Amsterdam: Philips Electronics agreed to sell its audio and video business to Japan’s Funai Electric Co for €150 million ($202 million), quitting a traditional sector to focus on its more profitable home appliances and healthcare operations.
The Dutch group had already hived off its troubled television business by setting up a joint venture with Hong Kong-based TPV last year, after struggling for years to compete with lower-cost Asian makers of consumer electronics.
With consumers going online for music, films and games rather than buying CDs and DVDs, Philips decided to get out of home entertainment even though it was profitable last year, chief executive Frans van Houten said, adding that the business was shrinking and “margin dilutive”.
“This completes the repositioning away from consumer electronics,” van Houten told Reuters Insider.
In future, the consumer division will focus on appliances such as shavers, toasters, juicers and coffee makers.
Philips shares rose 1.4% to €22.2, trading at the highest level since April 2011. Analysts welcomed the deal as “an important divestment” that could fan hopes of further disposals in the consumer portfolio.
Philips, which will also receive licence fees from Funai, reported a fourth-quarter net loss of €355 million — widening from a year-ago loss of €160 million — as it cited previously flagged provisions and charges.
The group had already warned last month that it would take a provision of €509 million to cover an European Union fine for cartel practices in its television business, and that restructuring charges would be higher than previously estimated.
Philips reported three consecutive quarters of better-than-expected net profit in 2012, after struggling with weak economic growth, fragile consumer spending and government budget cuts in several markets.
The fourth-quarter results showed that underlying profit improved significantly following job cuts, disposals and a focus on core businesses.
Adjusted quarterly earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) was €875 million — up almost 50% from a year ago and the best quarter in the past two years. Sales rose 3% to €7.161 billion.
Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast adjusted EBITA of €847 million, a net loss of €308 million and sales of €7.161 billion.
Sales and profits rose at the healthcare division, which sells home oxygen kits, hospital scanners and ultrasound systems, and at the consumer business.
Excluding restructuring and acquisition charges, EBITA for the lighting business — which has been hit by a slowdown in the construction market — also rose from a year ago.
Philips said it was on track to achieve its end-2013 targets of sales growth of between 4 and 6%, a margin on EBITA of 10-12% and a return on invested capital of 12-14%. REUTERS