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SICK continues its run of successes - Record sales and earnings figures / founding family enhances autonomy and takes over stake from BWK
Waldkirch, 20 April 2006. SICK AG continued its dynamic development during the 2005 fiscal year. Sales and earnings rose again after good results in the year before. Despite weak domestic demand, with a 10.3 per cent rise in sales to EUR 593.5 million, the SICK Group not only outstripped the overall economic growth rate, but also exceeded its own targets. Earnings after tax reached a new record value of EUR 34.2 million (+16.1 per cent). Following the successful completion of its consolidation phase, the Process Automation segment made a strong contribution to this success. The Factory Automation segment also developed very well. The SICK Group’s EBIT rose by 14.0 per cent to EUR 56.7 million. Earnings per share were EUR 1.30, up from EUR 1.12 for the previous year.

Founding family increases stake in SICK AG

In agreement with the founding Sick family and SICK AG, the BWK GmbH participating company in Stuttgart exploited the successful development of SICK AG during recent years to cease its partnership, selling its 15 per cent stake in SICK AG to the Sick family during the first quarter of 2006. Gisela Sick, widow of the company’s founder Dr. Erwin Sick, and her family now hold approx. 92 percent of SICK AG, enhancing the company’s long-term independence. The remaining shares are largely in the hands of SICK Group employees.

Investments remain at a high level


Investments in the SICK Group in the year under review grew by 2.7 per cent to EUR 40.1 million. This was largely for land and buildings. The regional distribution of investments continues to reflect a clear focus on Germany, as well as the increasing importance of the Asian and American growth regions.

The number of employees continues to grow


4,095 personnel were employed in the SICK Group on 31 December 2005. This corresponds to an increase of 3.6 per cent over the previous year. While a total of 49 new jobs were created in Germany during the fiscal year, the number of employees abroad grew by 93 to 1,337. This included 45 new personnel in the USA, and 30 new jobs created in the Asian region. An average of 171 young trainees worked at SICK during 2005. Expenditure on training and further education in 2005 rose 12.2 per cent to EUR 5.9 million.

Good prospects for 2006

SICK celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2006. In view of the improving economic situation in Europe, the SICK Group expects further satisfactory growth in sales during the jubilee year of 2006. SICK estimates that the growth prospects on the Asian markets are greater, with continued market opportunities in North America. In Europe, growth is expected in eastern and southern Europe in particular.

The results of the two segments in detail:

Factory Automation – a strong year

The Factory Automation segment achieved sales amounting to EUR 504.1 million in 2005, 9.6 per cent up on 2004. Segment earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) were EUR 53.7 million, corresponding to a 2.7 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

The principal customer groups in the Factory Automation segment underwent dissimilar development in 2005. While the automobile industry showed modest growth, machine and plant construction improved over the course of the year as a result of an increased demand for capital goods. SICK was also able to further enhance its strong market position in logistics. The segment achieved particularly high growth rates in the USA. Satisfactory growth rates, however, were also achieved in Asia, especially in Japan. The new EU member states in eastern Europe enjoyed strong growth thanks to the lifting of restrictions and an increasing relocation of industry to this area. Automation activities in Germany, however, were more subdued.

Many automation technology sensors have become autonomous decision-making devices due to a variety of intelligent control, communication and technical components. Thus SICK has set a new standard with its 3rd generation of photoelectric switches and proximity switches, as these are the first standard sensors of their type suitable for a variety of fieldbuses. A further highlight is the world’s first 3-D smart camera. Tasks involving three-dimensional object inspections or the checking of features can now be solved easily. The open IO Link standard (initiated by SICK and supported by numerous other sensor producers), for fieldbus-neutral point-to-point dialogue between sensor and controller, underlines the company’s technological lead.
With the acquisition of the assets of Israel’s Netzer Precision Motion Sensors Ltd. in Misgav near Haifa in January 2006, SICK has enhanced its technological base and expanded its future motor feedback business with capacitive encoder technology.

In safety technology, safety photoelectric switches, light grids, laser scanners and interlocks monitor access to machines with hazardous movements. With the V4000 Press Brake safety camera sensor – the first electro-sensitive protective equipment based on an image processing system – SICK proves its innovative and technological lead here too. During the last year, SICK has completed its development of the new S300 laser scanner, to be presented to the public at the Hanover Industrial Trade Fair next week. The S300 is the handy alternative to its big brother, the S3000, and can be used in automated production and transport processes of all types for human and plant protection. On the communication side, intelligent interface components offer the possibility of integrating safety sensors in relay, PLC and safety-oriented fieldbus environments.

In automatic identification, image-processing reading devices for bar codes and 2-D codes represent the new technological trend. They offer improved reading performance, greater freedom and ergonomy during handling, and can automatically find the smallest of codes in several applications. Industry-oriented connection modules ensure the IT integration of stationary and mobile reading devices in the corresponding control environment. Technologically, SICK has expanded its range of products for automatic identification with devices for radio frequency identification (RFID). RFID allows identification even without visual contact between the reading device and the object to be identified.
Laser measurement systems are capable of determining the size, contour and volumes of objects such as packages, containers or cars. The accuracy of SICK systems is so great that even certified, calibrated complete solutions can be created, providing volume data in real time via the integrated Ethernet interface.


Process Automation – successful thanks to great efforts

After a restrained 2004, the Process Automation segment developed strongly, particularly during the second half of 2005 – recording an increase of 14.3 per cent in sales to EUR 89.5 million. With the exception of the German market, which is still stagnating, all regions contributed towards this growth.

Growth rates of over 20 per cent were achieved overseas. New environmental legislation drove growth in the European Union. Moreover, organisational measures implemented during the year, intended to increase closeness to the customer and improve market access, also proved effective. The segment’s earnings before interest and tax of EUR 3.0 million also reflected this positive development.

Under the SICK MAIHAK brand, the SICK Group offers industry worldwide a wide-ranging and tailor-made portfolio of sensor solutions for analyses and process measurement. For applications in industrial processes, customer-specifically configured dust and gas analysis devices with corresponding evaluation units permit national and international environmental standards to be met.

For process-oriented measurement, SICK MAIHAK supplies sensors for measuring the throughflow of gases and the filling levels of bulk materials. Technologies from SICK MAIHAK are particularly at home in power stations and cement works, waste incineration plants, the iron and steel industry, as well as the natural gas, chemical and petrochemical industries.

SICK AG is one of the world’s leading producers of sensors and sensor solutions for industrial applications. Further information on SICK can be obtained on the Internet at http://www.sick.com or by telephone at +49 (0)7681 202-3873