Bulten released provisional results showing 2018 net sales increased by 9.7% to SEK 3.132 billion. However, fourth quarter sales growth weakened in the face of automotive uncertainly, increasing 1% on same period 2017.
Full year operating earnings (EBIT) were steady year on year at SEK 210 million; however, operating margin softened to 6.7% from 7.4%. Earnings after tax were down at SEK 143 million (2017: SEK 159 million). Bulten's order book increased 2.8% to SEK 3.098 billion. Cash flow from operating activities increased to SEK 125 million (2017: SEK 58 million).
During Quarter 4 Bulten signed two full service provider contracts for the driveline in electric cars, together worth around €7 million annually, starting during 2020. A previously announced contract for a new vehicle program starting in 2019 is expected to be worth around €13 million annually.
Retiring President and CEO, Tommy Andersson, commented: "Vehicle production fell during the quarter due to greater uncertainty on the market. The increased volatility in demand for vehicles is partly an effect of new environmental tax regulations in several European countries, as well as uncertainty regarding BREXIT.”
“Bulten continues to win new business and take market shares despite weak market conditions. Net sales increased by 1%, and we are thereby compensating to some degree for the weak market development by start-up of new contract. Order bookings during the quarter were in line with sales, but down 12% compared to the previous year’s strong order bookings thanks to the start of new contracts and model shifts.”
“Operating earnings during the quarter were down on the previous year, primarily due to reduced volume development in the latter part of the quarter. The reduction in volume came with very little advance notice. Adaptations to production have begun but will take some time. Earnings were also negatively impacted by currency effects and the beginning of restructuring in China. Raw material prices stabilised during the quarter, although at continued high level.”
“Our financial position is strong and we are continuing with the strategic development and adaptation of our operation in line with the communicated plan. Demand for hybrids and electric cars is increasing, and this is a favourable development for Bulten."
As announced in June 2018, Anders Nyström has now succeeded Andersson as President and CEO of Bulten. Nyström is a mechanical engineer with supplementary education in leadership and economics. He has extensive international experience from the automotive industry and has previously held several leading positions within, amongst others Kongsberg Automotive, Volvo Cars and Ford Motor Company. He joined Bulten from IAC Group where he had been Vice President Commercial since 2018.
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Having held senior management roles in leading automotive and fastener businesses, Phil joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine as editor in 2002. Convinced there is no substitute for ‘being there’, over 15 years of visits and interviews around the world means he has accumulated an extraordinary knowledge and perspective of the global fastener industry, reflected in his incisive and thought provoking reporting.