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Bosch aims to break even in 2010

Eyes of the future: Bosch hopes to break even in 2010 after making its first loss since World War 2.

Car parts giant sees a tough year ahead after global sales fell 16 per cent in 2009

General News logo28 Jan 2010

LEADING global car components manufacturer and engineering firm Robert Bosch GmbH aims to break even in 2010 after suffering its first loss since 1945.

The German parts giant, which slashed 11,000 jobs in 2009 – including 12 per cent of its Australian workforce – has announced that Bosch Group sales fell 16 per cent to around €38 billion ($A59.3b) last year and that a pre-tax loss of between €1.14b and €1.52b was now expected, based on preliminary figures.

However, Bosch chief executive Franz Fehrenbach said the company had been operating “on an even keel” in recent months and, despite emphasising that “2010 will also be a difficult year”, he expected the company to make up more than half the loss in sales sustained in 2009.

“There has been no business year since 1945 in which we had to take such significant hits regarding sales and results as was the case in 2009,” Mr Fehrenbach said.

“Our aim in 2010 is to break even.”

While Bosch’s automotive sales were down 18 per cent to €21.7 billion ($A33.9b) on 2008, Mr Fehrenbach said there had been “a noticeable improvement since the middle of 2009”.

80 center imageLeft: Bosch chief executive Franz Fehrenbach.

He said this trend was likely to continue in 2010, with continued growth in the emerging markets of China and India and momentum regaining in North America. Recovery is also expected in Europe, helping Bosch to increase its global auto sales by at least 10 per cent.

However, Mr Fehrenbach said that at least a 30 per cent rise was needed to reach pre-recession (2007) levels – a target Bosch is now aiming to achieve by 2012.

Despite the massive job cuts and other cutbacks Bosch has made over the past 12 months, including the closure of its automotive test centre in Australia, the company said it remained committed to projects it regards as vital for its future, such as improving the efficiency of the internal combustion engine and further developing electric drive.

As such, its €3.8 billion ($A5.9b) R&D expenditure last year was similar to that spent in 2008.

Mr Fehrenbach said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the development of the global economy, expecting global economic growth for 2010 to stand at about three per cent.

Globally, this would mean that the roughly two per cent decline of 2009 would be “more than offset”.

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