2022 was characterized by a sequence of crises. In particular, the Russian war on Ukraine led to further, severe disruptions in global supply chains, an energy crisis in Europe and high inflation rates. We were not spared from the effects. Nevertheless, we can look back on a successful financial year. After 2021, we also recorded record sales of EUR 2.2 billion in 2022, with an operating result of EUR 150.4 million being slightly below that of the previous year. The number of employees worldwide rose to 12,210.
As in 2020 and 2021, the GLOBAL PALFINGER ORGANIZATION (GPO) proved to be crucial in its ability to respond quickly and flexibly to the changed circumstances brought about by the war in Ukraine and its aftermath. In addition to the GPO, our established crisis-task forces played a key role. For example, the supply of electronic components was successfully secured and measures for gas substitution and energy security for production were worked out. Nevertheless, the delivery difficulties resulted in high inventories, which had a negative impact on cash flow and the balance sheet structure.
In view of the rapid cost increases and high inflation, pricing policy proved to be a key challenge for PALFINGER in 2022. With Dynamic Pricing, we have introduced a flexible pricing model. As a result, we are able to react quickly to rising as well as falling costs and we guarantee maximum transparency and the direct transfer of cost developments.
In 2022, we implemented numerous future initiatives with a view to Strategy 2030. Together with the two strategic pillars "Go for Solutions" and "Go Digital," we are focusing on the best possible customer proximity, sustainable and profitable growth, and the expansion of our market leadership. This growth can be clearly seen in the electrification of the product portfolio and the digitalization of all areas. Furthermore, with the new technology center in Köstendorf, we are strengthening the development of essential key components and guaranteeing their global availability.
We were represented at the leading trade shows IAA and bauma with our completely redesigned loader crane, new aerial work platforms and digital innovations, Smart Solutions and Smart Services. Once again, we proved that our company, as a global innovation leader, is shaping the industry and opening up new areas of business.
We therefore remain in line with our strategy of making targeted investments in the qualifications of our employees, future-oriented structures and research and development. By 2027, sales are expected to increase to EUR 3.0 billion with an EBIT margin of 10 percent. Optimal use of non-current and current assets is also expected to generate a return on capital employed of 12 percent by 2027. Together with our employees, investors, customers and partners, we generate added value every day. Thank you for joining us on this journey.
Ing. Andreas Klauser
Dr. Felix Strohbichler
DI Martin Zehnder, MBA