BWT Generates Growth During Q1
After the decline in sales and earnings posted in the 2003 financial year, BWT – Best Water Technology Group – already generated very pleasing growth again in the first quarter of the new financial year.
The Aqua Systems Technology segment, which was characterised by the weak orders situation in the semiconductor industry, managed to approach break-even due to a considerable increase in order intake. On this basis, the Management Board expects a clear improvement in sales and earnings for the financial year 2004 as a whole.
Consolidated sales +15,7%
In the first quarter of 2004, the BWT Group increased consolidated group sales by 15.7% from € 97.9 million to € 113.3 million. The service and replacement parts business contributed strongly to this growth, representing 17.3 % of the Group's total sales in the first quarter of 2004 (previous year: 14.7%). The Aqua Ecolife Technologies segment grew by 17.7% to € 74.7 million, the Aqua Systems Technologies segment by 10% to € 37.8 million. In the Fuel Cell Membrane Technologies segment, a turnover of € 0.8 million was achieved.
The sales increase in the AET segment was mainly due to the first-time consolidation of HOH, which was acquired in mid-2003, with a turnover of € 8.2 million, as well as from the sustained positive development in France and a strong first quarter in Germany. Apart from the HOH acquisition, the AET segment achieved almost 5% organic growth. In Germany, the sales increase was based primarily on the Group's standard products and a newly developed process for the demanganisation of mineral water.
For the first time in three years, the Aqua Systems Technologies segment (AST) experienced growth again with industrial and municipal drinking water, process water and waste water treatment plants. A large part of the 10% sales increase was generated by Christ, where particularly the previously weak semiconductor division profited from considerable new orders. Also Goema AG, which is active in the industrial process and waste water division, doubled its operating result.
Order intake as at 31.03.2004: +30.8% up on previous year
The order book level of the BWT Group as at 31 March 2004 was € 128.0 million, representing a growth of 2.3% y.o.y.. Order intake developed very pleasingly in the first quarter, increasing by 30.8% to € 136.5 million, against € 104.4 million in the previous year. In the AET segment, order intake went up by 22% to € 83.3 million, in the AST segment order intake rose even by 44.9% to € 52.3 million. This development was characterised by significant orders from the semiconductor industry and the pharmaceutical industry, where respective increases of 150% and 90% were generated.
EBIT +38.0%, consolidated earnings +31.8%
The sharp decline in sales, coupled with high pressure on margins in the AST segment and a negative earnings The significant improvement in the operating result of the AST segment led to a growth of 38.0% in EBIT (result from operating activities) of the BWT Group from € 4.7 million to € 6.7 million. Due to a still slightly negative EBIT from HOH, the AET segment increased by only 1.5% to € 7.3 million, the reduction in the negative operating result in the AST segment arises from the turnaround of Christ, which already achieved break-even in the first quarter. The loss in the FCMT segment was further reduced due to increasing sales.
The financial result saw an improvement of 13.6% to € -0.6 million, resulting in earnings before tax of € 6.1 million, 46.7% up on the previous year. At € 3.8 million, earnings after tax were 28.6% up on the previous year’s figure of € 2.9 million.
Consolidated earnings after minorities rose by 31.3% to € 3.8 million, earnings per share were € 0.21 (previous year:
Gearing reaches low point since 2000
Thanks to the increase in consolidated earnings, cash flow from result rose by 12% from € 6.4 million to € 7.2 million, while depreciation remained almost unchanged. The increased working capital due to the higher operating result led to a decline in cash flow from operating activities from € 3.8 million to € 1.1 million. Net debt decreased by 10% from € 88.4 million to € 79.6 million y.o.y.. Gearing was 62.1% and thus improved to a low point since the end of 2000.
In the first 3 months of 2004, the BWT Group invested a total of € 1.7 million in fixed assets, about 21% above the figure for the previous year.
The number of employees in the BWT Group rose to a total of 2,717 by the end of the first quarter 2004. The increase over the previous year is attributable to the acquisition of HOH.
In the first quarter of the current financial year, the expectations of the Management Board were essentially met. HOH, which was acquired in mid-2003, the burgeoning of economic hopes in Germany, as well as a sustained positive development on the French market are the basis for additional growth perspectives in the AET-segment. Product developments such as an extensive new programme for prevention of Legionella bacteria in drinking and industrial water, as well as modern process methods for mineral water will further reinforce BWT's role as the innovator on the future water treatment market.
The turnaround in the AST segment represents an important goal of the BWT management in 2004. In the semiconductor industry, where order intake in the first quarter has already ensured satisfactory capacity utilisation for most of 2004, it is highly likely that a negative impact on earnings similar to that in the previous year can be avoided. Moreover, the AST segment is focusing strongly on the pharmaceutical industry, which already shows a positive impact. With the acquisition of 74% of the Irish Waterman Purification Ltd - now Christ Waterman - at the end of the first quarter, BWT secured an excellent
position in the important pharmaceutical market in Ireland and the UK. Further promising minority participations in the USA and China, which allow local value added necessary for these markets, promote the continued internationalisation of BWT/CHRIST in the industrial water treatment business.
All in all, BWT expects a significant sales increase for the current financial year compared with the previous year, which will lead to a strong increase in earnings. The further reduction of the gearing to below 55% is among the Management´s top goals.
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BWT Best Water Technology today is the leading European water technology group, comprising 65 companies over 2,700 employees. BWT devotes its efforts to the entire water cycle, “from source back to earth”. With its business segments Aqua Ecolife Technologies and Aqua Systems Technologies, the Group offers customised, sustainable products and solutions in the areas of drinking water, swimming pool water, process water, ultra-pure water, and waste water for individual homes, hotels, industry, and municipalities. With its third business segment Fuel Cell Membrane Technologies, BWT is well positioned as a premier supplier of innovative membranes for fuel cells.
All technologies for water treatment are part of the BWT product range, including filter, softener, water purifier, disinfection technologies such as UV and ozone, along with ion-selective membranes, electrical desalination plants, ion exchangers, membrane technologies (reverse osmosis, nano-filtration, micro-filtration, ultra-filtration), and the innovative AQA total technology - the first technology worldwide allowing drinking water treatment without the use of salt.
Source: BWT Wassertechnik GmbH