Strong demand for its electric toothbrushes in China helped Dutch healthcare technology company Philips to a 4% rise in sales in the third quarter, on track to hit its full-year target. 

Philips spun off its lighting division last year to focus on medical devices and healthcare products.

It said today that it had recorded double-digit growth in China, which made up for flat sales in North America and a 6% decline in Western Europe.  

"We had a particularly strong quarter in China", the company's chief executive Frans van Houten said.

He singled out the strong demand for electric toothbrushes and the emergence of private healthcare in the world's second-largest economy as drivers of present and future growth. 

"We are very optimistic about our opportunities in China," Van Houten said. 

"Our toothbrushes continue to sell very well, while the growth of private hospitals diminishes the risk of government preferring domestic suppliers," he stated. 

Philips recorded total sales of €4.1 billion in the three months from July to September while core profits increased 12% to €532m. 

Overall, sales growth slowed at the company's main divisions, which sell consumer products, including toothbrushes, and high-end medical equipment, such as scanners and imaging tools used in surgery. 

The connected care and informatics business, which offers patient monitoring systems and software used by hospitals to gather and analyse data, was a notable exception, with sales growth picking up to 8% after stagnating in the second quarter. 

Total sales growth in the third quarter put Philips on the right path towards its goal for the whole year, Van Houten said. 

"We have achieved average growth of 4% this year, and we believe the fourth quarter will be stronger. That will comfortably lift us to the 4-6 percent range targeted for 2017," he said. 

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation (EBITA) in the third quarter were in line with analyst expectations, but sales growth fell short of the 4.5% forecast in a Reuters poll.