Record year for machinery manufacturers

Machinery manufacturers appear to have capitalised on the upturn in the farming sector last year, after several big names announced record financial performance this week.

AGCO – manufacturer of Challenger, Fendt, Valtra and Massey Ferguson – said its net sales for 2008 were up 23% on 2007 to a record US$8.4bn. Earnings per share grew by more than 60% and exceeded US$4 for the first time in the company’s history. Sales across its Europe/Africa/Middle East segment exceeded US$4.9bn and operating margins reached about 10% for the second consecutive year.

German cultivation specialists, Lemken also had a record year in 2008. Its turnover hit €257m, a growth rate of over 40% on the previous year, with particularly strong demand from Germany, Russia and Belarus. The company has now tripled its volume of business in the past five years, but acknowledges 2009 will be a more difficult year. “We cannot expect the growth rate to continue as it has been in the past five years,” managing director, Franz-Georg von Busse said.

Russia and eastern Europe proved fertile ground last year for Amazone as well. Total group turnover rose 31% to €380m, with French, Russian and Ukrainian markets developing especially well. The firm’s directors Christian and Justus Dreyer said the effects of the world financial crisis were now noticeable, but the longer-term prospects for agriculture were positive, due to the growing food demand and need for renewable energy.

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