Farm, construction and industrial materials handling specialist Manitou ended 2015 with a 3% sales revenues increase over the prior year and is forecasting a further — though slightly smaller — increase in 2016.

In Europe, the agricultural sector ended the year with “new-found dynamics,” according to Michel Denis, president & CEO. But his outlook for this year is tempered by less positive signals from North America, where an ongoing slowdown in the rental sector is expected to hold back group sales growth to around 2%.

Based in northwest France, Manitou’s main product line is the multitude of telescopic handlers it manufactures for buildings and infrastructure construction, industrial applications. But the company has seen growing interest for their use in the daily and seasonal handling tasks for which telehandlers are popular with farmers in many European countries.

The group also makes access platforms and has a line of compact equipment, mostly built in the U.S. and supplied under the Gehl and Mustang brands by Manitou Americas, West Bend, Wis., much of which is aimed mainly at the construction, rental and farm sectors. Agriculture worldwide typically accounts for about one-third of group revenues.

“The Group experienced a very strong fourth quarter,” says Denis. “European demand and business activity saw a strong increase throughout all regions, especially in Russia, which seems to have left its low point behind.

“The agricultural sector closed the period with new-found growth dynamics but, on the other hand, the sudden decline of the American rental market in the third quarter lasted until year-end,” he adds. “Given these dynamics, the Group closed the period with an order book more focused toward Europe.”

Revenues from Manitou’s Materials Handling & Access division amounted to €826.8 million ($924 million), 3% up on the preceding year and accounting for 64% of the group’s €1,287.2 million ($1,439 million) turnover. In the fourth quarter to the end of December, the biggest division’s sales were up 21% over 2014.

But the Compact Equipment Products division dropped 29% in the quarter to end 2015 with revenues of €45 million ($50 million), flat for the year thanks to currency fluctuations but 14% down on a constant currency basis.

Looking at group revenues on a geographical basis, the Americas ended the year 8% up on 2014 at €298.5 million ($333.7 million) to beat European sales growth over the same period. But a fourth quarter down 21% on the year prior suggests things will be different in 2016.