ALSO Holding AG
SIX : ALSN

February 23, 2016 09:05 ET

ALSO Group: Dividend Up 19 Percent After Another Record Result

EMMEN, SWITZERLAND--(Marketwired - Feb. 23, 2016) - In fiscal year 2015, the ALSO team achieved a record result for the fifth time in a row. "EBT before non-recurring effects posted an increase of 30 percent to 103 million euros. Thanks to systematic management decisions, this result was achieved at the same time as significant investments in infrastructure to shape the future development of the company and sustainably ensure its profitability," emphasizes Gustavo Möller-Hergt, CEO of ALSO Holding AG (SIX:ALSN).

In fiscal year 2015, net sales of the ALSO Group climbed by 7.7 percent year-on-year to 7.8 billion euros and profit before taxes (EBT) was up 10.9 percent at 90.8 million euros. The EBT margin rose from 1.1 percent in the previous year to 1.2 percent. Group net profit climbed to 62.9 million euros and thereby exceeded the previous year's level by 3.3 percent. EBITDA increased by 13.0 percent to 140.0 million euros.

ICT market

According to the CONTEXT market research institute, net sales in the entire ICT distribution market (not including the Baltics and the Netherlands) in the countries that are relevant for ALSO rose by 4.7 percent compared to the previous year. In the comparable reporting year, ALSO grew by +20.0 percent (CONTEXT Panel +7.0 percent) through targeted development of the telecommunications category and by +13.8 percent (CONTEXT Panel +10.1 percent) in the storage category. In the field of networks, ALSO grew by +13.8 percent, slightly less strongly than the CONTEXT Panel (+14.2 percent).

Central Europe Market Segment

In the Central Europe market segment, ALSO increased its net sales by 7.5 percent from 5 709 million euros in the previous year to 6 140 million euros. This resulted mainly from the stronger performance of Alpha International B.V. in the second half of 2015 and the pleasingly strong growth in France and the Netherlands. Not including non-recurring effects (ALSO Logistics Services GmbH, Augsburg), EBT improved from 67.5 million euros to 86.2 million euros (+27.7 percent). All country companies (with the exception of ALSO in the Netherlands, which is in investment mode) contributed to this improvement in EBT.

Northern/Eastern Europe Market Segment

In the Northern/Eastern Europe market segment, net sales rose by 8.6 percent compared to the previous year, from 1 663 million euros to 1 805 million euros. EBT climbed by 32.5 percent from 15.4 million euros to 20.4 million euros. All countries (with the exception of Poland, which is currently under development) contributed to this positive development.

Employees

In 2015, ALSO had an annual average of 3 649 employees from 50 nations, which is 223 more employees than in previous year (+6.5 percent). The increase arose from the acquisitions and the expansion in the Solutions and Services sectors. Personnel expenses in the reporting year amounted to 212.2 million euros, representing an increase of 6.9 percent from the previous year.

Investments and acquisitions

The investments and acquisitions of the ALSO Group were in line with the MORE strategy and amounted to 25.1 million euros. Investments in property, plant and equipment and intangible assets totaled around 13.8 million euros (previous year 12.0 million euros). These funds were used for the ongoing development of the IT and logistics infrastructure in particular. The ratio of investments to EBITDA was 9.8 percent (previous year: 9.7 percent). The funds used for acquisitions amounted to around 11.3 million euros in 2015 and related almost exclusively to the acquisition of the PC Factory Group in Poland.

3S business model

In the past year, the ALSO Group systematically continued the development of the Supply, Solutions, and Services business models. Supply contributed around 77 percent of the Group' net sales in fiscal year 2015, with Solutions contributing around 20 percent and Services around 3 percent. The share of Solutions is to be increased to between 20 and 30 percent and that of Services to between 3 and 6 percent in the medium term. In particular, the expansion of digital services and the extension of the cloud service catalog are expected to contribute to this. By means of this diversification, the Group aims to ensure a sustainable increase in its profitability in the future, too.

Distributions to shareholders

The Board of Directors of ALSO Holding AG pursues a policy of continuous dividends and continues to aim for a payout ratio of 25 to 35 percent. The annual dividend is defined in the light of the current income and financial situation as well as the corresponding outlook. For 2016, the Board of Directors proposes a distribution to the shareholders from the reserve from contribution in kind of 1.90 Swiss francs per share. This represents a total dividend payment of 24.4 million Swiss francs. A total of 35 percent (previous year: 32 percent) of the Group net profit was distributed. The proposal will be submitted to the shareholders for approval at the Annual General Meeting of March 17, 2016.

Outlook

The outlook for economic development in 2016 is still subdued. For the ICT market in the ALSO countries (not including the Baltics), the Gartner market research institute forecasts a decline in end-user spending of 0.6 percent.

The implementation of the MORE strategy will remain a key focus in 2016. ALSO intends to expand its solutions and services business further in order to gain additional customers and access new markets with convincing market services. In line with the strategy, the ALSO Group will continue to consider possible acquisitions in the three business models of Supply, Solutions, and Services. There will also be a focus on expanding the service range and product portfolio in the field of digital services and small and medium businesses (SMB).

Despite continuing uncertainties with regard to the economic conditions, the management is confident that the targeted measures will take full effect. In this context, ALSO currently expects to be able to generate an attractive return in the future, too. ALSO continues to aim for a payout ratio of 25 to 35 percent.

Direct link: http://www.also.com/goto/20160223en

Direct link to the Annual Report 2015: http://www.also.com/goto/20160223ar

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