Südzucker Dividend Rises to EUR 0.55
As recommended by the Supervisory and Executive Boards, on 28 July 2005, the Südzucker AG Mann-heim/Ochsenfurt General Meeting resolved to raise the dividend to EUR 0.55 (0.50)* / share. This dividend increase reflects the record values of the 2004/05 annual accounts. With Group sales of EUR 4.8 (4.6) billion, an operating profit of EUR 523 (479) million, and net earnings for the year of EUR 358 (307) mil-lion these were the best results ever presented in the history of Südzucker.
For the current 2005/06 financial year, the Executive Board expects a 9% increase in Group sales to approx. EUR 5.2 (4.8) billion. In the Sugar segment, the welcome developments of the first quarter will not be maintained during the further course of the financial year. The positive effects from the export of the large sugar crop in 2004 will diminish over the rest of the financial year and the burden resulting from the omitted declassification will have a stronger effect on the results. However, following the suffi-cient declassification scheduled by the EC Commission for September, we expect both the burden on the market and the price situation to ease. In the Special Products segment, the first-time consolidation of the Atys Group and the start of bioethanol production will lead to a double-digit sales growth. In contrast to first quarter developments, we also anticipate a double-digit increase in operating profits as compared to the previous year.
In the medium term as well, Südzucker sees further growth opportunities in both segments. In the Sugar segment, our European market leader position should be stabilised and, if possible, expanded, with the strong presence in the top-yielding European beet cultivation areas forming the basis for this. Our aim is to continue to defend the profitability level in the Sugar segment, even after the reform of the sugar market regime, and keep the beet cultivation in the Südzucker Group on the highest possible level. In order to generate growth in the Sugar segment and compensate for the WTO-related export restrictions, Südzucker also has the option of expanding the sugar business beyond the European borders. Due to the favourable production conditions when compared internationally, Brazil offers the best environment. We are currently in discussions with several Brazilian sugar companies.
In the Special Products segment, the investment offensive has particularly contributed to kicking off a growth process that still offers significant potentials in the Functional Food, Bioethanol and Fruit business segments.
The excellent strategic positioning of the two core business segments as well as the company's strong balance sheet and financial strength in conjunction with the continuing expected high cashflow are the foundations for the future growth course of the Südzucker Group.
*Figures in parentheses refer to the previous year.
Südzucker AG Mannheim/Ochsenfurt
Central Public Relations Department