Bühler 'satisfied' with results as earnings hold steady in 2016

by Holly Demaree
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UZWIL, SWITZERLAND — Bühler’s profitability remained stable despite challenging market conditions such as volatile currencies, low raw material prices for oil and wheat, and political turmoil in many regions. Bühler’s net profit for the year-ended Dec. 31, 2016, was CHF 143 million, which was even with the previous year.

Buhler
Stefan Scheiber, CEO of Bühler.

“For a company based in Switzerland, 2016 marked a real proof point considering the Euro/Swiss franc shift a year ago,” said Stefan Scheiber, chief executive officer (CEO). “In this context, we can be satisfied with these results.”

Both business areas of Bühler — Grains & Food and Advanced Materials — experienced growth in 2016. Grains & Food’s order intake was CHF 1.956 billion and its turnover was CHF 1.873 billion, down 1% compared to the previous year. Advanced Materials order intake was CHF 554 million and turnover totaled CHF 537 million, up 9% from a year ago. The group’s performance was strongly supported by its customer service business. The service business showed higher growth and recorded a turnover of CHF 578 million, which was 7% higher than last year. The service share of turnover now accounts for 24%.

Buhler
In September, Bühler opened a factory for rice processing equipment in Vietnam that currently employs 200. 
Photo courtesy of Bühler.
 
The group continued to reinvest its cash into strategic applications and markets. Market positions were strengthened by rolling out new technologies, process solutions, and services, and by adding new production capacities. In September 2016, Bühler opened a factory for rice processing equipment in Vietnam that currently employs 200. The company announced in late 2016 its plan to modernize its facilities located in Switzerland.  The modernization program is aimed to create a best-in-class production and logistics, innovation, research and training, Bühler said.

Intake in 2015 shrank by 4 %, it increased in 2016 by 3 % to CHF 2.54 billion – a bridge of 7 percentage points. Turnover grew by 2 % to nearly CHF 2.45 billion. Consequently, the already high order backlog reached a record high of CHF 1.6 billion.

“With this strong financial position, Bühler is well equipped to continue investing into its own future,” Scheiber said.

R&D investments grew by CHF 7 million to CHF 109 million, corresponding to a share of turnover of 4.4%. Bühler signed a partnership with Bosch to develop future IoT (Internet of Things) solutions. The company engaged with the start-up accelerator MassChallenge and won the Nestlé Research Award. With its Networking Days held in August 2016, Bühler brought together 750 leaders of the global grain and feed industry to discuss and develop sustainable solutions that address global challenges such as malnutrition and energy efficiency.

“With the accomplishments of 2016, and a strong order backlog, Bühler has a positive outlook for 2017,” Scheiber said.

The dynamic nature of market and technology trends, regional developments, and political conditions make predicting potential business outcomes increasingly challenging, but the company aims to further increase its growth rate and profitability in 2017.
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