PRESS RELEASE NO. 3/2004

CONTINUED GROWTH AT SEMPERIT IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2004 115th SHAREHOLDERS' MEETING APPROVES HIGHER DIVIDEND RICHARD STRALZ NAMED MEMBER OF THE MANAGEMENT BOARD

GROWTH IN ALL BUSINESS SEGMENTS IN 2004

The industrial group of the listed Semperit AG Holding is continuing along its course of growth again this year. As CEO Rainer Zellner announced at today's Shareholders' Meeting, first quarter sales were up by 3.1% in 2004 as compared with last year, having risen to € 118.6 million, and profit before tax (PBT) has increased by 10.6% to € 11.6 million. For 2004 as a whole, the management once again expects an increase in profit for the 14th consecutive year and higher output.

This performance is especially encouraging in light of current economic conditions. Competition on world markets is still badly distorted by the major fluctuations in the exchange rate of the euro to the US dollar. Moreover, the strong upward price trend for natural rubber and other raw materials continues to exert a heavy cost burden on Semperit products.

Semperit at a Glance (in € million)io. €)

1-3/00 1-3/01 1-3/02 1-3/03 1-3/04 Diff. 04/03
Sales 83.3 94.1 107.1 115.0 118.6 + 3.1 %
Profit before tax 8.3 9.3 10.1 10.5 11.6 +10.6 %
Total employees 4,676 5,467 5,560 5,818 5,679 -2.4 %

As indicated in the First Quarter Report for 2004 released today, the company's largest segment Sempermed (39% of total Group sales) operated at full capacity in the period under review. The parent factory in Wimpassing, Austria, slightly exceeded expectations while at Siam Sempermed in Thailand, the Group's largest production operations, sales were above target both in volume and value. The earnings situation there was improved through intensive cost-cutting programs. In China, the vinyl glove production plant Shanghai Foremost worked diligently to optimize its production facilities. The sales company Sempermed USA increased its market share on the world's largest glove market.

At Semperflex (26% share in total Group sales), the dynamic growth trend of 2003 continued undiminished in the first quarter of this year. The hydraulic hose segment in particular enjoyed full utilization of capacity at all production locations thanks to revived demand in Western Europe and in the new EU Member States Czech Republic and Poland. Industrial hose production at the parent factory in Wimpassing, Austria, improved its position on core European markets despite aggressive price competition from low-wage countries in Eastern Europe and the Far East. The Czech hose factory Semperflex Optimit set yet another record for production output. Roiter, the Group's company in Italy, reaped the first fruits of its sales-restructuring measures. The Thai hose factory Semperflex Asia, for its part, recorded a considerable revival of demand among customers from the US and Europe.

At Semperform (19% share in total Group sales) the encouraging inflow of new orders at the parent plant in Wimpassing, Austria, improved the earnings situation. The handrail factories in China and the United States developed positively and in line with expectations. In Germany, the construction profile manufacturer Semperit Gummiwerk Deggendorf further improved its sales volume and market share.

Sempertrans (16% share in total Group sales) put in a solid performance in the period under review, recording satisfactory sales and earnings. Business at the French production company Sempertrans France Belting Technology (SFBT) was impaired by a decline in demand and inadequate prices for textile belts due to excess capacity worldwide. The Polish conveyor belt manufacturer Sempertrans Belchatow topped its targets by conducting highly successful transactions involving metal belt exports to Eastern European markets and by utilizing the distribution channels of the Group's French company. Sempertrans Nirlon, the group company in India, markedly improved productivity and optimized production while also making full use of capacities.

DIVIDEND INCREASED FROM 41 EUROCENTS TO 54 EUROCENTS PER SHARE

In keeping with the strong earnings in 2003, the General Shareholders' Meeting approved the motion of the Management Board to distribute a 54 eurocent dividend per share.

Key Company Figures:

2002 2003
Sales (in € million) 451.2 463.5
EBIT (in Mio. €) 42.3 43.2
PBT (in Mio. €) 41.6 44.3
Return on sales (in %) 9.2 9.6
Return on total capital employed (in %) 13.2 13.3
Return on equity (in %) 28.0 28.5

The financial ratios again confirm the solid economic foundation on which the Semperit Group is built. The ratio of equity to total assets, an indication of the group's financial independence, improved further, rising from its previous high level of 45.6% to 46.5%. The return on equity totaled 28.5 % while the return on total capital employed amounted to 13.3 %.

 

ADDITION TO THE MANAGEMENT BOARD OF SEMPERIT AG HOLDING

The Supervisory Board of Semperit AG Holding has appointed Richard Stralz, 41, to the Management Board of Semperit AG Holding, increasing that body's number of members to three. An engineering graduate of the Leoben School of Mining, Stralz first began working at Semperit in 1987. After positions at Semperform and in Engineering, he transferred to his current segment Semperflex (Hose and Sheeting) at the Austrian parent plant in Wimpassing, Austria, where he ultimately was named business manager of the segment. Among other career accomplishments, he headed up the successful launch of Semperflex production in Hat Yai, Thailand, and was in charge of acquiring and restructuring the production companies Optimit in the Czech Republic and Roiter in Italy.

 

Vienna, 26 May 2004

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