Europe’s biggest engineering and technology group Siemens has bucked the trend with a healthy rise in profit and sales.At the annual general meeting, the German conglomerate’s shareholders were told of an 81 percent drop in quarterly net profit, but that was because earning in the same period a year earlier were distorted by the sale of its VDO car parts business. Profit for the first quarter of the currently financial year – actually the final three months of 2008 – was two billion euros from its three main divisions – industry, energy and health care. Full year profit was 2.9 billion euros in the 2008 fiscal year. The company is sticking to its target for earnings of eight to 8.5 billion euros this year. Siemens Chief Executive Peter Loescher said: “I think that there are much more difficult quarters still ahead of us. However, as long as there are no cancellations of major orders or price falls that we can’t negate with higher productivity, and right now I don’t foresee either of those things, we are maintaining our forecasts for 2009.” However, the company – which makes everything from nuclear power plants and train carriages to hearing aids and light bulbs – did say that orders in its biggest division – industry – fell by eight percent during the quarter.