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Edited Transcript of TTK.DE earnings conference call or presentation 19-Feb-20 1:00pm GMT

Stuttgart Mar 12, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) — Edited Transcript of Takkt AG earnings conference call or presentation Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 1:00:00pm GMT

* Felix A. Zimmermann

Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. KG, Research Division – Analyst

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the earnings call for the preliminary results of 2019 of TAKKT AG, hosted by CEO, Felix Zimmermann; and CFO, Claude Tomaszewski. (Operator Instructions)

Let me now turn the floor over to your host, Felix Zimmermann.

Felix A. Zimmermann, TAKKT AG – Chairman of the Management Board & CEO [2]

Yes. Thank you very much for the introduction. Also a welcome here from our side, means from the Investor Relations team, from Claude and also my side. And as usual, I would like to start with a kind of a quick summary and introduction into our 3 preliminary numbers for the year 2019, which we have published this morning, and then Claude will take over, give you a little bit more insights. At the very end, we are more than happy to answer your questions you might have. And also, I want to give you a kind of a first insight into the year 2020.

So let me start with a review of the year 2019 and also a review of the Q4 in 2019. As expected, I think the economic environment in Q4 was pretty challenging. The PMI, still means the purchasing managers indicators have been clearly below 50 and for the eurozone, for example, they were between 55 and 56. And in Germany, our major market, let me put this way in Europe, they have been around 42. So a clear indicator for a weak environment in Q4 2019, but again, as expected.

And therefore, I think it’s fair to say that the business developed overall in line with the assumptions we have published in October last year, and the kind of guidance for Q4 and then for the full year 2019. So even with that expected soft Q4, I think we have delivered what we have forecasted.

On the top line, certainly, I think it’s important to keep in mind that besides the difficult economic sentiment and environment, the base rate to comps in comparison to prior year have been pretty high. So we should keep in mind that in Q4 2018, Europe — TAKKT Europe grew by around 4% and TAKKT America by around 6%. And in line of those comparisons, I think the shown numbers for Q4 2019 are better to understand.

On the bottom line, we continued with our disciplined cost management, which we have started early in the year 2019, expecting that challenging environment in the second half of 2019 and looked at our cost structure and also implemented first, let me say initiatives and measurement of our TAKKT 4.0 program. And therefore, we have digested already in the year 2019 some one-off costs for those initiatives, and Claude will give you a little bit more detail about that later on. As a kind of the summary, I think the EBITDA came in overall as expected and as we have guided for.

The beauty of our business model, as you know, is the cash flow generation and the capability to generate free cash flow because the working capital is breathing quite a bit with the, let me say, cyclicality of our top line. And therefore, I think it’s a logical result. In the year 2019 we were able to generate a very high free cash flow. And that, together with a very strong balance sheet we’re kind of preconditioned for us to make our dividend proposal for Supervisory Board and propose then for discussion in our March meeting a dividend payment of EUR 1 consists out of a base dividend of EUR 0.55 and a special dividend of EUR 0.45.

That is actually a kind of a nutshell from my side about the year 2019 and what we have seen in Q4. And with that, I would like to hand over to Claude, our CFO. Thank you.


Claude Tomaszewski, TAKKT AG – CFO & Member of Management Board [3]


Thank you, Felix. Good afternoon, everybody. Very warm welcome. I would like to give you a bit more insight into the figures we have published today. Starting with quarter 4 2019, looking at the TAKKT Group, we report sales with a decrease of 4.1%. You can all look here on that slide and check what the portfolio changes and the currency fluctuations have been. And adding these figures up, we report an organic sales development of a minus 7.1%. Within that figure, we have digested roughly 2 percentage decline out of the now already well-known phasing out of a major customer in our Hubert business. Gross margin came in flat, even 10 basis points better than the previous year’s quarter. So a flat development in gross margin.

Looking at EBITDA, it is worth noting that, of course, there are at least 2 adjustments to be made here in order to understand the profit figure a bit better. The first is, of course, this year, we had a first-time application of IFRS 16, and this has had a major positive effect of around 1 percentage point on the EBITDA margin; and second, we have seen quite a bit of one-offs this year, one-off, especially expenses, also a few gains, but if we compare it with the previous year, there, we have seen a lot of one-off — net one-off gains, and I will explain also during this call this in a bit more detail.

