As expected, the various geographical regions showed a very mixed sales performance in 2012. Asia and North America continued to show growth, while Western Europe's economy slid into a downturn. Global economic activity slowed in the fourth quarter due to the negative trend in Western Europe as well as the "fiscal cliff" debate in the US.
EMS was successful in raising net sales and net operating income to new record levels despite the more difficult conditions in Europe. Successfully realised new business and a strong increase in sales outside Europe led to this pleasing worldwide sales performance. Positions in all geographical markets were further strengthened.
Consolidated net sales in Swiss francs increased by 5.9% compared to the previous year to CHF 1755 million (1658), while the increase in local currencies was 4.9%. Net operating income (EBIT) closed at CHF 319 million (294), 8.4% above the previous year. Operational cash flow (EBITDA) rose to CHF 373 million (346). The EBIT margin increased to 18.2% (17.7%), the EBITDA margin to 21.2% (20.9%).
For the business year 2013, EMS is expecting differing economic developments in the various geographical sub-markets. While the markets in Asia and North America are likely to continue to show positive development, increasing unemployment and structural problems of competitiveness in Western Europe will have a persistently negative effect on consumer behaviour and the investment mood.
EMS operates an innovative, high-margin specialty business. It will continue its successful strategy of growth with speciality products in the core business area of High Performance Polymers. In order to push medium-term growth even more consistently, EMS has launched a sales and development offensive throughout the world and will significantly expand corresponding human resources with the aim of more rapidly and systematically exploiting existing growth potential.
EMS will be investing in capacity increases at additional sites in Asia and Eastern Europe in 2013 in order to address particularly fast-growing demand from developing countries. For 2013, EMS expects net sales and net operating income (EBIT) slightly above those of the previous year.