Schneider Electric Forth-quarter Sales Beat Forecasts

French electrical engineering group Schneider Electric on Friday reported its 2006 fourth-quarter sales rose 12.3% to 3.664 billion euros, beating an average forecast in a Reuters Estimates poll of 3.481 billion euros.

In a financial notice in the La Tribune newspaper, the group said it was confident that in 2007 it could beat the sales growth target of its 'New2' business plan, without giving details.

In the advertisement, Scheider said full-year sales rose 17.6% with a like-for-like gain of 10.7%. This would take the full-year figure to 13.73 billion euros against expectations of 13.547 billion euros ($17.54 billion)

Chief Executive Jean-Pascal Tricoire was quoted as saying that the strong like-for-like sales growth of the past three years showed the success of its growth model based on geographical expansion and innovative technologies and the integration of new activities.

"Under the current economic circumstances, the group is confident in its capacity to generate in 2007 a like-for-like sales growth superior to the target in the New2 business plan," he said.

The Schneider Electric website was down for maintenance.

In October, Schneider increased its 2006 like-for-like sales growth target to 10% from 9%, and added operating income was expected to rise by 25%. But it said at the time 2007 sales growth would be below that of 2006.

Schneider said demand was solid in all regions.

The range of forecasts for full-year sales was from 12.419 billion euros to 13.698 billion euros.

The group is planning a 1.2 billion euro capital increase by March.

Schneider announced the capital increase last October after it said it planned to acquire American Power Conversion .

APC shareholders on January 16 voted to accept the acquisition for roughly $6.1 billion.

Tricoire at the time said the APC buy would extend its hold in the uninterrupted power supply market and would be a platform for further growth, while his finance director said the group was still considering making smaller acquisitions of 500 million to 800 million euros per year in the next two to three years.

Schneider operates via a number of brands such as Merlin Gerlin, Square D and Telemecanique.