Looking at these one-off gains and expenses, we would structure these in 4 different types of one-off expenses and gains. The first one was already mentioned by Felix talking about structural cost management measures. So we have started in the year 2019 to make our cost actually a bit lighter by taking structural measures, which means in principal layoff of people. And then a second type is we have started to prepare our organization towards TAKKT 4.0 and also here, we have digested a few one offs. Third type of one-offs is talking about adjustment in the earn-out liabilities we have so far accounted for, a reduction of earn-out liability is an income in the P&L, and an increase would be a cost to the P&L. And the fourth type is the income we have last year seen out of a sale and leaseback transaction for building in the states.

And I go back to this — and I will come back to these 4 types of different adjustments we have done here on this slide to understand the profit development a bit more in detail. When we talk about the full year in the TAKKT Group, I give a bit more insights to what has happened here in these 4 types.

Now the way we’re going to explain now the profit is that we restate the previous year’s figure due to IFRS 16, and then look at the onetime impact and then can conclude what on a like-for-like basis the development in EBITDA absolute figure has been. If we here start with the TAKKT Group fourth quarter, the restatement of the figure of the previous year’s quarter would lead to a figure of EUR 42.6 million instead of EUR 39.8 million reported, and that would mean a reduction in profit of EUR 10.5 million.

If we then look at the one-off this year, in the fourth quarter ’19 has a net impact — a negative net impact of EUR 3.7 million, this comes from a EUR 2.8 million gain out of an adjustment in the earn-out liabilities, XXLhoreca, the acquisition we have done in May. So this has been a gain in income year and then at the same time we have digested EUR 6.5 million cost in that fourth quarter, whereas last year we had a cost out of a nonadjustment, Mydisplays that was a EUR 2 million figure and EUR 4.9 million has been the income of the sale and leaseback. And taking that all into account, we can report that we have not seen a reduction of EUR 10.5 million EBITDA figure but only a EUR 4 million — EUR 3.9 million was the reduction in the group EBITDA figure. And with that reduction, we have seen in the EBITDA margin a decline adjusted of less than 1 percentage point, which is, for us, a result we can — we are happy with, not, of course, because of the top line adjustment, we have been able with a minus 7% organic sales decline to come in with a profitability, which is still something we are happy to continue with, and we can develop the business further.

Now having said this, just a word on XXL because we have reduced the earn-out liability that could, of course, raise the question that how is it going at XXL. And just to explain already here how XXL is doing, XXL has grown the business last year by roughly 30%. So we are happy with the development. They had an additional threshold for the profitability, which was 16% EBITDA margin, and they have not quite yet been able to reach that high EBITDA margin, did came in — a figure a bit more than 14%, so we have a quite year business of a bit more than 14% EBITDA margin, which is growing 30%, but this was not enough for the first threshold in the earn-out. And so, hence, why we had to then relieve that liability, again, and that’s why it was an income in the P&L of EUR 2.8 million.

With — having said this, let’s move on to TAKKT Europe. Looking at the fourth quarter, you can see here a reported sales decline of 4.3% organically, taking into account the acquisition impact and the currency effects here. Organically, we had a decline of minus 7.4%. If we look at it in different divisions, KAISER+ KRAFT came in with — and Ratioform, both businesses came in with a high single-digit negative organic growth figure whereas Newport had a mid- to high single-digit organic growth figure. So Newport is growing here, whereas KAISER+ KRAFT and Newport have been in severe decline in the fourth quarter in Europe.

Looking at the EBITDA figure, if we restate the previous year figure, we would have seen a profit figure of 40 — of 24.8, so very similar to the fourth quarter 2019. So we can conclude restated the profit figure is similar. And then if we look at the onetime expenses and onetime gains, we see a negative impact in ’19 of EUR 2.3 million, whereas the year before, it was EUR 2.0 million, so also a very similar figure. So all in all, we can conclude that the profit has gone slightly upwards, which is possibly surprising due to the effect where you have seen the top line being so negative. And the reason why we have been able here to have a similar or even slightly better adjusted profit figure is due to the fact that we have a very disciplined cost management in place and that we have prepared already for that development during the year and also then following some structural measures we have seen there, some savings, and so there has been even an improvement in adjusted margin here and a very good management in the European business.

Moving on to TAKKT America, the reported sales figure has declined by 3.9%. Organically, that was a minus of 6.6%. Taking into account that we have digested here 4% decline due to the phasing out of the major Hubert customer, and looking into the different divisions, Central and Displays2go, came in with a low single-digit organic growth figure. NBF was below the very high level, quarter 4 2018, whereas Hubert was slightly negative on a like-for-like basis, if we exclude that major customer I’ve just explained. EBITDA looks reported like a very severe decline. And if we restate the figure from last year that decline would even be a decline of EUR 9.5 million. At the same time, we have seen that income last year, EUR 4.9 million out of the sale and leaseback transaction, and this year, we have seen some one-off expenses. So if we adjust for that, the figure came in with a minus EUR 3.2 million. So roughly EUR 3 million less profit in America on a like-for-like basis compared to the year before. And that EUR 3 million accounts for a decline in the margin of 2 percentage points.

