After the third quarter’s weaker growth, both order intake and invoicing improved during the fourth quarter. Order intake increased by 11% and invoicing by 9%.
In general, the trend in most markets has been stable. In Finland, much to our pleasure, we are seeing a clear improvement in the business situation following a long period of weak demand. In addition, most of the Group’s companies performed well during the quarter and delivered results that were well in line with expectations.
During the quarter, lower order intake and outgoing deliveries as well as production disruptions of valves for power generation in the energy segment significantly affected comparisons with the preceding year in the Special Products business area. The investment in greater manufacturing capacity is resulting in greater opportunities for development of the valve programme in the long run. The total earnings impact compared with the fourth quarter a year ago was SEK -50 million, of which SEK -10 million pertains to costs for getting the new plant up and running.
The challenging business situation, with soft demand and strong price pressure for companies in the marine segment, also continued during the fourth quarter. Lower invoicing together with restructuring costs had a significant negative earnings impact on the Flow Technology business area.
During the quarter the Scanmaskin Group, which makes surface finishing equipment, was acquired. A total of 11 acquisitions were made in 2016 with combined annual sales of SEK 1,130 million. Nine of the acquired companies have own products, which strengthens the long-term trend in the Group towards having a larger share of proprietary products. Our ambition since 2005 has been to increase the share of companies in measurement and sensor technology, so it is gratifying to note that four of the acquisitions carried out in 2016 are in this segment. In early 2017 three acquisitions have been carried out: RS Technics, which is active in measurement technology in the Netherlands; Sunflower Medical, which makes healthcare equipment in the UK; and Ellard, which manufactures control equipment for commercial doors in the UK.
Since its stock market introduction in 2005 Indutrade has had a fantastic development. We have increased the share of companies with own products and own manufacturing. We have also expanded the business model outside of Sweden and the Nordic countries, and the number of companies during this time has grown from some 60 to more than 200 today. To enable this growth, the organisational structure has also developed, and today we have an organisation with six business areas that ensure that we can make full use of the experience and expertise that exists out in our companies.
The cornerstones of Indutrade’s decentralised business model are firmly grounded, and I am convinced that Indutrade, through its ongoing evolution, has all the conditions needed for future profitable growth.
Johnny Alvarsson, President and CEO