Half-Year Report 2017
Dear Shareholders, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Feintool concluded the first six months of business year 2017 with a pleasing overall result that confirmed its growth trend. Sales in the Feintool Group increased by 6.6 % to CHF 297 million. Adjusted for currency effects, this corresponds to growth of 7.4 %.
The primary driver of growth was the System Parts segment in Europe. By contrast, the investment goods sector fell short of the previous year with presses and systems. However, based on current order intake, an appreciable recovery is expected in the second half of the year.
In spite of slightly weaker growth in the global car market, Feintool is once again benefiting from some important market trends. The majority of our products are positioned with right, high-growth customers in the upper volume and premium segments of the automobile industry. Another supporting factor is the customers’ increasing demand for lightweight components and high-tensile steels, which reduce the weight of the vehicles and hence their fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Feintool is responding to this demand with intelligent, cost-optimized, fineblanked and formed components.
Signs of a shift in the automobile industry towards alternative engines, growing ever louder on the market, have yet to be reflected in demand at Feintool. Vehicles with electric or hybrid engines still do not occupy a significant market share worldwide. According to diverse market predictions, classic engine technologies are also not expected to lose volume overall in the medium term. Furthermore, a major portion of the electric vehicles sold over the coming years will be plug-in hybrids, which, in addition to electrical components, still have an internal combustion engine and a (mostly automatic) transmission. However, since it is assumed that fully electric vehicles will account for a major part of market growth, Feintool is also working on initial solutions for alternative engines, which offer major potential for our technologies thanks to a sharp rise in volumes.
We do not want to react to market developments; we want to help shape them. To this end, we are already conducting numerous interviews with customers and collaborating with manufacturers. The main question is this: which fineblanking and forming components can we also offer for alternative engines? We see new market opportunities in these changed conditions. This view is supported by development projects already underway as well as specific product inquiries for alternative engines and new applications in vehicles. We are convinced that we can successfully shape this structural change in the market, as we have done in the past.
System Parts segment
The steel price which increased by an average of 25 % in the last six months has posed significant challenges to the parts business, particularly in Europe. Nevertheless, steel represents a large share of the unit costs of the prices. The increases in steel price were ultimately partially passed on to the customers, which had a positive impact on the half-year results.
Despite falling car sales in the United States, Feintool has been able to slightly increase its high level of sales there. In Asia, China – where the Taicang production site celebrated its 5th birthday – was primarily responsible for a slight increase in sales.
With the purchase of the forming plant in Tianjin (China) in the first quarter of 2017, we were able to close a strategic gap. We are now able to offer sophisticated forming applications in all of the important automobile markets and further expand our excellent market position. The integration of the new location is progressing as planned. Feintool will expand the plant and increase production capacities. The first step entails investment in a second forming press. Two additional machines will be added in the medium term.
Also scheduled for construction is a new Feintool plant in Most (Czech Republic) where simple and medium complex components and tools will be built. Production is planned to start mid-2018.
With its investment in a total of four machines for double-disc grinding for Lyss, Cincinnati, Taicang and Most ongoing, Feintool has continued the expansion and vertical integration of additional operations in parts production (e.g. hardening, grinding etc.).
Fineblanking Technology segment
The half-year result for the Fineblanking Technology segment is lower than the previous year. The business, which includes fineblanking presses and systems, tools, and services, was negatively affected by customers’ reluctance to invest in the previous year, as well as consolidation on the market. However, the current order intake is 15 % above the previous year and will have a positive impact on earnings for the entire year. Business in Asia is developing positively; press sales there will nearly double by the end of 2017 compared with the previous year. Technological developments in presses and tools, as well as the expansion of services, will continue to provide new impetus and strengthen Feintool’s role as technology leader.
Feintool is well prepared for further planned strategic and organizational growth. In order to secure financing for future investments, we signed a syndicated loan agreement for CHF 90 million with six banks from Switzerland and Germany on June 13, 2017. The agreement has a term of five years.
In the coming months, in addition to the expansion of production capacity, our focus will be on the area of research and development with the goal of opening up new application and business potential for Feintool technologies.
For the second half of 2017, we expect to continue our positive business development despite a market environment characterized by political uncertainties. We expect a total of CHF 580 million to CHF 600 million in sales and an EBIT margin comparable in size to the first half of 2017.
ALEXANDER VON WITZLEBEN
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Chief Executive Officer