That brings me to the TAKKT Group, for the full year 2019. Here, we report a sales increase of 2.8%. Organically, we reported a sales decrease of minus 1.4%. So you can see here that the currency has helped and also the — in fact, the impact from the acquisitions we have done to bring it to a reported sales increase. Organically, we had a minus of 1.4%.

If we then look at the impact from phasing out the major Hubert customers, which was 1.5 percentage points, we can conclude here that the business has on a like-for-like basis been flat in the year 2019 in the top line.

Looking at the EBITDA profit. We reported a figure of EUR 150.1 million last year, restated after IFRS 16 that would have been a figure EUR 161.4 million. So that means that we have, on a restated basis, here a profit decline of EUR 11.2 million. At the same time, we have seen onetime expenses this year, in the year ’19 of EUR 11.2 million. We had a one-time gain of EUR 2.8 million that was already explained with the XXLhoreca earn-out liability. And then last year, we have seen that positive net impact of one-offs of EUR 2.9 million, which is again, is the sale and leaseback from the real estate transaction minus the adjustment on our Mydisplays.

So all in all, this is a figure of EUR 11.3 million, which is completely then in the adjustment compensating for the restated IFRS 16 impact so that we can conclude on a reported basis as well as on an adjusted basis that the EBITDA has kind of been flat compared to the previous year. And for the margin, that means that the adjusted margin declined by less than 0.5 percentage point as the slide says here, exactly 30 basis points we have lost in margin because the sales, of course, grew a bit. And then at the same time, we have seen here the same profit compared to previous year on a like-for-like basis.

I have said that on the TAKKT Group slide, I will give you a bit more details on the different one-offs we have seen. So if you look at the EUR 11.2 million here, one-time expenses for the year 2019, a bit more than half, EUR 5.9 million come from structural cost management. That means that in 4 out of 7 divisions, we have seen some structural changes in the year 2019, where we have tried to make the structure a bit leaner. And so we have seen the 7th payment and corresponding costs which are attached to that. And then, of course, we have seen also some savings along the year following that measure.

Second, in EUR 11.2 million there is a EUR 5.3 million cost for the preparation of TAKKT 4.0 of our huge reorganization initiative, which consists of 2 elements. One is leadership changes, where the, by far, biggest one has been also the announcement or the announcement we have already done in September. So where my peer Dirk Lessing left the business. So that’s one type of cost which sits in here. And then second, we account here for the consultancy cost around TAKKT 4.0, where we had some help from some extended partners to build that model. And so these 2 type of costs here are the EUR 5.3 million, which sits here in that part of the EUR 11.2 million in the onetime expense.

The gain of EUR 2.8 million is the explained XXLhoreca earn-out adjustment. And last year, we had, in the other direction an earn-out adjustment where we had to build a cost for Mydisplays. And fourth already mentioned now 3, 4 times is the sale and leaseback from that transaction we did in the fourth quarter ’18, where we sold a real estate building in Milwaukee in the States and so we were able here to record an income of, at that time, EUR 4.9 million. So these are the one-offs we have adjusted here. And then again, you can see, as I said, if we adjust for these figures on a proper like-for-like basis, the profit has been flat from one year to another on a reported basis as well as on the adjusted basis.

Looking — having a quick glance on the year 2019 for the 2 different segments, starting with TAKKT Europe. The sales increase has been a plus 2.6% reported. Organically, there was a decrease in the top line of 1.4%. KAISER+ KRAFT came in with a low single-digit negative number. Ratioform was slightly below previous year, and Newport reported a double-digit organic growth figure.

Looking at the profits, the restated figure for the previous year quarter would have been EUR 104.9 million. So we have increased the profit in TAKKT Europe here on a restated basis by EUR 1 million. At the same time, we had, of course, then again, some digestion of onetime expenses. And if we correct for these mentioned here, the business would have grown by EUR 2.6 million on a proper like-for-like basis, with a similar margin. So the margin was flat and the business increased the profit by EUR 2.6 million. Again, with the top line we have seen and the economic environment in Europe that’s quite a considerable result to have been able to manage it that way.

