Based on the stronger investment activities of our customers, our business position improved compared with the previous year. This was particularly true for industry and water and waste water management, our key sales markets in strategic terms. In addition, mining companies caught up on a larger scale with investments that had previously been deferred.
We made the most of market opportunities via the global KSB sales organisation, supported by our global manufacturing network, our service organisation and national dealership networks.
The volume of orders received by KSB increased by € 108.8 million to € 2,265.3 million in the year under review. This 5 % increase corresponds to our expectation of a “marked improvement” in order intake. It is mainly attributable to the development of our business in the water and waste water sector, in industry and in mining. However, we also posted increases with products and services in the power plant business and in service for building services equipment. Currency exchange rate changes constituted – contrary to previous years – only a minor influencing factor at € – 7.3 million.
A regional focus of order intake was the Region Asia / Pacific (+ 13.8 %). The orders received there made up about half of the growth. The companies in the Regions Europe and Americas have also developed positively, with the percentage growth of the American companies (+ 9.0 %) being stronger than that of the companies in our European home market (+ 2.8 %). Order intake performance at KSB AG (now KSB SE & Co. KGaA) at + 3.8 % to € 780.0 million was above average; here, project orders placed by power stations and industrial plants were a major factor. The companies in the Region Middle East / Africa posted a fall in order intake by 7.7 %, among other things because some major customers placed their orders directly with European KSB companies.
At € 1,473.6 million, the order intake in the pumps segment outperformed the prior-year value by € 87.0 million, corresponding to an increase of 6.3 %, which is in line with our expectation expressed in the previous year. The pump business, which was intensified by sales initiatives and new product launches, benefited from the recovery in the industrial market and the continued good performance of the water and waste water business. In the field of waste water transport and purification, our sales staff won over customers with an enhanced, particularly reliable waste water pump series. We also added new high-pressure and submersible borehole pumps to our water engineering portfolio. In addition, the broadening of our range of mechanical seals manufactured in-house had a positive effect on order intake.
Rising commodity prices strengthened demand from mining, which we served above all with US slurry pumps. In this field, at a 35.5 % increase, we posted the highest growth rate in the pumps segment. The focus was on replacement investments by customers; only a few mine operators tackled expansion projects. The demand situation in the fossil-fuelled power plant business remained challenging; order intake for boiler feed, condensate and cooling water pumps dropped further.
In the valves segment, we posted order intake up by 3.7 %; it rose by € 12.3 million to € 343.5 million. Most of the orders for globe, gate and butterfly valves came from industry. Chemical and petrochemical companies also placed more purchase orders again. The sale of the valves business of our US subsidiary KSB AMRI, Inc., which had specialised in the production and sale of butterfly valves for chemical applications, had an opposite effect.
The strongest growth rate was posted for orders for globe, gate and butterfly valves for energy generation applications, including high-safety valves for nuclear power plants in Europe and Asia. We did not yet see any improvement in the business with cryogenic butterfly valves for liquefied gas tankers and loading stations for the reasons outlined above. Our expectation of a significant improvement materialised.
Order intake for support services rose by € 9.4 million to € 448.2 million. This slight increase of 2.1 % correlated with our forecast that growth in service would be weaker than that of pumps and valves. As expected, the sale of a French service company at the end of 2016 and the integration of several service companies into larger units in the USA and France had an opposite effect. In addition, as many as three service sites in the south of the USA were affected by the impact of the tropical hurricane Harvey in 2017.
We posted the strongest order intake overall in the water and waste water business as well as in the power plant sector. Energy providers in China and India, in particular, increasingly used our services. Service orders from mining and building services also rose, only orders from industry remained slightly below the previous year’s level.
We were particularly successful regionally in Asia in 2017. There, we are continuously expanding our service organisation, thus winning new customers. 2017, for instance, saw the opening of a service centre in the south of China.
Our consolidated sales revenue improved year on year by € 39.3 million to € 2,205.0 million. This 1.8 % increase slightly exceeded our expectation of reaching the prior-year level. The intensification of our installed base business , which resulted in a higher share of orders with a short-cycle impact on sales revenue, was a positive factor. Exchange rate changes had only a minor impact on sales at € – 5.8 million.
The Region with the strongest sales revenue continued to be Europe with a share of some 57 %, where in particular KSB AG (now KSB SE & Co. KGaA) and KSB S.A.S. also process orders from countries outside Europe. Overall, the sales revenue of the European countries rose by 1.4 %. KSB AG saw a rise of 2.7 % to € 780.8 million (previous year € 760.6 million). The strongest upward development was posted by the Asian companies with growth of 13.0 %. In contrast, sales revenue in the Region Americas (– 6.8 %) and the Region Middle East / Africa (– 3.6 %) contracted.
As the effects from construction contracts in the 2017 financial year can also be presented at segment level, as described above, the comparison with the prior-year figures is slightly limited.
Sales revenue for pumps increased by € 15.9 million, equalling 1.1 %, to € 1,444.4 million. Growth drivers were above all our companies in Asia, with several local companies also invoicing major orders. Due to the lower number of project orders from previous years, however, the general business with standard products and the installed base business formed the basis of our pump sales revenue. Key growth sectors were the water and waste water sector as well as mining, which we are supplying with replacement pumps and spare parts in greater volumes again. Our expectation of a significant decline did therefore not materialise.
