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Krones, the world’s leading manufacturer of filling and packaging technology, continued to grow in 2018 despite difficult conditions. The company benefited as a full-service provider from its extensive product and service range and broad international footprint.

Krones achieves growth target for 2018 financial year

Revenue increased by 4.4 % year-on-year, from €3,691.4 million to €3,854.0 million. The company thus achieved the revised target of 4 % revenue growth announced in autumn 2018. Revenue grew operationally (i.e., adjusted for currency and acquisition effects) was around 5 %. Krones increased revenue, in some cases significantly, in Europe, China and South America/Mexico. Revenue was down in the Asia/Pacific region, the Middle East/Africa and in North and Central America.

Despite the high prior-year figure, order intake increased by 4.5 % in 2018, from €3,786.8 million to €3,957.3 million. Growth in order intake was above average in Western and Eastern Europe and in China. Krones had orders on hand totalling €1,261.1 million at the end of 2018. This once again exceeded the very high prior-year figure by 1.7 %.

Krones continued to invest in the growth of its workforce in 2018, primarily for the expansion of its global footprint. The company employed 16,545 people worldwide at the end of 2018. This represents an increase of 1,246 employees on the previous year, about 400 of which related to acquisitions.

Profitability affected by one-off expenses, mainly for reorganisation

Krones’ earnings were significantly impacted by higher material and labour costs in 2018. The 5.3 % EBT margin includes approximately €42 million in one-off expenses, mainly for reorganisation.

Had these expenses not been incurred in 2018, the EBT margin would have been 6.4 %. The costs related to establishing the production site in Hungary account for the largest share of this amount. In total, earnings before taxes (EBT) in 2018 were down by 21.1 % or €54.5 million year-on-year to €204.3 million (EBT margin: 5.3 %).

Earnings decreased in both segments. In the core segment, Machines and Lines for Product Filling and Decoration, EBT went down by 15.2 % year-on-year, from €263.3 million to €223.3 million. Expenses for reorganisation reduced segment earnings here by around €25 million. In the Machines and Lines for Beverage Production/Process Technology segment, EBT deteriorated from –€4.5 million in the previous year to –€19.0 million. This mainly related to a total of around €17 million in one-off expenses.

Krones improves free cash flow by €271.4 million

Krones was able to significantly reduce working capital between October and December 2018. This had a positive impact on free cash flow, which improved in 2018 by a substantial €271.4 million compared with the prior year, to €120.7 million (previous year: –€150.7 million). The ratio of average working capital over the past four quarters to revenue developed slightly better than expected, holding stable at 27.3 % in 2018. Net cash went up to €215.1 million at the 2018 reporting date (previous year: €157.4 million). Due to the increase in total assets, the company’s equity ratio decreased slightly to 43.2 % (previous year: 43.8 %). Overall, Krones continues to possess a very robust financial and capital structure.

With the above figures, Krones has confirmed the preliminary figures published on 21 February 2019. No significant changes arose in the course of the auditing process.

Shareholders to receive stable dividend of €1.70 per share

At the Annual General Meeting on 5 June 2019, the Executive Board and Supervisory Board of Krones will be proposing a dividend of €1.70 per share for the 2018 financial year. The proposed dividend is stable relative to the previous year. The planned payout is 35.7 % of consolidated net income.

Outlook

Based on the prevailing macroeconomic outlook and the current expected development of the markets relevant to Krones, the company expects consolidated revenue growth of 3 % in 2019.

In order to achieve its medium-term corporate targets, Krones will continue in 2019 to work towards a global structure fit for the future challenges. The company does not expect any noticeable fall in material procurement prices in 2019; the same applies to labour costs. Krones’ sales price increases on all bottling and packaging equipment and for process technology with effect from 1 May 2018 are likely to have a slight positive effect on earnings in the 2019 financial year. Overall, Krones expects an EBT margin of around 6 % for 2019.

Above all due to the focus on increases in the sales price level, in the current economic and geopolitical climate, Krones sees the achievement of its targets for 2019 subject to greater uncertainties than in the past. For its third performance target, working capital to revenue, Krones expects a figure of 26 %.

Krones has published the Annual Report 2018 online at https://www.krones.com/en/company/investor-relations/krones-group-annual-report-2018.php

Rolf Stangl, CEO of SIG, said: “In 2018 we successfully continued our growth strategy and achieved core revenue growth of 6.4 % at constant currencies, slightly exceeding our target range of 4 – 6 %. We saw growth across our global footprint and are reaping the rewards of our steady expansion into markets outside Europe, where growth in aseptic carton packaging is being driven by mega-trends including demographics, rising disposable income and urbanisation. The Asia Pacific region in particular delivered a strong performance during the year, with robust growth in the liquid dairy segment and growing demand for premium products.

“Our broad international presence continues to provide us with promising growth opportunities. These opportunities come with exposure to currency fluctuations, which in 2018 dampened growth in adjusted EBITDA. At constant currencies, adjusted EBITDA increased by 8 %. The adjusted EBITDA margin increased to 27.5 %, reflecting a positive business mix and ongoing cost efficiency measures. We achieved a significant increase in adjusted free cash flow, while continuing to expand our filler base in growth markets. The cash generative nature of our business underpins our intended mid-term dividend payout ratio of 50 – 60 % of adjusted net income. For 2018, we are proposing a Swiss franc dividend payout in 2019 equivalent to around €100m.”

2018 Annual Report

SIG has published its 2018 Annual Report, which includes the Group’s operating and financial results accompanied by SIG’s audited consolidated and statutory annual financial statements, the Compensation Report outlining the compensation policies of the Group and the Corporate Governance Report. All publications are available for download at https://investor.sig.biz/en-gb/home/.