“Equally importantly, the high level of up-front investment made by Bosch in previous years is now beginning to pay off.” The number of staff rose by nearly 11,000 to 242,500. Most of this growth was outside Germany. Even so, there was also a slight rise in the number of staff in Germany, from 108,700 to 110,700. “Our strong growth outside Germany has also had a positive effect on employment levels in Germany,” said Fehrenbach. In the past year, the Bosch Group again invested heavily. Once again, the research and development budget grew – from 2.7 billion euros to just under three billion euros. This is roughly equivalent to 7.5 percent of sales. Growth in all business sectors The most dynamic of the business sectors in 2004 were Automotive Technology and Industrial Technology – which includes Bosch Security Systems. For the first time, the Bosch Group was the world’s strongest automotive supplier in terms of sales in 2004. But as Fehrenbach was quick to emphasize: “Size alone is not what counts for us. We are far more interested in innovative strength, competitiveness, customer focus, and internationalism.” Sales of automotive technology rose by approximately seven percent, to 25.3 billion euros. After adjusting for currency effects, this was an increase of nine percent. In Industrial Technology, sales were up by 21 percent, to 5.2 billion euros. Admittedly, consolidation effects played a significant part in this result. Even after adjusting for these effects, however, the increase in sales was a healthy nine percent. The major contributors to this result were the Castings and Special Steel divisions of Buderus AG, acquired in 2003 and now included in the result for the first full year, and the packaging machinery manufacturer Sigpack, included in the result on a pro rata basis. Changes in equity investments are also clearly in evidence in the Consumer Goods and Building Technology business sector. After the first-time full-year inclusion of Buderus heating systems, the business sector’s sales grew by 13 percent to 9.5 billion euros. After adjusting for consolidation effects, growth was almost six percent. One step closer to target return In the past year, the Bosch group came one step closer to its minimum target of seven percent return on sales. The result from ordinary business activities was just over six percent of sales, compared with five percent in the previous year. This was due not only to better utilization of plant capacity as a result of positive economic developments but also to significant improvements in business processes. Moreover, the high level of up-front investment made in previous years, especially in modern diesel systems, is bearing fruit.