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France's Stef group fared well in 2012 despite downturn in European economy.

The STEF Group, a Paris, France-headquartered refrigerated warehousing and transport specialist serving the pan-European market, recently reported an 8.8% rise in revenues during 2012, and a 13.5% increase in operational income to EUR 96.6 million. Net income was up 6.4% to EUR 55.5 million.

Signs of a poorer economic environment, which appeared during the second half of the year, did not affect STEF's positive development, as every STEF business has adapted to slower economic growth and to lower food consumption.

In France, transport and logistics businesses have increased their cooperation to meet new challenges. This led to a 2.5% volume increase in fresh product activity in the transport division and a 10.1% increase in logistics.

STEF's performance contrasts with the overall recession affecting food producers, the difficulties encountered by the poultry industry, and a relatively stagnant frozen sector. In Europe, the company's growth rate was higher than average, with sales up significantly in the group's major markets.

Cost controls, particularly concentrated on energy saving, were enacted last year. However, the commissioning of a new ship, the Piana, led to an increase in expenses of EUR 5.9 million. Receipts from the sale of 10 sites amounted to EUR 9.5 million, and operating margin reached 3.9% of turnover (compared with 3.7% in 2011).

Increased taxes in France, where the group generates most of its income, limited the increase in net income to 6.4%. But STEF started 2013 with financial strength further improved by a lower debt to equity ratio. This gives it flexibility needed to sustain investment projects, buy equipment and make acquisitions.
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Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Apr 1, 2013
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