Switzerland-based tech corporation ABB is going through a transitional phase, as illustrated by its full-year 2019 results.
ABB’s electrification business unit announced in July it would exit the solar inverter market from this quarter on. Chinese electric vehicle charging company Chargedot will be incorporated into ABB by the end of March and the acquisition and integration of U.S. business General Electric Industrial Solutions has been completed and is said to be on track to deliver cost savings.
ABB group orders came in at $6.89 billion from October to the end of the year for a full-year figure of $28.6 billion, up 1% on 2018. The electrification business which included inverters generated $13.1 billion worth of orders – almost half the group total – for a 10% year-on-year rise as orders in the robotics business retreated 14%.
The group turned over $7.07 billion in the last quarter for $28 billion over the year. While the final quarter of 2018 outperformed the last three months by 2%, the full-year revenues for last year were 1% higher than those posted in 2018. Turnover in the electrification unit was up 9% year on year, to $12.7 billion.
The income generated from operations was nuanced, with a final-quarter rise of 136% from the $275 million posted in October-to-December 2018 to $648 million in the last three-month window. However, that end-of-year rally was not enough to mask a 13% reverse in full-year returns, from $2.23 billion in 2018 to $1.94 billion last year. Operational EBITA margin decreased by 0.6 percentage points to 13.3%.
Investors will search in vain through the latest 52-page document for a net profit figure but the company did publish a “net income attributable to ABB” number running to $1.44 billion for last year, down from $2.17 billion in 2018. For the final quarter of last year, the result was $325 million, up from $317 million in Q4 2018.
ABB cited its restructuring program and transactions in its power grids unit for the setbacks, as well as expenses incurred by the sale of its solar inverter business to Italian company Fimer.
“The result benefited from a combined $178 million of non-operational gains due to the sale of ABB’s share in two Chinese joint ventures, an adjustment to the price paid for General Electric Industrial Solutions and a reduction in the loss on the planned divestment of the solar inverter business,” stated ABB.
Inverter sale uplift
Operational EBITA for the fourth quarter rose 22%, year on year, to $710 million and that sentiment was reflected in the full-year results, which improved 3% year-on-year to $3.11 billion.
The group expects its EBITA margin to rise, weighted towards the second half of the year, thanks to higher margins in its electrification unit after the carve-out of solar inverters.
Net income recorded from discontinued operations was $438 million, with the company anticipating a significant improvement from the start of this year.
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