19 March 2015, 00:00
Proposed dividend of EUR0.55 per share - 57 per cent dividend growth
Order intake, revenue and EBIT to rise above their record levels this year
Continued moderate growth anticipated in the global market
Focus on implementing the Strategy 2020
After a record year, the KION Group predicts further profitable growth in 2015 and will forge ahead with implementing its Strategy 2020. The main drivers of this growth will again be a strong service business in western Europe and emerging markets such as China. In 2015, the Company expects its order intake, consolidated revenue and adjusted EBIT to rise slightly compared with the record levels reached in 2014. The EBIT margin is likely to be on a par with the record set in the previous year, reflecting costs for implementation and investment for the Strategy 2020 and the associated expected medium term margin improvement. In addition, a further increase of net income is expected.
The Executive Board and Supervisory Board of the KION Group - one of the world's two largest suppliers of forklift trucks, warehouse technology and associated services - will propose an attractive dividend of EUR0.55 per share to the Annual General Meeting on 12 May 2015, up by 57 per cent on the previous year's dividend. This equates to a dividend payout ratio of approximately 31 per cent, compared with 25 per cent for 2013. The KION Group wishes to reward shareholders with an increasing share of earnings by pursuing a profit driven dividend policy. Over the coming years, it plans to gradually increase the dividend payout ratio to 35 per cent.
"Our record results last year have created an excellent base that enables us to push ahead with our growth-oriented Strategy 2020," said Chief Executive Officer Gordon Riske when the Company presented its 2014 annual report. "Despite record results, the market is getting ever more competitive. In order to continue to improve our results, we will increase our efforts to become more competitive, especially in our home European markets where we have to face the highest continuous cost increases," he added.
CEO Riske: "2015 is an important year for us in implementing our strategy, which is aimed at maintaining a trajectory of profitable growth over the years to come. To this end, we will continue with our successful multi-brand approach underpinned by a comprehensive modular and platform strategy, strengthen our presence in key growth markets such as China and the United States, and expand our already very robust service business."
This year, the KION Group anticipates that the global market for industrial trucks will again see moderate growth. The main factors in this growth will be expansion in the emerging markets of Asia, a solid North American market and rising unit sales in western Europe resulting from pent-up demand as the economy continues to recover. Expectations also remain positive over the longer-term perspective. Over the next few years, the KION Group believes the global market is likely to grow at an average rate of around 4 per cent in terms of the number of trucks.
The KION Group enjoyed a record year in 2014 and easily matched its forecast. Order intake, revenue, adjusted EBIT, profitability, net income and free cash flow for 2014 all reached record levels. One of the key contributing factors was the very strong fourth quarter.
The total value of order intake in the KION Group increased by 8.6 per cent to EUR4.877 billion last year. Moreover, the Group started this year with an order book worth EUR787.2 million, 13.5 per cent up on the figure reported twelve months earlier. The Group's order intake measured in terms of units came to approximately 155,000 trucks. This was 8.5 per cent higher than the previous year's figure and thus outstripped the 7.8 per cent growth in the global market.
Consolidated revenue improved by 4.1 per cent to EUR4.678 billion in 2014. Rising by 8.6 per cent, revenue from the service business was far higher than in the previous year and was therefore a considerable factor in the Group's good revenue growth. The proportion of the KION Group's total revenue generated by the service business advanced to 45.9 per cent last year (2013: 43.9 per cent).
Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) went up by 6.3 per cent to EUR442.9 million. With the EBIT marginreaching 9.5 per cent, the Group exceeded its very good prior-year profitability figure of 9.3 per cent.
Net income climbed by 28.8 per cent to EUR178.2 million. This was attributable to a record adjusted EBIT figure plus significantly lower finance costs as a consequence of the IPO in 2013 and various refinancing activities. Free cash flowalso rose, amounting to EUR305.9 million (2013: EUR195.6 million). Thanks to this good cash flow, the KION Group's net financial debt stood at EUR810.7 million at the end of 2014, compared with EUR979.3 million a year earlier. The net financial leverage is therefore just over 1.0 times adjusted EBITDA.
The number of employees advanced from 22,273 to 22,669.
In the fourth quarter of 2014, the KION Group generated substantial year-on-year increases. While the total value of order intake grew by 9.9 per cent to EUR1.311 billion, revenue was 10.8 per cent higher at EUR1.306 billion. At EUR134.2 million, the KION Group's earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) had improved by an impressive 16.1 per cent compared with the final three months of 2013. The EBIT margin climbed from 9.8 per cent to 10.3 per cent, a record level for a quarterly period.
Milestones in 2014
- Inclusion in the MDAX: The index for medium-sized companies is the right place for the KION Group. Since inclusion in the MDAX in September 2014, KION shares have become even more attractive and visible to investors.
- North America: The change of name from Linde North America to KION North America and a new management structure represent major steps towards future growth in this region. One of the core elements of the Strategy 2020 is to significantly increase market share in North America, including in the United States - the world's second-largest national market.
- Emerging markets: The KION Group further strengthened its position in China, which is the biggest market for its products worldwide. New truck orders were up by 13 per cent, easily outperforming overall market growth. This was also achieved in eastern Europe, another key growth market, despite smouldering crises and political uncertainty.
- New factory: The ground-breaking ceremony for the new KION plant in the Czech Republic took place in November. Production is scheduled to start there in early 2016. In the medium term, this location should enable the KION Group to serve the eastern and southern European markets even more efficiently.
- Capital expenditure: Between 2014 and 2021, a total of EUR83 million is to be spent on the Linde core plant in Aschaffenburg and the STILL core plant in Hamburg in order to boost competitiveness.
- Platform strategy: The KION Group has unveiled the first models based on its global platform for the volume market. The platform, a core element of the Strategy 2020, is being developed in China.
- Shares for employees: A key internal milestone for the KION Group was the launch of an employee equity programme, which has initially been rolled out in Germany. Almost one in four eligible employees took up the opportunity to subscribe to shares on favourable terms. More than half opted to acquire the maximum possible number of shares.