USG people reports Q4 and full-year results 2014
• Revenue rose by 4.3% to &euro 605.1 million (Q4 2013: &euro 580.4 million)
• Underlying operating expenses declined a further 2% year-on-year
• Underlying EBITA increased to &euro 27.8 million (underlying EBITA Q4 2013: &euro 21.9 million) underlying EBITA margin: 4.6% (Q4 2013: 3.8%)
• Underlying net income rose to &euro 19.5 million (Q4 2013: &euro 9.0 million) • Net debt lowered by &euro 39.6 million to &euro 149.7 million (Q3 2014: &euro 189.3 million) 2014 highlights
• Revenue increased by 4.5% to &euro 2,355.0 million (2013: &euro 2,254.3 million) • Strong operational leverage as expenses fell 3% while revenue grew 4.5% underlying EBITA rose by 39% to &euro 86.7 million (2013: &euro 62.3 million) underlying EBITA margin increased to 3.7% from 2.8% in 2013
• Underlying net income rose to &euro 51.9 million (2013: &euro 17.9 million) reported net income increased to &euro 25.9 million (2013: &euro -26.1 million)
• Leverage ratio improved to 1.7 (2013: 2.3) net debt reduced to &euro 149.7 million (2013: &euro 177.9 million)
• Proposed cash dividend for 2014 of &euro 0.16 per share (2013: &euro 0.14 in cash or shares) Key figures Underlying results12 3 months 3 months 12 months 12 months (in millions of euros) ended ended ended ended 31 December 31 December 31 December 31 December 2014 2013 ? 2014 2013 ? Revenue 605.1 580.4 4% 2.355.0 2.254.3 4% Gross result 128.7 124.9 3% 492.1 482.6 2% Operating expenses 96.7 98.7 -2% 390.6 404.3 -3% EBITDA 32.0 26.2 22% 101.5 78.3 30% EBITA 27.8 21.9 27% 86.7 62.3 39% Net income 19.5 9.0 51.9 17.9 Gross margin 21.3% 21.5% 20.9% 21.4% Expense ratio 16.0% 17.0% 16.6% 17.9% EBITA margin 4.6% 3.8% 3.7% 2.8% 1
Underlying results have been adjusted for non-recurring results. The comparative results for 2013 are based on the pro forma underlying results of USG People’s continuing activities. They do not include the results of business units divested in 2013.
The results shown for 2013 differ from the figures previously published. These results have been adjusted for nonrecurring effect in the fourth quarter to aid comparability between the 2014 and 2013 results
“We continued to improve our results in the final quarter of 2014,” said Rob Zandbergen, CEO of USG People. “Higher revenue and lower expenses led to a rise in profitability. At the same time we generated a high cash flow, enabling us to further reduce our debt. This is in line with our strategic objectives to increase profitability and lower our debt. In this respect our recent investments in online services provide additional opportunities for growth, both organically and for our star brands. This segment already achieved strong growth and profitability in the fourth quarter. The positive revenue trends are continuing in 2015. Revenue increased by 5% in January and continued to grow in the first few weeks of February. We expect this growth to continue in 2015 and that a further recovery in the SME segment will contribute to an increase in demand in our markets and to returns. I wish to thank our colleagues for their dedication and commitment and for their contribution to the results we achieved in the past year.”
Revenue USG People realised revenue growth of 4.3% in the fourth quarter to &euro 605.1 million (Q4 2013: &euro 580.4 million). Revenue per working day rose 3.5% and acquisitions had a positive effect on growth of 0.3%. USG People’s market share continued to grow in Belgium and France as revenue per working day rose year-on-year by 8.1% and 1.0%, respectively.
In the Netherlands revenue per working day increased by 2.7%. Growth in the Netherlands lagged behind market growth in the fourth quarter as a result of the previously announced phasing out of several large contracts at Start People. Newly acquired large contracts gradually came into effect in January. These will already contribute to growth in the first quarter of 2015. Our markets developed positively across the board in the first few weeks of 2015. Group revenue increased by 5% in January and continued to grow in the first few weeks of February. Gross margin The gross result amounted to &euro 128.7 million in the fourth quarter (underlying gross result Q4 2013: &euro 124.9 million). As a percentage of revenue the gross margin was 21.3% (underlying gross margin Q4 2013: 21.5%). The development of the gross margin was affected by changes in the revenue mix and pressure on prices. Revenue from recruitment and selection rose by 18.7% year-on-year. This had a positive impact of 10 basis points on the gross margin of the group. Revenue from recruitment and selection accounted for 0.9% of total group revenue in the fourth quarter (Q4 2013: 0.8%).
