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Picanol Reports Sharp Sales Increase

Picanol Reports Sharp Sales IncreaseThe Belgium-based Picanol Group reported a 35-percent increase in first-quarter 2003 sales over year-earlier turnover. Sales totaled 167.4 million euros, including turnover of 2 million euros by the companys recently acquired subsidiaries, The Netherlands-based Te Strake Textile BV and Lhenry, France.The operating profit for the quarter increased nearly 40 percent to 11.25 million euros, while consolidated net profit of 7.6 million euros represented an 83-percent increase over the first-quarter 2002 net profit of 4.15 million euros.The company announced a 1-to-40 stock split and the simultaneous movement of shares from the fixed market to the continuous market, where share quotes were immediately included in the Next Prime segment and the Next Prime index.Picanol stated it expects little impact from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in Asia on its global sales, but it expects the Chinese market to make a soft landing in the second half of 2003. Recognizing the SARS impact, coupled with the euros current strength against the dollar and the yen, the company expects 2003 will end with sales results equal in strength to those for 2002. July 2003