SW Umwelttechnik Stoiser & Wolschner AG

euro adhoc: SW Umwelttechnik Stoiser & Wolschner AG
Restructuring & Recapitalisations
SW Umwelttechnik announces results for 2004 and planned capital increase

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* POA more than trebled * Order backlog up by 177% * Recommended dividend EUR0.20 per share * Capital increase to finance construction of two factories in       Romania

At a press conference today SW Umwelttechnik (Vienna Stock Exchange symbol: SWUT) joint chief executives Heinz Wolschner and Dr. Bernd Wolschner announced the company’s results for 2004 and unveiled plans for a capital increase.

Heinz Wolschner told journalists: "Due to the excellent growth prospects for all our business sectors — Water Conservation, Engineering and Infrastructure — in Central and Eastern, and Southeastern Europe, we intend to increase the Company’s issued capital by up to 10%. We will be using the anticipated issue proceeds of about EUR2.4 million (m) to build a new pipe works in Western Romania this year, and put it into operation in 2006. We also plan to build a factory in Bucharest next year — initially for our Infrastructure sector."

Capital increase The Management Board will issue up to 59,999 new shares, equal to up to 10% of the company’s share capital, to finance further expansion in Romania. The new ordinary bearer shares will be offered between 21 April and 9 May 2005. Dividend rights will be retroactive to 1 January 2004. The shares will be offered to existing shareholders and prospective investors using a bookbuilding procedure. The price will be determined by this procedure but will be limited to EUREUR.Initial listing on the Vienna Stock Exchange is scheduled for 12 May 2005. The issue will be lead managed by Erste Bank.

Trading performance in 2004 Summing up the company’s trading performance in 2004, Dr. Bernd Wolschner said: "Financial 2004 was a year of successful consolidation for SW Umwelttechnik, in preparation for further expansion in Central and Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. In line with our strong CEE and SEE focus, we built out our market positions in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia and proceeded with our tough consolidation programme in Austria. Helped by the positive trend in the euro-forint exchange rate, we achieved a marked improvement in earnings."

Revenue Revenue increased by 1%, from EUR75.4m to EUR76.3m in financial 2004. The revenue contribution of the Hungarian operations rose from 67% to 70%, and their revenue expanded by 6% in absolute terms due to the positive trend in this market. The Water Conservation and Infrastructure sectors recorded double-digit revenue growth in Hungary while the Engineering business lost ground as a result of delays in awards of public contracts for sewerage systems and wastewater treatment plants.

The revenue share accounted for by the Austrian market was unchanged at 25%. The flat demand for wastewater treatment plants and sewer systems encountered by the Water Conservation sector was offset by growth in the Engineering sector’s renewable energy business, which has already won ten contracts for the design and/or construction of biogas plants.

The combined revenue contribution of other EU member states, and other CEE and SEE countries (Italy, Romania, Croatia, Germany, Slowakia and Slovenia) was 5%. There was a shift in the segmental breakdown of revenue, with the contribution of the Infrastructure sector climbing from 39% to 42% due to its good performance in Hungary. Order placement delays in Hungary led to a drop in the share of revenue accounted for by the Engineering sector from 33% to 31%. The contribution of the Water Conservation sector edged down from 28% to 27%.

Earnings EBIT was significantly impacted by three factors in 2004. A 50% average run-up in steel prices reduced earnings by more than EUR1m in 2004, and it was not possible to pass on the increases until the third quarter. Earnings were also hit by stiffening competition in Austria and by hold-ups in contract awards to the Engineering sector in Hungary. Together these influences cut EBIT from EUR3.4m to EUR2.3m, and EBITDA from EUR7.2m to EUR6.2m.

Meanwhile however finance cost declined markedly, from EUR2.9m in the previous year to EUR0.3m. This improvement reflected EUR1.3m in exchange gains due to the fact that financing of the Hungarian operations is predominantly euro denominated — a decision now seen to be cutting long-term finance costs.

