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ABB trims sales target on slow global recovery

Swiss industrial conglomerate has trimmed its revenue targets in 2014, blaming a sluggish global economic recovery as it posted a 13 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profits.

Net income declined 13 percent to $525 million in the fourth quarter from $604 million a year earlier, while orders fell 5 percent in the fourth-quarter to $10 billion.

(Read more: ABB profit warning is 'purely operational': CEO)

The engineering group warned earlier this year that fourth-quarter earnings would be hit by roughly $260 million in charges as storms in the North Sea delayed wind-turbine projects.

Photo: ABB

Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO of the Zurich-based company, told CNBC the group had lowered sales targets as they expected a stronger recovery in the global economy.

(Read more: As stocks hit record highs, so do profit warnings)

"We set those sales target a couple of years ago, the assumption was the global economy would rebound very strongly, this has not happened. In 2013 alone, the global econonmy grew about one and a half points less than expected," he said.

"We are adjusting our sales target in line with that," he added.

Speaking on the profit warning the company issued earlier this year, Spiesshofer denied the statement was "kitchen-sinking", a way for a firm to announce all of its bad financial news at one time.

"It is definitely not kitchen-sinking, it is purely operational. We had in the fourth-quarter adverse impacts mainly by the bad weather. Large project business, is one that has intrinsic risks, our job is to manage them pro-actively," he said.

Spiesshofer also shot down rumors that the firm was looking to offload several non-core businesses in deals that could raise more than $1 billion.

"We will not comment on individual speculation, but I will explain how we run the portfolio. It is our responsibility to continuously develop this portfolio, we add to the portfolio, but we also look continuously -where do we need to prune, where do we need to optimize. When the time is right, we will announce what is happening," he said.

By CNBC's Jenny Cosgrave: Follow her on Twitter @jenny_cosgrave

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