The group has lowered its 2018 full year profit guidance and expects to achieve an operating result (EBIT) of higher than CHF 90 million for the full year 2018 (compared to slightly higher than CHF 119 million in 2017).
During the first half of 2018, consolidated sales amounted to CHF 762.5 million, representing an increase of CHF 119.3 million, or +18.6%, compared with the same period in 2017. This evolution was mainly driven by a high backlog at the beginning of the year and an overall good level of activity in all three Business Units. Volume and price variances had a positive impact of CHF 93.2 million, or +14.5%. An improvement of CHF 0.2 million came from the creation of two new entities in Vietnam and in the Netherlands.
The exchange rates had an overall positive impact on sales of CHF 25.9 million. The evolution due to the conversion of foreign currencies for consolidation accounts for CHF 19.7 million, or +3.1%, and the transactional impact on sales volume from our Swiss operations accounts for CHF 6.2 million, or +1.0%.
Business Unit Web-fed
Business activity in flexible materials remains at a good level with regards to bookings, with an increase of 13% compared to the previous year. There were no significant changes in the market compared to 2017.
Mature countries remain in line with the expected volumes. In the emerging countries, except for a slow start in South-East Asia, Africa and Middle East, the remaining countries are at a good level of activity.
Business Unit Web-fed participated in numerous international exhibitions, such as Plast India in Ahmedabad, Plast Print Pack in Karachi, Expo Print in São Paolo, amongst others. The roadshows with partners organized in Europe, Middle East, Asia, Central and South Americas were well attended and welcomed by prospects and customers.
In May, the new China plant and Competence Center in Changzhou was inaugurated. This new infrastructure will allow Business Unit Web-fed to increase its footprint in Asia and to better serve the local market.
First half-year sales increased by 12% compared with the same period in 2017 but with a completely different, and less favorable product mix. The Business Unit expects a very busy second half of the year leading to an even more unbalanced situation than in previous years.
In order to reach an ambitious growth plan until 2020, the overall structure of the product lines was reinforced to support the future growth.