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AutoStore shares fall 12% on worries over growth

AutoStore shares fall 12% on worries over growth

By Terje Solsvik and Marie Mannes

OSLO (Reuters) -Norway’s AutoStore on Thursday posted weaker-than-expected order intake, sending its shares sharply lower on concerns a global economic slowdown could cut demand for its warehouse automation technology.

AutoStore has seen exponential growth in orders from e-commerce firms, and last year became Norway’s most valuable stock market entrant in two decades, but on Thursday its shares fell 11.6% to their lowest level yet.

Orders grew in the January-March quarter by 32% year-on-year to $160.6 million, but analysts had on average expected an increase to around $179 million, brokers Jefferies and Citi said in notes to clients.

The discrepancy raised questions of “slowing warehouse spend from major e-commerce players”, Citi said.

AutoStore maintained its prediction for full-year 2022 revenue of $550 million-$600 million and upheld a medium-term outlook of 40% annual growth.

Revenue and profits also grew more than expected in the first quarter, driven partly by orders received in past periods.

AutoStore’s revenue for January-March rose to $123.1 million from $64.1 million in the same period of 2021, beating the average forecast of $112 million in a company-provided poll of analysts.

“Despite the current tight market situation for certain parts and materials, we are confident in our ability to deliver solutions to sustain the revenue growth,” Chief Executive Karl Johan Lier said in a statement.

AutoStore said it has introduced price hikes and a temporary aluminium surcharge to mitigate the impact on earnings margins of supply chain problems.

The company expects margins to improve towards the end of 2022 and going into 2023 as the higher overall price of its products as well as extra charges for aluminium components take effect.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for January-March rose to $54.2 million from $32.3 million in the same period of 2021, beating the average expectation of $49.8 million.

The Oslo-listed company’s shares traded down 8.5% at 0928 GMT and are down 50% year-to-date.

AutoStore’s biggest owner is Japan’s SoftBank with a stake of 38.3%.

(Reporting by Terje Solsvik in Oslo and Marie Mannes in Gdansk; editing by Uttaresh.V and Barbara Lewis)

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