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Siemens upbeat on renewables 'irrespective of political volatilities'

A slump in U.S. business contributed to a decline in orders to Siemens AG's wind power and renewables segment during the company's fiscal first quarter.

The U.S. was "a bit weak" during the final three months of 2016, Siemens Chairman, President and CEO Josef Kaeser said on a Feb. 1 earnings conference call. However, that followed a period of "decent order intake ... so we actually feel pretty good about this," he said. "I think we have a solid market share and expect that to hold."

Even with a 24% decline in orders, first-quarter profits to Siemens' wind power and renewables segment were up 119% year over year at $111 million on $1.38 billion in revenue. Revenue growth was most pronounced in the company's European offshore wind business. The segment was also helped by a larger contribution from the services business.

Siemens is looking to expand its renewable energy footprint by merging its wind business with Gamesa Corporación Tecnológica SA. "Irrespective of political volatilities, renewable energies will play a very important role in the change in energy systems throughout the world," Gerhard Cromme, chairman of Siemens' supervisory board, told analysts on Feb. 1.

The combination would create a turbine manufacturer and project developer with an installed base of nearly 70,000 MW and a reach extending from North America to Europe, China and India. That portfolio would give the company an "incredible" opportunity to deploy data analytics and "predictive service maintenance," Kaeser said.

"[If] you look at the amount of gas, the large turbine market in 2016 ... was flattish at best," Kaeser said. "So we are looking much more into things which are changing in trend. So we do see, in the long term ... more flexible machines associated with renewable energy, combine them with an optimized mix."

Siemens reported first-quarter net income of €1.94 billion, or €2.35 per share, on €19.12 billion in revenue. Net income a year earlier was €1.89 per share.

The company, which raised 2017 earnings guidance slightly to between €7.20 and €7.70 per share, warned of "increasing headwinds for macroeconomic growth and investment sentiment in our markets due to the complex geopolitical environment."