trading update - first quarter 2009
Aalberts Industries’ activities and revenue stabilised around the lower level of the last months of 2008 as a result of the economic situation and de-stocking at customers, of which the main effect seems to be behind us. The taken measures, including the reduction of the workforce with 1,500 employees since mid 2008 and the use of short time working arrangements (outside the Netherlands), created lower cost levels and improved efficiency. The company remains focussed on its financial position. Thereby the emphasis is on maintaining positive results, a prudent investment policy and strict control of working capital to reduce as much as possible the regular seasonal build-up during the first half year.
The main markets of industrial Services remained challenging the first months of 2009, particularly the automotive, semiconductor and electrotechnical sectors. The aerospace, defence and medical markets developed relatively well. The demand for new products and services remained the past period reasonable stable which partly offset the organic decline. Due to the current circumstances the market is clearly more geared towards solid and stable suppliers, a trend which Industrial Services benefited from.
Flow Control was also confronted with challenging market circumstances. The group strengthened its market position through selling its complete portfolio in an increasing number of markets through the bundled sales platforms. In addition, new products and systems were introduced, including sprinkler applications and renewable solutions, that offer large growth potential for the group. In the Western European markets, including the United Kingdom, an organic decline in revenue was generated predominantly driven by the de-stocking effect at customers. In the Eastern European markets, specifically Russia and the Ukraine, next to de-stocking, lesser activity resulting from a lack of sufficient liquidity was realised. Also Southern Europe, where the position of the group is relatively small, remained difficult. The market situation in North America seems to stabilise. The group has increasingly focussed, next to new build, on the renovation and commercial construction, two markets that performed reasonably well.
The group remains alert to possible changes in the markets and will react immediately to changing circumstances. The results of the first half of 2009 will be presented on 13 August 2009 before start of trading. Given the current economic circumstances and the associated uncertainties, it is not possible to provide an outlook for the remainder of the year. All actions remain focussed on being able to emerge strengthened from the current market situation when the economy improves.
Following approval of the 2008 annual accounts by the General Meeting of Shareholders on 20 April 2009, the dividend for the 2008 financial year has been set at EUR 0.28 per ordinary share of EUR 0.25 nominal value. It was also determined that the 2008 dividend of EUR 0.28 will be payable - at the shareholder's option - fully in ordinary shares against the tax-exempt share premium account or fully in cash (after deduction of 15% withholding tax on dividends).
Today the number of dividend rights of ordinary shares of EUR 0.25 nominal value entitling shareholders to one new ordinary share in Aalberts Industries N.V. of EUR 0.25 nominal value each, has been fixed at 24. Based on the volume weighted average price of all ordinary Aalberts Industries N.V. shares traded on NYSE Euronext Amsterdam on 6, 7, 8, 11 and 12 May 2009 of EUR 6.7954, 1/24 portion represents a value of EUR 0.2831, which is virtually equal to the value of the cash dividend.
Payment of dividend and transfer of shares on account of exchange of dividend rights will take place on 15 May 2009, in ordinary shares of EUR 0.25 nominal value, through bank or broker where the shares are held.