Furthermore there was a negative impact of 20 basis points caused by a drop in revenue from our call centre services. These activities record a gross margin of 100%, meaning that a deviation in revenue growth has a disproportionately large impact on the gross margin of the group. Other mix and pricing effects had an impact of -10 basis points on the gross margin of the group compared to the fourth quarter of last year. The negative impact of other mix effects and pressure on prices gradually decreased in the course of the year. Compared to the gross margin in the previous quarter there was even a slight positive effect. The reported gross result for the fourth quarter of 2013 included not only the underlying gross result but also on balance a &euro 3.7 million gain. This was mainly related to a one-off repayment of social security contributions and an increase in the CICE (reported gross result Q4 2013: &euro 128.6 million). Operating expenses excluding depreciation and amortisation of acquisition-related intangible assets Underlying operating expenses fell by &euro 2.0 million compared to a year earlier to &euro 96.7 million (Q4 2013: &euro 98.7 million). The level of expenses remained virtually unchanged compared to the previous quarter.press release 3 The reported expenses included not only the underlying expenses but also a non-recurring expense of &euro 9.8 million. An amount of &euro 4.4 million of this related to a depreciation of software. The remaining &euro 5.4 million concerned organisational changes, mainly relating to the distribution network in the Netherlands (i.e. the execution of the United project) and an optimisation at USG Professionals and Secretary Plus. These changes will result in additional annual cost reductions of &euro 3.0 million from 2015. The fourth quarter of 2013 included a non-recurring expense of &euro 16.3 million. EBITA 3 months ended 31 December (in millions of euros) 2014 2013 Underlying EBITA 27.8 21.9 Non-recurring gross result - 3.7 Non-recurring operating expenses -5.4 -16.3 Non-recurring depreciation -4.4 - Reported EBITA 18.0 9.3 Underlying EBITA rose 27% to &euro 27.8 million (Q4 2013: &euro 21.9 million). The EBITA margin increased to 4.6% compared to 3.8% in the same quarter the year before. Reported EBITA including non-recurring effects nearly doubled to &euro 18.0 million from &euro 9.3 million. Amortisation of acquisition-related intangible assets Amortisation of acquisition-related intangible assets amounted to &euro 1.6 million in the fourth quarter, down &euro 0.5 million from the year-earlier quarter (Q4 2013: &euro 2.1 million). Acquisition-related intangible assets concerns brand rights, client portfolios and candidate databases valued at the time of acquisition. Financing expenses Underlying financing expenses declined to &euro 1.2 million compared to expenses of &euro 3.7 million in the fourth quarter last year. In addition to the underlying financing expenses an expense of &euro 2.3 million was recognised this year for the revaluation of earn-outs. Excluding this revaluation reported financing expenses were &euro 3.5 million (Q4 2013: &euro 3.2 million). Last year the revaluation of earn-out commitments had a positive impact of &euro 0.5 million. Income tax expense Tax in the fourth quarter of 2014 was &euro 3.5 million. This figure includes a &euro 1.6 million charge related to the business tax in France. Furthermore there was a gain of &euro -1.4 million as a result of an adjustment from previous years, as well as an amount of &euro 5.3 million relating to unrecognised losses and a gain of &euro -4.2 million resulting from temporary differences relating to a tax loss on an interest. Taxation as a percentage of pre-tax profit is distorted by the impact of the business tax and adjustments, as well as the tax credit in France (CICE) which is not taxable under income tax. Excluding these factors the group tax rate was 34.6%. Net income from divested and discontinued activities Net income from divested activities was &euro -1.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to &euro -4.0 million in the same quarter in 2013.press release 4 Net income attributable to equity holders of the company 3 months ended 31 December (in millions of euros) 2014 2013 Underlying net income 19.5 9.0 Non-recurring results -9.8 -12.6 Revaluation of earn-outs -2.3 0.5 Net income of discontinued activities -1.2 -4.0 Non-recurring tax effects 1.7 -5.1 Reported net income 7.9 -12.2 Result per share &euro 0.10 &euro -0.15 Underlying net income rose to &euro 19.5 million from &euro 9.0 million in the fourth quarter of last year. Reported net income improved to &euro 7.9 million (Q4 2013: &euro -12.2 million). Balance sheet and cash flow Working capital declined by &euro 36.9 million quarter-on-quarter. Factoring of trade receivables decreased by &euro 2.7 million to &euro 124.1 million (Q3: &euro 126.8 million). Working capital including factoring was &euro -130.5 million at the end of the year (Q3: &euro -93.6 million). The operating cash flow rose to &euro 57.2 million in the fourth quarter (Q4 2013: &euro 20.7 million). As a result of the positive cash flow net debt was lowered further to &euro 149.7 million (Q3: &euro 189.3 million). The