Haulotte feels effects of wait and see attitude

By Maria Hadlow29 July 2008

Haulotte's equipment sales for the first half of the year are down 14% compared with 2007. The company has felt the effects of a weak European market and the "wait and see approach" of a number of rental companies' response to the current economic climate.

Net sales in the first half - including equipment sales, rental and services - totalled €258.7 million compared with €294 million for the same period last year which is down 12% (11% excluding the currency effect). The figures have been adjusted to exclude the French rental business, Lev, sold in January, but the second quarter is roughly down 15% on 2007.

Strong gains in emerging countries of 22% and services of 27% have not been sufficient to offset the decline in sales in Western Europe which are down 23%. This reflects a slowdown in the aerial work platform market more pronounced that anticipated at the start of the year.

The EBITA (earnings before interest tax and amortisation) for the first half are down 14% primarily because of lower sales volumes.

In light of the uncertain market and the rising prices of raw materials combined with the strength of the Euro, Haulotte does not expect sales for 2008 to exceed those of 2007. Haulotte has initiated a cost reduction programme targeting 10% of fixed costs in the second half. The company does not intend that these reductions will effect its plans for future expansion such as R&D or measures to increase production capacity in Romania.

The new Romanian manufacturing unit represents an investment of €23 million and will be open in the first half of 2009.

Haulotte has also just announced the acquisition of US company Bil-Jax, a manufacturer of scaffolding and aerial lifts. This alliance adds production capacity and strengthens Haulotte's presence in North America as well as expanding the company's product range.

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