How high will Kone go? Day by day, the Finnish elevator manufacturer continues to rise on the stock market. The stock is up 47% in a year, and is currently trading at its all-time high.
Result: this venerable house, born in Helsinki a century ago, has become the first group in the country by its stock market weight (15 billion euros), ahead of the investment company Sampo and Nokia, the fallen star of mobile phones .
An incredible success, while Kone is only the smallest of the “big four” of the elevators, a club dominated by the American Otis, the Swiss Schindler and the German ThyssenKrupp.
The first beneficiary of this ascent is Antti Herlin, the chairman of the board. His family has controlled the company since 1924. At 56, Mr. Herlin owns 21% of the capital and 62% of the voting rights, making him the richest man in the country. The ambition of this former patron of Finnish employers is to pass this heritage on to the next generation. In 2012, he brought his 28-year-old son Jussi to the board.
In difficult economic times, Kone shares offer visibility. “The risk is low”, notes Pekka Spolander, analyst at Pohjola. “Investors know that we are able to steadily increase the size and profits of the group”, confirms Hugues Delval, general manager of the French subsidiary, the first in Europe.
In 2012, Kone’s revenue jumped 20% to 5.5 billion euros, with operating income rising 13% to 821 million. This year, sales are expected to increase by 5% to 9%, and the result will follow the same slope, according to forecasts published Thursday, January 24.
Kone is penalized by the crisis in Europe, in particular the low number of new buildings emerging from the ground. But this sluggishness is compensated by the power of the three engines which drive the group forward. The first is China. “At the end of the 1990s, the management decided to invest heavily in Asia, starting by building a factory near Shanghai”, says Mr. Delval.
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