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UPDATE 3-Signify shares slump as economic gloom hits

Bart H. Meijer

* Q2 comparable sales down 6%, core profit misses forecast

* Shares fall as much as 11%

* Keeps 2019 outlook, acquisition could help goals (Adds more details on sales decline, updates share price)

AMSTERDAM, July 26 (Reuters) - Signify shares fell as much as 11% on Friday as the world's biggest lighting company became the latest business to suffer from subdued demand, particularly from industry in Europe and consumers in the United States.

Signify, formerly known as Philips Lighting, said comparable sales dropped 6% in the second quarter to 1.48 billion euros($1.65 billion), as demand for LED components in Europe waned and the long-term decline in traditional light bulb sales continued.

"The drop in comparable sales in the second quarter was bigger than we had expected", Chief Executive Eric Rondolat told reporters.

Both that and a modest 2% increase in core profit missed market expectations.

Shares in the company traded down 10.8% at 24.22 euros at 1120 GMT in Amsterdam, as analysts questioned its promise of a turnaround in the months to come.

Signify said market conditions remained challenging, as it reported a 2% decline in sales for what it sees as its growth engines: LED, professional and networked home lighting business lines.

But it kept its target for 2-5% growth for these activities for 2019, as it blamed a large part of the second-quarter decline on one-time events, such as elections in India, which temporarily halted public investments in lighting projects.

Jefferies analysts, however, said the 2019 targets looked "challenging".

"Signify is the latest victim of slowing macro conditions with numerous references to weakness in Europe, the Middle East, India and weak consumer LED demand in the U.S.", they wrote in a note.


Like other lighting makers, Signify has been struggling with the global shift from incandescent bulbs to more efficient LED lamps, which need to be replaced less often.

The traditional lamp business is expected to shrink by almost a quarter this year, while growth in the LED, professional and connected home system businesses has so far not been enough to compensate for this decline.

Signify's German rival Osram sold its lamps business to a Chinese consortium in 2017.

In the second quarter, Signify's LED sales fell 2%, mainly due to lower demand for components by other manufacturers of lighting systems, such as Acuity Brands, who are both competitors and customers of Signify.

The Professional division, which offers lighting systems for streets, stadiums and companies, saw revenues slide almost 6%, mainly due to one-off effects such as the Indian elections and new certification rules in Saudi Arabia.


Rondolat said some of the potential sales that had been hindered by one-off factors in the second quarter might materialise in the coming months.

Growth could also be helped by the acquisition of a 51% stake in China's Klite Lighting, announced on Friday without financial details.

Klite has supplied Signify with LED lamps and luminaries for years and also generated around 250 million euros in sales to other light makers last year, Signify said.

"The acquisition announced today could save the day for the guidance", ING analyst Marc Hesselink said.

"Klite had margins and growth rates above Signify so the acquisition should help to reach Signifys ambitious targets."

Signify also reiterated its margin target on earnings before interest tax and amortisation (EBITA) of at least 11% by the end of this year. It came in at 9% in the second quarter, up from 8.4% a year ago.

($1 = 0.8975 euros) (Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Mark Potter and Georgina Prodhan)