Philips sees healthcare sector sales growth in Q1

Royal Philips Electronics reported continued growth in its healthcare sector despite a sharp slide in overall net profit for its 2008 fiscal first quarter.

Philips posted a 5 percent increase in sales and 9 percent increase in equipment order intake at its healthcare division in the first quarter, with a double-digit increase in North America, driven mainly by growth in ultrasound, cardiac care, customer services and patient monitoring, Philips said.

Sales in the healthcare sector for the quarter were $2.33 billion compared with $2.27 billion in the year-ago quarter.

The impact of the growth of these businesses was moderated by weaker performance for its imaging systems, which saw flat sales overall for the quarter, according to the company.

Net operating capital for the healthcare sector for the quarter was $13.2 billion compared with $7.27 billion in the same quarter last year. The company attributed the increase to acquisitions and a temporary increase in receivables.

Philips' chief financial officer, Pierre-Jean Sivignon, said he expects the company's healthcare unit to continue performing well throughout the second quarter of the current fiscal year. He noted that it would be toward the end of June before he could fully assess ongoing developments in the U.S. imaging systems market.