CEWE Stiftung & Co. KGaA

ots Ad hoc-Service: CeWe Color Holding AG CeWe Color: \047Best result in the history of the company\047

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    Oldenburg (ots Ad hoc-Service) -      CeWe Color: 'Best result in
the history of the company'

    At a press conference to release its annual financial statement, CeWe Color reports the best result in the history of the company. With further improvement in the results of almost every area of activity, the company has been able to fully maintain the upward trend of the last few years.

    The company reports considerable increase in sales. Sales volume, in terms of films developed, increased by 8.5 % to 87.0 million films (a growth rate twice that of the market overall). For the first time the group printed over 3 billion colour photos, that is an increase of 9.3 % on last year. CeWe Color achieved a turnover of EURO 394.2 million, that means 9.8 % more than last year. The focus of business on the European market has once again contributed disproportionately to this growth. The group achieved the relatively high growth rate of 16.3 % in central eastern Europe. The Board of Management is also extremely pleased with progress in the Benelux countries. Although CeWe Color has now been operating there for almost 30 years, it was still able to increase turnover there by 15 % to EURO 67.6 million.

    Thanks to this growth and, according to Board Chairman, Hubert Rothärmel, also as a result of 'improved performance and increased productivity', profits increased disproportionately: The yield from traditional business activity increased by 23.4 % to EURO 37.2 million. Profits before corporation tax went up from EURO 24.2 million to EURO 29.1 million, an increase of 20.5 %, and the annual surplus rose from EURO 16.2 million to EURO 19.4 million that is 19.5 %. CeWe Color is showing aprofit per share determined according to DVFA/SG of EURO 2.33, an increase of 27 % on last year. These are by far the best results that the company has achieved throughout its history.

    Hubert Rothärmel, Chairman of the Board of Management, points out that the group's performance and their competitive strength are due mainly to the large sums that the company constantly invests in keeping up to date with the latest technology. For the year 2000 the Board has set aside a sum of up to EURO 44 million for investment.

    Depreciation amounted to EURO 33.2 million; compared to EURO 32.1 million last year. Depreciation as a proportion of overall turnover decreased slightly from 8.9 % to 8.4 %. In line with increase in profits, cash flow determined according to DVFA/SG rose to EURO 54.1 million. Cash flow per share according to DVFA/SG rose from EURO 6.35 to EURO 6.78, an increase of 6.8 %.

    CeWe Color Holding AG wants to allow its shareholders to benefit from a profit increase which was far in excess of financial planning by awarding an additional 'super' dividend. At the General Meeting the Supervisory Board and Board of Management are to propose an increase in the dividend per share to EURO 1.15, a rise of over 23 % on last year. This will involve full corporate tax credit of EURO 0.50, so that the gross dividend will be EURO 1.65.

    CeWe Color has maintained growth in the first quarter of the year 2000. Consolidated sales were EURO 78.5 million which is an increase of 9.2 %. In the 25 laboratories the number of films developed rose 6.7 % to 17.4 million. Even more impressive was the rise in the number of pictures printed by 7.3 % from 570 million to 612 million prints. The result was well on target and full details will be published in the quarterly report at the end of May 2000.

    The increase in volume in 1999 and 2000 means that a farther expansion in capacity is required and so the 26th industrial photo laboratory will be officially opened m Budapest before summer 2000 and a larger modern lab in Prague commence operation. The Board would like to point out that CeWe Color is enlarging its regional base to include more countries in its market penetration. Efforts in Catalonia (Spain) are to be increased through the establishment of a subsidiary company and activities in southern Scandinavia are to be stepped up too.

    The Board of the CeWe Color Group is confidant that the positive trend of the last few years can be maintained in the year 2000. A good summer season should enable the projected turnover target of EURO 420 to 430 million for the financial year 2000 to be reached.

    In 1999 approximately 1.1 million digital cameras were sold in Europe, compared to over 20 million traditional cameras. Now that the picture quality of digital cameras has improved whilst the price of pictures and equipment has fallen, CeWe perceives an increased demand for digital photos on original photographic paper. The CeWe Color Group offers consumers the opportunity to send their image data for printing in a CeWe lab either via a photographic order envelope or photo terminal. Over the next few months various dealers are to be equipped with the newest generation photo terminals, which will have the following additional features: as well as the standard data carriers on the market and the memory cards in cameras and computers, the consumer can also have his pictures and traditional film scanned and then order prints and accessories (such as personalised calendars and greeting cards) from them. So the amateur photographer can take his film and his prints home with him while his data is being processed in a CeWe lab. The photo terminal also offers a back-up of all films, data carriers and memory cards on CD-Rom.

    There is an enormous selection of shops on the Internet. In view of this fact virtual market places and shopping portals for the casual web surfer are becoming more and more important. CeWe Color's answer is PhotoWorld. In 1999, with PhotoWorld, CeWe Color made available a system enabling retailers to present themselves on the Internet with their own personal homepages. The system's technology is constantly being updated and perfected. With its integrated 'Online Print Service', PhotoWorld has been greeted with great enthusiasm by retailers. Wulf-D. Schmidt-Sacht, member of the Board of Management, points out many more attractive service offers are currently in development.

    Because of the great importance the CeWe Color Group attaches to trade with bits and bytes, the Board does not rule out a flotation of its subsidiary company CeWe Digital GmbH in the near future.

    Please address any questions to: CeWe Color Holding AG Hella Meyer Tel: +49 / 441 404-400 Fax: +49 / 441 404-421

    End of Message

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