Lab and process equipment company Sartorius closed the first half of 2005 with increases in sales revenue and earnings, with a good performance by its filter business driven by demand from the biopharmaceutical industry.
However, its fermenter and bioreactor businesses suffered from the difficult market environment and did not develop satisfactorily, according to the company. The competition in the bioprocessing sector has been increasing, with a number of new entrants, particularly in the disposable segment. Sartorius has been working to increase its range of disposable products.
Group sales revenue rose 4.9 per cent to €233.2 million , helped by gains in the Asia Pacific region, while earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose from €11.6 million to €14.9 million.
Because of strong growth in filter equipment for biopharmaceutical applications, Sartorius' Biotechnology division saw sales climb 8.3 per cent to €120.9 million. The filter business saw order book gains in the double-digit percentage range, but orders for fermenters and bioreactors decreased, something the company attributed to a difficult market environment. Despite this, the division's EBIT rose from €5.7 million to €8.7 million, up 51.6 per cent.
The Mechatronics division, which includes lab and process weighing and other lab analysis systems, increased its first-half sales revenue by 1.5 per cent to €112.3 million, following a slight first-quarter dip. The company noted that this performance reflected the saturation of the marketplace for this type of product in Europe and North America. Sartorius is now trying to expand into Asia Pacific and other territories with more growth potential.
EBIT for the Mechatronics division rose to €6.2 million, 5.4 per cent above the year-earlier figure.
Sartorius maintained its earnings targets for the current year, predicting an increase in EBIT to over 8 per cent of consolidated sales revenue. The company anticipates that the positive growth trend of the first half will continue in all business areas, with the exception of its fermenter and bioreactor business, "in which a persistently difficult market environment is expected for the second half," according to the company.
Full-year growth for the group is likely to be below the rate posted for the first half, it said.