According to the preliminary figures, Swisslog stepped up its order intake and net sales significantly in the fiscal year 2014. Due to the continually difficult market environment and investments in the business structure, the EBIT went down 6.8% to MCHF 19.1. At 2.9%, the EBIT margin before transaction expenses reached the upper end of the expected range.
The order intake of the Swisslog Group rose to MCHF 735.4 (+4.9%, or +7.4% in constant currencies). The margin in the order intake also developed positively. The order backlog increased both in the new business and in the customer service business and amounted to MCHF 628.2 (+15.9%, or +12.7% in constant currencies). In local currencies, the order intake and order backlog reached a record high. Net sales climbed 5.8% (+7.5% in constant currencies) to MCHF 669.6. In contrast to the good order and net sales performance, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) dropped 6.8% (2.9% in constant currencies) to MCHF 19.1 according to expectation. The causes of the EBIT decline, which does not yet consider the transaction costs amounting to MCHF 4.4 in connection with the successful public offer of KUKA, are different in the two divisions (see below). The Swisslog Groups EBIT margin was 2.9% (prior year: 3.2%), reaching the upper end of the expected range. The fiscal year was also marked by a focusing of the corporate strategy and associated investments in the organization and increased further development of the product, solution and service offer.
HCS: Investments still restrained in US business
The business performance of the Healthcare Solutions (HCS) division continued to be marked by uncertainties in North America, the most important market. The decline in investments in the hospital market could be stopped only as far as the order intake was concerned (MCHF 215.8, 0.5%, +1.1% in constant currencies), but not yet with regard to the net sales. Net sales receded 3.2% (1.7% in constant currencies) and amounted to MCHF 204.5. In particular, the reduced volume in automated materials transport systems (AMTS), the divisions best-selling and most profitable product group, resulted in a further profit decline. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) dropped to MCHF 13.2 (15.9%, 14.6% in constant currencies), and the EBIT margin amounted to 6.5% (prior year: 7.4%). The turnaround that had taken place in Europe in the prior year was consolidated, while Asia reported continued growth. The customer service business was further expanded. By means of the introduction of the Solution and Technology Management functions, the focus of the offering on customer needs and the development of technologies and solutions was further strengthened.
WDS: Positive order and net sales performance
Thanks to numerous small- and medium-sized projects, the Warehouse & Distribution Solutions (WDS) division increased its order intake to MCHF 519.6 (+7.2%, +10.2% in constant currencies). Net sales went up in all regions and amounted to MCHF 465.1 (+10.4%, +12.1% in constant currencies). Operating profit before tax and interest (EBIT) increased by 23.9% (+29.2% in constant currencies) to MCHF 14.0. The EBIT margin improved to 3.0% (previous year: 2.7%), reaching the forecast level. Investments in the business structure and the associated higher fixed costs prevented a further increase of the EBIT margin. For example, the division introduced the Solution Management function, which will henceforth enable it to align its offering more closely with customer needs. Moreover, the introduction of a global SAP solution will contribute to a standardization of business processes and hence to an improvement in profitability. Thanks to some large system operations and modernization orders, the customer service business recorded a higher order intake, though its net sales remained constant.
The figures published today are preliminary and have not been audited. The complete annual result and the 2014 Annual Report will be published electronically on 5 March 2015.