ABB hails ‘great start to 2006’

The Swiss-Swedish engineering group ABB said on Thursday that its net profit had risen slightly to 204 million dollars (169 million euros) in the first quarter of the year.

The result marked an increase on the 199 million dollars in net profit that ABB made in the same period of 2005.

ABB noted that it had managed the increase despite an 89 million dollar sum that the group booked in the first quarter of 2006 because of the settlement of a long-running court battle in the United States over use of asbestos.

“We’ve made a great start to 2006,” Fred Kindle, the group’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

“We have delivered strong profitable growth in the first quarter thanks to our leading positions in fast-growing markets and our sharp focus on improving operational performance. The accounting treatment of the asbestos shares dampened otherwise solid growth in net income.”

Orders in the first quarter rose by 15 percent, reaching 7.09 billion dollars compared to 6.17 billion dollars in the January to March period in 2005.

Order growth was strongest in the Middle East and Asia, fuelled primarily by increasing demand for power and industrial infrastructure which was linked to high oil prices.

In Europe and the Americas, orders to refurbish power grids were a main driver of growth, ABB said.