In 2018, First Sensor is continuing to work on profitable growth
- 2017 result: EUR147.5 million sales, 7.2% EBIT margin
- Administration intends to propose dividend of EUR0.16 per share
- Guidance 2018: Sales EUR150 - 160 million and EBIT margin 7-9%
- CFO Dr. Mathias Gollwitzer appointed until 2022
First Sensor Group, the world's leading supplier in the field of sensor systems, closed fiscal 2017 successfully. As previously announced, sales amounted to EUR147.5 million and were therefore just 2% above the planned range of EUR140 and EUR145 million. Due to a more dynamic second half of the year, the EBIT margin ultimately reached 7.2%. This means that the originally planned range of 5 to 6% was considerably exceeded.
"The third quarter of 2017 showed that First Sensor can generate double-digit returns," said Dr. Dirk Rothweiler, CEO at First Sensor AG. "It is for this reason that in fiscal 2018, we are continuing to work consistently on implementing our strategy for profitable growth." Due to measures across the five pillars of the strategy, the Executive Board's focus remains on creating and leveraging economies of scale and profitability. "In the last years, the EBIT margin has significantly improved, and other key figures such as the equity ratio and cash flow are impressive. This shows that we have taken the right steps," said Dr. Mathias Gollwitzer, CFO at First Sensor AG, whose contract was extended by further four years.
Successful improvement in earnings in 2017
With sales of EUR147.5 million (previous year: EUR150.1 million), almost all key earnings figures have improved. The cost of materials ratio decreased from 48.2% to 47.0%, with the gross income margin increasing from 53.8% to 56.0%. EBITDA also improved. It increased from EUR19.4 million in the previous year to EUR19.6 million. The margin thus increased from 12.9% to 13.3%. Adjusted for amortization of intangible assets income resulted in EBITA of EUR12.8 million (previous year: EUR12.4 million), corresponding to a margin of 8.7% (previous year: 8.2%). EBIT improved correspondingly, totaling EUR10.6 million (previous year: EUR10.0 million), an upturn of 6.0%. The EBIT margin reached 7.2% on a whole-year basis (previous year: 6.7%) and was therefore significantly higher than the guidance for fiscal 2017 (5% to 6%). Due to a non-recurring effect as a result of closing out forward foreign exchange contracts early, net currency gains and losses amounted to EUR-1.6 million (previous year: EUR260 thousand). EBT therefore declined in comparison to the previous year from EUR8.7 million to EUR7.2 million. In fiscal 2017, after taxes consolidated net income of EUR4.4 million is reported (previous year: EUR6.1 million), corresponding to earnings per outstanding share of EUR0.40 (previous year: EUR0.57). Retained earnings at First Sensor AG amount to EUR4.1 million (previous year: EUR2.4 million). The Executive Board and the Supervisory Board would like shareholders to participate in these earnings and intend to propose the distribution of a dividend of EUR0.16 per share to the Annual General Meeting. This would correspond to a total distribution of EUR1.6 million or about 40% of the AG's retained earnings.
First Sensor focuses on three sales markets: Industrial, Medical and Mobility. In 2017, sales in the Industrial target market developed positively with growth of 3.6% to EUR75.1 million (previous year: EUR72.5 million) being generated here. After the growth surge of over 29% in the previous year, project delays on the part of some customers in the Medical target market in fiscal 2017 resulted in sales declined by 9.0% to EUR27.9 million (previous year: EUR30.7 million). In the Mobility target market, sales amounted to EUR44.5 million (previous year: EUR46.9 million). The major order of approximately EUR10 million which expired last year was largely compensated for here.
Incoming orders and orders on hand
The lower order backlog as at the start of 2017 had given an indication for the modest business performance in the first half of the year. However, the picture changed significantly over the course of the year. Incoming orders of EUR163.7 million were posted, an increase of 23.1%. The order backlog as at the end of the year amounted to EUR92.5 million and was thus around EUR10 million higher than a year ago. The book-to-bill ratio improved to 1.11 and provides a good starting point for a successful fiscal 2018.
