Gerresheimer sees benefit of plastic push in Q4

By Phil Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Packaging giant Gerresheimer crowned its first year as a public
company with a leap in profits for the fourth quarter of 2007,
helped by its acquisition of plastic specialist Wilden Group.

Group sales came in at €958m, with earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) at €182m, both up a whopping 48 per cent year-on-year.

Gerresheimer's traditional stronghold in tubular glass, such as syringes, saw a 6 per cent increase in sales to €271m, but an 11-month contribution from Wilden transformed the group's plastic packaging operations, with revenues in this segment rising fivefold to just under €300m.

The main driver in plastics was the core medical plastic systems unit, which makes products including dry powder inhalers, injections systems, and aerosol dispensers, as well as diagnostic and medical pump products, according to analyst Yasmin Majewski at Dresdner Kleinwort.

Gerresheimer has continued to push into plastic packaging systems for pharmaceuticals, kicked off with the acquisition of Superfos Pharma in 2005, with the purchase of Spanish PET (polyethylene terephthalate) specialist EDP and Brazil's Allplas in the last couple of months.

The company has commission a second production line for ready-to-fill (RTF) glass syringes, significantly increasing its production capacity, and will add a third next year to meet what it describes as a " continuing high level of demand. "

Sales of moulded glass products were driven once again by pharmaceutical and cosmetic customers, coming in at €319m, while the life science research division benefited from Gerresheimer's recently-signed joint venture with Thermo Fisher Scientific and saw sales up almost 30 per cent to €72m. CEO Dr Axel Herberg said he believes that growth will continue to be strong, with sales growth of 13 to 15 per cent this year.

" I have no doubt that in the current year we will be able not only to consolidate our position but expand it intensively ," he said.

Gerresheimer has also said recently that it expects to make additional acquisitions to help drive that growth, and Herberg noted that €105-€110m has been set aside for investments in 2008.

Dresdner Kleinwort concurs with this positive view of the business.

" In our view, Gerresheimer ticks most of the boxes ... dominant market position in a niche market with high barriers to entry and little price pressure ," commented Majewski.

She is expecting the company to show average annual sales growth of nearly 10 per cent through 2009 with EBITDA growth outstripping that at more than 16 per cent.

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