Winterthur, Switzerland - Automotive supplier Autoneum saw its sales and earnings rise again in the first half of 2012, mainly thanks to strong growth in North America and Asia, where Autoneum made good use of the positive market trend.
The Swiss automotive acoustics expert said worldwide automobile production increased by 8.5 percent in the first half of 2012 despite weakening in Western Europe and South America.
With 13.1 percent higher sales in local currencies than in the first half of 2011, Autoneum said its performance "exceeded global automobile production and remains on a growth course thanks to its broad global presence."
Net sales in Swiss francs rose 10.5 percent to CHF 950.5 million (($960 million). Operational improvements and sales growth meant that earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose significantly to CHF 35.3 million (previous year CHF 21.6 million ) with an EBIT margin of 3.7 percent for the first half-year 2012 (h1 2011: 2.5 percent).
Net profit rose by CHF 10.2 million to CHF 11.7million.
Reviewing the half year, Autoneum said "the automotive market boom in North America continued during the first half of 2012. China and India likewise continued on a growth course."
But the group said the unresolved Euro and debt crisis impacted automobile production in Western Europe and South America respectively during the first half.
Three of Autoneum's four business groups recorded higher sales in local currencies than in the prior year period. The group said this growth is attributable to Autoneum's "global presence, broad and well-balanced customer base," as well as to high sales volumes for new models.
Another reason is "markedly higher sales to Japanese customers," who were seriously affected globally in the first half-year 2011 by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Apart from in South America, the Middle East and Africa, all business groups improved their operating result (EBIT) compared with the prior year period.
Autoneum employs 9605 people, an increase of about 5 percent over last year, mainly because of capacity adjustments to meet the higher demand.
By region, Autoneum said, vehicle production in Europe declined during H1 by 6 percent to 10.0 million vehicles, the main impact being in southern Europe. Thanks to a favourable model mix and new launches, the company's European net sales for the first half-year in local currencies rose 4.9 percent to CHF 460.4 million, despite difficult market conditions. EBIT rose to CHF 1.2 million.
The result was affected by uneven capacity utilisation due to market weakness in southern Europe, and also by new model launches with "customarily low initial margins," the group said.
Vehicle production in North America rose again steeply in the first half-year 2012, by 21 percent to 7.9 million units. Autoneum's North American net sales in Swiss francs increased by 32.6 percent to CHF 380.1 million.
In Asia, automotive production (apart from in Japan) increased by 6 percent to 15.5 million vehicles overall. China and India each recorded 7 percent growth. Autoneum's Asia sales in local currencies for the first half of 2012 rose 10.5 percent. Net sales in Swiss francs increased by 14.0 percent to CHF 48.9 million. The improved result is attributable to the positive volume effect with global customers, and to operative improvements.
Autoneum has strengthened its board, adding Volker Eimertenbrink as new head of the Business Group SAMEA, and Matthias Holzammer as new head of the Business Group Europe.
Automotive production is expected to develop heterogeneously in the second half-year, with market prospects in North America and Asia remaining considerably better than in Europe.
Assuming the same currency relations as in the first half-year, Autoneum sees good chances of about 10 percent sales growth for the current year, higher than the global automotive production growth rate. In Europe lower sales are expected for the second half of 2012 than in the first half-year, not only on seasonal grounds but also due to the state of the economy.
Autoneum said it will continue to implement operational improvements during H2 2012 in order to continue the progress in H1, with a focus on further cost reductions, cash flow and liquidity.
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