Philips to slash 6,000 jobs to restore profitability, improve safety

(Agencies): Philips on Monday announced it would scrap another 6,000 jobs worldwide, in a drive aimed at restoring its profitability and improving the safety of its products following a recall of respiratory devices that knocked off 70% of the Dutch consumer electronics and medical equipment maker’s market value.

Half of the job cuts will be made this year, the company said on Monday, adding that the other half will be realized by 2025.

The new reorganization brings the total amount of job cuts announced by new CEO Roy Jakobs in recent months to 10,000, or around 13% of Philips’ current workforce.

It also adds to the string of technology-based firms to make layoffs, after companies including Alphabet’s Google, Microsoft, Amazon and German software maker SAP announced thousands of layoffs to cut costs as they brace for tougher economic conditions.

Philips shares traded up 5.5% at 8:55 a.m. GMT, helped by fourth-quarter earnings which were much better than expected.

“There is a significant beat on Q4 and the operational improvement measures are very large,” ING analyst Marc Hesselink said in a note.

‘Very difficult’ 2022

Jakobs took over the reins of the company last October, as Philips continued to grapple with the fallout from the recall of millions of ventilators used to treat sleep apnoea over worries that foam used in the machines could become toxic.

Jakobs said 2022 was “a very difficult year for Philips and our stakeholders, and we are taking firm actions to improve our execution and step up performance with urgency.”

“What we present today I think is a very strong plan to secure the future of Philips. The challenges we have are serious and we are addressing them head on,” he told reporters.

Jakobs said patient safety would be put “squarely at the center” of the new organization.

To improve profitability while investing in safety, innovations will be targeted at “fewer, better resourced, and more impactful projects,” Jakobs noted.

Together this should lead to a low-teens profit margin, as measured by adjusted earnings before interest, taxes and amortization (EBITA), by 2025, and a mid-to-high-teens margin beyond that year, with mid-single-digit comparable sales growth throughout.

Results improving, with cautious outlook

Amsterdam-based Philips remained cautious in its outlook for the year despite fourth-quarter results that were significantly better than expected.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes and amortization (EBITA) in the last three months of 2022 came in at 651 million euros ($707.18 million), nearly stable from 647 million euros a year before, while analysts in a company-compiled poll on average had predicted it would drop to 428 million euros.

Comparable sales edged up 3%, instead of the 5% plunge analysts had predicted, as ongoing supply chain problems eased.

But despite the improvement in the shortage of components that have troubled the company for over a year, Philips said the supply chain remained challenging and would only further improve gradually.

This was expected to lead to low-single-digit comparable sales growth on a high-single-digit margin in 2023, it said.

The outlook excludes the impact of ongoing discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice on a settlement following the recall, and of ongoing litigation and investigations.