SKF has reported net profit for the first quarter decreased by 17.22% year on year to SEK1.34bn (US$198.7m), while operating profit declined by 14.54% to SEK2.14bn. Net sales amounted to SEK16.93bn.

In Europe sales decreased by 1.2% and in Asia by 8.1%. In North America they increased by 14.7 %, in Latin America by 11.1% and in Middle East and Africa by 2.5%. The manufacturing level was significantly lower than in the first quarter of 2011.

The company expects the demand for SKF's products and services is expected to be slightly higher for the Group. It is expected to be relatively unchanged in Europe and Asia, and significantly higher in North America and Latin America. The manufacturing level is expected to be lower year on year but higher compared to the first quarter.

Tom Johnstone, President and CEO: "The SKF Group delivered a very good result and cash flow in the quarter, in line with our expectations. As planned we took steps to reduce inventories and ran production significantly lower than sales. From a sales viewpoint we saw a very different development between the regions. There was very strong growth in both North America and Latin America and this was quite broad based across many of the industries we serve. In Europe our industrial businesses developed well while the automotive business as expected was significantly down. In Asia we had a weak development, but the trend improved during the quarter and we expect that to continue.

"During the quarter we took a number of important steps to strengthen the Group. We signed an agreement to acquire General Bearings Corporation and expect to finalise it in the second quarter. We opened our two new University Technical Centres in Sweden, launched a number of new products and gained some important new business. We also introduced a new organisation to better serve the industrial market through a more industry focussed structure and a full asset life cycle approach.

"Looking at the second quarter we see an improving business environment for the Group and expect sales to be slightly up both sequentially and year on year. Again the main growth will be in the Americas but we also expect a continued improvement in Asia and a stable development in Europe. All three Business Areas are expected to show sequential growth."