OREANDA-NEWS. Feintool's positive business performance continued in the 2014 financial year. Sales grew by 16 percent year-on-year to CHF 503 million. High capacity utilization,  increasingly efficient processes as well as major investment during 2014 and previous years resulted in a satisfactory 73 percent rise in operating profit (EBIT) to CHF 35 million. Including the gain resulting from the sale of the Automation segment, net income increased by 88 percent to CHF 35 million. Even without this extraordinary effect, net income increased by 66 percent.

Organic sales growth
In 2014, growth in the global automotive industry continued worldwide. Feintool benefited from the positive conditions in the sector and, moreover, grew faster than the market in all relevant regions by gaining market share.

In this environment, the Feintool Group generated sales of CHF 503.4 million in the 2014 financial year, which corresponds to an increase of 15.6%. On a currency-adjusted basis, the company recorded 17.2% sales growth.

The largest share of sales was generated by the System Parts segment, in which Feintool is involved in global operations for high volume production of precision fineblanking and forming components. During the year under review, the segment grew by 17.1% to CHF 420.0 million, accounting for 83.4% of consolidated sales. The growth is mainly attributable to the increase in the volume of sales of new products in Europe and the United States.

At CHF 98.3 million, the Fineblanking Technology segment, in which Feintool offers end-to-end technological solutions for fineblanking, saw virtually no change in sales from the previous year's level and accounted for 16.6% of consolidated sales. After factoring out internal sales, turnover with external customers increased by 8.2%.

Operating profit shows high growth
In the year under review, both segments and all regions again made a positive contribution to operating profit. The Feintool Group increased its operating profit by 72.6% to CHF 35.1 million. As a result, the operational business posted an EBIT margin of 7.0% for the first time.

The System Parts segment reported EBIT of CHF 35.0 million and an EBIT margin of 8.3%. In the high volume parts business, the result was driven by a combination of good capacity utilization and numerous measures to increase efficiency. In addition, nominations won in previous years made their first contribution to results.

In the capital goods business of the Fineblanking Technology segment, Feintool posted an operating profit of CHF 6.6 million. This figure is slightly higher than the previous year, even though expenditure on research and development continued at a high level.

Net income up by nearly 90 percent
Overall, Feintool generated net income of CHF 35.4 million, corresponding to an increase of 88.0%. This also includes a gain of CHF 10.8 million on the disposal of IMA Automation Amberg GmbH. In the continuing core business, Feintool posted net income of CHF 24.6 million. This represents an increase of 66.0%.

Numerous orders and anticipated releases 
For the ongoing financial year, we expect to remain basically positive. At the beginning of year, anticipated contract releases by our customers in the System Parts segment amount to CHF 213.9 million. This in turn means a year-on-year increase of 18.2% spread equally across all our regional markets.

Incoming orders in the Fineblanking Technology segment increased by 10.1% to CHF 102.0 million. The orders backlog grew by 9.9% to CHF 42.2 million, equivalent to around eight months' worth of work for the long-term press and tool business.

Higher dividend payment planned
Given the Feintool Group's positive performance as well as its stable financial position, the Board of Directors has decided to propose to the Annual General Meeting on 14 April 2015 that it approve a 25% higher dividend of CHF 1.50 per Feintool share.

Feintool adopts forward-looking response to Swiss franc appreciation
In recent years, Feintool has systematically expanded its strategy of manufacturing in the various markets and currency areas in which it operates. 85% of sales are generated outside Switzerland. 

Nevertheless, the Swiss National Bank's decision to abandon its exchange rate floor on 15 January 2015 has a direct impact on Feintool's Swiss operations, particularly in terms of their cost structure. The company has responded with a range of measures at its Swiss production facilities in Lyss and Jona, including an increase in weekly working hours, cuts in numbers of temporary staff and a halt to new recruitment and overtime.

As a strategic response to the strong Swiss franc, in Switzerland Feintool will further strengthen its focus on specialities and is investing more than CHF 10 million in development, new technologies, expansion of the value chain and more efficient production equipment.

Expansion of production capacity in Europe
Based on projected contract releases, the current financial year will see Feintool's European fineblanking production facilities reach their capacity limits. With a view to accommodating further growth and meeting capacity requirements, on 27 February 2015 an agreement was concluded for the takeover of German company Gabler Feinschneidtechnik GmbH. Established in 2007 in Oelsnitz (Saxony), the ISO/TS 16949-certified fineblanking company employs 38 staff and is equipped with modern infrastructure which helps Feintool to expand rapidly and substantially.

Feintool expects positive business performance in 2015
Feintool is expecting business performance to be basically positive in 2015. At the exchange rates prevailing at the beginning of the 2015 financial year, sales were expected to grow by 6%, with a further improvement in margins. The sharp appreciation of the Swiss franc against the euro since 15 January 2015 will, however, affect these figures. Based on the CHF/EUR exchange rate since the euro floor was removed, sales are put at CHF 460-480 million and operating earnings at some CHF 27 million. We continue to target sales of CHF 600 million and an operating margin of 8 percent in the medium term.