Schneider Electric first-quarter sales beat expectations, flags shutdown impactSchneider Electric first-quarter sales beat expectations, flags shutdown impact
The logo of Schneider Electrics is pictured at the company’s headquarters in Rueil-Malmaison near Paris

(Reuters) – French electrical equipment group Schneider Electric reported on Thursday a smaller-than-expected first-quarter revenue decline, but forecast a further significant impact from the coronavirus as lockdowns to curb its spread take their toll across the world.

The Paris-based company, which markets products ranging from electrical car chargers and lighting control to transformers and production software, reported a first-quarter revenue of 5.83 billion euros ($6.30 billion), down 6.4% organically, beating analysts’ expectations of a 7.2% fall.

China reported the largest fall in revenue across divisions but began recovering towards the end of the quarter, while sales dropped across Asia-Pacific by 19.3% as other countries entered partial or complete lockdowns, the company said.

The group said it was confident about achieving its long-term core margin goals, saying it was well placed to benefit from government initiatives to boost energy efficiency and renewables, as well as investment in smart buildings, software and infrastructure.

The company suspended its detailed guidance in March and said it would update on this as the situation evolves.

Schneider reported a total liquidity of around 9 billion euros and confirmed its dividend proposal, which will be voted on later on Thursday.

In February, the group proposed a payout of 2.55 euros per share.

On Wednesday, Credit Suisse cut Schneider’s target price, assuming weeks of lost manufacturing and construction activities across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas. However, the broker predicted Schneider would show resilience, citing its growing data centre segment and industrial software strategy.

($1 = 0.9249 euros)

(Reporting by Sarah Morland in Gdansk; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Tomasz Janowski)