German-based technology firm Linde Group has reported a Q3 rise in profits from July to September 2003 despite tough economic conditions and negative currency effects .The company said that all business segments contributed to driving the operating profit (EBITA) before special items up by 14.9 per cent to €177 million (Q3 2002: €154 million). During the first nine months of the year, earnings before tax and special items improved by 20.7 per cent year on year to €245 million (2002: €203 million).
"We are on the right track and are now going to step up a gear," said Linde chief executive Wolfgang Reitzle. "The programme we initiated to improve the long-term international competitiveness of the group is bearing its first fruit, and we can afford to be a good deal more confident of achieving our 2003 targets."
Linde is divided into three business segments: gas & engineering, material handling and refrigeration. The refrigeration division supplies industrial refrigerated and freezer display cases and cabinets, as well as refrigeration technology to all areas of the retail food trade. Disappointing investment within the refrigeration industry has meant that this particular segment of the business has reported poorer results than other divisions.
During the first six months of the year, sales within the division fell by 3 per cent to €328 million (2002: €338 million) during the first half of the year. At €442 million, orders received were 3.5 per cent below last year's level. The same pattern of decline is discernible over the nine-month period, with sales falling by 3.5 per cent to €551 million.
Business performance in Europe has varied from country to country, with sales and orders received continuing their upward trend in Eastern Europe. South American business, however, has been further impacted by the region's ailing economies and falling exchange rates.
Despite negative exchange rate effects, sales in Asia were slightly up on last year. By setting up its own plant in China, which is to start production in the autumn, the company believes it has secured a strategic advantage in the region. Asia, and particularly China, are important growth regions for European-based suppliers and manufacturers.
There is some good financial news for the refrigeration segment. For the first nine months, EBITA did improve to minus €8 million (2002: minus €16 million). In addition, this business segment achieved a €7 million increase in EBITA to €15 million in Q3.