Bühler improves profitability in 2023

Bühler improves profitability in 2023
Photo - Bühler

In 2023, Bühler successfully navigated a complex and volatile global landscape and increased its profitability. The equity ratio also further improved. As an innovative solution provider, the company benefited from many opportunities and gained market share from transitions in its key markets. In local currencies, turnover grew enormously, and orders improved slightly. With a high order book of CHF 2.0 billion, Bühler is well positioned for 2024. “We are satisfied with the outcome of 2023 and have proved again that we are a reliable partner in this dynamic world,” says Bühler chief executive officer Stefan Scheiber.

At the Group level and in Swiss Francs, Bühler performed well with a slightly increased turnover of CHF 3.0 billion (+1.0%). Order intake was CHF 3.2 billion (-3.8%), and the order book remained high at CHF 2.0 billion. EBIT rose 8.9% to CHF 216 million with a corresponding EBIT margin of 7.2% (prior year: 6.7%). Net profit increased by 16.3% to CHF 179 million (prior year: CHF 154 million), corresponding with a margin of 5.9% (previous year: 5.2%). The impact of foreign exchange rates was significant. In local currencies, orders improved by 2% to CHF 3.3 billion, turnover by 7% to CHF 3.2 billion, and EBIT by 17% to CHF 233 million.

In 2023, Bühler strengthened its financial position, increasing the equity ratio to 51.1% (prior year: 49.8%).

Photo - Bühler

Advanced Materials experienced another strong year

In 2023, the Advanced Materials business continued its success. Whereas turnover grew strongly by 15.9% to CHF 778 million, order intake fell by 11.2% to CHF 774 million, indicating that business volumes were normalizing. In local currencies, turnover increased by 22.9%, while order intake reduced by 5.3%. With these results, the Advanced Materials business confirmed that it is in an upswing mode after a solid order intake in 2022, driven by a transformation in its industries. This enabled it to reach a record-high turnover in 2023.

The die-casting business area experienced significant growth, reflecting the burgeoning demand for structural components for car bodies, including battery cases for electric vehicles and advanced megacasting solutions such as the new Carat 840 and 920 series. The Leybold Optics business area gained significantly from glass coaters for architectural and car glass applications, capacitors for e-mobility, grid applications, and the ongoing strong market trends in photonics and semiconductors.

Grains & Food performance driven by food security

In a challenging business environment, Grains & Food performed solidly. Turnover fell by 3.1% to CHF 2,204 million, while order intake was down 0.7% to CHF 2,357 million. In local currencies, turnover increased by 2.2%, and order intake grew by 4.8%. The global demand to improve food security was a key driver for the Milling Solutions and Grain Quality & Supply business areas. While the challenging economic situation in China worked as a damper in most areas, especially in the Value Nutrition business, Grain Quality & Supply secured several larger orders for ship unloaders due to governmental efforts to improve food security.

Milling Solutions, the most significant business area of Bühler, benefited from a global catch-up demand for large milling projects for grain processing, including numerous greenfield installations. Projects were awarded to Bühler from all over the world – United States, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia, among others. Turnover growth was remarkable in the Chocolate & Coffee business area, and the Consumer Foods business area continued to recover in volumes and profitability.

Services have become even more critical for customers

Services continued to be a key critical strategic pillar in 2023, as they are the fastest lever to improve productivity and, consequently, the sustainability of Bühler customers’ operations by minimizing energy, waste, and water. Bühler’s Customer Service business grew by 1.2%, amounting to CHF 966 million, representing a 32% share of Group turnover.

Balanced global business footprint

While the economic environment differed strongly across critical markets, Bühler’s balanced geographical footprint allowed the company to benefit from market expansions and thus offset lower business volumes in other markets. The most notable developments were strong turnover growth in the Americas and significantly lower turnover volumes in China. Overall, Bühler’s regional share of turnover was as follows: Americas 29%, Europe 28%, Asia 27%, Middle East Africa & India 16%.

Innovation as a critical success factor

In 2023, expenses for R&D remained at a high level at CHF 140 million (4.7% of turnover), and around 50 new customer solutions were launched. “We see profitable growth as a prerequisite for creating a positive impact for a better world. This conviction guides our investments in the future development of our company into innovative products and services, as well as in the development, education, and training of people,” says Stefan Scheiber.

In 2023, Bühler focused on further implementing its sustainability strategy. Bühler can create the highest impact with its customer solutions (Scope 3). In this respect, Bühler has committed to having solutions ready to multiply by 2025 that reduce energy, waste, and water by 50% in customers' value chains. For its operations (Scopes 1 and 2), it has developed a pathway to achieve a 60% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. By the end of 2023, Bühler achieved a reduction of nearly 20% compared to the 2019 baseline.

Training and Education

In 2023, Bühler focused on training and educating customers and employees. Customers benefited from training at different specialist schools on all continents and the broad offering of courses in the 25 Application & Training Centers worldwide. With the opening of new locations in Brazil and Switzerland in 2023, Bühler added further to its capability to support its customers along complete value chains, from recipe development to final product development and industrial scaling.

For its nearly 12,500 employees, Bühler built on its programs for development and lifelong learning. These enable its people to adapt and develop the skills needed to keep pace with a quickly changing and increasingly challenging work environment. Part of the concept is the Bühler Energy Center in Uzwil, Switzerland, which opened in June. It contains three pillars: Health & Lifestyle, focusing on health management; Lifelong Learning, focusing on vocational and adult learning; and Prototyping & Production, focusing on new manufacturing technologies. In 2023, Bühler trained 544 apprentices globally, 293 of whom in Switzerland.

Outlook: stable starting position for 2024

The economic climate of 2024 is still likely to be characterized by continued volatility. Nevertheless, Bühler is well-positioned to navigate through dynamic times and to benefit from new opportunities that arise. A carryover of CHF 2.0 billion orders is a stable starting position for the business in 2024. Bühler remains committed to its strategic goal of profitable growth, its sustainability targets, and supporting the further development of its customers and employees.

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