Alstom reports big dip in profit and orders
French engineering group Alstom, which builds power stations and high-speed trains, reported a 29-percent profit slump for the first half of its financial year Thursday and a 21-percent drop in orders.
The group said it faced "a difficult business environment" particularly in the energy sector.
The group reported a net profit of 401 million euros (561 million dollars) for the six months to the end of September from 562 million euros at the same time last year.
The figures were sharply lower than had been expected by analysts polled by Dow Jones Newsires.
They had foreseen a fall of just 4.6 percent in the net figure to 536 million euros.
Sales fell by 8.0 percent to 10.4 billion euros.
But Alstom stood by its target for an operating margin of 7.0-8.0 percent for the current tax year and the next.
The value of orders taken in the first half dropped by 21.0 percent to 5.6 billion euros, excluding power transmission activities acquired by Areva.
At the end of September the value of the order book stood at 45.3 billion euros, representing work for 23 months.
Chief executive Patrick Kohn told a press conference that the business climate was difficult because many customers were holding back on passing orders.
"I hope that we are at the low point," and that orders would pick up in the second half of the financial year, he added.
© 2010 AFP