The Swiss technology group, Unaxis, has posted a loss of SFr39 million ($28 million) for 2002 after making an SFr111 million net profit in 2001.This content was published on March 25, 2003 - 17:01
The Pfäffikon-based company, which supplies equipment for the chip-making industry, blamed a slump in the information technology business for the result.
Releasing its figures on Tuesday, Unaxis said sales in 2002 were down 21 per cent at SFr1.43 billion. Analysts had been expecting a loss of SFr108 million.
"Unaxis was faced with an extremely challenging market environment over the past financial year and that fact was clearly reflected in our financial results," Unaxis CEO Heinz Kundert told a news conference in Zurich.
However, he said that in 2002 Unaxis had made considerable investments in the development of new technologies and products, the opening up of new markets and the enhancement of its operating efficiency.
"By doing so, we have paved the way for Unaxis to benefit from a future resurgence in market demand," Kundert added.
He explained that owing to global recessionary trends and the uncertain geopolitical situation, manufacturers of IT-related products were "extremely hesitant" to invest in new production systems.
There was also a "considerable degree" of overcapacity in the entire industry. At the same time, consumer spending last year hit a new low.
"A weak global economy, continuing overcapacity and slack consumer demand are the reasons why the current phase of weakness in the IT industry is by far more pronounced and persistent than ever before," he explained.
However, Kundert said that markets undergoing change always opened up opportunities and new possibilities. In that sense, the current market decline had a positive dimension.
"New technologies and products are winning acceptance, new markets are opening up and market participants are progressively entering into strategic alliances in order to accelerate technological development," he commented.
Unaxis said that as a response to market weakness the company had introduced "far-reaching measures" as early as 2001 to increase its operating efficiency.
Business units were merged and the company's product portfolio streamlined.
In 2002, the company had continued to divest some of its smaller assets, generating income of SFr47 million.
The former Oerlikon-Buehrle, which employed 6,544 people at the end of last year, said it would propose paying an unchanged dividend of SFr2 per share.
Unaxis said it expected to return to profit this year, even though demand in the IT sector was not expected to pick up before the second half.
"The innovative power of Unaxis, combined with the measures that are underway to increase operating efficiency, will exert a positive influence on business development at the company," a Unaxis statement said.
"Unaxis expects to return to a profitable level of operating earnings in the 2003 financial year."
swissinfo, Robert Brookes
Unaxis posted a 2002 net loss of SFr39 million, compared with a profit of SFr111 million in 2001.
The group blamed the continuing slump in the IT industry and the strong franc.
Unaxis has focused on IT for the past four years, and manufactures chip-assembly machinery.
It has been divesting assets in an attempt to streamline and cut operating costs.
Unaxis forecast a return to profit in 2003.
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