The Bosch Group said 2005 sales rose by just under five percent to some 42 billion euros (approx U.S. $50 billion). Bosch also recorded a slight increase in earnings. Bosch (Stuttgart, Germany) is a global manufacturer of automotive and industrial technology, building technology and consumer goods. Its appliances business include BSH Bosch and Siemens Hausgerate GmbH, Munich, Germany.
"We have achieved our targets," said Franz Fehrenbach, chairman of the Bosch board of management, presenting the preliminary figures for fiscal 2005. "All our business sectors have contributed to this positive development. Our strong international orientation and our broad business set-up are paying off."
The Bosch CEO is also optimistic about 2006. "We are confident about our prospects for the current year. We anticipate growth to be somewhat stronger in 2006 than in 2005," Fehrenbach said.
Bosch said that, despite an unsteady economic environment, Bosch was able to hold up well in 2005 in relevant markets, including: automotive technology, with approximately 4 percent growth; diesel systems, where the business again "developed over-proportionally well; and Industrial Technology, where sales rose by 8 percent.
Household appliances and power tools played a leading role as sales in Bosch's Consumer Goods and Building Technology business sector showed equivalent growth of almost 5 percent. The business sector neared the 10 billion euro (approx. $12 billion) mark for the first time.
Strong Growth in Asia and the Americas
"In 2005, nearly one-third of our sales growth was due to our business in Asia," Fehrenbach said.
In total, sales in the Asia-Pacific region rose by approximately 11 percent, to more than 6 billion euros (approx. $7.2 billion). Drivers of this growth were Bosch companies in China, India and Korea.
In the Americas, Bosch sales rose by approximately 10 percent to nearly 8 billion euros (approx. $10 billion). Business in Europe grew by two percent to nearly 28 billion euros (approx. $33.5 billion).
Bosch said sales in Germany, by contrast, stagnated due to the divestment of the Buderus castings and special steels businesses. Consolidation effects aside, sales grew by 1.5 percent. In this context, and with a view to impending wage negotiations in Germany, Fehrenbach called for a "considerate approach."
"We hope that unions and industry find the right balance – one that does not involve further risks, either for economic developments in general or for the employment situation in particular," he said.
Internal growth and business success in some markets is reflected in personnel numbers, Bosch noted, with approximately 250,000 employees worldwide, for an increase of 8,000 over the year before. Headcount increases were especially strong in China, while the 110,000 German employee count has remained about constant.
R&D Increases in 2005
Bosch said 2005 saw a renewed increase in research and development (R&D) expenditures, with the share of sales spent on R&D reaching approximately 7 percent overall.
Bosch said it believes these significant upfront investments help secure the company's future viability. In Power Tools, for example, Bosch generates 35 percent of its sales with products that have been in the market for less than 2 years.
At the beginning of 2006, Bosch employs some 24,300 associates in research and development – 2,000 more than at the beginning of 2005. The number of patent applications increased again to a total of 2,803 in 2005.
Quality efforts have also made continuous progress, Bosch said. "The number of defect reports again fell significantly last year. In many areas, there are no defect reports at all," Fehrenbach said.
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