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Despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic the SCHWEIZER Group was able to benefit from the global economic recovery.
Incoming orders in the first quarter of 2021 exceeded those of the same quarter in the previous year by +98 percent and amounted to EUR 44.2 million (Q1 2020: EUR 22.3 million). The economic recovery, which had already begun in October of the previous year, was also uninterrupted in the course of the first quarter. The order book amounted to EUR 125.7 million at the end of the first quarter of 2021 (31/12/2020: EUR 109.2 million).
Sales of the SCHWEIZER Group amounted to EUR 29.3 million in the first quarter of 2021 (Q1 2020: EUR 27.4 million). This corresponds to an increase of +6.9 percent compared to the same quarter in the previous year, which did not show any noticeable effects of the pandemic. Automotive customers generated sales of EUR 23.0 million (Q1 2020: EUR 19.1 million), which corresponds to an increase of +20.3 percent compared to the same quarter in the previous year. As a result, the share of sales of the most important customer group (automotive) increased to 78.5 percent of sales in the first quarter (Q1 2020: 69.7 percent) and the share of sales of industrial customers amounted to 16.9 percent (Q1 2020: 22.6 percent).
Gross profit in the first quarter amounted to EUR -1.0 million (Q1 2020: EUR +2.0 million), which corresponds to a negative gross margin of -3.3% (Q1 2020: +7.3%). Compared to the same quarter in the previous year, the increased construction costs of the plant in China had a negative impact on the gross profit at EUR -3.3 million. The Group’s gross profit excluding China amounted to EUR +2.9 million, which corresponds to an increase of EUR +2.0 million. The cost reduction measures implemented in the previous year and thus the reduced break-even threshold at the Schramberg site contributed significantly to this development.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) amounted to EUR -1.8 million (Q1 2020: EUR -1.6 million), whereby the EBITDA ratio increased moderately to -6.2 percent (Q1 2020: -5.7 percent). Excluding China, the group achieved an EBITDA of EUR +2.1 million. This corresponds to an operating profit improvement of EUR +1.4 million, excluding special expenses of EUR 1.1 million, which weighed on earnings in the first quarter of the previous year.
Management confirms the forecast made as part of the publication of the 2020 financial figures. As part of this expectation, a sales increase of between 20 and 30 percent compared to the previous year is forecast in 2021. This sales increase, which significantly exceeds the general market development, is mainly based on sales from the new plant in China. Furthermore, the Executive Board confirms the expectation for the EBITDA with a ratio of between 0 and -6 percent.
Marc Bunz, Chief Financial Officer of Schweizer Electronic AG, comments on the current market environment: "The scarcity of electronic components is limiting the sales growth of our customers and thus also the growth potential of our PCB revenues. In addition, bottlenecks are becoming apparent in PCB-specific supplier materials, such as laminates, and this is affecting availability and delivery times as well as prices. Prices have been increasing for many of the most important raw materials such as palladium, aluminium and glass fibre. We expect that this situation will not improve in the coming quarters, but rather that raw material prices will continue to rise. Despite the increasing pressure on sales and the margin situation, management is working intensively to minimise the negative influencing factors by implementing countermeasures in order to be able to achieve the forecast. A significant proportion of these measures is being taken by the plant in China, which is gradually improving its technological know-how and thus will be able to produce orders that promise a better profit margin."