Schuler starts new fiscal year strongly

    Interim report published for first quarter of 2011/12: Sales up 55 percent to € 276 million - Ebitda margin improves to 8.9 percent - Growth in new orders to € 391 million - € 50 million investment program launched - Schuler confirms growth guidance for 2011/12

    Göppingen, February 29, 2012 – The first quarterly report to be published by Schuler AG since its inclusion in the SDax index confirms the company’s upward trend: in the first quarter of its fiscal year 2011/12 (beginning October 1, 2011), the press manufacturer posted year-on-year growth of 55.3 percent to reach sales of € 276.3 million. The company reported gains in all markets with the exception of North and South America. At 39.7 percent, Asian business accounted for the largest share of total sales (prior year: 26.5 percent).

    “In addition to favorable economic conditions, Schuler benefited from strategic investments being made in the automotive sector. This will remain the most important market for us in the coming five to ten years, due in part to China where the potential is still huge,” states Stefan Klebert, CEO of Schuler AG.

    Compared to the same period last year, there was also an improvement in profit. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) increased from € 15.1 to € 24.6 million, which in turn improved the sales-based Ebitda margin from 8.5 to 8.9 percent. The Group’s profit after tax rose to € 10.0 million, compared to € 0.8 million in the previous year. The improved terms of the syndicated loan agreement concluded in November 2011 also had a positive impact on earnings.

    New orders higher than in three preceding quarters

    Schuler’s new order position was consistently strong in the first quarter of fiscal year 2011/12. There was lively demand in almost all markets. At € 391.1 million, new orders received in the period October to December 2011 exceeded each of the three preceding quarters. Orders were particularly strong in Europe (excluding Germany) and the Americas.

    As expected, new orders fell short of the € 505.4 million posted in the same quarter last year. As Klebert explains: “The global economic recovery in 2010 led to a real boom in capital spending on machines and equipment. This effect resulted in exceptionally strong new orders at the time. The current new order position, however, reflects a steady progression over the past nine months and has led to a safe order backlog.” As of December 31, 2011, the order backlog amounted to € 1.15 billion and was thus 14.7 percent higher than at the same time last year.

    2011/12 guidance confirmed, upward trend to continue

    “The strong order backlog and stable demand position have confirmed our guidance for the current fiscal year. We therefore remain confident that the current upward trend will continue,” adds Klebert. Against this backdrop, Schuler can confirm its guidance of a further increase in sales to at least € 1.1 billion and an Ebitda margin of 9.0 percent. The company also aims to propose a dividend payment to the Annual General Meeting for fiscal year 2011/12.

    Millions to be invested in China

    In the period under review, capital expenditures almost doubled from € 1.8 to € 3.4 million. In fiscal year 2011/12 as a whole, the machine manufacturer plans to invest a total of around € 50 million. “One major focus of our corporate strategy,” states CEO Klebert, “is to expand our market and technological leadership, especially in China.” Approximately one third of funds have been earmarked for investments in this growth region. Schuler is planning a significant expansion of its manufacturing and assembly capacities in the People’s Republic and also aims to develop new machines there in the medium term. Klebert adds: “At the same time, our non-automotive business fields will help safeguard our continued growth – for example with presses for the packaging industry or the production of large pipes.”

    Compared to the previous quarter, headcount grew by around 100 persons or 1.8 percent to 5,258 employees, including apprentices, in the first quarter of 2011/12 (September 30, 2011: 5,168). Of this total, 4,045 people were employed in Germany and 1,213 abroad. The increase in headcount was mostly at facilities outside Germany.