First quarter optimism from Palfinger

By Euan Youdale01 June 2010

Palfinger's 2010 first quarter revenues trailed behind figures from the same period in 2009 but earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) pulled the company into the positive.

At €129.4 million, (US$157.1 million) revenue for the Austrian loader crane manufacturer was 7.8% lower than the €140.4 million (US$ 170.5 million) total in the first quarter 2009.

In contrast, revenues went up 10% compared to the fourth quarter 2009, the company's weakest period of the year, amounting to the biggest leap since 2008. This marks a "trend reversal" consistent with the recovering economy, said the company.

Earnings before interest and tax came to €3.4 million ($4.1 million) compared to -€3.3 million ($4.0 million) in the first quarter 2009, following a year of cost cutting and restructuring. "On this basis Palfinger's consolidated net result turned positive again, amounting to €0.8 million in the first quarter 2010," said a company spokesman.

"In 2009 we were a very active player on the market despite the drop in business. This enabled us to consolidate our market position and to start off in the first months of 2010 with new momentum. We are still a long way from achieving pre-crisis levels, but we are seeing continuous improvement, both on the market and in our key performance indicators," said Herbert Ortner, CEO of Palfinger AG.

In many European countries business performance had strengthened by the end of 2009, particularly evident in crane products and tail lifts. Although figures were still weak in Spain, UK, Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Eastern European countries most severely hit by the crises.

"The consistent de-stocking process carried out by dealers in 2008 and 2009 played a significant role in the immediate effect the improvement of the market situation had on order intake and thus on revenue recorded in the first quarter 2010," said the spokesman.

Outside Europe, South America performed consistently well and was able to uphold 2009 first quarter revenues. In North America the acquisition of container handling systems producer Automated Waste Equipment Inc (AWE) resulted in the same results recorded in 2009. Revenue in Asia almost doubled, said the company, although it was from a relatively low level.

Palfinger's new majority stakeholding in access platform producer ETI (Equipment Technology, LLC) were completed at the end of March 2010 and marks a major part of the company's strategy in North America.

"Palfinger is not yet in a position to make reliable forecasts for the entire 2010 financial year as markets are expected to be increasingly volatile. However, management expects revenues to pick up slightly in almost all sectors. On this basis an organic growth of group revenue in the amount of 10 to 15% is assumed," concluded the company spokesman.

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