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Ain't That Good News

ABB's first quarter results draw optimism for industrial sectors

For execs in the industrial world, supply chain bottlenecks, shaky geopolitics, and a bevy of other factors were cause for concern entering 2023. At least one company's early returns—those from ABB's Q1 report—could begin to assuage some of those doubts. Here are the "back of baseball card" statistics headlining ABB's fast start:

  • Orders $9,450 million, +1%; comparable1 +9%

  • Revenues $7,859 million, +13%; comparable +22%

  • Income from operations $1,198 million; margin 15.2%

  • Operational EBITA1 $1,277 million; margin1 16.3%

  • Basic EPS $0.56; +78%2

  • Cash flow from operating activities4 $282 million

Then there's the quote from ABB's CEO Bjorn Rosengren, offering a confident long-term outlook: "ABB had a strong start to the year, with a positive development in most measures, including cash flow. This gives us the confidence to raise our 2023 guidance." Rosengren also noted in his CEO's summary that "customer activity was strong in the first quarter. Despite a very high comparable from last year, we increased order intake by 1% (9% comparable), with a positive development in three out of four business areas."

"While Robotics & Discrete Automation improved orders sequentially, it declined from last year’s high level which benefited from pre-buys in a period of significant component shortages," Rosengren continued, "particularly strong momentum was noted in Process Automation with orders reaching the highest level in recent history. A positive underlying momentum was noted also in all three regions."

Reuters financial analysis said the news could help "dispel gloom" around the industrial sector; specifically mentioning that the positive outlook could "offset recent sector concerns about subdued demand, due to rising interest rates - which undercuts demand for goods - and buyer resistance to higher prices."

An ABB employee looks fondly upon a company robot.—ABB photo

Quarterly reports can be misleading when they come early in the year, but the success of ABB is a welcome surprise to many in the industry who know and use their products for everything from motors and generators to control panels and automation products. In the words of Sam Cooke, "ain't that good news? Man, ain't that news?"

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