Palfinger reacts to year end figures

By Maria Hadlow26 January 2009

Palfinger's preliminary results for 2008 showed a 14% increase in revenue due to a strong beginning to 2008 and three acquisitions. A 31% drop in earnings, however, reflected the weakening market and the accounting rules which apply to acquisitions, such as depreciation and impairment.

While the development of major crane markets, for example, Germany and France was relatively stable until the fourth quarter 2008, the markets in Spain, Great Britain, and Italy almost came to a complete standstill in the course of the financial year, said the company.

In the fourth quarter the group was forced to take measures in readiness for the months to come. After laying off its temporary workers, it announced a reduction of its core workforce in November and, this month (January), introduced short-time working hours for a three month period in its Austrian sites.

CEO Herbert Ortner said, "2008 was not an easy year for Palfinger but, despite all the difficulties, we have reason to be satisfied. Our strong market position and the flexible structures that we established in previous years have supported us in this environment. They constitute enormous competitive advantages, especially in difficult times and, therefore, the consolidation in our industry also opens up new opportunities. We achieved further growth in revenue, and our flexibility allowed us partly to absorb the drop in orders in 2008."

Three acquisitions supported the group's growth: the MBB Group, taken over at the end of 2007, the Elevant access platform unit of the Wumag Group and the US-based Omaha Standard.

In its preliminary 2008 results report Palfinger said, "The development of the overall economy will continue to have a significant influence on the group's business performance in 2009. At present Palfinger is feeling the consumers' reluctance to make investments but government aid and economic support programmes are expected to reinvigorate infrastructure investments. Management deliberately has chosen not to counteract utilisation beyond capacity in the first months of 2009 in order to have sufficient flexibility in case of a recovery of the market. Moreover, Palfinger launched a project to strengthen the Group's earnings and financial structure. This project is based on further savings in fixed costs, process improvements, revenue increases, and measures to reduce the capital employed."

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