Cargotec is set to match 2007’s strong growth by then end of this year following a “weak” first quarter showing.

Orders received by the group, which includes crane brands Hiab, Kalmar and MacGregor, totalled €1.115 billion (US$1.734 billion) during the first quarter, compared to €915 million ($1.423 billion) in the same period 2007. By the end of March the group’s order book was worth €3.287 billion ($5.112 billion).

Sales grew 5% to €727 million ($1.131 billion) and the share of service-related sales grew 1% to 25% of total sales. Operating profit was €44.2 million ($68.7 million), down from €58 million ($90.2 million) in the first three months of 2007, with Kalmar booking a €4 million ($6.2 million) project cost provision during the period, reported the company.

Net income reached €31.5 million ($49 million), compared to €39.4 million ($61.3 million) last year, while earnings per share were €0.5 ($0.78), down from €0.62 ($0.96). The number of employees at the end of the quarter rose to 11,524 from 11,i87 at the end of 2007.

Our strong order intake demonstrates that demand for cargo handling solutions has continued healthily, and gives us a confidence on reaching our sales growth target for 2008. The quarterly result is weak, especially in Kalmar where we are now taking actions with Kalmar’s new management to improve the underlying performance of the business.

“Focus in Cargotec this year is on strengthening organic growth and executing the On the Move change programme. The change programme is essential for our aim to achieve a 10% operating margin target,” said Mikael Mäkinen, Cargotec president and CEO.

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