leverage ratio (net debt / 12-month underlying EBITDA) improved to 1.7. Fourth-quarter 2014 results by segment General Staffing General Staffing generated revenue of &euro 361.7 million in the fourth quarter (Q4 2013: &euro 346.6 million). Revenue per working day rose by 3.5% compared to a year earlier. In the Netherlands there was a 0.3% decline in revenue as growth at Start People underperformed the market due to the phasing out of several large Start People contracts that had come to a conclusion. These contracts ended sooner than expected while newly acquired contracts will contribute to growth from the first quarter of 2015. Revenue per working day at Start People in Belgium increased by 10.6% compared to a year earlier. Growth far exceeded growth in the market (Federgon growth Q4: 5%). Growth remained stable during the quarter. Start People in France was able to maintain its comfortable lead over the market. Revenue per working day at Start People rose by 1.3% in the fourth quarter whereas the market reported a contraction in the final months of the year. Underlying EBITA rose to &euro 18.1 million in the fourth quarter (Q4 2013: &euro 17.0 million). The EBITA margin was 5.0% (Q4 2013: 4.9%). Specialist Staffing Revenue at Specialist Staffing rose to &euro 202.4 million in the fourth quarter (Q4 2013: &euro 195.9 million). Revenue per working day was up 2.5% compared to a year earlier. Unique grew by 4.0% whereas revenue in the quarter at Secretary Plus was down 2.0% compared to a year earlier.press release 5 In the Netherlands Specialist Staffing realised 4.5% growth compared to last year while Unique grew 4.7%, after a series of quarters with high double-digit growth. Secretary Plus reported a return to revenue growth. After reaching a turning point in September revenue rose 5.8% in the fourth quarter compared to a year earlier. In Belgium revenue per working day was up 4.8% at Specialist Staffing and 7.3% at Unique, while Secretary Plus reported a drop of 3.5% in revenue per working day. In Germany revenue per working day was down 1.2% in the fourth quarter compared to a year earlier. The impact of staffing shortages and clients hiring candidates on a permanent basis continued to have a negative effect in the final quarter of 2014 compared to the year-earlier period. Underlying EBITA improved to &euro 12.1 million from &euro 9.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. The EBITA margin rose to 6.0% (Q4 2013: 4.8%). The result was adversely affected by the negative results of the startup activities of Secretary Plus in Italy and Switzerland (Q4 2014: &euro -0.2 million). These activities ended with effect from 2015. Professionals USG Professionals generated revenue of &euro 38.0 million (Q4 2013: &euro 36.9 million). Revenue per working day was up 2.5%. Growth in the Netherlands was 1.2% year-on-year and revenue per working day rose 0.8% in Belgium. Underlying EBITA rose to &euro 1.1 million (Q4 2013: &euro -0.2 million). The EBITA margin was 2.9%. The result at Professionals was adversely affected by the loss-making start-up activities of USG Professionals in Switzerland and Germany (Q4 2014: &euro -0.5 million). These activities are being discontinued in the first few months of 2015. Online Business Solutions Revenue of online business solutions was &euro 3.0 million in the fourth quarter (Q4 2013: &euro 1.0 million). This relates to the revenue generated by Adver-Online, Netwerven and Connecting-Expertise. EBITA totalled &euro 0.8 million in the fourth quarter, 26.7% of revenue. Dividend USG People’s long-term dividend policy is based on a dividend distribution of one-third of net income before amortisation. In view of the positive development of our results and the successful reduction of net debt, the proposed dividend was also adjusted for an impairment of deferred income tax assets. The result for the calculation of dividend therefore amounts to &euro 39.5 million. In line with the dividend policy one-third of this amount is available for dividend distribution. Divided by 80.9 million shares this equates to a dividend distribution of &euro 0.16 per share. At the General Meeting of Shareholders on 7 May 2017 the Executive Board will propose a dividend of &euro 0.16 per ordinary share, payable in cash. With the approval of USG People, ABN AMRO will set up a reinvestment programme that will give USG People shareholders the option of reinvesting the cash dividend distributed to them in USG People shares. The programme provides an easy way for interested shareholders to further expand their stake in USG People. Outlook Economic recovery broadened in the second half of 2014. Recovery is also visible in the later-cyclical market sectors and demand for employees has increased. Demand for capacity, which had already picked up at large, export-oriented companies, is now also recovering in the SME segment. In the past few months we have also seen demand for permanent placements grow sharply, an indication that capacity utilisation at companies has risen and business confidence has grown. These developments persisted in the first few press release 6 weeks of 2015. We expect this positive development to continue in 2015 and support a growing demand for our services.