Bühler reports 3% increase in 2011 net profits

by World Grain Staff
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UZWIL, SWITZERLAND — The global Bühler Technology Group reported on March 22 that net profits increased 3% in 2011 to CHF 163 million.

Bühler reported growth of 12% (adjusted for exchange rates and organic plus 15%), and orders increased by more than 3%. For the 2012 fiscal year, the executive board said its expects a moderate increase in volumes due to the uncertain economic situation.

Despite market turbulence such as the appreciable slumps following the turmoil in the Near East and the natural disaster in Japan, Bühler increased its order intake by 3% to CHF 2,233 million. This growth was especially possible thanks to the Group’s strong roots in emerging markets, Bühler said.

Adjusted for exchange rates, the two Food Divisions boosted their sales volumes by about 20%, while the Advanced Materials Division benefited from the boom in the automotive industry and achieved growth of 35%. In geographical terms, this increase in sales is primarily due to China (+64%) and Europe (+15%). In Europe, the acquisition of Schmidt-Seeger accounts for about half of total growth and the related strengthening of the strategic market for grain logistics solutions. Asia with its 30% share of sales now has the same size as Europe.

With EBIT of CHF 218 million, which translates into 10.2%, Bühler Group once again generated a double-digit margin (previous year: 10.6%). The Group result of CHF 163 million exceeded that of the previous year by a little above 3%.

Group-wide spending on research and development in 2011 amounted to CHF 89 million or respectable 4.2% of total sales. These funds were invested in the new and further development of products with a focus on nutrition, safe foods, and energy efficiency. In addition, Bühler strengthened its local presence in the year under review by expanding its international customer service network by adding five new bases. Capital investments in tangible assets also rose appreciably, with a focus on additional production capacities in India, China, South Africa, and Brazil. Acquisitions in the areas of coatings, animal feeds, and sorting systems rounded off the product portfolio.

The order backlog of CHF 1,329 million as of the end of 2011 (+7% from the previous year) provides a solid basis for the current fiscal year, Bühler said.

In view of the uncertain economic situation, the executive board expects a moderate rise in volumes. Long-term global challenges must be added to the short-term prospects, for example the fiercer competition for natural resources and as a consequence rising raw commodity prices.