Südzucker confirms forecast
Shareholders at the annual general meeting of Südzucker AG Mannheim/Ochsenfurt, Mannheim, voted in favor of holding the dividend at EUR 0.55 per share, as recommended by the supervisory and executive boards. The executive board's recommendation took into consideration that operating profit for the 2006/07 financial year just ended was only slightly lower than a year earlier, cash flow was even higher and the net loss of EUR 246 million for the year was the result of extraordinary effects - mainly the good-will impairment losses in the amount of approximately EUR 500 million in the sugar segment. In the me-dium term, Südzucker is expecting profit improvements in the sugar segment and is therefore extending its shareholder-friendly dividend policy.
In its forecast for the current 2007/08 financial year, the executive board is predicting consolidated group revenues of between EUR 5.1 and EUR 5.3 billion, since the growth in the special products and fruit segments is not enough to offset the declining revenue in the sugar segment. Operating profits of EUR 120 to EUR 160 million are expected and will be carried exclusively by the special products and fruit segments. The executive board's medium-term forecast is for a return to the pre-reform operating profit level of over EUR 450 million by as early as the 2009/10 financial year. The revenue structure will shift in favor of the special products/fruit segments and by 2009/10, these divisions will already be contributing over half of the group's revenues.
The positive overall forecast is supported by the outstanding positioning of all three of the group's seg-ments. In the sugar division, it is expected that the capacity cutbacks in the EU will lead to a market equilibrium and as the European market leader, Südzucker will be able to overcome the difficult transi-tion phase. In addition, the profitability of markets outside the EU are also being precisely analyzed. The special products and fruit segments participate in markets that are growing strongly around the world.
Their position is strong and their aim is to continue on the present successful expansion course. The fruit segment's focus is on the growth markets in Brazil, Russia and China. After a successful start in Ger-many, the bioethanol business will soon have a group-wide production capacity of over 1 million m³ as a result of capital spending programs that have been introduced. With a market share of over 10%, the Südzucker Group is well on the way to achieving sustainable market leadership for bioethanol in Europe.