Axalto

Axalto

March 03, 2005 02:00 ET

Axalto 2004 Full-Year Results; Operating Margin of 9%; USD 1.47 Earnings Per Share


NEWS RELEASE TRANSMITTED BY CCNMatthews

FOR: AXALTO

PARIS, EURONEXT SYMBOL: AXL
PARIS SYMBOL: AXAL

MARCH 3, 2005 - 02:00 ET

Axalto 2004 Full-Year Results; Operating Margin of 9%;
USD 1.47 Earnings Per Share

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands--(CCNMatthews - Mar 3, 2005) -

Following the 2004 revenue release of January 26, 2005, that reported
full-year revenue of USD 960 million, an increase of 25% versus 2003 and
a rise of 19% at constant exchange rates, Axalto
(EURONEXT:AXL)(EURONEXT:NL0000400653) today reports its full-year
results for the 2004 financial year ended 31 December 2004:

-- Operating income: USD 86.4 million, up 80%

-- Net income: USD 59 million, up 136%

-- Return on capital employed: 11.4%

-- Free cash flow: USD 128 million

-- Net cash: USD 185 million

Commenting on these results, Olivier Piou, Axalto Chief Executive
Officer, said: "These results clearly validate our business model, which
combines software value-add with high volume sales, growth and
profitability. They attest to our ability to draw on our unique
positioning, based on a broad global presence with well-established
local positions, a well-balanced product portfolio, and a culture of
profitable innovation. Over the course of the year Axalto's employees,
many of whom are shareholders in the company, took their fate in hand
and demonstrated their outstanding commercial dynamism. Their unfailing
attention to excellence in the day-to-day execution is now combined with
exemplary control of cash flows. The outlook for each of our key markets
in 2005 is excellent, fuelled by ongoing growth in worldwide demand for
digital services that are practical, personalised and secure. We are
more determined than ever to build on our leading position, and to
create even more value for our customers and our shareholders."



Axalto
(in USD FY 2003 FY 2004 Variation
million)
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Revenue 767.7 960.4 + 25%

Gross profit 238.2 315.4 + 32%
Gross margin (%) 31.0%. 32.8%.

Operating income 47.9 86.4 + 80%
Operating margin (%) 6.2%. 9.0%.

Net income 25.0 59.1 +136%
Net margin (%) 3.3%. 6.2 %.
======================================================================
Not 40.3
Average number of shares applicable million

Earnings per share (basic) - USD 1.47
----------------------------------------------------------------------



Axalto achieved a record year in 2004. Annual revenue increased by 25%
compared to 2003, to USD 960.4 million.

Within the Cards segment, which achieved revenue increase of 23%, all
major product lines contributed to the growth, led by the strength of
the Mobile Communication and Financial Services product lines and an
excellent performance by the Public Sector and Other products line that
includes in particular the patent licensing activity. The Point-of-Sales
Terminals segment achieved the strongest growth: + 52%.

Furthermore, all regions contributed to the momentum. The Europe
Middle-East Africa area continued to make the largest contribution to
revenue, at USD 536 million. It also achieved the strongest growth at
current exchange rates, + 33%, and + 21% at constant exchange rates
compared with 2003. The Americas achieved full-year growth of 29%, the
strongest increase at constant exchange rates. It now represents nearly
one-fifth of Axalto's total revenue, at USD 187 million. Asia moved up
8% to USD 237 million, representing one-quarter of Axalto's revenue for
the year.

Axalto delivered a record number of microprocessor cards in 2004. It
confirmed its position as:

-- The world's leading supplier of microprocessor cards, with a volume
growth of 37%;

-- The world's leading supplier of SIM cards, with 257 million SIM
cards sold to mobile phone operators in 2004, an increase of 38%;

-- The world's leading supplier of microprocessor banking cards, with
72 million cards sold to financial institutions during the year.

Axalto also confirmed its leading position in the Public Sector, Access
and Other product line, with a 68% increase in microprocessor cards
shipments, major new commercial successes and a significant increase in
revenue derived from patent licensing activities.

Gross profit rose 32% compared with 2003, and gross margin improved by
nearly 2 points, to 32.8% of sales, compared with 31.0% last year. This
excellent performance was achieved through the sales volumes increase in
microprocessor cards, improvement in the product mix in Mobile
Communication in all regions, the rise in revenue from the patent
licensing activity, the success of the diversified component sourcing
strategy, significant productivity improvement and strong control of
production fixed operating costs.

Operating expenses came in at USD 229 million, representing 23.8% of
full-year revenue, compared with 24.8% in 2003, an increase of 20% at
current exchange rates and 13% at constant exchange rates. Demonstrating
the Group's strict cost controls, sales and marketing expenses that
supported the strong revenue growth represented 11.4% of full-year
revenue compared with 12% in 2003. General and administrative expenses
represented 5.7% of revenue in 2004, compared with 6.4% in 2003.
Investment in research and development increased to 6.7% of revenue in
2004, from 6.4% in 2003, in line with the Group's strategy of profitable
innovation.

Full-year expenses included a charge of USD 3.5 million relating to the
continuous operating performance improvement plan, an impairment charge
of USD 2.8 million relating to certain technologies acquired from Bull
in 2001, and a write-down charge of USD 2.8 million relating to a
production plant.

Axalto's profitability improved considerably:

-- Operating income was USD 86.4 million, up 80% compared with 2003,
leading to an operating margin of 9%.

-- Net income was USD 59.1 million, i.e. a net margin of 6.2%. With an
average number of shares in circulation of 40.3 million, Axalto
delivered basic earnings of USD 1.47 per share for the year.

The strong growth in net income, well controlled capital expenditure
that remained lower than amortization despite the strong increase in
volume shipments, and strong reduction in working capital requirements
enabled Axalto to generate USD 128 million in free cash flow, after USD
68 million in 2003.

As a result, Axalto's net cash position on December 31, 2004 was USD 185
million. Available cash and short-term investments were USD 224 million
at year-end.

Average net capital employed for the year was USD 517 million. On the
basis of net income, return on capital employed (ROCE) was 11.4%. On the
basis of operating income after applying the global effective tax rate
for the Group, return on capital employed (NOPAT) was 11.7%

About Axalto

Axalto (EURONEXT:AXL)(EURONEXT:NL0000400653) is the world's leading
provider of microprocessor cards (Gartner 2004) - the key to digital
networks - and a major supplier of point-of-sale terminals. Its 4,500
employees come from 70 nationalities and serve customers in more than
100 countries, with worldwide sales reaching 3 billion smart cards to
date. The company has 25 years' experience in smart card innovation and
leads its industry in security technology and open systems.

www.axalto.com

-30-

Contact Information

  • FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
    Axalto Investor Relations
    Stephane Bisseuil, + 33 1 46 00 70 70
    M: + 33 6 86 08 64 13
    email: sbisseuil@axalto.com
    or
    Fleishman Hillard Herald
    Arnaud Malherbe, + 33 (0) 1 47 42 92 76
    M: +33 (0) 6 65 75 90 99
    email: malherba@fleishman.com
    or
    TBWA\CORPORATE
    Emlyn Korengold, + 33 1 49 09 66 51
    M: + 33 6 08 21 93 74
    email: emlyn.korengold@tbwa-corporate.com