Vestas Wind Systems Sees 2008 Profit Soar

Will open its first nacelle factory in Colorado

Vestas Wind Systems, the world's largest wind energy group, reported strong results for the fourth quarter and all of 2008 on Feb. 11 and voiced optimism for the year to come. For 2008, the Danish company posted a 75.6% rise in net profit to 511 million euros (US$661 million) on sales that were up 24% on an annual comparison to 6.03 billion euros. Its operating profit meanwhile climbed 50.8 % to 668 million euros.

The wind turbine maker also said it had posted its "biggest fourth quarter ever," with sales of 2.48 billion euros and an operating margin of 15.4%, up from 1.88 billion in sales on a margin of 12.3% for the same period a year earlier.

For the October to December quarter, Vestas saw its net profit tick in at 316 million euros, easily beating analyst expectations of 239 million, according to a poll conducted for the Dow Jones Newswires.

Going forward, the wind energy group remained fairly upbeat despite the global economic slowdown. "The growth in Vestas' underlying profitability is expected to continue in 2009, however, at a lower rate than realized during the last three years," it said.

Vestas said it this year expected to rake in sales of 7.2 billion euros on an operating margin of between 11% and 13%, while it planned investments of nearly 1.2 billion euros by the end of the year.

The company said it was "expanding its production capacity in its principal markets," including in Colorado, where it aims to more than double its blade capacity to 4,000 blades in 2010. Vestas also said it was establishing the world's largest tower factory, as well as its first U.S. nacelle factory in Colorado.

At the end of 2008, the wind energy group employed 20,829 people, mainly in Europe, up from 15,305 a year earlier, but it cautioned its hiring would slow this year due to the global financial crisis.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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