CLAAS maintained its sales at the high level of €3.631 billion (prior year: €3.838 billion) in spite of consistently weak markets. Income before taxes decreased to €93 million (prior year: €158 million), primarily due to a fall in volumes.
“We have maintained our position well in rapidly shrinking markets,” said Lothar Kriszun, Speaker of the CLAAS Group Executive Board. “Double-digit growth in Eastern Europe had a stabilizing effect. We are pressing ahead with our efficiency program and continuing our systematic investment in digitalization and internationalization at CLAAS, thereby stepping up our efforts in tackling this long-term market downturn.”
The global market for professional agricultural equipment once again saw a significant decline in many regions this year. Since 2013, the combine harvester market has shrunk by 50% in North America and by 22% in Europe. CLAAS benefited from an increase in sales in Eastern Europe and stable development in France. Sales decreased in all other regions. In Germany, it was possible to partly compensate for the drop through stronger sales of used machinery and the further expansion of the service business.
Investment in research and development reached a new record high of €214 million (prior year: €203 million), and has more than doubled over the past decade. One in every ten CLAAS employees now works in research and development. Investment was focused on new services as well as developments in the area of harvesting machinery and tractors. Electronic components and software are becoming increasingly important in this area as they allow better management and connectivity of agricultural machinery. More and more farmers are looking to monitor and efficiently control the entire operation process chain on their farms.
The driving forces in markets relevant to CLAAS remain fundamentally intact: Barring any temporary fluctuations, demand for agricultural commodities resulting from population growth and rising prosperity is set to increase constantly.
However, CLAAS expects the global market to continue to shrink in fiscal year 2017. The negative development in terms of agricultural income and the impacts of political and economic crises are leading to a general reluctance to buy when it comes to agricultural equipment.
As a consequence, CLAAS anticipates a slight fall in sales and stable income before taxes.