ZURICH Engineering firm ABB (ABBN.VX) on Thursday looked beyond a 4-percent fall in quarterly profit and slowing growth in major economies to sketch out good longer-term prospects built on rising demand for energy efficiency and urbanization.
Third-quarter net profit at the company, which competes with the likes of Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and General Electric (GE.N), dipped to $759 million compared with an average analyst forecast for $764 million.
Uncertainty about the European economy and slowing momentum in emerging markets affected some short-term areas of the business, the company said.
The turmoil in the euro zone and the presidential election in the United States were sources of uncertainty, ABB Chief Executive Joe Hogan said.
"I get concern that a lot of the macro-economic signals point down right now, so we have to stay on our toes," he said.
ABB, which makes components for the oil and gas industry and big infrastructure projects, has faced a period of tough competition on prices and weak demand as clients postpone capital expenditure and governments tighten their belts.
Yet the tide seems to be turning. Orders from China are now flat, those in Brazil rose 47 percent and U.S. orders up 13 percent in the third quarter versus a year ago, it said.
Due in part to cost control and a rebalancing of the firm's automation business, which makes products such as industrial robots, to increase its North American focus, Hogan said he had grounds for "cautious optimism".
"With ABB's footprint and capability there are good growth opportunities out there," he said.
(Reporting by Catherine Bosley; Editing by David Cowell)