TAKKT America, sales increased by 2.9% for the full year. Organically, there was a decline of 1.4%. In that organic decline, however, we digested the 3% from the phase out of that major Hubert customer. So here, like-for-like, the business also was growing. Central and Displays2Go and NBF came in with a low single-digit organic growth rate, whereas Hubert was slightly positive on a like-for-like basis, adjusted for that major Hubert customer.

Looking at the profit, the restated figure for the previous year has been EUR 69 million. So all in all, here, a decline, looking at EBITDA up EUR 8.6 million, but then we had that huge income last year and a EUR 2 million expense in ’19, which means that the adjusted figure was slightly below previous year. It was EUR 1.6 million below previous year and the margin had a decline of 0.5 percentage points. So also here, it was almost — we were almost able to manage it on a similar profit that were not quite in America, if we look at it on a proper like-for-like basis.

Leaving profits, talking about cash and cash flow. EBITDA figure reported on a similar level. You can see here that the financial result, the financial expenses came in a bit higher and the biggest reason is, again, IFRS 16 because due to the way we have to account now the financial leases, there is an interest expense attached to it. And that was the major reason here for the increase in financial expenses on that slide. Current taxes came in a bit lower, EUR 1.7 million. And so all in all, TAKKT cash flow was on the same level as previous year. 400,000 less, but you would consider this to be, of course, similar level.

Moving on to the cash flow generation. From that similar level on TAKKT cash flow, you can see here that huge swing in change in net working capital. In the year before, we had a cash outflow of EUR 21 million. This year, a cash inflow of EUR 10 million. And that huge swing is predominantly due to the fact that we have a buildup of inventory at the end of ’18, the time before most of the tariffs kicked in, which were relevant for us from China. And of course, then in the year ’18, we see not a good top line development that we had a release of inventory. And so that’s the reason here why this huge swing happens from 1 year to another, which then means we have cash from operating activity of EUR 131 million, which is EUR 31 million more than the previous year. And if we deduct the capital expenditure, which was similar to the previous year and the proceeds from disposals, we have generated a free TAKKT cash flow of EUR 107 million, which is EUR 24 million more than the previous year and also was one factor we considered when we looked at our dividend proposal.

What have we done with the EUR 107 million free TAKKT cash flow? Well, first of all, we have financed the XXLhoreca acquisition, which was EUR 19 million. We have also financed the dividend payout in May 2019 of EUR 56 million, and we did a debt repayment during the year, financial debt repayment of EUR 30 million. Why is then the net financial liabilities here presented increasing? Well, the reason is because, again, IFRS 16, forced us to, of course, then show the — also the lease liabilities in that figure, and that was a figure of plus EUR 58 million, which is shown here now in net debt. And so all in all, the figure increased due to that accounting change. That’s also the reason why the equity ratio was slightly below previous year. Again, here, the major reason is due to IFRS 16. The presented financial liabilities are increasing and also the balance sheet in total is increasing, and so here the equity ratio is slightly below previous year, but still on a very high level of 58.5%.

It’s fair to say that I’m not unhappy from that moment on, at some point, not to talk about IFRS 16 anymore. Now we have had the full year of first-time application of IFRS 16. And after now 4 quarters and hopefully 1 or 2x more explaining the 2019 figures, I’m more than happy to move towards 2020 and that we can leave IFRS 15 behind us and not constantly have to — yes, adjust for that impact and then start analyzing the figures.

Organic sales growth in the year 2019, you see here that we have a very strong first quarter with a plus 5%, followed by the flat development in the second quarter, a slightly negative development in Q3 and then a severe decline in quarter 4, almost as we have forecasted the development that year. And hence, why already, we started in the second quarter, not only to start managing the cost base of our business, but also to talk about it towards investors, stakeholders and as interested people in the public. So, yes, we had a year where we — across 9 months, we had a lot of cost management talk and cost management discipline in order to achieve the results we were able to publish this morning.

And having said that, I’m more than happy to hand back or give back to Felix to talk about a first glance into the year 2020.


Felix A. Zimmermann, TAKKT AG – Chairman of the Management Board & CEO [4]


Yes, here we go. Thank you, Claude. And the last slide here from our side. As you know, it’s very difficult to give the first glance into the year 2020, at that’s the point in time right now. I think looking at the year or by looking at the development of the top line last year across different quarters of the previous page include, mentioned it already, I think, it gives you a kind of indication of what we’re expecting for the first quarter or at least for the first half of 2020. Q1 2019 was pretty strong, came in at plus 5% organic growth, and that’s a high comp for the Q1 2020.

