent to 3.51 billion euros ($4.69 billion), while net
income reached 1.84 billion, up 3 percent.
The depreciation of the euro against most major currencies
added 171 million euros to profit, the company said.
The margin was 14.7 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2011.
Sales increased 7 percent to 23.95 billion, in line with a
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S average forecast of 23.92 billion, but
declined 0.7 percent on a comparable basis.
Schneider is several months into a three-year strategic plan
to drive growth from its service business - which provides
infrastructure and IT support and accounts for more than a third
of the total business. The plan also targets emerging markets,
where it makes around two-fifths of sales.
($1 = 0.7479 euros)
(Editing by Christian Plumb and Helen Massy-Beresford)