Südzucker operating profit sharply higher - debt steadily reduced
Südzucker AG Mannheim/Ochsenfurt's group revenues at the half-year mark (March 1 to August 31, 2009) were down slightly, declining two percent to EUR 2,935 (prior year: 2,998) million. The group was able to more than double operating profit, which came in at EUR 179 (prior year: 82) million. The sugar, special products and fruit segments all contributed to the increase. The sugar segment's operating profit rose to EUR 107 (prior year: 49) million. Lower quota sugar volumes and earnings were more than offset by the significantly lower temporary charges associated with the transition phase of the EU sugar market regulation, plus lower costs. The CropEnergies segment reported an operating profit in the second quarter. This reduced the operating loss, which had been generated during the first quarter due to the startup costs of the new Belgian bioethanol facility and the ethanol price development.
The Group's debt was further steadily reduced. Net financial debt was EUR 630 million less than last year at this time, coming in at EUR 962 (prior year: 1,592) million. Seasonal factors will cause net financial debt to rise by the end of the fiscal year. The goal remains to cut net financial debt to a level between EUR 1,100 and EUR 1,200 (prior year: 1,633) million by the end of the 2009/10 fiscal year (record date: February 28).
For the 2009 campaign, Südzucker group will convert a total of 28.4 (prior year: 25.0) million tonnes of sugar beets to 4.45 (prior year: 3.90) million tonnes of sugar thanks to very good beet growing weather and largely favorable harvest conditions. The excellent harvest extended the duration of the campaign and thus improved the capacity utilization of the sugar factories.Despite the difficult overall economic situation, Südzucker continues to confirm the outlook for the 2009/10 financial year. Group revenues are expected to come in at EUR 5.9 billion, similar to last year. A further decline in the sugar segment's revenues will be offset by rising revenues in the special products, CropEnergies and fruit segments. Group operating profit is expected to climb to about EUR 400 (prior year: 258) million.