Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- ABB Ltd reported a drop in quarterly profit, putting pressure on Chief Executive Officer Ulrich Spiesshofer amid slowing emerging markets including China and weakened demand for its power grids and industrial robots.

Operational earnings before interest, taxes and amortization fell 1 percent to $943 million, the Oerlikon, Switzerland-based company said in a statement Wednesday. Analysts had predicted $865 million.

CEO Spiesshofer made management changes last year and has began a strategic review of its power grids division amid weakness in China and other emerging markets. Activist shareholder Cevian Capital AB, which built a stake in ABB last year, has remained in the background so far.

During the first quarter, orders fell 11 percent to $9.3 billion as the company warned of a “mixed picture” for geopolitical and macroeconomic developments.

“Some macroeconomic signs in the US remain positive and growth in China is expected to continue, although at a slower pace than in 2015,” ABB said in the statement. Modest growth in Europe and lower oil prices also affected earnings.

Shares in the Oerlikon, Switzerland-based company have fallen 7 percent in the last 12 months, giving it a market capitalization of 45 billion Swiss francs.

To try to bolster orders, the company is developing a range of smart sensors that can be retrofitted to existing low-voltage motors, allowing cash-strapped clients to upgrade equipment without replacing it and enabling ABB to tap into what it says is a “huge” market.

(Corrects to say that ABB profit beat estimate.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Alice Baghdjian in Zurich at abaghdjian@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tara Patel at tpatel2@bloomberg.net, John Bowker

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