The first half of 2011 was shaped by strong economic growth worldwide and by high raw material and energy costs. However, the pace of growth slowed down in the second half of the year. Unresolved debt problems in the USA and Europe as well as turmoil on the financial and forex markets unsettled companies and consumers and resulted in more prudent consumer behaviour worldwide. Greater caution was exercised in purchasing and investment decisions, and inventories were scaled back by the end of the year.
EMS benefited from the good economic trend. In addition, a number of new transactions with specialty products were completed. The company thus posted a very satisfactory sales trend, and all sales regions succeeded in expanding turnover in the double-digit percentage range compared with the previous year (in local currencies). The automotive business developed particularly well. In order to keep up with demand, additional production capacity was commissioned throughout the EMS Group. A sharp rise in raw material prices meant that sale prices for customers had to be increased.
Net sales revenue in Swiss francs was up 3.9% to CHF 1 658 million (1 596). Sales growth in local currencies amounted to 15.5%. Net operating income (EBIT) stood at CHF 294 million (282), an improvement of 4.4% compared to the previous year. In local currencies, the increase would have been 25.5%. EBITDA increased to CHF 346 million (335). Despite severely negative currency factors, the EBIT margin was maintained at 17.7% (17.6%) and the EBITDA margin at 20.9% (21.0%).
For 2012 as a whole, EMS is predicting uneven economic developments on individual markets. In Asia and North America, the positive economic trend is likely to continue. By contrast, consumer and investor sentiment in western Europe is still rather gloomy, in particular in the less export-oriented countries.
EMS has an innovative, high-margin specialty business. It is continuing with its successful strategy of expanding specialty products in the core field of high-performance polymers. New business is being developed, and the markets outside western Europe are being expanded further. However, the company will manage costs and liquidity with care, given the existing financial and political risks. To safeguard its own margins, EMS will be obliged in future to adjust sale prices in line with commodity price increases. Sales and EBIT in 2012 are expected to be in line with the previous year's level.