ABB toasts doubled profits

Swiss-Swedish engineering group ABB said on Thursday its net profit nearly doubled in 2006 to $1.4 billion, up 89 percent from the previous year.

The company cited strong demand for technology to boost power grid reliability, industrial productivity and energy efficiency for its improved performance.

Sales rose 11 percent to 24.4 billion dollars, while orders were up 22 percent at 28.4 billion dollars.

ABB’s order backlog stood at 16.9 billion dollars at the end of 2006, up 5.0 billion dollars or 42 percent from the previous year.

“Our order backlog has grown significantly and improved business execution is allowing us to capture more of that growth in our bottom line. We are heading into 2007 in a strong position,” said CEO Fred Kindle.

Pre-tax earnings soared 45 percent to a record 2.6 billion dollars, boosted by growing revenues, higher capacity utilisation and cost cutting, the company said.

The pre-tax operating margin increased to 10.6 percent from 8.1 percent.

ABB said it will propose a doubling of its annual share dividend to 0.24 Swiss francs, at its May 4 annual general meeting.

The company employed some 108,000 people worldwide by the end of 2006, up 4,000 from the previous year.

New employees were mostly hired in Asia and Europe, the company said.