Industrial robot manufacturer Kuka says it has received a record number of orders during the first quarter of 2016.
The company has reported its results at a time when its share price was fluctuating somewhat, and the positive financial statement could steady or increase the company’s market value.
The main highlights from the report include:
- Kuka increased the volume of orders received by 0.3 per cent, reaching a new record value of €746.5 million.
- Swisslog boosts orders received by 13.9 per cent to € 125.7 million.
- Sales revenues reached €629.1 million, after € 719.8 million in the prior-year quarter.
- Execution of major projects expected in the remaining quarters of 2016.
- The gross profit margin before purchase price allocation reached 5.4 per cent, after 6.3 per cent in Q1/15.
- Profitability impacted by investments in Industrie 4.0 and new products as well as the revenue development, says the company.
- Earnings after taxes grow by 36.6 per cent to €20.9 million.
- Guidance for 2016: sales revenues to top €3 billion and gross profit margin before purchase price allocation projected to be greater than 5.5 per cent.
Kuka says it looks back on a successful first quarter. All the divisions contributed to the good results in both the General Industry segment and the Automotive sector.
“Kuka has made a good start to the current financial year,” says Dr Till Reuter, CEO of Kuka. “This year we are continuing to focus on promoting the digitization of manufacturing processes. With the successful implementation of the strategic measures in our Kuka 2020 initiative, we are expecting a positive development of business in 2016.”
Orders received at record level again
Kuka Group reported orders received amounting to €746.5 million in the first quarter of 2016. This represented a new record level for a quarter, even slightly surpassing the very high figure of the prior-year quarter (Q1/15: €743.9 million).
In the first three months, the Robotics division recorded a volume of orders received totaling €241.7 million. The orders received thus remained almost constant compared to the record value of the same period last year (Q1/15: €244.1 million). It was mainly the Service and General Industry segments that grew in the first quarter of 2016 in relation to the previous year. 44.4% of orders received came from General Industry (Q1/15: 43.0%), 34.7% from the Automotive sector (Q1/15: 38.5%) and 20.9% from Service business (Q1/15: 18.5%).
The Systems division posted orders received amounting to €385.5 million. Compared to the previous year’s result for the same period (€399.3 million), this represents a decline of 3.5%. It should be noted, however, that in Q1/15 the subsequently divested entities HLS Group and the Tools and Dies business unit had contributed a total of €27.4 million to the volume of orders received. Excluding these two companies in the previous year, the orders received by the Systems division would have grown by 3.7% year-on-year. The Aerospace and Assembly & Test segments showed a particularly positive performance with double-digit growth rates.
The Swisslog division saw an almost 14% increase in orders received in the first quarter of 2016 to €125.7 million (Q1/15: €110.4 million). This increase was driven by the Logistics segment, which showed substantial double-digit growth.
Sales revenue development – Execution of major projects in later quarters
Kuka Group generated sales revenues totaling €629.1 million in the first quarter of 2016. Compared to the prior-year quarter, this corresponds to a decrease of 12.6% (Q1/15: €719.8 million). This is mainly attributable to the fact that customers are tending to make call-offs and execute major orders in the later quarters this year.
Sales revenues of the Robotics division reached an amount of €210.4 million. This represents a decrease of 10.5% on the prior-year quarter (Q1/15: €235.0 million). The reason for this is that the Automotive segment had profited in the previous year from customers calling off large quantities from framework contracts. In terms of sales revenues, the Service segment recorded significant growth, while the General Industry segment maintained virtually the same level year-on-year.
Sales revenues of the Systems division amounted to €291.9 million, which was below the figure of the prior-year quarter (Q1/15: €349.9 million) and represents a decline of 16.6%. Here too, more than 40% of the decline is attributable to the sale of HLS Group and the Tools and Dies business unit. Another factor contributing to the decrease in sales revenue is the shift in timing of major project implementation towards the latter part of 2016.
The Swisslog division generated sales revenues of €136.1 million. This was 7.3% lower than the result of the prior-year quarter (Q1/15: €146.8 million). Sales revenues in the past quarter were marked by the relatively low levels of orders received up to mid-2015. Towards the end of the year, the volume of orders received by Swisslog picked up appreciably in the fourth quarter.
The book-to-bill ratio, in other words the ratio of orders received to sales revenues, developed positively. This indicator benefited from the high volumes of orders received and reached 1.19 in the past quarter (Q1/15: 1.03).
The Group’s order backlog increased by 5.8% compared to year-end 2015 (December 31, 2015: €1,639.0 million), reaching an amount of €1,733.4 million as of March 31, 2016.
As of March 31, 2016 the order backlog in the Robotics division totaled €259.6 million excluding framework contracts won especially in the Automotive segment. Compared to the reference value for the previous year, this represents a decrease of 1.3% (March 31, 2015: €263.1 million).
As of March 31, 2016 the Systems division’s order backlog totaled €1,006.3 million, 6.5% lower than the comparable amount in the previous year (Q1/15: €1,075.8 million). Disregarding HLS Group and the Tools and Dies business unit, which have meanwhile been deconsolidated, the order backlog would have remained stable.
The order backlog in the Swisslog division totaled €473.4 million and remained below the previous year’s level of €512.7 million.
Good EBIT margin despite high investments in research and development
In the first quarter of 2016 KUKA Group achieved an EBIT margin of 5.4% before purchase price allocation for Swisslog (Q1/15: 6.3%) and 5.0% after purchase price allocation (Q1/15: 3.9%). The lower EBIT margin can largely be explained by investments in the ongoing development of new products and Industrie 4.0 solutions and by the revenue development.
The EBIT margin in the Robotics division decreased from 11.0% in the first quarter of 2015 to 10.1% in the first quarter of 2016. This is primarily accounted for by the increase in investments in research and development by more than 50% and by the stronger workforce growth in China.
Despite lower sales revenues, the Systems division’s EBIT margin profited significantly from the benefits of the efficiency program and rose from 6.0% (Q1/15) to 6.5% (Q1/16).
In the past quarter the Swisslog division achieved an EBIT margin of 1.5% before purchase price allocation (Q1/15: 2.3%) and -0.5% after purchase price allocation (Q1/15: -9.6%).
Employees in KUKA Group
As of March 31, 2016 KUKA Group employed 12,433 people. Compared with the reporting date of the previous year, this was a slight rise of 0.8% (March 31, 2015: 12,331). At the end of the first quarter, there were 3,334 employees at the Augsburg site. This represents a year-on-year rise of 4.8% (March 31, 2015: 3,182).
Outlook for 2016 – Guidance confirmed
On the basis of the current general conditions, KUKA is expecting sales revenues of more than €3.0 billion for the full year 2016. Both customer segments – General Industry and Automotive – and from a regional viewpoint, China and North America, should make a positive contribution to sales revenue development. Given the current economic environment and anticipated revenue development, KUKA Group expects to achieve an EBIT margin of more than 5.5% before purchase price allocation for Swisslog. The expenditure for purchase price allocation at Swisslog should amount to about €10 million in 2016 and thus be significantly lower than in the previous year.