Kobelco Construction Machinery has reported consolidated net sales for the first half year of fiscal 2002, ended 30 September 2002, of Yen 73.33bn ($597m), down 1.1% on the same period last year.

Operating profit was up 30% to Yen 1,482m ($12.1m). Pre-tax recurring profit was up 71% to Yen 674m ($5.5m) and net profit was Yen 177m ($1.4m), a significant turnaround from the Yen 958m ($7.8m) net loss in the same period last year.

Kobelco said that demand for hydraulic cranes and excavators was down 25% on the same period last year. Demand leveled off in the USA and Europe. The market remains tough in Asia but there were signs of recovery, the company said. ‘China was a bright spot with an upsurge for mid-size and larger excavators, owing to a sharp rise in infrastructure work.’

For the first time export sales, accounting for 52% of the total, outstripped domestic sales.

Said the company: ‘Expanded sales in Southeast Asia, Europe and China as well as strong sales of parts and maintenance services buffeted lower domestic sales. As a result, pre-tax ordinary income and net income rose sharply in comparison to the same period last year. For five consecutive half-year terms, Kobelco has been profitable on a consolidated pre tax basis.’

Demand for lattice boom crawler cranes in Japan fell 25% in first-half fiscal 2002, versus the same period last year, while demand for rough terrain cranes dropped 18%.

In addition to new crane sales, Kobelco worked on strengthening its stock business for cranes. It also began producing more parts inhouse. Although overseas sales of large machines grew on the back of demand from the USA and China, Kobelco’s consolidated crane sales decreased to Yen 8.1bn ($65.9m), down 19.3% from the same period last year.