The Hilti Group published its full report for 2018, which confirmed increased investments and double-digit growth in a positive market environment. Group sales increased by 10.7% to CHF 5.6 billion (€4.9 billion). In local currencies, sales grew by 9.8%. Operating profit increased by 7% to CHF 728 million.
CEO Christoph Loos summarised: “2018 was a dynamic and important year for us. We used our strong financial position and the continuing positive market environment for significant investments for the future. We invested more than ever before and continued the consistent implementation of our Champion 2020 strategy.”
Hilti again achieved growth in all regions of the world. North America and Europe grew at a double-digit rate (10.4% and 10.6%, respectively, in local currencies). Latin America increased significantly at 8.6%, although the main markets there were affected by political uncertainties. Eastern Europe/Middle East/Africa also saw strong growth (+9.3%). Here political tensions negatively affected the business, particularly in Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. In Asia Pacific, growth increased 7%, but remained behind expectations. Currency effects, in particular the slightly positive euro, added 0.9 percentage points to the sales in Swiss Francs.
Significant investments in innovation, market reach and infrastructure strengthened the foundation for long-term profitable growth. R&D spending increased by 14% to CHF 355 million. 1,000 colleagues joined the Hilti sales team and overall employee numbers increased 8% to 29,004.
In spite of the high investments, operating profit increased by 7% to CHF 728 million. Net income increased 5% to CHF 546 million. Both return on sales (12.9%) and return on capital employed (20.6%) remained at a high level. Free cash flow was at CHF 245 million.
Christoph Loos explained future plans: “We are pleased with our annual results, which are within our expectations. We are confident in the current focus of the company and have therefore decided to extend the timeline of our Champion 2020 strategy by two to three years. Within this timeframe, we will continue our investments into digitalising and modernising the company.
Due to the reduction in the dynamic of the global economy and ongoing trade tensions, the Hilti Group sees a more challenging environment and lower market growth for the current business year. As a result, sales and operating profit are expected to increase in the range of medium to high single digits.
Hilti’s Full Reports for 2018 are available here.
Having held senior management roles in leading automotive and fastener businesses, Phil joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine as editor in 2002. Convinced there is no substitute for ‘being there’, over 15 years of visits and interviews around the world means he has accumulated an extraordinary knowledge and perspective of the global fastener industry, reflected in his incisive and thought provoking reporting.