Vancouver, BC — Vancouver-based Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers has conducted its final unreserved auctions of 2008 and has announced a preliminary gross auction proceeds estimate of US$3.57 billion for the year. This represents a 12% increase over 2007 gross auction proceeds, making this the largest year in the company’s 50-year history.
Ritchie Bros., the world’s largest auctioneer of industrial equipment, plans to release its full audited financial statements and Management’s Discussion and Analysis for 2008 on February 26, 2009.
Ritchie Bros. conducted 193 unreserved industrial auctions in 13 countries throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia in 2008. The company also conducted 147 unreserved agricultural auctions in 2008.
“We are very pleased with our 12% gross auction proceeds growth in 2008,” said Peter Blake, Ritchie Bros. CEO. “We continued to grow our business and set records at our auction sites around the world, in spite of the global economic turmoil.
“When economies around the world took a sudden and dramatic downturn at the start of our fourth quarter, some of our customers decided to delay selling their idle or surplus equipment until the market found its level. We’ve seen more pricing stability at our auctions in recent weeks, which gives comfort to potential consignors and bodes well for 2009.
“We deliver value to our customers at all points in the economic cycle; however, demand for our services is probably highest in periods of economic turbulence. Unlike most other sales channels, our unreserved auctions provide almost instant liquidity and global fair market value for equipment sellers. When demand is volatile and unpredictable, sellers need access to the widest possible array of bidders, and that’s what we offer.”
Blake continued: “We faced unusual currency headwinds during the last quarter of 2008 that negatively impacted our reported fourth-quarter gross auction proceeds by about US$55 million. The Canadian dollar, Euro and Australian dollar all experienced significant erosion compared to the U.S. dollar during the period.
“We continued to see strong gross auction proceeds growth in Canada, Europe and Australia, where we conduct auctions in non-U.S. currencies. However, we report our consolidated results in U.S. dollars, and some of that growth is muted when we convert these non-U.S. dollar amounts from the local currency into U.S. dollars. Mitigating that effect is the fact that roughly 60% of our operating costs on an annual basis are in non-U.S. currencies, meaning our consolidated operating costs reported in U.S. dollars benefited from these currency fluctuations.”