Liebherr has posted another year of record revenues, with group sales increasing 11.4 percent to €11.75 billion, at the same time pre-tax profits jumped 45.5 percent to €748 million.
The Ehingen based mobile crane division achieved revenues of €2.54 billion, up 13.4 percent on 2018. Geographically, sales within Europe represented 45.5 percent of sales, followed by North America at 25.4 percent and Australia/Oceania at 14.6 percent. The company said that demand was particularly high for three to five axle All Terrain cranes, while the market for crawler cranes remained difficult despite improvements on last year.
The tower crane division posted revenues of €636 million, an increase of 11.4 percent on 2018, with Europe making up 74.6 percent of sales and Germany remaining the largest single market.
The maritime cranes division reported sales of €887 million, up 24.5 percent on 2018 after having shrunk 1.1 percent on 2017. Europe represented 38.3 percent of sales, followed by the Africa and Middle East region at 22.1 percent and Australia/Oceania at 13.3 percent.
Total group crane sales - excluding foundation cranes - were just over €4 billion. The total number of employees as of the end of the year was 48,049 for the group as a whole, an increase of almost four percent on the previous year, while capital investment was 8.8 percent lower at €756 million.
The company said its order books at the start of 2020 were very strong, but has warned that it is unable to forecast the impact of Covid-19 but expects that it will have a significant impact on revenues and profits for 2020.
What can you say about Liebherr? It is almost unique among businesses in that it is still family owned, with very little debt. And yet it is a truly global conglomerate. Its policy has always focused on the long term and absorbed downturns seemingly to hardly miss a beat, continuing to invest while retaining staff. It has benefited from previous recessions and downturns and it hard to believe that this one will be any different.
As to this year’s crane results - yet another strong performance with a surprisingly strong uplift in profitability. The company is in as good a shape as possible to be facing the current crisis. Expect the company to reinforce its market position still further this year, even in the face of lower sales and profits.