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Deteriorated Third-Quarter Business Environment Adversely Affects Sales and Profits

Sharp fall in sales in September
Operating result from activity lower
Healthy financial structure and strengthened debt profile

The crisis of confidence that has lasted for several months is impacting consumption as well as retail sectors in both mature and emerging markets. It has generated a decline in demand and store traffic. In the third quarter, the recession worsened and spread, leading to a sharp deterioration of the business environment in Europe, in particular in September, and to a significant slowdown in demand in China. At the same time, the American economy showed a few signs of recovery.

Despite having demonstrated the ability to hold its own in earlier recessions, the small domestic equipment market was negatively affected in this weakened context, becoming more and more competitive and promotion-driven in all countries.

Against this backdrop, the Group’s revenue for the nine months ended 30 September 2012 totalled €2,753 million, an increase of 3.5%. This included a €35 million contribution from changes in the scope of consolidation and a positive currency effect of €87 million due mainly to the rise in the US dollar and Chinese yuan against the euro. On a like-for-like basis, 9-month revenue registered a limited decline of 1.1% compared with the same period of 2011 and was down 3.4% in the third quarter alone. While this decrease reflects market situations that were more difficult than expected, it should also be reminded that prior-year comparatives were high, as organic growth in the third quarters of 2011 and 2010 amounted to respectively +7.2% and 11.8%. Operating result from activity totalled €232 million at 30 September 2012, compared with €271 million for the first nine months of 2011. The drop-off was due on the one hand to lower sales and the corresponding under-absorption of production costs and on the other hand to a highly unfavourable currency effect, especially with regard to the dollar.

Net debt at 30 September amounted to €646 million, slightly lower than the level of 30 June 2012.

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