Health care electronics leader takes bumpy ride along with Europe
A doctor stands next to a sick woman at the Dutch Royal Philips Electronics Hospital research facility at its Eindhoven-based Research Laboratories on October 18, 2011, on the day of its inauguration.
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Being a global company means the bottom line can rise and fall with the global economy -- and it's been a choppy ride lately.
Dutch company Royal Philips Electronics, parent of Philips Respironics in Murrysville, found that out last year when Europe's economic woes made its financial standing, at least temporarily, a little more wobbly.
The company posted a $211 million fourth quarter loss -- after a profit of about $600 million for the same quarter in 2010 -- and officials cited a 6 percent sales drop in Europe as a leading cause.
Royal Philips' share price has dropped by more than one-third and, in a statement accompanying the public disclosure of company's finances, CEO Frans van Houten -- who stepped into the top spot in April -- said 2012 could be challenging as well.
Royal Philips does not break out the financial performance for Philips Respironics, the Pittsburgh-area company it bought in 2007 for $5.2 billion that specializes in the C-PAP breathing system as a treatment for sleep apnea. However, Respironics, which employs about 1,800 in Western Pennsylvania, is part of Philips' sales-leading healthcare sector.
With the addition of Respironics, there are few stages and conditions of life that Royal Philips does not touch -- from ultrasound fetal imaging to powered toothbrushes and shavers, to single-serve coffee machines, to a new automated external defibrillator (AED) that powers up as soon as the case opens. Along with its other features, the HeartStart FR3 can save precious seconds when someone goes into sudden cardiac arrest.
In February, Royal Philips officials said they were teaming with eHealth Global Technologies on a system that will manage electronic medical records more efficiently, shortening delays cancer patients have faced getting their first appointment.
Royal Philips is also expert at lighting all of the above and more. Just last fall, the company used energy-efficient LED lighting to illuminate Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome for an exhibit in Miami.
The company's oft-stated aspiration and goal is both holistic and global -- to become "a world leader in healthcare, lifestyle and lighting."
Its initiatives include a special iPad 2 application for fitness enthusiasts that uses a camera to measure heart rate and respirations remotely.
The same month that app came out, Royal Philips announced the launch of a new water disinfection system, called Philips InstantTrust, that instantly disinfects water regardless of water temperature. The implication of this technology for developing countries could be enormous.
All totaled, Royal Philips holds 36,000 registered trademarks, 63,000 design rights and 3,900 domain names.
First Published March 20, 2012 12:00 am