Finnish dockside and EOT crane manufacturer KCI Konecranes saw its first quarter sales rise 29.5% to Euro 163.9m, the company’s strongest ever first quarter result.

Sales in the Maintenance Services division rose 28.4%, first quarter on first quarter, to Euro 80.1m. Sales in the Standard Lifting Equipment division rose 13.5% to Euro 59.6m. Sales of Special Cranes rose 58.1% to Euro 42.2m.The cost of internal sales rose 20% to Euro 18m.

Pre-tax profit rose from Euro 500,000 for the first quarter of 2000 to Euro 7.6m.

Across the divisions, orders received are up 25.4% to Euro 212.8m, with growth particularly strong in Special Cranes, where orders are up 73.7% to Euro 85.1m. Standard Lifting Equipment orders are down 5.4% to Euro 62.7m. This fall is attributed to “to the discontinuation of the production of certain American hoist models.” KCI Konecranes is instead introducing models made in Finland to the US market.

The order book on 312 March 2001 stood at Euro 371.1m, which is 20.2% higher than at the beginning of the quarter and 56.1% higher the 12 months previously.

Group net debt, which had been increasing steadily for 18 months prior to the year-end 2000, has now started to decrease as shipments have accelerated. At the end of the quarter, the group achieved its target of reducing financial gearing to less than 50%. Gearing is now 47.8%.

The company reported that its Maintenance Services division has reduced the emphasis on winning new customers and new contracts, and has instead concentrated on improving the quality of existing maintenance contracts. A number of low-performing contracts were discontinued, and as a consequence the total number of cranes under contract shrunk from 187,184 at year-end to 184,196 now.