Winterthur, Switzerland -- Rieter Group, a major automotive acoustics supplier, reported a net loss of CHF 217.5 million ($205 million) in the 2009 financial year, but noted signs of recovery in the second half of the year.
Rieter's sales were down 38 percent to CHF 1956.3 million in 2009, compared to the previous year, although the Swiss company pointed out that sales in the second half of 2009 were 17 percent higher than in the first six months. The company's automotive business, which uses polyurethane foam for sound and vibration dampening, reported a 30-percent decline in sales to CHF 1424.3 million, Rieter said 23 March.
Both of the main markets for Rieter's Automotive systems -- North America and Europe -- were affected by a severe slump in demand due to the economic crisis, although large government stimulus programmes and a reduction in car manufacturers' excess inventories saw some increase in automobile production in the summer of 2009, the statement said.
Despite the usual seasonal demand reduction in the second half of 2009, Rieter's automotive sales increased by 19 percent compared to sales in the first six months of 2009. Operating result for the year as a whole was CHF -105.1 million - CHF -78.1 million in the first half of the year and an improved performance of CHF -27.1 million in the second half.
Order intake fell by 24 percent to CHF 1935.1 million in 2009, increasing by 9 percent in the second six months compared to the second half of 2008, and increasing by 30 percent against the first half of 2009. This, Rieter said, was due to a significant increase in orders received by both its automotive and textile divisions.
Rieter said the impact of the economic crisis was a dominant feature in 2009, and unfavourable market conditions led to a substantial net loss. However, despite a "drastic slump in sales," Rieter believes activity in both the automotive and textile sectors bottomed out before mid-2009.
Looking forward, Rieter said the further development of its relevant markets depends mainly on consumer sentiment in Europe and North America, and on economic growth in the major Asian markets. If the market trend in recent months is confirmed, on the current indications, Rieter expects significant sales growth at group level in 2010 compared to 2009, primarily due to the very low level of sales in the first half of 2009, the statement said.
Due to its restructuring measures, Rieter expects to lower the break-even point in both divisions in the course of 2010 and is confident of achieving the turnaround in 2010, as already announced in the summer of 2009.
Company chairman Erwin Stoller has now been elected executive chairman of Rieter while former ceo Hartmut Reuter has left the company. (RD)