Sales increase by 46 percent: Plansee Group achieves best ever figures

The Plansee Group realized record sales of 1.24 billion euros in the last fiscal year. “We recovered from the downturn that was caused by the financial crisis more quickly than expected and performed very well in the 2010/11 fiscal year – from both an operational and a strategic point of view,” said Plansee Group CEO Michael Schwarzkopf at the annual press conference in Reutte, Austria.

Consolidated Group sales increased by 46 percent in the last fiscal year (from March 1, 2010 to February 28, 2011) to a total of 1.24 billion euros. This is 13 percent higher than the previous record-breaking sales that were achieved in the 2008/09 fiscal year, before the global economic crisis. “All four Group divisions performed well,” commented Schwarzkopf on the operational success of the Group. The total number of employees rose from 6,000 in 2009/10 to 6,730 in 2010/11.
50 percent of the Group’s total sales were accounted for by Europe, followed by the Americas with 31 percent and Asia with 19 percent. The USA was once again the company’s biggest single market, followed by Germany and Japan.
The Plansee Group achieved well over 50 percent of its sales in three key sectors: automotive, mechanical engineering and consumer electronics.

One billion euros invested over ten years
In the last fiscal year, the Plansee Group invested 62 million euros, and an additional 29 million euros in innovation projects. In total, the Group has invested one billion euros – or an average of 11 percent of sales per year – over the last ten years in machinery, technology, processes and new products.

“Our clearly defined positioning in our markets, our focus on developing new products as well as making sustainable investments are the foundations for our future growth,” said Schwarzkopf. In the last fiscal year the Group built a first production line for components used in high-temperature fuel cells (SOFC) in Towanda, Pennsylvania, USA. And the booming LED industry enables substantial growth. “Taking into consideration these developments, we should be able to increase the amount of sales that we realize from new products, which currently stands at 30 percent,” said Schwarzkopf.

Expanding in Asia, and investing in Molymet
According to Schwarzkopf, the Group has made a good strategic move by increasing its presence in China and India and securing the long-term supply of raw materials. After successfully building a production site for automotive components in Shanghai the year before, in the last fiscal year the Ceratizit division acquired 50 percent of CB Carbide. Headquartered in Taiwan, CB Carbide is a leading supplier of hard metal products in Southeast Asia and employs more than 1,600 people across seven production sites in China and Taiwan. The acquisition enabled Ceratizit to further strengthen its global position in the field of hard metals for wear applications.

In December 2010, the Plansee High Performance Materials division acquired a majority stake in Indian private company Wolfra-Tech. Headquartered in Mysore, Wolfra-Tech employs 180 people. The acquisition enabled Plansee to enter the Indian market with its own production facility – a market with an increasing strategic importance for Plansee.

According to Schwarzkopf, the Group is planning further expansion in Asia. A production facility for Plansee HPM division products near Shanghai is scheduled to start operation in 2012. At the start of the current fiscal year, the Plansee Group acquired a 10-percent stake in the leading global molybdenum ore processor Molibdenos y Metales (Molymet). Headquartered in Santiago, Chile, Molymet has been listed on the Santiago stock exchange since 1983. The company has annual sales of 1.3 billion US dollars and employs 1,400 people across six production sites around the world. “The recent investment in Molymet and the acquisition of Global Tungsten & Powders (GTP) in 2008 have significantly helped us to secure the supply of our two most important raw materials, molybdenum and tungsten,” said Schwarzkopf.

Planned divestment of PMG division
The Plansee Group has decided to divest the PMG division. “We want to concentrate on further developing our molybdenum and tungsten activities globally and cover every stage of the value chain, by starting with processing the ore and offering powders, semi-finished products and ready-to-use components that are tailored to our customers’ needs,” said Schwarzkopf. An investment bank has been commissioned to look for a new owner for PMG.

Outlook
In the first three months of the current fiscal year, demand has remained strong. At the same time, Schwarzkopf believes that there is evidence of overheating effects in some industries and at raw material prices. The earthquake in Japan has only had a minimal impact on the Group’s activities. Evaluating the overall business environment, Schwarzkopf said he remained cautious because the ongoing critical situation of countries’ national budgets and global capital markets makes business downturns possible at any time. Overall, the Plansee Group is expecting to achieve lower growth figures this year than in the last fiscal year. However Schwarzkopf believes that the Group is well prepared for any potential slowdown. “We have learnt a lot from the crisis. Cost flexibility remains a major issue,” said Schwarzkopf. Financially the Group has the necessary means to expand further and make acquisitions, thanks in part to the record-breaking 2010/11 fiscal year. The Plansee Group intends to make investments in the coming years in order to improve the competitiveness of its European production sites, globally expand its core activities and further increase the security of its raw material supply.

About the Plansee Group
The Plansee Group stands for excellence in powder metallurgy and is one of the leading suppliers of powder metallurgically manufactured products and components.
In the 2010/11 fiscal year, the Plansee Group realized consolidated sales of 1.24 billion euros and employed a total of 6,730 people worldwide.
The Group’s fiscal year ends on the last day of February.