Stuttgart, Germany, February 21, 2019 - Sales in the TAKKT Group increased in the year under review to EUR 1,181 (1,116) million. Reported sales growth thus came to 5.8 percent. The growth benefited from the positive contribution of acquisitions. Opposing effects resulted from negative currency effects and the closure of the business of Hubert Europe at the end of the third quarter. Adjusted for the mentioned effects, organic sales grew by 3.4 percent in comparison to the previous year. Organic growth was thus at the upper end of the range of the two to four percent forecast at the beginning of the year.
"After a difficult start in 2018, we achieved good organic growth over the remainder of the year. Strategically, the focus was on the digital transformation. Its implementation continues to enjoy the highest priority at the company. Last year, TAKKT generated over 50 percent of its order intake via digital channels for the first time," said CEO Felix Zimmermann.
At 41.5 (42.5) percent, the gross profit margin in 2018 was below the previous year's level. Around half of the decline can be attributed to the first-time consolidation of acquisitions that achieved a lower gross profit margin than the Group average. In addition, higher freight costs and lower freight margins as well as a new framework contract with a major customer of the Hubert group had negative impacts on the gross profit margin.
EBITDA remained constant in comparison to the previous year at EUR 150.1 (150.3) million. In the fourth quarter, earnings were affected by two one-time effects. First, TAKKT realized a one-time gain of EUR 4.9 million from the sale of real estate in the US. Second, the good business development at Mydisplays led to the recognition of a variable purchase price liability of EUR 2.0 million as an expense. The focus in 2018 continued to be on the implementation of the digital transformation, and related investments were at a similar level to the previous year. The EBITDA margin of 12.7 (13.5) percent was slightly below the initially projected target corridor of 13 to 14 percent.
Earnings per share amounted to EUR 1.34 (1.47). Because of the cash flow strength of the business model and the comparatively high equity ratio, the Management Board proposes to the Supervisory Board to pay a special dividend of EUR 0.30 per share in addition to the ordinary dividend of EUR 0.55. This would correspond to a payout ratio of 63.3 (37.5) percent. Even after the dividend payout in this amount, TAKKT would still have sufficient funds for acquisitions.
In 2019, TAKKT expects a slight economic slowdown in Europe and North America, which are important regions for TAKKT, given continuing political and economic uncertainties. "Even so, we are confident about the year," said CFO Claude Tomaszewski. Given the current environment, TAKKT expects organic growth. In addition to organic growth, the Group will continue push for growth through acquisitions.
TAKKT will give further details on the 2018 consolidated financial statements and guidance for future business development with the publication of the 2018 annual report on March 28, 2019.
For further information please see the attached press release.