All three Group divisions - Plansee HPM, Ceratizit and PMG contributed to this growth.
Michael Schwarzkopf, chairman of the Plansee Group’s executive board, comments: "Despite the strength of the euro and rising raw-material and energy costs, we increased our market share in all business areas and geographical regions. We achieved even better growth in the USA than in the successful European export markets."
The Plansee Group also recorded excellent sales growth in emerging markets such as Eastern Europe, China and Taiwan. "Sales in key markets such as mechanical engineering, automotive and electronics contributed significantly to the growth," says Schwarzkopf.
By acquiring the US companies Electro-Graph and Newcomer Products, and by setting up six new sales offices in Mexico, Spain, Italy and China, the Group increased its international presence to 70 companies worldwide. The number of sites in North America went down by two due to production areas being consolidated. The number of people employed by the Group increased by 350 to 5,900.
Schwarzkopf describes the Group’s profits as "satisfactory and in line with long-term objectives". The investment of 116 million euros was financed from operating cash flow. The equity-to-assets ratio amounted to 60 percent of the total balance sheet.
Schwarzkopf comments: "Plansee made investments of 400 million euros over the last three fiscal years, half of which went into our companies in Austria. Key investments were made in expanding the production plant in Breitenwang/Reutte, in building a new hot rolling mill for flat products and a new recycling facility for hard metals. We also invested in developing our factories which focus on particular product areas, for example PMG Polmetasa in Spain."
Outlook for the current fiscal year
Schwarzkopf expects a generally stable development for the Group in the 2008/09 fiscal year. However, because the economic situation in some markets is quite unstable, particularly in North America, the Plansee Group needs to focus firmly on safeguarding its competitive position. Schwarzkopf believes that the way to do this is, firstly, by continuously investing in technologies, products and employees; secondly by improving business processes (in particular by focusing factories on particular product areas); and thirdly, by implementing a clear raw material sourcing strategy.
The Group will help achieve this by expanding the capacity of its hard-metal recycling activities and by taking over US powder specialist Global Tungsten & Powders (GTP). The agreement to acquire GTP was signed on April 22 this year, subject to approval by the anti-trust authorities. Once the acquisition is complete, GTP will become the Plansee Group’s fourth division. The company employs over 1,000 people and has annual sales of 280 million euros. "The acquisition of GTP will enable us to strengthen our presence in North America, and will ensure that we have a sufficient supply of tungsten raw materials in the long term."
With its three divisions - PLANSEE High Performance Materials, CERATIZIT and PMG - the Plansee Group is one of the world’s leading suppliers of powder metallurgical products and components.
Ignoring different shares of ownership, the Group achieved worldwide sales of over 1.5 billion euros in the 2007/08 fiscal year, and employed a total of 9,350 people.
The fiscal year ends on the last day of February.