UPDATE 1-Lighting company Signify says outlook murky due to pandemic

(Updates after press conference; adds share price)

AMSTERDAM, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Signify NV, the world’s largest lighting company, said on Friday its short term outlook is still murky are as its clients are reluctant to rebuild inventory of lamps and lighting fixtures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

CEO Eric Rondolat said that outside of bright spots in government orders, professional customers and retailers were still reluctant to restore their inventory to levels they held before the crisis began in March.

He said the company was struggling with how best to approach its own spending so that “we go back to our normal way of doing business with a top line that will still be impacted, at least in the shorter term”.

The company reported adjusted earnings before interest and amortization (EBITA) of 199 million euros ($235 million), slightly ahead of a 174 million average poll of analysts and EBITA of 169 million euros in the same period a year ago.

Sales were 1.73 billion euros, up from 1.54 billion euros or 12% higher thanks to the company’s $1.4 billion March acquisition of Cooper Lighting. On a comparable basis they were down 8.3%, said Signify, which was spun off from Philips Lighin 2016.

At 0805GMT its shares were 1.3% higher at 35.15 euros.

Signify gave no guidance for full year earnings but said it expects positive cash flow in the fourth quarter and it will pay net debt down by 350 million euros this year. ($1 = 0.8476 euros) (Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)