BWT Results For the 3rd Quarter of 2003

14.11.2003

  • Aqua Ecolife Technologies: increase in sales and earnings
  • Aqua Systems Technologies negatively impacted
  • Slight increase in sales and earnings in the 3rd quarter
  • Acquisition of Scandinavian HOH group strengthens BWT market leadership in Europe

The varying developments in sales and earnings in BWT’s two main divisions of Aqua Ecolife Technologies (AET) and Aqua Systems Technologies (AST) have continued into the third quarter of the financial year 2003. While the AET division achieved an increase in both sales and earnings compared to the previous year, a slump in operating output and margins in the semiconductor business lead to considerable losses in the AST division, which also had a major negative impact on the Group’s earnings in the first nine months of the year. Nevertheless, both sales and earnings in the 3rd quarter slightly exceeded the figures achieved in the previous year. The Scandinavian HOH Group, which was acquired in August, will be retrospectively included in the consolidated result in the 4th quarter as of 1 July 2003.

Total sales € 294.1 m (-7.5%)

In the first nine months 2003, consolidated sales declined by 7.5% from € 317.9 million to € 294.1 million. While the Aqua Ecolife technologies division increased its sales by 1.4% to € 191.9 million, the Aqua Systems Technologies division recorded a decrease in sales of € 26 million (-20.3%). This was caused primarily by the poor orders position at the Swiss Christ. Sales in the 3rd quarter totalled € 100.7 million, an increase of 0.4% on the previous year (€ 100.2 million).

France and BWT activities in Eastern Europe primarily contributed to the growth in sales in the AET division, achieving increases of 7% and 25% respectively. This more than compensated for the slight decline in sales in Germany. The 20% decline in sales in the AST division was mainly attributable to Christ which showed a decrease in operating performance of 30%. Due to settlement during the previous year, sales at Aqua Engineering and Christ Kennicott were also down as at 30 September. In comparison, van der Molen and Hinke increased sales in the food and beverage industries by 6% on the previous year.

In line with the market situation, the Fuel Cell Membrane Technologies (FCMT) division achieved sales of € 0.2 million (previous year: € 0.5 million).

Order book level as at 30 September: € 115.8 m (-0.3%)

The order book level of the BWT Group was marginally down on the previous year (€ 115.8 million compared with € 116.2 million). The order book level in the AET division showed an increase of 4.7%, while in the AST group it was down by 2.3% compared with the previous year. Orders received in the first nine months of the current financial year were at € 291.4 million, 8.6% down on the previous year; whereby the AET division showed an increase of 2.6% and the AST division a decrease of 26.5%.

EBIT € 11.903 m (-36.9%)

The decline in operating performance and the increased squeeze on margins in the AST division resulted in a 36% reduction in EBIT from € 18.9 million to € 11.9 million. The AET division EBIT increased to € 21.9 million while the AST division EBIT after nine months was € -9.2 million compared with € -0.4 million in the previous year. As a result of cost savings, the losses in the fuel cell division were reduced from € 1.3 million in the previous year to € 0.9 million.

The reduced percentage of the AST division in the overall result led to an improvement in the cost of materials compared to sales. Personnel costs increased by 1.0% in comparison with the previous year, while other operating expenses and revenue in total increased by 7.5%.

The improvement in the financial result also continued in the 3rd quarter. Net interest income rose by 38.5% in comparison to the previous year, which was a reflection of not only the more favourable interest rate levels but also the profit from the cash-positive programme and the clear decline in interest-bearing financial liabilities associated with the latter.

Earnings before taxes were € 10.3 million, which equals 3.5% of sales. Earnings after taxes were € 6.4 million and thus were 41.5% down on the previous year’s figure of € 11 million. Consolidated income after minorities was € 6.2 million and the profit per share was € 0.35.

Cash flow from earnings € 16.3 m (2002: € 21.0 m)

Cash flow from business activities € 20.1 m (2002: € 19.1 m)

The decline in earnings was reflected in the cash flow from earnings, which in the first nine months of the current financial year fell from € 21.0 million in the previous year to € 16.3 million. The significantly reduced level of debt enabled last year’s high level of cash flow from business activities, € 19.1 million, to be exceeded once again and as at the end of September this amounted to € 20.1 million. As a result, financial liabilities decreased considerably and gearing achieved an improved level of 69%. As a result of the reduced balance sheet total, group equity increased to 35.3% (30.9.2002: 31.3%).

Investments in fixed assets: € 4.8 million (2002: € 7.3 million)

BWT Group investment in fixed assets was € 4.8 million after the first three quarters of 2003 and thus decreased by approximately 34% in comparison to the previous year.

Number of employees as at 30.9.2003: 2,454

The total number of employees at the BWT Group was 2,454 at the end of the 3rd quarter. The figure was 2,468 at the same time last year and 2,466 on 31.12.2002. Of this figure, 1,714 were employed by AET (2002: 1,698), 726 by AST (2002: 755) and 14 by FMCT (2002: 15). The decline in the number of employees at AST primarily concerned Christ.

Acquisition of Scandinavian HOH group strengthens BWT market leadership in Europe With the acquisition of the HOH Water Technology Group from NTR Holding A/S, Copenhagen, as of 1 July 2003, BWT has achieved another important strategic goal. The BWT Group now has subsidiaries operating in all Scandinavian countries. HOH Water Technology, with its widespread marketing and service network, is one of the largest and most prestigious suppliers in the Northern European water treatment market. The HOH Water Technology Group comprises the parent company in Copenhagen and subsidiaries in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. From these locations both the domestic market and the export markets in the Baltic States and Russia are supplied. The strategy of HOH is particularly built on a strong service network and the sale of standardised equipment and installations. All existing business activities are being actively expanded.

Outlook

The results of the 3rd quarter confirm the expectations of the Management Board, who as early as the middle of the year had published the considerably downwards revised sales and earnings expectations for the current financial year. After the acquisition of HOH, which will be consolidated at the end of the year with retrospective effect as of 1 July 2003, the BWT Group is expecting consolidated annual sales of approximately € 415 million (2002: € 431 million) and consolidated income after minorities of € 7.5 million (previous year: € 15.2 million). For 2003, the Management Board is planning to retain an unchanged dividend of € 0.24 per share despite the reduction in earnings.

For the coming 2004 financial year, the Management Board is expecting a turnaround in the semiconductor sector, from which Christ should benefit strongly with its optimised cost structure and thanks to its technological leadership. The further development of the AET division will be supported with an innovative product programme focussing on the topic “Drinking Water Hygiene”.

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