Zumtobel Cuts Dividend, Scraps Outlook as Austerity Bites

Zumtobel AG, an Austrian maker of industrial lighting, cut its dividend by more than half and threw out its revenue growth outlook because of economic uncertainty and austerity programs, particularly in Europe.

Zumtobel lowered its dividend to 20 cents a share, from 50 cents a year earlier, after net income declined 69 percent to 16 million euros ($20 million) in the year ended April 30, the Dornbirn, Austria-based company said in a statement today. Analysts had expected net income of 20.5 million euros, according to the average of seven estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Profit was hurt by the the company’s components unit, where revenue declined 6.7 percent. Zumtobel in January removed the management of the unit and is searching for a new head.

“In view of the increasingly negative economic outlook, previous growth assumptions for the professional lighting industry no longer appear realistic,” Chief Executive Officer Harald Sommerer said in Vienna today. “We have therefore cut our medium-term revenue forecast for average growth of 10 percent per year for the coming years.”

That growth forecast was based on the lighting industry growing an average of 4 percent annually through 2020, which no longer is likely, Sommerer said.

Shares gained 1.3 percent to 7.797 euros at the 5:30 p.m. close of trading in Vienna, snapping seven days of declines and narrowing this year’s loss to 27 percent.

“In anticipation of weak results the share price has fallen 25 percent in the past few days to 7.5 euros,” Berenberg analysts William Mackie and Maggie Paxton wrote in a note to investors, adding that the “disappointment” of today’s earnings “already is priced in.”

Zumtobel said it expects revenue and the margin for earnings before interest and tax to increase in the current financial year, which ends April 30, 2013. Sommerer declined to specify the rate of improvement.

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