SICK overcame a challenging market environment as the company announced increased sales of seven per cent over the 2019 financial year.
It achieved sales of €1,750m (2018: €1,636m), which is significantly above the sensor industry average and the predictions of the AMA Association for Sensor Technology and Measurement of a one per cent drop.
The sales growth, among other measures to increase efficiency, contributed to an increase in EBIT of 13.1 percent to EUR 132.9 million, which remained high with a share of 7.6 percent of sales.
This ensured SICK met its forecast for the 2019 financial year, even though the company was faced with a slowdown in the global economy, the deepening of global trade disputes and a difficult market situation in factory automation in general and the automotive industry in particular. In addition, SICK maintained its innovation strategy with 11.5 percent of its sales income invested back into research and development.
“Many industries are facing a profound structural change and the dynamism of digitisation continues to increase,” said Dr Robert Bauer, CEO of SICK.
“SICK continues to invest heavily in research and development in order to advance new technologies together with our traditional automation business. This is the only way we can use the opportunities of digital technologies together with our customers to react more agile to the rapidly changing economic framework.”
The company’s financial report noted that its majority of start-up initiatives founded in 2018 had now reached maturity and contributed to sales with solutions such as in the area of AI-supported camera sensors or driverless transport systems.
While demand in factory automation fell worldwide, SICK increased its market share in logistics and process automation. This compensated for stagnation in individual segments. In addition to the presence in the established markets, the sales activities in the growth regions of the world also contributed to the further increase in sales.
Sales in the domestic German market were down slightly (-0.6 per cent) due to a reluctance to invest, particularly by the automotive sector. Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) achieved an increase in sales of 7.9 percent there. In particular, business in Italy, Austria, Sweden and Norway as well as Great Britain were positive. Sales growth in North, Central and South America (Americas) was at a similar level (7.6 per cent).
In North America, SICK saw a further increase in demand in intra and transport logistics as well as in the oil and gas industry. The world’s strongest growth region remained Asia-Pacific, where the development was dynamic. With an increase of 11.3 percent, the sales growth remained double-digit in 2019, especially in China and Japan, the business volume increased again. Currency effects had a slightly positive impact on the development of consolidated sales in the 2019 financial year.
Along with the growth in sales, the number of employees also increased in the 2019 financial year as it increased by 2.6 percent to 10,204 employees worldwide.
Predictions for this financial year, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, were already challenging based on the general economic conditions. In the first months of the new fiscal year 2020, SICK continued to record encouraging sales and order intake. The economic impact cannot yet be assessed; however, it is already becoming apparent that the order situation and business development in 2020 will be significantly affected. The company, given its solid financial position, is well positioned to deal with this challenging phase.