Friedrichshafen, Germany — Arburg GmbH + Co. KG is anticipating another increase in overall sales for 2018 despite any whispers or worries of uncertainty caused by economic disruptions in relation to tariffs and trade agreements, leadership said during an Oct. 16 news conference at Fakuma.
The Lossburg, Germany-based injection molding machinery maker is continuing to see "high growth" companywide with 3,000 employees globally — 2,500 of whom are employed in Germany, with the other 500 spread across 33 other locations, the company said.
"In 2017, we reached 698 million euros ($807 million)," said Jürgen Boll, Arburg's managing director of finance, controlling and IT. "In the first half of 2018, and still now at the end of the third quarter, we are still well ahead of the previous year, and we expect good levels of revenue for the rest of the year."
Arburg officials did not provide a specific target, but Boll said they are "very optimistic" that sales could potentially reach a 10 percent turnover for the year as whole.
But despite predictions of a successful 2018 for Arburg, the machinery maker's confidence still rests in the hands of pending economic uncertainty.
"In this context, the question is often raised as to whether economic upheavals — for example, in relation to 'punitive tariffs' — are emerging that could have an impact and, if so, what measures we are taking to avert this potential problem," Arburg Sales Director Gerhard Böhm said. "As of today, I can say that uncertainties are beginning to emerge in certain markets."
Böhm offered few details and said certain projects and decisions about production locations are experiencing slight delays. But none of which is time-critical, he added.
"Right now, we are observing market developments with increased care and attention, and we are well-prepared for any potential changes that may occur," Böhm said, adding that these are difficult situations and often require seeking advice.
Until recently, he said, any ramifications have been minor and do not indicate any substantial changes to Arburg's business.
Incoming orders for machines and peripherals for the first half of 2018 were up 10 percent over last year, Boll said.
Orders for Arburg's electric injection presses, such as the Golden Electric, Edrive and Alldrive series, contributed "in large measure" to the growth, with orders for those types of machines increasing by 18 percent. Big Allrounders, starting from a clamping force of 250 metric tons, accounted for 25 percent of sales, he said.
Regionally, Germany remains Arburg's largest market, and Europe overall has been positive for the company, citing incoming orders from the first three quarters in 2018.
Both the United States and Brazil are showing sales above last year's level, resulting in good prospects for growth in the Americas, especially for large machines and turnkey systems. But because of the ambiguity around the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations among the United States, Canada and Mexico over the past year, Böhm said the company anticipates "being unable to achieve the same levels as last year in Mexico."
Arburg officials did not say whether the recently revised NAFTA — now called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — would have any additional impact.
And despite major new tariffs covering another $200 billion in Chinese imports, announced by U.S. President Donald Trump in September, Arburg officials said a good Chinese market and an upturn in fortunes for the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries could lead to a positive 2019 overall.
"Even in China, uncertainties are surfacing in the light of current disputes over customs tariffs," Böhm said. "In 2019, the ASEAN countries could be the ones who benefit most from the prevailing tariff dispute, enabling them to remain on a growth course."