The rise in order intake did not yet have an impact on sales revenue in the reporting year. The order gap occurring in the project business in previous years was not offset by the developments in the general and installed base business. For that reason, sales revenue dropped again contrary to forecast. It declined by € 21.9 million, or 6.1 %, to € 338.8 million. In this context, the above-mentioned sale of the business of our US valve subsidiary KSB AMRI Inc. reduced sales revenue by about € 7.5 million.
Sales revenue from support services met our expectations of a stable performance. While we assumed at the start of the year that the continued difficult order situation in the energy business and in the oil and gas industry would only permit sales revenue at the previous year’s level, we posted growth of € 5.2 million over the year. The sales revenue volume thus rose by 1.2 % to € 421.7 million. In particular the Region Asia / Pacific benefited from the performance of our new service centres.
The KSB Group achieved earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of € 117.2 million (previous year: € 88.2 million). The Pumps segment contributed EBIT of € 79.9 million (previous year: € 60.9 million). This means that the forecast (of a significant rise) made in the previous year’s report was exceeded. In the Valves segment, the predicted substantial growth in EBIT did not materialise; instead, the EBIT dropped to € 0.1 million (previous year € 8.8 million). This was caused by the write-down of the goodwill of KSB Seil Co., Ltd., South Korea. The EBIT of the Service segment rose strongly to € 37.3 million (previous year € 33.3 million), which confirmed our forecast.
In 2016, the preceding section referred to the operating earnings (EBIT excluding the effects from the measurement of construction contracts under IAS 11). An adjustment of the previous year’s figures was not possible, as the effects from construction contracts could not be established at segment level. Additional information can be found in Section I. Basic Principles of the Group – Control System.
The above increase in sales revenue is also reflected in a higher total output of operations, totalling € 2,210.5 million compared with € 2,174.2 million in the previous year. Work in progress and inventories of finished goods remained virtually unchanged. Other work performed and capitalised amounts to € 5.6 million and is therefore unchanged year on year.
Other income declined from € 47.2 million to € 69.2 million, partly due to higher income from the disposal of assets and high insurance compensations.
The cost of materials increased in line with the total output of operations, meaning that the cost of materials as a percentage of total output of operations, at 40.2 %, remained unchanged year on year. Overall, the cost of materials increased to € 887.8 million compared with € 874.2 million.
Staff costs fell by 0.3 % to € 796.7 million. Staff costs as a percentage of total output of operations dropped by 0.7 percentage points. The key factor was the continued reduction in headcount. Compared with 2016, the number of employees fell by 117, taking the total figure at the end of the year under review to 15,455. The European companies recorded the strongest decrease with a reduction of 249 staff. The biggest falls came at the French and German sites. Employee numbers were also markedly down in the Americas with 134 fewer people working for KSB on the reporting date compared with the end of December 2016. This development is the result of measures introduced to bring our cost structures into line with new market conditions. The KSB Group employed on average 392 fewer people than in the previous year. Based on the moderately higher total output of operations and simultaneous decrease in the number of employees, the average output per employee improved from € 137 thousand in the previous financial year to € 142 thousand.
The ratio of other expenses to total output of operations rose from 17.1 % to 17.8 %. In absolute terms, this represents a change from € 372.4 million to € 392.4 million. Causes were higher levels of repairs, external services and other staff costs, which could not be offset by lower selling costs.
Financial income / expense improved by € 3.2 million. This is primarily a reflection of the strong increase in income from investments accounted for using the equity method. Based on the contribution to income from our Chinese joint venture, we reported income totalling € 1.5 million. This compares with expenses of € 1.3 million in the previous year.
The KSB Group generated earnings before income taxes (EBT) of € 104.2 million, compared with € 74.6 million in 2016. Our previous year’s forecast of a substantial increase in earnings therefore materialised. Correspondingly, the return on sales before tax increased from 3.5 % in the previous year to 4.7 %, also confirming our expectations expressed in 2016. The income tax rate rose substantially year on year and is now 50.0 % after 36.0 % in the previous year. This rise was attributable to considerably higher deferred tax expenses. Adjusted for the effects resulting from impairment losses on deferred taxes on tax loss carryforwards, the tax rate change in the USA and the write-down of goodwill of KSB Seil Co., Ltd., South Korea, the income tax rate is 37.4 %. Earnings after income taxes, which totalled € 52.1 million (previous year: € 47.8 million) and thus grew by 9.0 %, rose less markedly than earnings before income taxes (EBT) (39.6 %).
At € 14.9 million, earnings attributable to non-controlling interests remained unchanged compared with the previous year. Relative to earnings after income taxes, there was therefore a change from 31.0 % to 28.6 %.
Earnings attributable to shareholders of KSB AG (€ 37.2 million) were € 4.3 million higher than in the previous year (€ 32.9 million).
Earnings per ordinary share were € 21.10, compared with € 18.68 in the previous year, and € 21.36 per preference share, compared with € 18.94 in 2016.