Figures for the first three quarters of 2000 show that Austrian loader crane manufacturer Palfinger Group maintained the rapid rate of expansion witnessed in the first half. Consolidated revenue rose 38.9%, from Euro 167.7m to Euro 233.0m. This success was attributable to the sustained upturn in demand for truck cranes and container handling systems. The group sold 12,435 cranes and systems worldwide during July, August and September 2000. The gain in cash flow from operating activities outstripped that in revenue, climbing from Euro 16.3m to Euro 32.1m — an increase of 97.0%.

The earnings indicators recorded higher growth rates than in the first two quarters of this year. Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) were up 87.8% to Euro 33.0m, while the profit before tax surged 102.1% to Euro 29.7m, and the consolidated net profit for the first three quarters of 2000 was Euro 20.0m compared with Euro 9.5m in the same period of the previous year — a leap of 111.2 %. Earnings per share were Euro 2.39.

The disproportionate gains in earnings relative to revenue, which have now persisted for more than four successive quarters, were the outcome of the increases in Palfinger’s market shares in its main markets, and of the impact of ongoing rationalisation programmes in procurement and production operations, as well as the success of the after-sales organisation.

To maintain the expansion strategy, investment in property, plant and equipment almost doubled in the first three quarters of 2000, as compared with the same period of 1999. In the third quarter alone, Euro 7.4m was invested, resulting in cumulative capital expenditure of Euro 12.9m for the January to September period, or a year-on-year increase of 87.6%.

The company said that it expected a further upswing in business in the fourth quarter, as well as more good earnings figures. As of 30 September order backlog stood at Euro 62.8m, compared with Euro 63.5m at the end of the first half of 2000 and Euro 48.2m at the end of the third quarter of 1999.

Performance of the Company’s divisions The truck cranes division posted increases in revenue and EBIT of 54.0% and 58.6% respectively. In all the division’s markets, crane sales exceeded those of the previous year. A number of models forming part of the new 2000 series were successfully launched.

The hydraulic systems division returned a 41.4 % increase in revenue. This was largely a result of the robust demand for the container handling systems produced by the Guima group, which has now been fully integrated in the division.

In the agriculture & forestry division, Epsilon profited from the improved trading climate, boosting its sales volume by 19 %, while. Stepa’s sales held steady in the third quarter.

Revenue rose in the production, purchasing & services division by 33.7% to Euro 15.8m. EBIT was up 69.3% to Euro 8.7m. This upturn was recorded in the face of marked increases in materials prices, which presented a challenge for the division’s procurement activities, the company said.

In its report, the company continued: “Thanks to further improvements in internal processes and the use of volume discounts leveraged by joint purchasing for all members of the group, procurement and production cost increases were kept within tight limits. The introduction of component manufacturing in Bulgaria played an important part in this success. At the same time the accessories and after-sales businesses recorded further growth.”