Q4: President's statement
Slowdown in most customer segments. Continued acquisition activity.
While demand from Beijer Alma’s customers continued to vary, we saw a clearer downturn than in the earlier quarters of the year. The defense and offshore industries remained strong, while the engineering industry and automotive manufacturing of both light and heavy vehicles slowed. The automotive aftermarket stabilized during the quarter.
In organic terms, both order bookings and net revenues declined, a change that was largely offset by growth from the preceding year’s acquisitions. While the margin decreased, cash flow improved significantly.
Lesjöfors’s order bookings and net revenues increased. Within Industry, this growth was driven by acquisitions, given that a downturn was noted in all regions during the quarter. Demand stabilized in Chassis Springs, which is currently in its low season, and a certain level of growth was noted.
Activities within Habia varied. A downturn was noted in Industry, while the defense sector remained more stable. Within offshore, the final delivery of a major project was delayed until 2020, but important orders were signed during the quarter. Telecom faced a weak market. The operations in Asia were broadened to include new customer segments.
Beijer Tech, which operates exclusively in the Nordic region, experienced favorable demand in maintenance and offshore, but weaker demand from, for example, foundries and the steel industry. As a result of organic growth and a number of acquisitions, 2019 was Beijer Tech’s strongest year to date.
The strategy to create profitable growth through acquisitions is important. The integration of the Group’s newly acquired operations continued during the fourth quarter. Codan AS is now Lundgrens Norge and part of a leading Nordic business within fluid technology with strong development potential. The Dutch company Spibelt ended the year on a strong note and is benefiting from being part of Lesjöfors. Two new companies have already been acquired since the end of 2019. The UK company Metrol Springs Ltd is a leader in gas struts and proprietary tooling springs, a new and exciting product area for Lesjöfors. PA Ventiler AB complements Beijer Tech’s offering in fluid technology, with a strong position in the valve niche.
We were also delighted to welcome two new faces to Group management. Staffan Johansson took over as President of Beijer Tech in December and Ola Tengroth as President of Lesjöfors on January 1, 2020.
Henrik Perbeck, President and CEO