Bietigheim-Bissingen, May 14, 2020 – The Dürr Group is well positioned to weather the economic impact of the corona pandemic thanks to free funds of a record € 1.7 billion. At the end of March, total liquidity stood at € 857 million. In addition to this, the Dürr Group has unused credit facilities of € 850 million available for funding its operating business and for refinancing purposes. Business performance came under pressure in the first quarter primarily as a result of the corona-related lockdown in China. Order intake receded by 24.2% over the strong first quarter of 2019 to € 838.3 million. A big-ticket contract from the automotive industry that had been agreed for the first quarter was postponed. However, it is currently still expected for this year. At € 842.6 million, sales fell by 11.3%. The operating EBIT margin came to 3.9% (Q1 2019: 5.7%); after extra-ordinary expenses of € 9.7 million, the EBIT margin stood at 2.7% (Q1 2019: 5.1%). The cash flow from operating activities climbed by more than € 100 million over the first quarter of 2019, coming to € 68.7 million. Says Ralf W. Dieter, CEO of Dürr AG: “We are solidly positioned and have sufficient liquidity to navigate the crisis safely. We expect the decline in business performance to bottom out in the second quarter, after which we project a gradual improvement in the second half of the year. Our plants in China have resumed production at an early stage after the lockdown, returning to pre-corona levels.”
Despite the difficult market environment, the Dürr Group did not receive any notable order cancellations. At € 2,704.1 million at the end of March, the order backlog was high. In China, capital spending on production technology for electric vehicles in the first quarter triggered a sharp rise in order intake (up 86.3%), with Dürr awarded two big-ticket orders from producers of electric vehicles. By contrast, new orders were more muted in other regions in March. Within service business, plant closures caused disproportionately strong declines in spare parts and plant conversion business. Similarly, commissioning was not possible in a number of cases.
The environmental technology business (Clean Technology Systems) performed solidly, with orders coming close to the previous year’s level (down 3.3%). HOMAG sustained a relatively moderate decline in orders in its business with the furniture industry (down 9.8%). Following the strong year-ago quarter, system business in painting system and assembly technology for the automotive industry contracted by 42.7%.
In China, business has returned to normal following the lockdown in January/February, with capacity utilization reaching good levels there. Plants in other countries are also resuming their normal business processes. In March and April, more than 50% of the employees were at times working from home. Plants in Brazil, India and the United States had to temporarily close, while the German and Polish plants continued operating without any interruptions.
The Dürr Group has implemented cost-cuts in response to the decline in business. These include, for example, reductions in working hours, external staff, expenses and capital spending. These measures resulted in a slight drop in personnel and selling costs in the first quarter and should unleash a stronger effect as the year progresses. Operating EBIT dropped to € 32.6 million (down 40.2%) primarily as a result of the lower sales and contraction of service business. The extraordinary expenses of € 9.7 million are made up of purchase price allocation effects and selective structural measures. After extraordinary expenses, EBIT came to € 22.9 million, while earnings after tax reached € 13.2 million.
At € 856.8 million, total liquidity exceeded the figure for March 31, 2019 by 45.4%. Net financial debt stood at € 65.4 million, which was substantially less than on the same date in the previous year (€ 143.9 million). In the last weeks, Dürr AG has been able to successfully complete two funding transactions: In April it received proceeds of € 115 million from the issue of a sustainability Schuldschein loan. This was followed in May by a second syndicated credit facility of € 350 million, which will be used to secure the refinancing operations involving the same amount in 2021.
Despite the corona crisis, the Dürr Group is investing in its future growth. In China, HOMAG is taking over the entire operating business of the sales joint venture HOMAG China Golden Field Ltd. (HCGF). This acquisition will boost its clout in the world’s largest market in the furniture industry.
At the end of March, the Dürr Group had 16,562 employees worldwide. Compared with the end of 2019, the workforce grew marginally by 0.4% but is to be reduced in like-for-like terms over the further course of the year. In this connection, it should be borne in mind that around 450 new employees will be joining the Group in the second half of the year following the acquisition of HCGF.
The economic environment has deteriorated since mid-March in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The crisis is likely to reach its climax in the second quarter. Dürr AG’s Board of Management expects a substantial decline in order intake and sales in the second quarter and does not rule out the possibility of a loss as well as a negative cash flow from operating activities. However, a slow improvement should emerge in the second half of the year. Given the exceptional macroeconomic situation, it is currently not possible to provide a precise forecast for the year as a whole. However, the Group will be releasing guidance in its customary form as soon as this is possible.