Merloni Elettrodomestici announced that its board of directors has approved the results for the last quarter of 2003 and reviewed the provisional figures for 2003, which include growth in sales (21 percent), operating margin (21 percent, or 8.2 percent of sales), and profit before tax (19 percent).
The Fabriano, Italy-based appliance maker said 2003 was another record year for the company, thanks to its growth in both Eastern and Western European markets. Major manufacturing and sales efforts more than offset the negative effect of the weakening sterling and fierce price competition, it said.
Main consolidated results for the year ending Dec. 31, 2003 included sales of 3,008 million euros (approx. U.S. $3.8 billion), up 21 percent compared to 2002 (2,480 million euros). Company sales rose in both Western and Eastern Europe, and the company claims it is the market leader in Eastern Europe. The growth, it said, is due to both increases in volumes and changes in the consolidation area, which now includes 100 percent of Hotpoint's results.
Operating margin amounted to 246 million euros, an increase of 21 percent from 2002 (203 million euros). Operating margin over sales was 8.2 percent, in line with the previous year, the company said.
The appliance maker's fourth quarter 2003 closed with sales of 809 million euros, up 18 percent on the last quarter of 2002 (685 million euros). At 83 million euros, the operating margin was up 17 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2002 (71 million euros). Operating margin over sales was 10.3 percent, in line with the same period the previous year. Profit before tax was 63 million euros, up 29 percent on same period in 2002 (49 million euros).
To meet growing demand (up 14.4 percent in Eastern Europe and up 3.3 percent in Western Europe), the company started building new facilities to manufacture refrigerators, cookers, and washing machines in Poland and Russia, to come on line by the end of this year. When fully up and running, these plants will turn out 3 million appliances a year, the company said.
"Over the coming years competition will get even fiercer," said Vittorio Merloni, chairman. "We're ready to deal with any challenge to sustain the growth rate we've achieved over the past few years"
The board will meet on March 23 to examine the draft financial statements for 2003 and will call a shareholders meeting accordingly.
In other company news, Merloni named Andrea Crenna as its new CFO, effective March 1. Mr. Crenna previously served as finance manager at Vodafone Omnitel NV and also held past positions at Citybank. He is an economics and business graduate from the Bocconi University in Milan, Italy.
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