Palfinger Shares Soar as 2011 Profit Rises 83%: Vienna Mover

Palfinger AG climbed the most since November after the world’s biggest maker of truck-mounted cranes said it’s proposing to increase its dividend to 0.38 euros and profit rose 83 percent last year.

Shares rose 7.8 percent to 18.55 euros at the 5:30 p.m. close of trading in Vienna, the biggest increase since Nov. 25. The stock has advanced 51 percent this year, giving Palfinger a market value of about 663 million euros ($870 million).

Earnings before interest and taxes soared to 67.9 million euros from 37.1 million euros a year earlier, the Salzburg, Austria-based company said in a statement today. It was expected to report a profit of 64.6 million euros, according to the average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Sales increased 30 percent to 845.7 million euros, beating the average estimate of 827.8 million euros.

“Against the backdrop of the uncertain development of the economy and demand, the management expects a moderate increase in revenue, especially coming from the areas outside Europe, for the 2012 financial year,” Palfinger said.

China Expansion

Palfinger hopes to make an announcement on a joint venture with a Chinese crane makers in the “next few weeks,” Chief Executive Officer Herbert Ortner said in Vienna today.

“I am confident that talks will be completed in the next few weeks,” he said. “China hopefully will be our biggest market within the next five or six years.”

Expanding in China, where Palfinger already has a plant in Shenzhen, is the most important step for the company since its 1999 initial public offering, Ortner said, adding that the company was in “advanced” talks with one or two large Chinese building-equipment manufacturers. The probability of completing a deal in the first half is “very big,” he said, declining to identify potential partners.

Among China’s biggest construction equipment makers are Guangxi Liugong Machinery Co., Lonking Holdings Ltd., Sany Heavy Industry Co., Shantui Construction Machinery Co. and Anhui Heli Co., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Palfinger competitor Cargotec Oyj announced plans in July for a joint venture with Jiangsu Rainbow Heavy Industries Co. to manufacture cargo cranes in China.

The initial joint venture shouldn’t cost more than “a few hundred million euros,” which can be paid out of cash flow or liquidity provided by banks, the chief said, adding that Palfinger has approval for a share sale, should additional funds be required later.

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