Group

CHF million

January – March

Change in

Full year

 

2021

2020

%

%1)

%2)

2020

Order intake

906

668

35.5

40.2

37.4

2’838

Net sales

733

702

4.5

5.9

5.3

2’741

Order book

1’263

955

32.2

36.3

33.5

1’081

Number of employees at closing date3)

13’388

12’276

9.1

 

7.9

12’598

1) Adjusted for currency effects
2) Adjusted for currency and acquisition effects
3) 13’444 employees (FTEs), of whom 56 on short-time work
   (at closing date 2020: 13’163 employees, of whom 887 on short-time work)


Overall, the markets of Bucher Industries developed very positively in the first quarter of 2021. Demand rose in all divisions. Kuhn Group and Bucher Hydraulics, where recovery had already set in by mid-2020, reported a substantial increase. Order intake at Bucher Industries grew by more than a third. While all sites were operational, certain restrictions still remained in effect, with the biggest impact seen on operational processes and international travel. In light of the economic recovery, the divisions also increasingly found themselves faced with difficulties in the supply chain and in logistics, which led to delivery bottlenecks and longer delivery times in general. Consequently, there was a delay in the sales increase, and the order book is currently at a very high level.
 

Kuhn Group

CHF million

January – March

Change in

Full year

 

2021

2020

%

%1)

%2)

2020

Order intake

362

237

52.9

66.6

64.1

1’290

Net sales

332

300

10.5

14.0

13.4

1’094

Order book

614

333

84.7

97.7

95.5

587

Number of employees at closing date3)

5’843

4’476

30.5

 

28.9

5’194

1) Adjusted for currency effects
2) Adjusted for currency and acquisition effects
3) At closing date 2020: 5’262 employees (FTEs), of whom 786 on short-time work


Challenging production conditions with a record-high order book

Kuhn Group experienced an extremely dynamic first quarter in 2021. This period saw an intensification of the positive development that had set in during the second half of 2020. The strong demand for agricultural machinery was largely attributable to the various government support programmes for farmers as well as high crop prices. Following several difficult years, this – combined with good weather conditions and high demand from China for agricultural produce – resulted in a strong upturn in North America. In Europe, market conditions remained at a good level in both the arable sector and in the dairy and livestock industry. In Brazil, record-high margins meant that agricultural producers remained extremely eager to invest. In this dynamic environment, the division saw order intake rise by more than half over the prior-year period. Nevertheless, production increasingly faced challenges: finding new qualified employees was difficult, especially in the USA, and the raw materials sector suffered shortages and price increases. As a result, Kuhn Group was only able to a limited extent to adapt its production volume to its record-high order book. Sales grew more slowly as a result.
 

Bucher Municipal

CHF million

January – March

Change in

Full year

 

2021

2020

%

%1)

%2)

2020

Order intake

144

132

9.2

7.7

5.0

460

Net sales

117

114

2.7

1.2

−‍1.1

462

Order book

188

174

8.3

6.4

3.2

157

Number of employees at closing date3)

2’333

2’399

−‍2.8

 

−‍5.2

2’327

1) Adjusted for currency effects
2) Adjusted for currency and acquisition effects
3) 2’348 employees (FTEs), of whom 15 on short-time work
   (at closing date 2020: 2’431 employees, of whom 32 on short-time work)


Continued robust demand

Given the pandemic-related restrictions in place during the first quarter of 2021, demand for Bucher Municipal products was decent overall. The increase in order intake was due to orders for compact sweepers, truck-mounted sweepers and sewer cleaning vehicles. Demand for refuse collection vehicles was down from the very high prior-year period, which featured two major orders. Initial indications of a recovery were seen in the winter equipment segment in spare parts. Bucher Municipal’s production continued to be hampered by COVID-19 measures and problems in the supply chain. Electronic component shortages resulted in even longer delivery times for chassis, in particular. Added to that were higher transport costs and more complex logistics as a result of Brexit, which came into effect at the end of 2020. Accordingly, sales exceeded the prior-year period just slightly.
 

