Basler AG: profit turnaround reached. Growth in sales and positive result for 2010 in sight

(PresseBox) (Ahrensburg, ) .
- Profit turnaround reached sooner than expected
- Demand for digital cameras increased reaching new record level
- Shorttime work ended
- Incoming orders: € 12.2 million (previous year: € 7.1 million, +72 %) Sales: € 9.3 million (previous year: € 8.0 million, +16 %) Pretax earnings: € 0.4 million (previous year: € -2.0 million, € +2.4 million) Cash flow: -0.2 Mio. € (previous year: € 2.2 million, € -2.4 million)
- Forecast for 2010: growth in sales in the doubledigit percentage range, positive earnings before taxes

The first quarter of 2010 went better than expected for Basler AG. Incoming orders, sales, and pretax earnings were above the previous year's values and above the values in our budget. With positive pretax earnings, the profit turnaround was reached sooner than planned.

The group's sales amounted to € 9.3 million in the reporting period, exceeding the previous year's value of € 8.0 million by 16 %. Incoming orders for the group increased by 72 % reaching € 12.2 million (previous year: € 7.1 million). The gross results increased to € 3.6 million (previous year: € 2.8 million, +29 %). The gross margin reached 39 % corresponding to 4 percentage points above the previous year's value of 35 %. In the first quarter of 2010, Basler AG achieved a result before taxes (EBT) for the group of € 0.4 million. This corresponds to an increase of € 2.4 million above the previous year's value of € -2.0 million.

In the first three months, the operating cash flow amounted to € -0.2 million (previous year: € 2.2 million). The free cash flow calculated in the first quarter to € -2.2 million, declining by approximately € 2.5 million (previous year: € 0.3 million). Liquid assets amounted to € 4.9 million at the end of the reporting period and therewith were lower by € 2.8 million compared to the previous year (-36 %). Compared to December 31, 2009, funds available decreased by € 0.6 million (-11 %).

In the first quarter of 2010, Basler AG achieved in its "Components" business segment sales amounting to € 7.8 million. The revenue from industrial digital cameras and for video surveillance increased by 81 % (previous year: € 4.3 million), slightly exceeding the level reached in 2008. The gross margin increased due to decreased production costs and positive exchange rate effects. The segment result before interest and taxes amounted to € 1.6 million (previous year: € -1.1 million, € +2.7 million) and was thus clearly in the positive range. Incoming orders reached the new record level of € 10.8 million, nearly doubling the previous year's value of € 5.5 million (+96 %). The previously strongest incoming orders from Q2 of 2008 (€ 8.8 million) were exceeded by 23 %. Demand developed positively across all regions and product lines. On the regional level, orders increased most strongly in Asia, followed by North America and Europe.

In the "Solutions" business segment sales revenues were realized in the first quarter of 2010 amounting to € 1.5 million (previous year: € 3.7 million, -59 %). The segment results before interest and taxes amounted to € -0.7 million. Losses decreased in comparison to the previous year by € 0.1 million (€ -0.8 million) in spite of substantial declines in sales due to cost cutting measures implemented in 2009. Resulting from the less favorable product portfolio, the gross margin was below the previous year's value.

The level of operating costs, having decreased by approximately one third compared to the comparison period, and increasing sales will result in distinctly improved earnings starting from the second quarter. The equipment investment in the LCD industry further increased in the reporting period. Demand for solar thin film inspection solutions still continued to be beak.

The economic general conditions improved in the first quarter of 2010. The economic research institutes currently expect the positive trend to continue at least until the end of the first halfyear. There are still risks for a temporary slow down of the economic recovery in the second halfyear. The German Engineering Federation (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau - VDMA) assumes in its current forecast for the German image processing industry growth in sales amounting to +5 % compared to the previous year.

The positive development of the first quarter confirms our projection for fiscal year 2010, as given in the annual report for 2009. Due to the increased capacity utilization, we suspended the shorttime work, implemented in the beginning of 2009, at the end of the reporting period. In our current view, we expect sales to increase in the doubledigit percentage range for the components business. We expect approximately stable sales revenues for our solutions business compared to the previous year. Based on the results of the first quarter and against the background of persistent macroeconomic risk for the second halfyear, we expect for fiscal year 2010 sales to increase to a level between € 39 and 41 million (previous year: € 33.5 million). After a pretax loss of € 8 million in 2009, we are planning for earnings before taxes not below € 1.5 million for 2010.

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