Harvest machinery specialist Claas not only celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013, it also posted another record set of financial results. Group sales were up 11% on the prior financial year ended September 30, hitting the equivalent of almost $5.2 billion at current exchange rates. Gross profit increased almost 7.6% to $1.32 billion.
“International markets are on a solid footing with agricultural income developing positively,” says Dr. Theo Freye, board spokesman. “Volume in Western Europe was down slightly, but the core markets in Germany and France rose; Central Europe remained at a high level despite declining slightly; and growth rates in the Eastern European sector were positive.”Revenue figures show slightly lower numbers than for the prior year, but only because Claas sold its automotive production technology division in 2012. Pre-tax profit in the 2012-13 financial year amounted to $401 million — almost 16% up on the more comparable 2010-11 period — while net income was $288.5 million and operating income hit a new high of $442 million.
Freye adds, “The agricultural market in the U.S. and Canada stood out on account of sustained growth, as farmers received compensation through crop insurance payouts for crop failures caused by drought conditions.”
Leading the way in product innovation is a key pillar of the Claas business so it is little surprise that the group spent more on R&D again last year, equivalent to $269 million. One in every nine Claas employees works in the R&D divisions. This innovation culture will be recognized in February by four AE50 technology awards from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), including one for a product that is being kept under wraps until a launch event just before the awards ceremony.
In addition to the Disco hay mower and automated spout control for the Jaguar self-propelled forage harvesters, an AE50 award will be presented for CEMOS Automatic, the fully automated operating system available on Lexion combines assembled at the Claas of America in Omaha, Neb. This system assesses harvesting performance within a short distance of starting into a crop. It then automatically adjusts forward speed and internal settings for optimum performance according to the operator’s chosen priorities.
Harvest performance of a different nature was in the spotlight this past fall when a tornado destroyed the Claas-owned Nebraska Harvest Center location in Wayne, Neb. A temporary operation was quickly set up to maintain harvest parts and shop service for Claas combine users in the area. Nebraska Harvest Center was established with locations at Seward and Wayne a little more than 2 years ago after the local independent dealership decided to exit the business. A third location in Kearney, Neb., was added in 2012 and last fall a fourth facility in Ogallala was built.
“We have been serving a growing number of farmers in western Nebraska,” says Craig Gile, sales manager for Nebraska Harvest Center. “The new Ogallala location gives us the ability to improve our responsiveness to those customers, while introducing the Claas line to a new market.”