BWT records turnover and earnings growth after 9 months

15.11.2002

Despite the continuing poor economic framework, BWT – Best Water Technology –Group of companies, Europe’s market leader in water treatment, was able to grow turnover and group results during the first three quarters of the current business year as compared to the previous year.

Turnover: EUR 317.9 million, +2.1% compared to the previous year

The consolidated turnover grew by +2.1% during the first 9 months of the year 2002 from EUR311.3 million to EUR317.9 million. The turnover result during the third quarter was characterised by a pleasing development in the business area Aqua Ecolife Technologies, while the industrial business in the business area Aqua Systems Technologies suffered significant turnover falls.

In the individual business areas, turnover developed as follows (in EUR million, net of intra-group turnover):

Business Area1 – 9 / 20021 – 9 / 2001+ / - %
Aqua Ecolife Technologies(AET)189,4166,5+13,8%
Aqua Systems Technologies(AST)128,0143,8-11,0%
Fuel Cell Membrane Technologies(FCMT)0,51,0-50,0%

Total317,9311,3+ 2,1%

Growth in the AET division is worth a particular mention, as sales increased in all the important European markets. The Austrian companies recorded an increase of 6.3%, France one of 6.0%, Italy and Spain one of 7.4% and the Eastern European countries Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary even recorded a total growth of 33%. In particular, commercial technology and the increasingly focussed service business recorded above-average increases. Even in the market that is currently the most difficult, Germany, BWT, though not able to reach the ambitious goals set for the current year – the introduction of the limescale protection filter “Calfi” remains below our expectations – was still able to increase turnover by 2.9% by September, which has resulted in significant market share increases.

The third quarter was disappointing for the business division AST, which was affected by low investment activity of industrial clients. Turnover was 11% below last year’s equivalent. The Christ Group and the British Kennicott particularly suffered from the downturn in the semiconductor and power station industry and also from delayed order intake from the pharmaceuticals industry. In contrast, Aqua Engineering, which is active in municipal drinking and waste water treatment, and the van der Molen Group, which specialises in industrial applications in the food & beverage sector, were able to record increases of 98% and 49% respectively. However, this was not sufficient to make up for the negative influences mentioned above.

While the pharmaceuticals industry is now recording a significant rise in incoming orders and capacity utilisation therefore seem assured, the short-term development in the semiconductor and power generation industries are currently difficult to judge. The management has been careful in taking appropriate measures designed to achieve higher capacity utilisation in the affected industrial sectors.

Also below expectations is the turnover development in the business area “FCMT”, as part of which the BWT subsidiary FuMA-Tech develops and sells high-quality membranes for use in fuel cells. However, BWT’s quality leadership has now been presented publicly, on the occasion of a renowned German Institute testing the membranes and confirming that the non-fluoridised membranes made by FuMA-Tech show a 20% increased efficiency compared with other products.

Order book up 4% compared with the previous year, now at EUR 116.2 million

BWT Group’s order books amount to EUR 116.2 million at the end of September; this is equivalent to an increase of 4% compared with the previous year (EUR 111.7 million). The major influencing factors here are Christ and Kennicott UK’s power generation business, where a decrease of 75% was recorded. On the other hand, Aqua Engineering’s order book doubled and almost tripled in the food & beverage division.

Group earnings at EUR 10.6 million, +5.8% compared to the previous year

EBIT at EUR 18.9 million, -5.0% compared to the previous year

EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) at the end of September decreased by 5% to EUR 18.9 million. Increased pressure on margins, particularly in the industrial business (semiconductors), the unsatisfactory capacity utilisation and the necessary restructuring at the British subsidiary Kennicott were the reasons behind this. In the business division AST, therefore, we achieved an EBIT of EUR -0.4 million (previous year: EUR 3.8 million). The AET division improved its EBIT margin from 10.6% in the previous year to 10.9% in the current year. The fuel cell division posted a negative result with an EBIT of EUR 1.3 million and was therefore able to improve on the previous year’s negative result (EUR 1.8 million).

The financial result improved by EUR 0.6 million to -EUR 3.0 million due to the interest on the convertible bond no longer being payable and the more favourable interest rate climate. Earnings before taxes amounted to EUR 15.9 million, 2.4% below the previous year’s value of EUR 16.3 million.

The increase in the tax rate resulted in earnings after taxes of EUR 11.0 million, which is 8.6% below the previous year (EUR 12.0 million). Minorities’ shares in profits are lower following the takeover of CHRIST and thus Group earnings were EUR 10.6 million, up 5.8% compared to September 2001 (EUR 10.0 million).

Divisional results (EBIT – in EUR million):

Division1 – 9 / 20021 – 9 / 2001+ / - %
Aqua Ecolife Technologies (AET)20,54817,713+16,0%
Aqua Systems Technologies (AST)-0,4083,798X

Fuel Cell Membrane Technologies (FCMT)-1,331-1,798X

Aqua Finance (AFI)0,0500,148-66,2%
Total18,85919,861-5,0%

Cash Flow from operating activities at EUR 19.1 million (previous year: -EUR 19.8 million)

Group equity at EUR 118.5 million, at 31.3% of the balance sheet total

Cash flow from result rose during the first nine months, from EUR 20.6 million to EUR 21.0 million. BWT Group achieved a big step forward in its cash flow from operating activities, which was turned around from –EUR 19.8 million to EUR 19.1 million as a result of our “cash-positive-initiative”, and this enabled us to continue to reduce gearing to the current level of 88.8% - at the beginning of this year, it was 101.8%. The increase in creditors was below the rise in sales and we were able to reduce stock by 13% compared with the beginning of the year. Interest-bearing financial liabilities in the amount of EUR 4 million were also reduced and cash and equivalent increased as well, by EUR 4 million to EUR 24 million. BWT’s Group equity rose to EUR 118.5 million and therefore amounted to 31.3% of the balance sheet total, as compared to 29.1% in December 2001.

Investments at EUR 7.3 million(previous year: EUR 10.6 million)

BWT Group invested a total of EUR 7.3 million in fixed assets during the business year 2002. This compares with a total of EUR 10.6 million in the previous year.

Number of employees as of 30.9.2002: 2,468 persons

The number of employees at BWT Group decreased by 43 persons compared with 31. 12. 2001, and compared with September 2001 it decreased by 74 to 2,468 persons. The main reasons for this are the restructuring measures in the business area Aqua Systems Technologies.

Outlook

The stabilisation of economic conditions expected during mid-year continues to be elusive. BWT Group therefore expects a slight increase in Group sales of 2.5% to EUR 430 million compared with the year 2001. As a result of the existing pressure on margins and restructuring costs and the necessary capacity changes, we expect group earnings at the previous year’s level of EUR 15 million.

We continue to focus our attention on cash flow improvement and thus, a reduction in financial liabilities. With an even sharper focus on the service business for private as well as industrial customers, new product innovations in the direction of “Wellness and Hygiene”, continued standardisation of components in the area of customer specific plant construction and an even better utilisation of synergies within the Group, the management is confident that BWT’s leading position will be confirmed – Best Water Technology in the market of the future “WATER”.

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