Dutch health technology company Philips has today reported a 7% increase in fourth-quarter core earnings as the coronavirus pandemic continued to spur demand for hospital equipment to treat Covid-19 patients. 

Philips said adjusted earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation (EBITA) increased to €1.14 billion in the three months from October to December with comparable sales up 7% at €6 billion. 

This continued Philips' sharp recovery since the second half of the year, as the first shock of the pandemic waned and hospitals rushed to buy respiratory equipment and appliances that enable remote care. 

In the fourth quarter, this led to a 24% jump in sales of its Connected Care division, which supplies monitoring and respiratory care machines and software platforms. 

Demand continued to stay strong as new orders increased 7% in the last three months of 2020, taking order growth for the year up to 9%. 

"We continued to gain market share in our healthcare businesses, and ended the year with a strong order book," the company's chief executive Frans van Houten said. 

Philips confirmed its outlook for "low-single-digit comparable sales growth" in 2021, as demand for COVID-19 equipment is expected to cool down.

Its fourth-quarter results were slightly better than the core earnings of €1.12 billion and higher than the €5.91 billion of sales analysts polled by the company on average had predicted.