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ABB's Quarter Profit Jumps 87%, Beats Forecasts

Swiss engineering group ABB nearly doubled its first-quarter net profit, easily beating expectations, and confirmed its guidance for 2008 as it benefits from booming global demand for power infrastructure.

Net profit for the period leaped 87 percent to $1.0 billion, way ahead of the average estimate of $765 million in a Reuters poll of 22 analysts, the group said on Thursday.

"The global market for power transmission and distribution infrastructure is expected to remain buoyant over the rest of 2008," ABB said in a statement.

ABB is benefiting as Europe and the United States are replacing aging power systems, while rapid economic growth in emerging economies is forcing countries such as India and China to invest heavily in power infrastructure.

The group confirmed it is aiming for growth of about 15 to 20 percent for its power-related activities and growth of around 10 percent in its automation activities in 2008.

Operating profit rose 65 percent to $1.353 billion on revenues up 29 percent at $7.956 billion, while orders rose 28 percent to $10.943 billion, the group said.

The group did not give any details about its search for a new chief executive.

ABB has been without a chief executive since its Chairman Hubertus von Gruenberg pushed former Chief Executive Fred Kindle out in February, leading markets to speculate it may change tack and start spending its big cash pile.

ABB is trading at 17.7 times expected 2008 earnings, according to Reuters data, at a premium to Schneider, which is trading at 11.4 times.

The group is aiming for average annual sales growth of between 8 and 11 percent for the 2007-2011 period and an operating profit margin of between 11 and 16 percent.