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Siemens sticks to 2009 goals despite challenges

German industrial conglomerate Siemens stuck with its outlook after a good start to fiscal 2009 amid the brutal knock-on effects of the credit crisis and an 8% drop in new orders in the first quarter.

The Industry division - its bread-and-butter - took a bit of a beating and Energy was stable. The difficult financial environment hit its HealthCare business, though the company said on Tuesday it fared better than rivals such as General Electric.

Siemens said total sectors profit - covering all the three main divisions - for the first quarter of fiscal 2009, which ended in December, climbed 20% to €2.005 billion ($2.64 billion).

The figure beat an average estimate of 1.782 billion euros in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Siemens, which makes everything from nuclear power plants and train carriages to hearing aids and light bulbs, said it is still aiming to post €8.0 billion - €8.5 billion in total sectors profit for the business year to end-September 2010.

“Siemens got off to a good start in fiscal 2009, including better order performance than most of our competitors in the December quarter,” Siemens Chief Executive Peter Loescher said.

He said the company was sticking to its goals for fiscal 2009 “even though reaching them has become more ambitious.”

Siemens' announcement came on the heels of a string of negative news from rivals, such as General Electric, which unveiled a 44% drop on quarterly profit on Friday and Philips Electronics - the world's biggest lighting maker - whose disclosure of a quarterly net loss of €1.5 billion on Monday missed even the most pessimistic estimates. (Reuters)