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Please find below all Forbo media releases listed by year.
Eglisau / Zurich, March 22, 2005
Forbo sales rose in the past year by 1.5 % to CHF 1 622.3 million (plus 2.3 % in local currencies). Overall, Forbo’s three operative businesses achieved fairly satisfactory results. The operating profit (EBIT, before special charges) declined by 7.5 % to CHF 55.9 million. The Group loss of CHF 157.4 million includes special charges of CHF 161.9 million.
Result impaired by extraordinary influences
The focus on added-value product segments in the second half-year resulted in a slightly higher gross profit margin for the overall year in spite of rising raw material prices. Clearly higher operating expenses resulted in an operating profit before depreciation and amortization (EBITDA, before special charges) of CHF 143.1 million (previous year: CHF 156.7 million). The operating profit after depreciation and amortization (EBIT, before special charges) amounted to CHF 55.9 million, a decrease of 7.5 % compared to previous year. The restructuring measures announced particularly for the flooring and belting businesses led to restructuring and impairment charges on tangible and intangible assets of CHF 100.4 million in total. Thus, the operating result (EBIT, after special charges) amounted to CHF –44.5 million.
On the operative level, the adhesives business with CHF 34.9 million made a clearly higher contribution to the Group’s operating profit than in the previous year. At CHF 2.4 million, the operating result of the belting business had a positive influence on the Group result compared with the previous year, whilst flooring contributed an EBIT result of CHF 42.4 million (previous year: CHF 47.5 million).
The Group loss of CHF 157.4 million (previous year: CHF 16.1 million profit) mirrors total special charges of CHF 161.9 million, with the three businesses accounting for CHF 95.6 million (before tax). This means that clearly higher finance and tax expenses also contributed to the Group loss.
Lower free cash flow
In the period under review, the free cash flow amounted to CHF 43.1 million (previous year: CHF 88.5 million). The CHF 45.4 million decrease over the previous year is due to a decline of the cash inflow from operating activities by CHF 28.6 million, on the one hand, and CHF 16.8 million higher investments, after asset disposals, on the other hand. The cash flow from operating activities and cash inflow resulting from the capital increase (CHF 187 million, net) will be used for restructuring measures, especially in the flooring business, and for selective acquisitions in the adhesives business.
Reduction of net debt
Net debt and the debt to equity ratio were clearly reduced by the successful capital increase of some CHF 187 million (net). At the same time the transaction increased the Group’s financial flexibility. Besides, special charges could easily be absorbed within the equity capital. Net debt at the end of the year was CHF 131.0 million (previous year: CHF 379.3 million).
Proposal to the Annual General Meeting: no dividend distribution
In view of the Group loss, the Board of Directors will ask the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on April 29, 2005 to approve its proposal not to distribute a dividend for the business year 2004.
Business development by business
In the year 2004, the flooring business achieved sales of CHF 737.6 million. This is a slight decrease of 0.9 % compared with the previous year (minus 1.5 % in local currencies). Linoleum recorded strong growth in North America and declining sales in Western Europe. Vinyl sales improved in the contract business, but decreased in the residential market in Western Europe. The operating profit (before special charges) reached its target, but at CHF 42.4 million it was 10.7 % lower than in the previous year.
The adhesives business recorded very satisfactory results. Sales reached CHF 577.7 million, plus 3.6 % over the previous year (plus 5.7 % in local currencies). The business benefited from the continued focus on strategic core segments and the integration of the American adhesives manufacturer Swift which was successfully concluded last year. The operating result (before special charges) rose by 55.1 % to CHF 34.9 million.
The belting business clearly increased sales in the year under review to CHF 307.0 million, plus 3.4 % (plus 5.3 % in local currencies). All the key sales regions contributed to this positive development. The operating result (before special charges) rose from CHF –4.2 million in the previous year to CHF 2.4 million in 2004 despite the negative currency influences of the weak US Dollar.
Cautiously optimistic outlook
A demanding business year 2005 is in store for the three businesses. All in all, Forbo is expecting slightly growing sales and improved operating results. The improvement of the earning power continues to have top priority. Measures have been initiated and important restructurings are underway or will shortly be implemented. Therefore, the result 2005 will also be impaired by special effects. Thus, part of the restructuring costs announced in late autumn 2004 will become effective in the business 2005.
Forbo is a leading producer of floor coverings, adhesives, and beltings. The company with head office in Eglisau, Switzerland, employs some 5,500 people and has an international network of production companies and sales organizations in 31 countries. In 2004 the Group achieved sales of CHF 1,622.3 million. The holding company – Forbo Holding AG – is listed at the SWX Swiss Exchange (securities number 354'151, Bloomberg FORN SW, Reuters FORN S). Further information can be found at www.forbo.com.
Head of Corporate Communications
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