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Dassault Systemes Braces for Slowing 2012 Sales Increases

Dassault Systemes Falls as Sales Growth Limit Seen
The headquarters of Dassault Systemes stand in Velizy, near Paris. Photographer: Fabrice Dimier/Bloomberg

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Dassault Systemes SA, a maker of design software for manufacturers such as Benetton Group SpA and Daimler AG, fell the most in almost six months in Paris trading after saying Europe’s debt crisis will limit sales growth.

Scarcer credit and government budget cuts may lead companies to hold back on spending in 2012, Chief Financial Officer Thibault de Tersant said today on a conference call. Demand has yet to show signs of slowing, though “when customers decide to react to the environment, they may do it quickly.”

The World Bank cut its global economic-growth forecast in January, saying that a recession in the countries that share the euro threatens to exacerbate a slowdown in emerging markets. De Tersant said he will “remain careful about this economic environment” because of possible effects on customers.

Dassault Systemes dropped as much as 5.2 percent to 61.26 euros, the biggest intraday decline since Aug. 18, and was trading down 4.1 percent at 12:21 p.m. The stock was the second-worst performer on the SBF 120 Index of French shares, which gained 0.4 percent today.

The company, based in the Paris suburb of Velizy Villacoublay, said today that sales growth in 2012 may slow to within a range of 5 percent to 7 percent, compared with a 14 percent jump in revenue to 1.78 billion euros ($2.4 billion) last year on a non-international financial reporting standards basis. Operating margins will remain “stable” at about 30.4 percent of sales.

“Consensus was expecting a better outlook, even though Dassault Systemes has taken rather prudent assumptions when giving their guidance in the past,” said Susan Anthony, an analyst at Mirabaud Securities in London, who said she’s reviewing her “add” recommendation on the stock.

Dassault Systemes is trading at a premium to its peers, with a price of 19.4 times its 2012 estimated earnings according to data compiled by Bloomberg, compared to software makers SAP AG at 15.1 times and Sage Group Plc at 14.2 times.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marie Mawad in Paris at mmawad1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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