Telecoms and transportation drives sales growth at Saft
Saft anticipates Li-ion batteries will account for more than 20% of sales in 2014.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, sales amounted to €186.1 million, up 12.3%. Saft Group’s net profit for FY 2013 totalled €36.5m, which compared with a net profit of €34.7m in 2012 and is an increase of 5.2%.
For the full year, sales of Industrial Battery Group grew by 19.2% at constant rates to €367.9m, with a acceleration in the second half with a 28.1% growth in Q4.
The stationary back-up power business grew by 20.6%. The telecom business generated the growth due to strong demand from the US and a key project in India for Li-ion batteries. In Q4, the stationary back-up power sales grew by 17.3% thanks to high demand for both nickel and Li-ion batteries.
The transportation market had full year sales growth of 10.7%, with strong growth of both aviation and rail batteries. The performance in the rail was strong throughout the year whilst the aviation activities had good growth during H2 due to strong demand from aviation OEMs and the US military. In Q4, the transportation activity recorded strong growth of 36.3% helped by the timing of the delivery of rail contracts, notably in North America and Asia.
A combination of high demand for nickel batteries and for Li-ion batteries improved the profitability in most factories, particularly in the Jacksonville and Nersac factories where losses reduced sharply as a result of improved overhead recovery.
For the full year, sales of Specialty Battery Group were €256.3m, which represented a reduction of 5.8% compared with 2012. The decline slowed in the second half of the year.
During Q4, sales of batteries to the civil electronics market grew by 1.9%, due to on-going strong growth in China and an expanded client base in Europe.
The space and defense activity had sales 14.3% below 2012. This reduction was due to lower demand for radio batteries and torpedo batteries from a number of historical clients, whilst new projects for Li-ion batteries continued to grow. The space market was weak in H1, and despite a strong H2, the overall sales were slightly below 2012. During Q4, space and defence market sales were 17.9% below prior year. This activity suffered from unfavourable comparables as during Q4 2012 some major defense contracts were delivered. The space business in contrast had a strong quarter.
Commenting on the results John Searle, Chairman of the Management Board, said: “Many of our business gained market share notably in the telecom and transportation markets. This growth was seen in our Industrial Battery Group division whilst Specialty Battery Group division was faced with weak defense markets and challenges in the US civil electronics market. Nevertheless aside from the defense market the Specialty Battery Group division business made steady sales progress through the year".
"The profitability of Saft recovered strongly in H2 on the back of growing volumes in Industrial Batteries which sharply reduced losses in our new Li-ion factories, in line with our break even objective for 2014".
"For this year, I see continued strong sales growth leading to improved profitability. Industrial Batteries will continue to be the main growth driver but I expect the Specialty Battery division to return to growth on the back of steadily improving sales in the civil electronics and space markets. In addition, the defense market should start to stabilize during the year. Saft is faced with favorable comparables in H1 and a more challenging H2".
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