Südzucker operating profit improves further in third quarter
Operating profit generated by Südzucker AG Mannheim/Ochsenfurt, Mannheim, in the first nine months (March to November 2009) of the current 2009/10 fiscal year was up 68 percent to EUR 308 (prior year 184) million. Consolidated group revenues were slightly lower than last year, down three percent to EUR 4.4 (prior year 4.6) billion. Despite the difficult economic environment, Südzucker confirms its forecast for the 2009/10 fiscal year overall. Revenues are still expected to come in unchanged from last year at EUR 5.9 billion and operating profit continues to be forecast at about EUR 400 (prior year 258) million, considerably higher than last year.
The substantial growth in the group's consolidated operating profit in the first nine months of the current fiscal year was generated by the sugar, special products and fruit segments. Despite lower quota sugar volumes and reduced quota sugar sales, the sugar segment's operating profit rose to EUR 173.8 (prior year 100.0) million, while revenues remained nearly the same at EUR 2.5 (prior year 2.6) billion. Cost reductions and substantially lower charges from the restructuring phase of the EU sugar market regulation contributed significantly to this result.
The special product segment's revenues declined slightly, to EUR 1.0 (prior year 1.1) billion in the first nine months of the current fiscal year. The segment was able to improve operating profit to EUR 105.5 (prior year 80.7) million.
In the fruit segment, operating profit rose sharply to EUR 25.4 (prior year -12.8) million, while revenues came in at EUR 607.7 (prior year 620.7) million. The fruit segment's prior year's numbers included a EUR 32.4 million inventory write-down on apple juice concentrates.
The CropEnergies segment's revenues rose to EUR 272.0 (230.7) million. The segment was able to generate an operating profit close to last year's level. It came in at EUR 4.4 (prior year 4.5) million in the third quarter. As a result, operating profit for the first nine months was also positive at EUR 3.6 (prior year 15.6), even though unplanned repairs were required at the new factory in Belgium.
The beet harvest was better than average, driven by unusually favorable weather conditions, particularly in Germany, Belgium and France. As a result, the average group-wide sugar yield came in at 12.3 (prior year 11.7) tonnes per hectare. Some of Südzucker Group's twenty-nine beet sugar factories started processing beets as early as the first half of September 2009. The last factories will close the campaign at the end of January 2010. The average campaign duration is expected to be 110 (prior year 96) days. Including raw sugar refining, sugar production is expected to reach 4.7 (prior year 4.6) million tonnes.
While cash flow improved qualitatively to EUR 418.7 million, the group was able to systematically pay down loans. Net financial debt was EUR 892.9 (prior year 1,617.9) million, EUR 725 million less than last year.
Summary of group figures as of November 30, 2009
1)The numbers of the first quarter of 2008/09 included a special item in the amount of EUR 122.4 million (before taxes and minority interests) from the restructuring assistance associated with the 2nd wave quota returns minus the cost of factory closures.
2)The numbers of the first quarter of 2008/09 included a special item in the amount of EUR 91.8 million from the restructuring assistance associated with the 2nd wave quota returns minus the cost of factory closures.
3)The numbers of the first quarter of 2008/09 included a one-time amount of EUR 0.48 per share from the restructuring assistance associated with the 2nd wave quota returns minus the incurred cost of factory closures.
Südzucker AG, Mannheim/Ochsenfurt
Central Public Relations Department
Dr Dominik Risser
Phone: +49 621 421-205
Fax: +49 621 421-425
The Südzucker Group
Südzucker, with its sugar, special products, CropEnergies and fruit segments, is one of the leading companies in the food industry. In the traditional sugar business, the group is the world market leader, with 29 sugar factories and three refineries, extending from France in the west via Belgium, Germany and Austria, through to Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Bosnia and Moldova in the east. The special products segment, consisting of the functional food (BENEO Group), starch, chilled/frozen products (Freiberger) and portion packs businesses, is an important growth driver. The CropEnergies segment covers the bioethanol activities in Germany, Belgium and France. In the fruit segment, the group operates internationally, is the world market leader for fruit preparations and is a leading supplier of fruit juice concentrates in Europe.
In 2008/09, the group employed 17,900 persons and generated revenues of EUR 5.9 billion.