Hilti says 2020 less severe than feared

By Murray Pollok27 January 2021

Hilti has reported a 9.6% fall in 2020 revenues to CHF 5.3 billion, largely the result of the Covid-19 pandemic, although it said the downturn had been less severe than initially feared. The revenue fall in local currencies was 4.3%.

The company, best known for its power tools and other specialist equipment, said it expected a moderate recovery in 2021, although dependent on the progress of the pandemic.

The strengthening of the Swiss franc against almost all currencies during the year, especially in emerging markets and the US dollar, dampened sales by around 5%.

Half of Hilti’s business is in Europe, where, in local currencies, the revenue fall was just 2.7%. There was a clear north-south divide, with growth in Scandinavia and Central Europe contrasting with “upper single-digit declines” in Southern Europe.

North America, which represents a quarter of sales, was “pleasingly robust”, said Hilti, with sales in dollars down 4.3%.

Significant reductions were recorded in Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa region (-8.2%), Latin America (-8.1%) and Asia Pacific (-7.0%). There were major differences country-by-country, with “encouraging growth” in China and Russia, but a slump in Southeast Asia and the Gulf States.

“The signs of recovery further solidified over the last four months of 2020 and our sales figures have stabilised”, said CEO Christoph Loos.

“Total sales are below the previous year’s level, to the extent expected, which means that the downturn has been less severe than initially feared.”

More detailed financial results will be published on 18 March.

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