The international Buhler Technology Group increased its consolidated sales by 3.2 percent to CHF 1.5 billion in fiscal 2005. Order bookings rose by 3.8 percent to CHF 1.53 billion. The operating result (EBIT) was maintained at the level of the previous year at CHF 78 million, and net profits increased by 1.3 percent to CHF 72 million.
Sales (turnover) of the Group continued to develop also in fiscal 2005. They increased by 3.2% over the year before, growing to CHF 1,502 million. This growth is purely organic exclusive of any influences of acquisitions. Order bookings increased by 3.8% to CHF 1,535 million, and also the backlog of orders at the end of the year improved, by 4.6% to CHF 690 million.
Progress in Food
Sales in the Grain Processing division grew by 3.1% to CHF 847 million. Growth in this division was highest in the Rice Technology business unit, which boosted its revenue by 65% to CHF 39 million. The Grain Handling unit, too, experienced sharp growth of 20%, to CHF 66 million. In a difficult market environment, Milling – the division’s largest business unit – also grew, increasing sales by 2.5% to CHF 499 million. In the Feed Technology unit, turnover diminished by 8.6% to CHF 107 million.
The Engineered Products division grew by 5.8% to CHF 463 million. The business unit with the sharpest growth here was Chocolate & Cocoa, which boosted its sales with the same number of employees by 20% over the previous year, to CHF 180 million. Expressed as a percentage, the Pasta unit achieved the highest growth – 23% to CHF 103 million. As a result of the high crude oil prices and fluctuating investment cycles, the other business units of the division were unable to generate any growth.
The die casting market suffered from the tense situation in the automotive engineering industry. Despite this hurdle, sales of the Die Casting division slipped by no more than 0.6% to CHF 177 million compared with the previous record year, thanks to its good market position.
Growth markets in the East
The growth markets are shifting. Western Europe, which accounts for 32% of total sales, remains Buhler’s largest market. However, in the year under review, sales revenue declined by 8% while increasing in Eastern Europe to 11%. The sharpest growth was achieved in the Middle East (57%) and in Africa (35%). Combined, these two regions already account for one fifth of the Buhler Group’s total sales. A volume of the same magnitude is generated in Asia. In China, sales were maintained at the level of a year ago, but with a significantly higher local manufacturing share. Here, as in India, Buhler expanded its production facilities. Also the number of persons employed in these regions increased, whereas it tended to shrink in the traditional market regions.
Innovations in attractive markets
Buhler plans to continue growth in the fields of Food Production, Coating Technology, and Die Casting. This is only possible on the basis of innovations. For this reason, research & development activities were intensified, with research spending increasing by 14% to CHF 63 million. This effort resulted in 72 patents and a large number of market successes with innovative products.
Sound balance sheet structure
With EBIT standing at CHF 78.3 million with a margin of 5.2%, Buhler maintained the level of the year before (CHF 79.0 million or 5.5%). Higher raw materials prices prevented a better result. But thanks to an excellent financial result, Group profits increased by 1.3% to CHF 72.1 million.
With its equity ratio continuing to rise to 46% (previous year 43.8%) and its net liquidity standing at CHF 264 million (+ 18.7%), the Buhler Group has a very sound balance sheet structure.
Outlook for 2006
With its above-average backlog of orders of CHF 690 million, Buhler has got off to a good start into the current year. One imponderable is still the situation in the Middle East. But Group management are confident and expect to sustain the current high volume of orders and to continue the healthy development of the Group.
Buhler is a global Technology Group and a system partner for the supply of plant, equipment, and process know-how in the fields of Food Processing, Chemical Engineering, and Die Casting, with some 6,200 employees worldwide.
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