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Trumpf CEO 'cautious' despite record sales and profit

26 Oct 2023

Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller says that demand has declined in recent months.

Industrial laser and machine tool vendor Trumpf has celebrated its 100-year anniversary by posting record sales and profits, but warned of weaker demand and a shrinking order book.

Company CEO Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller said that the family-owned German firm generated operating earnings (before interest and taxes) of €615 million in the 12 months ending June 2023 - up 31 per cent on the prior year.

“Our anniversary year was an extraordinarily successful one for Trumpf,” she observed. “The growth in sales was due to the general upturn in demand for all Trumpf products and in particular to the resolution of supply chain problems that led to delivery delays in the previous year.”

Catching up with the backlog resulted in a 27 per cent year-on-year rise in sales, to €5.4 billion.

But that record-breaking total may not be repeated in the company’s current financial year, with orders declining 9 per cent, to €5.1 billion, and the CEO saying:

“Since spring, we have felt a decline in demand in many markets. In view of the difficult overall economic development, I am therefore very cautious about the coming months.”

‘Optimism mandatory’
Details in Trumpf’s latest annual report showed that the firm’s laser technology division enjoyed a 28 per cent increase in sales on the prior year, to €2.1 billion.

That was partly due to another strong performance from the firm’s extreme ultraviolet (EUV) unit, which provides ultra-high-power carbon dioxide lasers that are used to drive EUV emission in the source modules of ASML’s enormous lithography tools. The EUV unit’s sales rose 22 per cent year-on-year, to €971 million.

In the annual report, which highlighted key milestones in Trumpf’s history - including the move into industrial lasers instigated by her father Berthold Leibinger in the 1970s - Leibinger-Kammüller wrote:

“Thank you to our customers and partners, who have supported us for a century [and] have remained loyal in good times and in less good times!”

The CEO also referred to her father’s regular adoption of the phrase “optimism remains mandatory” - a sentence extracted from the Erich Kästner novel Fabian, written at the height of the global economic crisis at the end of the 1920s.

“It applies all the more so for what lies ahead in a changing world,” Leibinger-Kammüller added.

After Berthold Leibinger made the pivotal decision to adopt laser technology to process sheet metal, a move that ultimately transformed the company into a pioneer of industrial laser development and applications, Trumpf launched its first combination punch laser machine - the Trumatic 180 Laserpress - in 1979.

That machine was based around 500 W and 700 W carbon dioxide laser sources provided by third-party vendors, but in 1985 the company launched the “TLF 1000” machine, which featured a 1 kilowatt laser developed in-house.

The subsequent decades have seen Trumpf emerge as one of the world’s leading laser manufacturers and innovators, with sales more than doubling over the past decade.

The firm’s headcount has risen at a similarly rapid rate, with nearly 2000 new employees in the latest financial year bringing the current total to more than 18,300.

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