Bosch sees up to 5% sales growth in 2014 amid strategy shift

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- Robert Bosch expects sales growth of between 3 percent and 5 percent this year, even as the German supplier shifts its focus toward Asian markets and developing Internet-connected sensors.

Bosch, an unlisted company which does not issue detailed quarterly results, said today in a statement that sales in the first three months of 2014 increased by about 7 percent and that its automotive technology business sector had grown "impressively."

The company which makes ultrasound, radar and video sensors as well as spark plugs, wants to tap into a growing market for Internet-enabled devices and systems to allow autonomous driving.

"We continue to move forward with our traditional business and are opening up new fields of business," Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner said. "In doing so we are benefiting from our broad technological and industrial expertise."

The shift toward more sophisticated cars will result in a 25 percent increase in the production of ultrasound sensors this year to 50 million devices, and the number of radar and video sensors produced will also double, to more than 2 million units, Bosch said.

Sales of driver assistance systems could exceed 1 billion euros as early as 2016, as cars become more sophisticated and offer new business opportunities, the company said.

Boosting sales outside Europe

Aside from making a push to develop more Internet-enabled products, Bosch wants to expand its footprint outside of Europe.

By 2020 Bosch plans to double its sales in Asia, North America and South America, the company said. This year the company will add 9,000 university graduates from around the world to its global work force of 281,000 people.

Bosch reiterated that its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) in 2013 amounted to 2.75 billion euros, and that excluding an extraordinary 1.3 billion euro charge for losses on its solar business, the group's EBIT margin was 6 percent.

Bosch said last year its automotive business continued to grow, particularly gasoline and diesel direct injection systems, as well as display instruments and infotainment systems.

The company's industrial technology and packaging machinery businesses also recorded good growth. By contrast, the global weakness of the mechanical engineering sector caused a slump in the drive and control technology division.

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