Bucher Hydraulics

CHF million

January – March

Change in

Full year

 

2021

2020

%

%1)

2020

Order intake

215

158

36.2

37.8

561

Net sales

168

150

12.1

13.5

536

Order book

181

118

52.9

54.9

134

Number of employees at closing date2)

2’651

2’631

0.8

 

2’537

1) Adjusted for currency effects
2) 2’654 employees (FTEs), of whom 3 on short-time work
   (at closing date 2020: 2’700 employees, of whom 69 on short-time work)


Record-high order intake

The dynamic momentum built up on the hydraulics markets during the second half of 2020 continued on into the first quarter of 2021. This trend was strengthened by the economic upturn and the general increase in delivery times in the industrial sector. Accordingly, demand for Bucher Hydraulics components and solutions rose substantially in all key regions and segments. In China, orders doubled over the prior-year period. The division as a whole reported an increase in order intake by a third, largely due to the important segments of materials handling, agricultural machinery and construction machines. The very high level of capacity utilisation as well as shortages in the supply chain made production activities increasingly challenging. The development of sales was similar to that of order intake with respect to the regions and segments, but was subject to a time lag.
 

Bucher Emhart Glass

CHF million

January – March

Change in

Full year

 

2021

2020

%

%1)

2020

Order intake

101

84

20.7

18.7

317

Net sales

69

91

−‍23.9

−‍25.1

421

Order book

190

253

−‍25.0

−‍26.1

155

Number of employees at closing date

1’592

1’738

−‍8.4

 

1’611

1) Adjusted for currency effects


Demand recovers further

The division had a decent start to the year. Uncertainties remain high due to the fact that many countries still have restrictions in place in the gastronomic sector and on alcohol consumption. Nevertheless, customers are increasingly approving investment projects that they had postponed in the previous year because of the pandemic. It was pleasing to note that there was a renewed increase in the number of orders for glass-forming machinery. Inspection machines were significantly less in demand, as customers are still more likely to repair their inspection machines than order new ones. Overall demand increased in particular in America from a low level, which resulted in a markedly higher order intake. Project postponements in the previous year and delays in deliveries prevented this recovery from being reflected in sales. Travel restrictions remained challenging. Higher transport prices and logistics bottlenecks also led to increasing difficulties.
 

Bucher Specials

CHF million

January – March

Change in

Full year

 

2021

2020

%

%1)

%2)

2020

Order intake

96

69

38.6

38.0

24.6

261

Net sales

64

61

5.6

5.1

4.6

273

Order book

107

91

18.3

17.7

2.1

70

Number of employees at closing date3)

906

968

−‍6.4

 

−‍8.0

868

1) Adjusted for currency effects
2) Adjusted for currency and acquisition effects
3) 944 employees (FTEs), of whom 38 on short-time work


Development positive overall

Following a very difficult 2020, demand at Bucher Vaslin picked up again in the northern hemisphere, particularly in the USA and Italy. Customers of Bucher Unipektin, particularly makers of beer and apple juice concentrate, remained extremely reluctant to invest. Thanks to acquisitions in the areas of processing equipment for citrus fruits and vacuum belt drying technology in 2020 and 2021, the number of orders nevertheless increased. Despite COVID-19-related supply chain challenges and uncertainties in Swiss agricultural policy, the business trend at Bucher Landtechnik was consistently positive. At Jetter, the slight recovery continued at a low level. Overall, order intake at Bucher Specials rose markedly over the prior-year period and sales grew as well.

Outlook 2021

The Group expects the economic recovery to continue. However, the uncertainties related to the pandemic are likely to persist. In addition, there are difficulties in procurement and logistics as well as associated increases in both material and transport costs. Kuhn Group anticipates a positive development in its most important markets, in particular in the arable sector, owing to high crop prices. In the dairy and livestock industry, higher producer prices should offset the rising feed costs. Overall, the division expects a rise in sales for 2021. The operating profit margin is likely to be higher, despite rising costs for materials and transport. Bucher Municipal anticipates decent demand and expects a moderate rise in sales facilitated by the full-year consolidation of Spoutvac and the newly launched electrified sweepers and winter maintenance equipment. With improved production efficiency, the operating profit margin should increase. Bucher Hydraulics will continue to systematically pursue the optimisation measures it has launched and will invest in innovation. The division is likely to continue to benefit from the momentum in its markets. Accordingly, it anticipates marked sales growth and an improvement in the operating profit margin, despite the challenges it faces in production. Bucher Emhart Glass expects the next few months to bring stronger demand and improved utilisation of production capacities. Given the low level of capacity utilisation in the first quarter, however, for the year as a whole the division expects to see a year-on-year decline in both sales and the operating profit margin. Bucher Specials anticipates that the current uncertainties will persist, causing reluctance to invest in the project business. The division expects slightly higher sales and an operating profit margin in the mid-single-digit range thanks to the cost-savings measures put in place. Overall, the Group expects to see an increase in sales and in the operating profit margin as well as an improved profit for the year. However, it is unlikely that the good results of 2019 will be achieved.