Weak 1st quarter in 2002 – Strong influx of new orders in April
Asslar, Germany, May 7, 2002. Pfeiffer Vacuum, a leading manufacturer of high-quality vacuum pumps, vacuum gauges and complete vacuum systems, announces its results for the 1st quarter of 2002.
The global economic slump persisted throughout the 1st quarter of 2002. This development is also reflected in the numbers released by Pfeiffer Vacuum:
Total sales lagged behind the record 1st quarter of 2001 by € 9.7 million. The sharpest decline was felt in the United States, where sales dropped by 35.2 % from € 14.2 million in Q1/2001 to € 9.2 million in Q1/2002 (Q4/2001: € 8.9 million). Continued stagnation in the semiconductor industry at the outset of the year 2002 played a crucial role in this development.
Sales declined less dramatically in the other key markets of the world:
Germany went from € 12.6 to € 10.2 million = - 19.0 % (Q4/2001: € 13.1 million),
Europe outside Germany from € 14.5 to € 12.9 million = - 11.0 % (Q4/2001: € 13.4 million),
Asia and the rest of the world from € 5.4 to € 4.7 million = - 13.0 % (Q4/2001: € 4.8 million).
Although pressure on pricing tends to increase during difficult economic times, it was possible to sustain gross margin at a high level, thanks to no small degree to the investments made in new production processes and procedures in recent years. Gross margin was 45.3 % in Q1/2002, as opposed to 44.5 % in Q1/2001 (Q4/2001: 46.7 %).
The company™s new segment of DVD metalizers and complete production lines is not anticipated to begin generating sales until the 2nd half of 2002. On January 1, 2002, Pfeiffer Vacuum had acquired the assets of the German subsidiary of 4M (formerly Leybold Systems) in Aschaffenburg. These activities have been merged with those of Memex, a Swiss-based engineering company acquired in June 2000, to form Pfeiffer Vacuum Systems. The selling, general, administrative and R&D costs incurred for this new subsidiary impacted operating profit for the 1st quarter of 2002 by some € 1 million.
As opposed to the decline in sales, selling, general and administrative costs remained constant, while there was an increase in R&D expenses. This resulted in an operating profit (EBIT) of € 4.6 million in Q1/2002 = 12.3 % of sales, as opposed to € 8.8 million = 18.8 % of sales in Q1/2001. In Q4/2001, EBIT had stood at € 5.4 million = 13.5 % of sales.
The trend of new orders continues to reflect increasingly shorter ordering cycles. Pfeiffer Vacuum had responded to this development early on with a flexible worktime model and a complete reorganization of the production operation ("breathing factory"). In April, it was possible to again post a stronger influx of new orders from the semiconductor industry. Orders from the glass coating industry, too, gave rise to cautious optimism.
CEO Wolfgang Dondorf: "Although the strong level of new orders received in April 2002 is a good sign, it is not yet an indication that the trend has reversed. However good products, good people, strict cost management and a global sales and service organization, coupled with absolutely sound financing, enable us to act calmly and with a view to the future in these times of crisis. Pfeiffer Vacuum will be debuting its newly developed products for the DVD market from May 6 to 8, 2002, at Media Tech in Frankfurt, one of the world™s major tradeshows for optical storage media."
Source: Pfeiffer Vacuum GmbH