GF Piping Systems grew the most with 10% at CHF 826 million. Adjusted for currency effects and acquisitions, the increase was 12%. Amid a continuously strong demand for most industrial applications, sales in Asia and North America went up the most. The demand in the utility sector was also sustained, especially for gas distribution in the USA and in China. Building Technology sales were positively affected by the launch of new products. Strong demand was recorded in the shipbuilding sector. The operating result shows a substantial increase of 17% to CHF 97 million, implying an operating margin of 11.7% against 11% in 2016. Most production plants worldwide were well loaded, including in Europe and the recent acquisitions of 2016 also contributed positively to the increase of profitability.
At GF Automotive new orders have increased significantly, in particular for electric and hybrid vehicles which accounted for a high 25% share, underscoring the future trend at most customers. Sales were up 6% to CHF 723 million on the back of an overall sustained demand for both its light metal and iron casting components. In local currencies sales were up 8%. Metal prices increased at the beginning of the year with a positive impact of ca. 2% on sales but with a negative impact on profit as these increases can only be passed over to customers with a two to three months delay. The operating result reached CHF 53 million, slightly below last year on the above-mentioned grounds but also, due to ramp-up costs related to the construction of a new light metal plant in the USA as well as start-up costs for the new molding line in Singen (Germany).
GF Machining Solutions enjoyed a brisk demand in particular for its new products in almost all continents, but especially in China and in the USA. The key sectors aerospace and micro-electronics contributed to a double-digit order growth of 13% at CHF 508 million. Sales increased by 4% to CHF 444 million. In local currencies and adjusted for acquisitions, growth also reached 4%. The operating result stood at CHF 28 million, a 17% increase over previous year, as plants were all well loaded.