Bekaert delivers on margin, working capital, and debt deleverage priorities
Underlying EBIT up 15% to € 242 million – working capital down 20% – net debt/underlying EBITDA of 2.1
Bekaert offset the challenging market conditions caused by trade tensions, political and policy changes, and social protests affecting economies worldwide, and delivered on all priorities set forth to restore a healthy balance sheet and improve the margin performance.
Financial highlights FY2019
- Consolidated sales of € 4.3 billion (+0.4%) and combined sales of € 5.1 billion (+1.1%)
- Underlying EBIT of € 242 million, up 15% from last year and resulting in a margin of 5.6%
- Underlying EBITDA of € 468 million (+10%), delivering a double-digit margin on sales (10.8%)
- Underlying ROCE of 9.5%, up from 8.0% in 2018
- Working capital reduction of 20%, resulting in working capital on sales of 16%
- Strong cash flow generation: cash flows from operating activities more than doubled to € 524 million
- Net debt of € 977 million, down from € 1 153 million at the close of 2018, resulting in net debt on underlying EBITDA of 2.1, significantly down from 2.7 last year
Actions implemented to drive margin and cash flow performance
- Significant progress in pricing performance and mix improvement, offset by inventory valuation corrections
- Robust progress in the profit restoration of weaker performing business areas
- Continued implementation of organizational efficiencies and manufacturing excellence programs
- Very strong working capital decrease driven by significantly lower inventory levels, better aligned payment terms, successful cash collection actions, and optimized factoring usage
- Successful refinancing programs (Schuldschein loan: € 320.5 million and Retail bond: € 200 million) led to a reduction of interest expenses of more than 20%
- Strict control of capital expenditure: € 98 million (PP&E)
Bottom-line result and dividend proposal
- The one-off items, primarily associated with the restructuring measures of 2019, amounted to € -87 million
- The result of the period attributable to the equity holders of Bekaert amounted to € 41 million
- The Board of Directors will propose to the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders of 13 May 2020, a gross dividend of 70 eurocent, unchanged from last year.
Update Covid-19: to date none of Bekaert’s employees have been infected with the virus and our plants in China resumed operations on 10 February. At present, our production plants globally are operating at fairly normal levels and the supply chain remains reasonably fluid. We have limited visibility on the potential impact of Covid-19 on our markets in coming months.
The actions taken in 2019 have significantly strengthened our balance sheet structure and have started to improve our profitability. This has made us more resilient to short-term uncertainties and will enable us to make further progress toward our 7% underlying EBIT margin goal.