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2017 was a year of ups and downs for Schaeffler. After a positive start to the year with good business results in the first quarter, the earnings guidance for the full year of 2017 had to be reduced in June. This was due to the second-quarter earnings situation in the Automotive division, which was significantly weaker compared with that of the prior year. However, thanks to the encouraging second half of the year, in which the revenue and earnings situation improved to the extent that the temporary unfavorable impact on earnings in the second quarter was partially offset, Schaeffler was able to achieve its targets for 2017 with regard to growth, earnings, and free cash flow.
Strong brands are becoming increasingly important in global competition. Based on our corporate values “Sustainable”, “Innovative”, “Excellent”, and “Passionate” – Schaeffler is just such a strong corporate brand with which the company positions itself as a global player and technology partner and helps to shape mobility for tomorrow. Accordingly, over the course of the past year the company began the process of remodeling its corporate presentation around the “Schaeffler” umbrella brand in order to emphasize the importance of the corporate brand and to meet global customer and market requirements. This not only improves the image of the company among our customers, potential employees, investors, and the general public – but above all, it also increases the identification of Schaeffler’s employees worldwide with the company. Their enthusiasm for the company and its goals is of fundamental importance, because they form the basis for success. This year’s annual report entitled “Leading into the Future” is dedicated to this important topic.
The world is changing at breathtaking speed. It is an essential component of our corporate culture to not only keep pace with this change, but to always be one step ahead and to think and act in a sustainable and future-oriented way. For this reason, E-Mobility, Digitalization and Industry 4.0 have been defined as key opportunities for the future. In the past year, vital progress was made in these areas, including through new cooperation agreements and acquisitions. Our separate E-Mobility business division was established at the turn of the year in order to highlight and combine Schaeffler’s expertise in the field of electric mobility, and an Industry 4.0 organizational unit was set up, which will handle all activities related to the mechatronics and digital service businesses.
Once again last year, Schaeffler continued to broaden its global presence with new locations and plant expansions in the USA, the Czech Republic, and Germany. Foundation stones were laid for new Schaeffler locations in Vietnam and China. Modern structures, innovative strength, and the ability to constantly improve in all areas form the basis for the company to expand its leading position and open up new business areas and markets.
We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all our business and research partners for their successful cooperation and the trust they have placed in our company. In particular, our heartfelt thanks go to our employees for their continued commitment and creativity. A strong foundation of values and respectful cooperation are very important to us as family shareholders, especially in a world that is becoming more and more digitized.
Georg F. W. Schaeffler