HARALD HAMPRECHT

How Robert Bosch himself would judge Fehrenbach, Bohr & Co.

Harald Hamprecht is Editor-in-Chief at Automotive News EuropeHarald Hamprecht is Editor-in-Chief at Automotive News Europe
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Robert Bosch would be proud of the people running his company today. The 19th century entrepreneur, who founded the German firm 125 years ago and who would have turned 150 on Sept. 23, would be delighted to see the financial results current Bosch Chairman Franz Fehrenbach presented April 14. He also would be impressed with the integrity and compassion of his 21st century leaders. Here are the reasons why.

• Bosch's total sales grew 24 percent to 47.3 billion euros ($67.8 billion) last year.

• The company's 2010 profit before tax was 3.5 billion euros, resulting in a 7.4 percent return on sales.

• Bosch does not save money and boost results by firing people, on the contrary, the company's headcount will rise by 15,000 to some 300,000 employees by the end of 2011.

• The company invests heavily in r&d. Last year, this sum was 3.8 billion euros – or 8.1 percent of revenues.

• Bosch achieved an equity ratio of 50 percent and continues a sound, long-term-oriented financial policy.

• Bosch's future looks bright. Fehrenbach is confident the company's sales will pass 50 billion euros for the first time in 2011 and that Bosch's return on sales will remain at 7 percent to 8 percent.

• In the automotive sector, Bosch aims to make mobility safer, cleaner, more comfortable and more economical. This is why "Invented for life" is not only Bosch's slogan but a philosophy that management sticks to. This perfectly reflects one of the founder's most important principles: "Improvements in the world of technology and business should always be beneficial for mankind."

• Bernd Bohr, chairman of the Bosch automotive group, will not travel to China this week to attend the grand opening of a new headquarters there. Instead, he will go to Japan to visit some of Bosch's 8,000 employees at its 36 locations in the country that is trying to recover from its biggest catastrophe since World War II. This is more than just a gesture. It shows Bosch's leadership knows the importance of being there for its employees when it really counts.

•  The financial results reflect the whole group's business. Automotive technology is one of Bosch's three business sectors – although the biggest one with a share of 59 percent. Next to this, Bosch gets 14 percent of its revenues from industrial technology and 27 from consumer goods and building technology. So – if you like – you could add a final reason why Robert Bosch would be satisfied with his legacy: clever diversification.

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