Statement of financial position and cash flow
Total assets increased to EUR159.6 million in fiscal 2017 (previous year: EUR154.0 million). As a result of the retained earnings for fiscal 2017, the equity ratio rose by one percentage point to 51.3% . Non-current assets increased due to high investment level. The introduction of standard ERP software, commissioning of equipment and new projects in the R&D sector had an impact in the area of intangible assets. In the area of property, plant and equipment, investments related to new machines and equipment for expanding vertical integration, for process improvements and increasing capacity and also replacement investments. Working capital increased nearly EUR1.9 million to EUR37.5 million (previous year: EUR35.7 million). The same applied for capital employed which increased by EUR5.1 million to EUR122.9 million. However, this only marginally impacted ROCE which inched up to 8.6% after 8.5% in the previous year.
In fiscal 2017, operating cash flow decreased slightly and amounted to EUR16.0 million (previous year: EUR16.6 million). Cash flow from investing activities increased significantly as announced, after EUR6.5 million in the previous year, it totaled EUR12.5 million. Free cash flow was therefore lower than in the previous year and amounted to EUR3.5 million (previous year: EUR10.0 million). Cash and cash equivalents increased from EUR23.8 million to EUR25.5 million. The Group's liquidity position therefore remains comfortable and allows the repayment of the promissory note tranches of EUR12 million due at the end of the year.
The First Sensor Group had a total of 798 employees (FTEs - full-time equivalents, previous year: 804) and 31 apprentices (previous year: 33) as at the reporting date December 31, 2017.
For fiscal 2018, the Executive Board is anticipating sales between EUR150 million and EUR160 million. The EBIT margin is expected to reach at least 7% and up to 9%. "Due to our switch to a new ERP system as at the end of the previous year, in some cases customers had brought forward deliveries. In the first quarter, which tends to traditionally be weaker, forecasting accuracy is therefore still somewhat limited," said Rothweiler and expects that the increased order backlog will be reflected in sales of the upcoming quarters. "Our measures with regard to process optimization and increasing efficiency are taking effect and step by step we are coming closer to our goal of generating double-digit returns in the medium-term," adds Gollwitzer.
With its strategy for profitable growth, the Executive Board has geared the First Sensor Group towards a successful future. By focusing on three target markets, key customers and key products, forward integration and the dynamic sales regions combined with measures for operational excellence , the Group's is set to generate growth combined with adequate profitability. With this strategy, the company is directly participating in trends such as Industry 4.0, the miniaturization of medical technology and autonomous driving. Sensor systems are therefore key technologies that have the potential for a volume market in many applications.
Figures 2017 at a glance (rounding differences may occur)
|in EUR million, unless otherwise indicated
|EBITDA margin (%) as compared to total output
|EBIT margin (%) as compared to total output
|Net profit for the period
|Earnings per share (EUR)
|Cash flow from operating activities
|Free cash flow
|Balance sheet total
|Equity ratio (%)
|Orders on hand
|Employees (average of the period)
|Sales revenues per employee (EUR thousand)
|Number of shares in thousands as at 31.12.
About First Sensor AG
In the growth market of sensor systems, First Sensor develops and produces standard products and customer-specific solutions for the ever-increasing number of applications in the industrial, medical, and mobility target markets. Based on innovative technology platforms, we develop products such as chips, components, sensors, and entire sensor systems. Trends such as Industry 4.0, autonomous driving, and the miniaturization of medical technology will drive our growth extremely rapidly in the future. First Sensor was founded in Berlin in 1991 and has been listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (SIS) since 1999 [Prime Standard Ι WKN: 720190 Ι ISIN: DE0007201907 Ι SIS]. For more details on First Sensor, please visit www.first-sensor.com.
Statements in this Corporate News relating to future developments are based on a prudent estimate of future events. Actual events may deviate from planned events, as they depend on a large number of market and economic factors, some of which are outside of the company's control.
The consolidated financial report 2017 is available for download on the internet at https://www.first-sensor.com/en/investor-relations/financial-publications
It is intended to publish the Q1 Interim Report on May 14th, 2018.
The annual general meeting 2018 takes place on Wednesday, May 23th 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at the Pentahotel Berlin Köpenick, Grünauer Straße 1 in 12557 Berlin.
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