The Plansee Group, headquartered in Reutte, Austria, has reported the results for its 2018/19 fiscal year ending on February 28, 2019. The group reported that it achieved a consolidated sales revenue of €1.52 billion, marking a 17% year-over-year increase and a new record for the group.
All sales markets and regions, as well as all of the Plansee Group’s divisions and companies, were said to have contributed to this sales growth. Regionally, 53% of revenue came from Europe, 25% from the USA, and 22% from Asia. Drill manufacturer Komet, acquired in 2017, contributed one third to the group’s increased sales. Total sales volume was reported to have risen by 7%.
Bernhard Schretter, Plansee Group Executive Board Member, stated, “In a very exciting market environment, we differentiated ourselves through flexibility and strength.” Schretter and Karlheinz Wex, also a Member of the Executive Board, added that, in light of an equity ratio of 58%, the Plansee Group is debt-free and equipped for economic fluctuations as well as additional development steps.
During a press conference in Reutte, Schretter and Wex described the course of the fiscal year as a year “with two faces.” The first half of the year were said to have seen “immensely high demand,” while business notably slowed in the second half of the year, particularly in the months of December 2018 and January 2019.
“Our continued goal must be to meet fluctuating demand and the rising competitive pressure from China with flexibility and strength,” added Wex. As a result, the group has made continued investments in its performance capability in the past year and took important steps to expand its recycling rate and employee training.
Over the course of the fiscal year, Plansee reported that it had invested €210 million in strengthening its performance capability. The majority of investments went toward creating new and expanding existing production capacities and automating production plants and flows, focusing primarily on its manufacturing sites in China, India, Austria, Germany, Japan and Switzerland.
The group also invested a total of €67 million in the development of new products and process improvements. New products (products less than five years old) accounted for 29% of sales revenue, the same level as in the previous year. The organisation in the Plansee High Performance Materials division was also said to have been extensively streamlined to reduce interfaces and facilitate growth.
In view of volatile raw materials markets and difficult general conditions for tungsten mines in the West, Plansee stated that it had taken further steps to safeguard the raw material supply of tungsten in the long run. On March 1, 2019, Plansee announced the acquisition of Stadler Metal, a German company specialising in the trade and processing of hard metals.
Wex explained, “Hard metals are made of tungsten and cobalt. Demand for these metals is on the rise worldwide. Stadler purchases used hard metal tools and analyses and sorts them.” The acquisition is expected to further increase the recycling rate of tungsten in the Plansee Group from its current 60%. The group’s capacity for recycling hard metal scrap to yield fresh, usable tungsten and cobalt powder is also being expanded at its locations in Finland, the USA and Austria.
Following major fluctuations in demand in the past fiscal year, the company reported that demand has levelled off in the first quarter of the current fiscal year to a slightly lower, but stable rate. The atmosphere is reported to be “perceptibly subdued,” especially in the automotive industry and in mechanical engineering, with many customers reducing their inventory.
“At present, we expect the business environment to remain at this level in the coming months,” stated Wex. It was noted that the group is not directly affected by Brexit and unforeseeable trade conflicts, but Wex added that “in the long run these developments hurt the entire economy. To remain successful in the future, we will stick to our clear focus on tungsten and molybdenum materials for high-tech applications, create the conditions for excellently trained employees, and continue to invest in our performance capability, and in skills and processes in particular, to be the preferred supplier for our customers.”