While the Steel Division, which is focused primarily on the European premium steel market, profited from quite satisfactory demand for high quality steel products, at the same time, it faced falling prices due to the deflationary development of raw materials prices. Nevertheless, these negative effects were compensated by increased volumes on one hand and on the other, by way of the first positive effects of the cost optimization and efficiency improvement measures, which had been initiated in 2014. Thus, in comparison to the previous business year, the business year 2014/15 showed a significant improvement in earnings. The operating result (EBITDA) rose by 12% from EUR 402 million to EUR 450 million, with the EBITDA margin increasing from 10.6% to 11.6%.
Due to its global presence, the Special Steel Division was able to profit from the positive economic developments in North America and Asia, where demand for high quality tool steel and special materials across most industry sectors was at a solid level. The market in Europe revived somewhat toward the end of the business year, so that, ultimately, the business year 2014/15 was also positive for the division in terms of earnings compared to the previous years. EBITDA increased by 13.5% from EUR 359 million to EUR 407 million, with the EBITDA margin rising from 13.6% to 14.7%.
The Metal Engineering Division once again continued the outstanding development that had marked its performance in recent years. This was driven primarily by strong demand from North America, Europe, and Asia in the railway infrastructure sector, but the division’s performance was supported and secured by a comparably satisfactory development of earnings in the Wire, Seamless Tube, and Welding Consumables business segments. EBITDA improved slightly from EUR 418 million to EUR 420 million, with the EBITDA margin going up from 15.6% to 16.2%.
The development of the Metal Forming Division in the automobile component segment continued to be characterized by excellent demand not only in Europe but also at its newly constructed sites in North America, Asia, and South Africa. The market environment for the Special Section and Precision Strip business segments was satisfactory overall, while the Warehouse und Rack Solutions business segment enjoyed an outstanding global market environment, enabling the division to achieve considerable improvements in earnings over the course of the entire business year. The operating result (EBITDA) showed an increase of 20% from EUR 276 million to EUR 331 million, with the EBITDA margin going up from 11.7% to 14.2%.