* Chinese component shortage in March would hit deliveries
* U.S. Q4 demand weak as retailers reduced inventories
* CEO upbeat on 2020 demand in U.S. as well as Europe (Adds CEO comment, updates shares)
By Anna Ringstrom
STOCKHOLM, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Gardening power tools maker Husqvarna warned its production could be hit if China’s coronavirus outbreak continues to disrupt the supply of components into March.
The world’s biggest maker of robotic lawn mowers, garden watering systems and garden tractors said on Tuesday it did not currently foresee any problems if component supplies normalised over the coming weeks.
However, the impact “might become material” if the disruption continues in March, Chief Executive Kai Warn said, adding the company was looking into back-up sources of supplies for products such as battery and petrol driven trimmers.
Husqvarna’s warning comes amid growing signs of the global economic impact of China’s coronavirus outbreak, which has now claimed more than 400 lives and infected thousands more.
Hyundai Motor said on Tuesday it would suspend production in South Korea due to the disruption of supplies from China.
Warn’s comments came as Husqvarna reported a slightly bigger than expected fourth-quarter operating loss.
The Swedish group saw sales shrink in the United States, its biggest market, as retailers for a second straight quarter focused on clearing excess inventories after weaker than expected demand during gardening season.
But Warn told Reuters big retailers’ stocks were back to normal by the end of the year, and sounded upbeat about Husqvarna’s prospects in the United States and Europe this year.
Shares in the company, the world No.2 in trimmers and chainsaws, were little changed at 1200 GMT, having slipped nearly 4% in early trade.
Husqvarna does the bulk of its business towards the end of the first quarter and in the second - ahead of and during the peak gardening season in the northern hemisphere.
The operating loss in the fourth quarter, its seasonally slowest, shrunk slightly less than expected to 493 million Swedish crowns ($51 million) from 1.10 billion a year earlier.
The rival to Black & Decker, Honda Motor and Fiskars is in a process of restructuring and selling unprofitable businesses.
$1 = 9.6341 Swedish crowns Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Susan Fenton and Mark Potter