As a result, profit on ordinary activities more than trebled, jumping by 280% from EUR0.5m in 2003 to EUR2.0m. There was also a marked upturn in profit after tax, from EUR0.3m to EUR1.5m, owing to the lighter tax burden. Reduced minority interests in subsidiaries contributed to a swing from a net loss after minorities of EUR0.3m in 2003 into a net profit of EUR1.6m. Earnings per share rebounded to EUR2.84, following a loss of EUR0.56 in 2003.

Asset and capital structure There was a major improvement in the company’s balance sheet in 2004. Reduced prefinancing by the Engineering sector in Hungary and strong cash flows from operating activities cut financial liabilities from EUR40.5m to EUR34.8m, and total equity and liabilities fell by 4.6%, from EUR71.4m to EUR68.1m.

Capital and reserves advanced from EUR18.0m to EUR20.0m owing to the positive earnings situation and the revaluation of the Hungarian forint. This and lower total equity and liabilities meant that the equity ratio rose from 25.2% to 29.4%.

Employees The headcount fell from 755 to 723, lifting revenue per employee by 6%.

Capital expenditure and R&D Following the completion of major investment programmes in the previous year, the investment budget was slimmed to EUR3.5m in 2004. The lion's share of investment — some 77% — went to the Hungarian operations, most of it being channelled to the next expansion phase at the South Budapest factory. Spending in Austria largely concerned replacement investments. Direct R&D spending amounted to EUR0.4m (2003: EUR0.5m) or 0.6% of revenue. The main R&D priorities were surface water protection, separation and biogas system developments.

Dividend recommendation Due to the positive earnings trend, and in order to enhance the attractiveness of the company’s stock, the Management Board will be recommending a dividend of EUR0.20 to the Annual General Meeting. This will also be paid to holders of the new shares.

Outlook Management plans to press ahead with expansion in the CEE and SEE regions, as it is in these markets that the conditions are conducive to rapid revenue and earnings growth.

Management continues to see the outlook for all the company’s business sectors in the Hungarian, Romanian and Slovakian markets as highly positive due to existing or impending EU membership. With order backlog at balance sheet date almost trebled to EUR36m at balance sheet date (2003: EUR13m) there is good reason for expecting that SW Umwelttechnik will trade well in 2005.

In Austria, the acquisition of Alpha Umwelttechnik GmbH, Klagenfurt from the Wienerberger Group on 1 January 2005 is expected to result in a shake-out in the market served by the Water Conservation sector.

Investment will more than double to about EUR7.8 m in 2005. The main focus will be on Hungary and Romania. Hungary’s most modern pipe works is currently under construction at the company’s South Budapest site, and is due to start up during the third quarter of 2005.

Following the establishment of a sales and marketing organisation in Romania, a pipe works is to be built for the Water Conservation sector in Ortisoara, near Timisuara during the second half of this year. SW Umwelttechnik has already won its first major drinking water supply and sewer network construction contracts in this important growth market. The anticipated proceeds of the capital increase are also to be used to build a factory for the Infrastructure sector, and subsequently one in the Bucharest area for the Water Conservation sector. Planning work is already under way.

end of announcement                                euro adhoc 20.04.2005 07:00:00

Further inquiry note: DI Heinz Wolschner, Vorstand der SW Umwelttechnik Tel.: 0043/463/32109-0, Fax: 0043/463/37667 MMag. Christian Riel, Finanzen/Investor Relations Tel.: 0043/664/4337105, Fax: 0043/1/3688686, mailto:christian.riel@sw-umwelttechnik.at Website: http://www.sw-umwelttechnik.at

Branche: Technology
ISIN:      AT0000808209
WKN:        080820
Index:    WBI, ATX Prime, ViDX
Börsen:  Berliner Wertpapierbörse / free trade
              Baden-Württembergische Wertpapierbörse / free trade
              Börse Düsseldorf / free trade
              Wiener Börse AG / official dealing

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