Osram promises first dividend as restructuring pays off

Reuters

* Sees net profit rising sharply from 34 mln euros

* Sees adjusted EBITA margin above 8 pct this year

* Says now aims for 8,700 job cuts, 1.2 bln euros savings

* Shares up 5.6 percent

MUNICH, Nov 12 (Reuters) - German lighting maker Osram LichtAG, spun off from engineering group Siemens earlier this year, expects to pay shareholders its firstdividend for its current year as it widens a sweepingrestructuring programme.

Osram, the world's No.2 lighting maker after Philips, is in the midst of a restructuring, having been slowto adjust to a shift in demand from traditional light bulbs tonewer technologies such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

It said on Tuesday it was now cutting an overall 8,700 jobs,or 21 percent of its workforce, in addition to shuttering aquarter of its 43 factories, to generate gross savings of 1.2billion euros ($1.6 billion).

The company had previously said it planned to cut 8,000 jobsto save 1 billion euros.

Osram's stock has gained 68 percent since its stock marketdebut on July 8 in a sign that investors have faith in thecompany's ability to turn around its business, but the groupstill faces major challenges.

Semiconductor-based LED technology is rapidly gaining inpopularity as it is more energy efficient, longer-lasting andmore flexible in its design than traditional types of lighting.

But the technology shift has caused a market shakeup as newcompetitors such as South Korea's Samsung Electronics and Japan's Toyoda Gosei grab market sharefrom the incumbents in the lighting market - Philips, Osram andGeneral Electric.

Osram, the top supplier for automotive and display lighting,is now racing its peers to adapt to the changed market.

PROFIT JUMP

So far, only two of its remaining 36 factories make LEDs -in Regensburg, Germany and Penang, Malaysia - but it is buildinga new plant in China at a cost of over 100 million euros toboost its presence in the fast-growing Asian market.

It is also banking on modular product platforms to help itkeep up with rapid product cycles by using the same parts forvarious different products and switching out individualcomponents when technology advances.

It expects to post a sharp rise in annual net profit thisyear from last year's 34 million euros and reach a target ofadjusted operating profit of more than 8 percent, up from 7.7percent last year.

Analysts on average see net profit jumping to 211 millioneuros this year.

Osram, whose lamps are used to light up Disneyland Paris andthe Hippodrom beer tent at Munich's Oktoberfest, has said itaims to pay shareholders between 30 percent and 50 percent ofits annual net profit as a dividend in the longer run.

Finance chief Klaus Patzak said on Tuesday that policy wouldapply to the current year already.

Shares in Osram rose 5.6 percent to 40.32 euro by 0945 GMT,outperforming the German mid-cap index, which was down0.4 percent.

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