Drive and automation technology specialist quickly overcomes crisis, high incoming orders in recent months, automation and electro mobility are next targets
Lenze SE has left the global economic and financial crisis behind. Chairman Dr Erhard Tellbüscher told the financial press conference for his company in Hamelin: "We are delighted to have overcome this crisis without external assistance. By changing our cost structures across the board and increasing incoming orders, we have been able to report a profit." At company headquarters in Groß Berkel, near Hamelin, Dr Tellbüscher presented the balance sheet for the last financial year and forecast the outlook for the year to come, accompanied by fellow board member Frank Maier.
Lenze's order books for the current financial year are bursting. The markets are recovering more quickly than forecast. Production capacity is being well utilised, which explains why the number of employees is back on the rise. "We believe that these are indicators of stable and sustainable recovery on the part of the economy - and our customers", summarised Dr Tellbüscher. High levels of demand are also having positive effects where human resources are concerned, with the number of employees topping 3000 once again.
The early part of the financial year 2009/2010 (1 May 2009 to 30 April 2010) was very clearly affected by the economic crisis. However, there were visible signs of recovery in the second half of the year. Compared with the previous year, annual sales fell by a total of approximately 18%. This means that the Lenze Group suffered sales losses of approximately 33% within the space of two financial years. "Our financial year was affected by huge variations in sales, showing how volatile our industry sector of drive technology is in comparison to general engineering. Most of our customers in the engineering sector have a delivery time of several weeks or months. On the other hand, delivery times of a few days are expected of subcontractors like those in drive technology, for example. Therefore, if an engineering company experiences a drop in incoming orders, this almost immediately leads to a reduction in subcontractor sales, as stocks have to be exhausted first", analyses Dr Tellbüscher.
In the financial year 2009/2010, Lenze SE recorded sales of 416.9 million euros (previous year: 505.4 million euros). This is equivalent to a fall of 18%. The operating result before interest, taxes and special items was 3.6 million euros (previous year 5.3 million euros). In spite of this fall of 31%, we were still able to report an operating profit in this year of crisis. Earnings after tax were 1.3 million euros (previous year: –?8.7 million euros); due to the special items, this is not directly comparable with the previous year.
Equity ratio grew by 1% to 60% (previous year: 59%). Despite the crisis of this year, the financial position of the Lenze Group continues to be extremely stable. On 14 October 2009, the German AG changed legal form to European Company SE.
On 30 April 2010, the last day of the previous financial year, the number of workers employed by the Lenze Group had fallen by 306 to 2897 (previous year: 3203). This can be attributed primarily to the measures taken to change the company's cost structures. On average, 2972 people were employed by the Lenze Group in the reporting year (previous year: 3346). In the financial year 2009/2010, the average number of workers employed in Germany was reduced from 1862 to 1635. This equates to a fall in the proportion of employees working in Germany as a percentage of the entire workforce from 56% in the previous year to a little over 55%. The largest sites are Groß Berkel near Hamelin (Lower Saxony) and Extertal (North Rhine-Westphalia). The largest sites outside Germany are Asten near Linz (Austria), Shanghai (China) and Uxbridge (Massachusetts, USA).
The total amount spent on research and development during the reporting period was 31.6 million euros. This means that at 7.6% of sales, expenditure was slightly up in relation to the previous year. "The aim of our development work is to offer our customers a homogeneous portfolio of drive and automation technology which reflects the current state of the art. Our customers value the high reliability of components, the harmonised and scalable product portfolio and the ease with which our products can be used", the chairman underlined.
The most important area of the Lenze portfolio continues to be drive technology, i.e. servo inverters and frequency inverters along with electromechanics with their motors and gearboxes. Analyses show that the majority of customers in the engineering sector use complete solutions made up of a variety of Lenze products in their machines. During the last year, Lenze made huge investments in expanding its automation portfolio. This autumn, the company is to launch a new control platform on the market, offering its customers a homogenous portfolio ranging from individual products to solutions and complete systems for everything from electromechanics to drives and beyond to visualisation and control. This mechatronic platform is flanked by a comprehensive support and service offer. It is by means of such offers that the Hamelin-based company is able to set itself apart from its competitors. "We are committed to continuing to develop these strengths", said Dr Tellbüscher.
Lenze products increase the efficiency of machines and systems, thereby contributing to lower energy consumption. The subject of energy efficiency is set to remain on the agenda in the future. "Our approach does not just involve the use of efficient products. We offer our customers a comprehensive strategy to enable them to identify the most efficient solutions as early as the planning stage. We call our technologies and concepts for saving energy and cutting costs Lenze BlueGreen", says Dr Tellbüscher, describing the active environmental strategy adopted by his company.
Electromobility is an innovative and emerging area of application for variable-speed electrodrives, which has the ability to become a much greater force than industrial drive technology within ten years. Lenze inverters, which have the potential to cut fuel consumption costs by up to 30%, have been a feature of the main drive of hybrid buses in pilot projects for some time now. These same inverters are also favoured by manufacturers of commercial vehicles, who install them as auxiliary units working in air conditioning systems, for example. "We have completed the pilot stage and are now in the series equipment phase. Electromobility will open up both new technologies and new areas of application for us in the future", Dr Tellbüscher told the assembled press.
Outlook for the financial year 2010/2011
The start of the current financial year saw a significant increase in incoming orders. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, production in this first quarter grew by more than 80%. The Lenze SE Board of Management is extremely positive about the outlook for the financial year 2010/11. The strong upward trend is due to Lenze's ability to tap into new markets during the crisis. The company already has operations in China and India, where growth is strong. Lenze recently consolidated its position in Brazil, the most important market in South America, by acquiring a sales and service partner.
The company, which was founded by Hans Lenze in 1947, reported an increase in sales in all major economic regions: sales tripled in Asia and grew by approximately 40% in Europe (growth was particularly strong in Germany) in the initial months. Due to the economic weakness of the US market, only the figures for North America failed to grow at a similar rate, with a 4% increase in sales being reported. "Our improved cost structures and our many new products will enable us to continue this upward trend in growth and profits", said Dr Tellbüscher,looking forward to developments in the current financial year.