While the economic climate in the first half of the business year 2018/19 was largely characterized by stability, the third business quarter brought a dampening of the macroeconomic environment due to rising geopolitical uncertainty. But the third quarter was also shaped by negative economic trends in key individual industries. For example, the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), which has been in effect since September 1, 2018, led to considerable uncertainty in the automotive industry. Demand has peaked in the consumer goods and electrical industries as well. The slumping oil price triggered a temporary weakening in the demand for oil equipment, especially in North America. At the regional level, the growth momentum especially in China lost considerable steam in the past 12 months, followed by Europe in the second half of 2018. The USMCA region, by contrast, was stable at a high level throughout the 2018 calendar year, and Brazil remained on a cautious growth trajectory not least due to the political changes in the country.
From today’s vantage point, not much is expected to change in the coming months with respect to the big picture that prevailed at the turn of 2018/2019. The economic scenario in Europe in 2019 will undoubtedly be shaped by the final procedure regarding Great Britain’s exit from the European Union. A “hard” Brexit would impact the macroeconomic climate in Europe in any case.
Aside from the uncertainties that such a scenario would entail, the European economy is likely to cool off a bit more in the first half of the 2019 calendar year compared with the final months of the previous year, but it is not expected to slide into a recessionary scenario. However, this scenario of moderate cyclical growth in Europe might be undermined primarily by political factors: Besides the Brexit issue, which dominates everything at this point, this would include the global trade conflicts and, within the EU, decisions related to energy and climate policies (electricity price zone discussion, CO2 pricing, and the like).
“On the assumption that the coming months will not bring any such dramatic distortions, and in keeping with the trajectory already indicated in our ad hoc report dated January 16, 2019, we expect the Group’s operating result (EBITDA) for the business year 2018/19 to be around EUR 1,550 million and its profit from operations (EBIT) around EUR 750 million. The revenue for the business year ending on March 31, 2019, should surpass that of the business year 2017/18 and thus reach a new high,” says Eder.