During 2017, we harvested from our targeted efforts to accelerate growth. Sales increased 10 % ̶ or more than DKK 4bn (more than EUR 550m) ̶ to reach DKK 43.3bn (EUR 5.8bn). The growth corresponds to 12 % growth in local currency, which includes organic as well as acquisitive growth.
Danfoss drives profitable growth. Operating profit (EBIT) improved 13% ̶ or more than DKK 500m (more than EUR 70m) ̶ to DKK 4.8bn (EUR 645m), leading to an EBIT margin of 11.1%. Net profit improved 13% to DKK 3.3bn (EUR 445m).
Cash performance for 2017 was driven by a strong cash generation across the Group. The cash generation was kept high with a free cash flow before mergers and acquisitions of DKK 3.3bn (EUR 445m) and a free cash flow of DKK 2.5bn (EUR 337m).
At December 31, 2017, the net interest-bearing debt was DKK 7.8bn (EUR 1.1bn), leading to a net interest-bearing debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.2 against 1.6 in 2016.
The research and development spend grew 6% ̶ or by more than DKK 95m (more than EUR 12m) ̶ to DKK 1.7bn (EUR 234), corresponding to 4.0% of sales. The innovation activities were concentrated around digitalization of the portfolio and on developing energy-efficient and value-added solutions in the core business segments.
At year end, the Danfoss Group had 26,645 employees against 25,292 in 2016. The increase is mainly due to the higher activity level.
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