Manufacturers rank highly

02/10/2007 - 22:00

While Western Australia’s mining industry is well-represented on the list of the state’s top exporters, a number of manufacturing and technology companies are also creating significant export revenue.

Manufacturers rank highly

While Western Australia’s mining industry is well-represented on the list of the state’s top exporters, a number of manufacturing and technology companies are also creating significant export revenue.

Henderson-based ship builder Austal Ltd is by far the state’s largest manufacturing exporter, ranked 18th overall in the WA Business News Book of Lists exporters list.

The company’s WA operations generated $355 million in revenue last financial year, with 90 per cent (about $319.5 million) derived from exports.

Its operations in the United States made up a further $188 million in revenue.

Austal chief operating officer Steve Murdoch said the company was pursuing its commercial and military programs, with expected growth in both areas.

“Our commercial strategy is driven out of Asia and the Middle East, and we see continuing strong growth in the business there,” Mr Murdoch said.

Austal’s traditional base load of vehicle and passenger ferries continues to underpin its WA operations, with emerging opportunities in Hong Kong and Macau, on the back of development of the casino industry, expected to provide further growth.

“We’re growing our capacity in WA and Tasmania in anticipation of steady and continued growth in revenue in our Australian operations,” Mr Murdoch said.

Austal, which acquired a shipyard in Tasmania last year, reported a net profit of $45.8 million for the 2006-07 financial year, up 3.6 per cent on the previous year. Its total revenue increased by 40 per cent to $543.6 million.

The company’s US business has achieved significant growth over the past two years, while revenue growth from its Australian operations has been moderate. Part of Austal’s strategy is to further diversify into the military and defence industry, with products such as its new multi-role vessel generating interest from clients.

Mr Murdoch said the company’s previous projects in this area, such as its HMAS Armidale project for the Australian Navy, had helped to establish new markets.

“Our Armidale project has provided a foundation for opportunities in the Middle East and Asia,” he said.

Austal had a total of $765 million in contracts on its books in June this year, to be completed in the 2008-10 financial years.

Pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer (Perth) Pty Ltd is ranked 20th overall in the state’s exporters, with export revenue totalling $250 million last financial year.

More than 95 per cent of the company’s product is chemotherapy drugs, which are exported to 80 countries.

About 50 per cent of its sales are to Europe and 15 per cent to the US. The company also manufactures lower value hospital products for its Asia Pacific and Latin American markets.

Pfizer’s Perth office, which has 393 employees, is mainly responsible for packaging and reconstituting product.

Balcatta-based transport systems group ERG Ltd is also ranked highly in the Book of Lists.

The company, which makes automated fare collection systems for transport networks, reported a $15 million net loss for the 2006-07 financial year, above its initial forecast loss of $10 million.

This was partly attributed to additional testing requirements for its current Sydney ticketing project.

Its total revenue for the period was $230.5 million. Most of ERG’s software and product development takes place in Perth, with manufacturing done by a third party, also based in WA. The company also has operations in Melbourne and Sydney.

ERG currently has major projects underway in Seattle and San Francisco, as well as contracts with companies in the Philippines and Rome.

The latter contracts, which were signed in December last year, are worth $60 million and will involve the supply of smart card systems.

ERG’s previous clients have included companies in Rome, Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Another WA manufacturer with major export operations is Barrett Communications Pty Ltd, which generated $39 million in export revenue last financial year, up 16 per cent on the previous year.

Headquartered in Balcatta, the company produces long distance, high frequency communications equipment for military and commercial use. 94 per cent of its products are exported.

Some of WA’s smaller manufacturing exporters include solar water heater manufacturer Solahart Industries Pty Ltd, boat builder Sabre Catamarans and engine technology company Orbital Corporation Ltd.


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