By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com -- Siemens (ETR: SIEGn ) (OTC: SIEGY ) stock leaped to an eight-month high on Thursday after the German engineering giant defied the gloom around Europe's largest economy with a dividend increase and a strikingly upbeat outlook for the next 12 months.
Siemens said it expects earnings per share to more than double in the year ending September 2023 to a range around 8.95 euros a share, seeing strong growth in all of its main industrial businesses. That confidence underpinned a 6% increase in its annual dividend to €4.25 a share from €4.00.
Conspicuously, it forecast that orders would continue to outpace revenue over the last 12 months, a forecast that contrast markedly with the sharp decline in orders to German manufacturers over recent months. It said its forecast was based on the assumption that problems with global supply chains continue to ease, and that there are no further escalations in geopolitical tensions.
"Under these conditions, with our high order backlog, particularly in short-cycle businesses, we expect our industrial businesses to continue their profitable growth," the company said.
Siemens had ended its fiscal 2022 year on a strong note, with fourth quarter revenue rising 18% to €20.6 billion and orders rising 14% to €21.8B, giving a book-to-bill ratio of 1.06. Profit at its industrial businesses had climbed 38% to €3.2B.
Disposals helped the group to a net profit of €2.9B and a free cash flow of €3.5B.
The figures were a marked improvement from the previous three months, which had been overshadowed by a big write-down on its stake in the energy business that it spun off two years ago and now accounts for as a portfolio company.
"Strong demand continues for our hardware and software offerings, including higher than expected growth for our digital business revenue," said chief financial officer Ralf Thomas.
The numbers were also supported by tailwinds from the currency market, where the euro's weakness added 8 percentage points each to order and revenue growth, factors that may be harder to repeat in coming quarters as the dollar's rally shows signs of topping out.
Siemens is now up over 30% since late September. It has led a rally in local stocks amid growing confidence that Germany will avoid large-scale industrial disruptions from energy shortages this winter, having entered the peak heating season with its gas storage facilities almost completely full. Growing belief in an early end to interest rate rises in the U.S. and Eurozone has also helped fuel that rally.
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