So therefore, we are a little bit careful and prudent in making here operating expectations for Q1 and Q2. Even if we have seen that the economic indicators seems to have stabilized, they are still on a low level. And as we all know, every day new and additional news out there creating uncertainty. So therefore, it’s difficult to make any prediction here. But what we’re expecting for the full year 2020 is step-by-step the same improvement of the top line performance, not only because of the lower comps in comparison to prior year, but also because of the expected slight recovery of major markets or the economies of major markets where we are active in — here in Europe as well as in the U.S.

So for the year 2020, you can also expect from us that we continue to implement our new organizational structure called TAKKT 4.0. And even if we have started already in the year 2019 with the implementation, there are still a lot of things to do. And what we would like to do is we would like to give you on our analyst conference or at least at our Supervisory Board meeting in March, more details and guidance, what you can expect from us in the year 2020, when it comes to TAKKT 4.0, what we would like to do there and what kind of impact that could have on our P&L, and what we are expecting in terms of the benefits from those measurement activities.

Overall, I think it’s fair to say that the started initiatives are all on track, and we are moving along as we have budgeted and scheduled for that TAKKT 4.0 initiative.

With that, I would like to open the Q&A session and hand over to the moderator, who will certainly, I think, organize that Q&A session.


Questions and Answers


Operator [1]


(Operator Instructions) And the first question comes from Christian Salis, Hauck & Aufhäuser.


Hans Christian Salis, Hauck & Aufhäuser Privatbankiers AG, Research Division – Equity Analyst [2]


I would have one question, please. So what do you expect in terms of one-off effects in 2020 related to this new corporate structure thing? And then also on the digital agenda, could you update us maybe on the outcomes and also on the one-off effect you would expect in 2020?


Claude Tomaszewski, TAKKT AG – CFO & Member of Management Board [3]


Thanks for your question, Christian. Let me start with the digital agenda impacts in ’19 and then talking about 2020. In ’19, we have seen in the P&L, EUR 10.9 million cost out of the digital agenda. And in the year ’18, we have seen EUR 11.3 million. So the digital agenda costs have been very, very similar, and there has not been a — from one year to another a major shift here and not an impact on the P&L.

If we look into the year 2020, we expect the digital agenda cost again to be very similar and not influencing the P&L to a material degree. TAKKT 4.0, as Felix said, we are working on the one-off impacts that might have. We are not yet able to talk about this, but at the moment, we are ready, and that will happen in the next weeks. We will, of course, then, with also the guidance for the year 2020, be ready to talk about that in more detail. Does that answer your question?


Hans Christian Salis, Hauck & Aufhäuser Privatbankiers AG, Research Division – Equity Analyst [4]


Yes. I would have just another follow-up question, please. So maybe on another topic, and the coronavirus issue. So do you have any negative impact on your business? Obviously, not from the margin side, but maybe from the procurement side or maybe clients are investing less, given the high levels of uncertainty. So could you maybe please give some color on that, please?


Felix A. Zimmermann, TAKKT AG – Chairman of the Management Board & CEO [5]


Sure. We are in constant discussions with our business units about the potential impact of the coronavirus. And I think it is fair to say there are 2 areas of, let me say, kind of a risk for us. First one is, do we have any kind of customer groups that are depending on that development around the coronavirus in there. I think it’s fair to say, yes there are some customers in Europe, but also in the States that are dealing or active in businesses where the coronavirus is having a kind of the first impact that is the automotive industry where missing parts are leading to a situation where they have to stop the production. But to be honest, so far, no major impacts we can see here or we have to report here.

On the other hand, the other area of concern certainly that we might not get the product on time we have ordered in China. And there, the current level of inventory is high enough to fulfill all the orders. So there is so far no, let me say, obvious or visible bottleneck in our supply chain, not yet. We keep certainly an eye on that and are already looking for alternative suppliers just to be ready to switch also our suppliers and maybe go back to other sources where we can buy comparable products. So to put in a nutshell, overall, I think no major impact to be expected but we need to be careful and keep an eye on that.


Operator [6]


At the moment, there seem to be no further questions. (Operator Instructions) And we have a question from James Letten, Berenberg.


James Letten, Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. KG, Research Division – Analyst [7]


Just a quick one on the M&A strategy. You mentioned with the special dividend announcement last night that it’s still [any] room for acquisitions. I’m just wondering if there’s anything near term we can look towards? If you’re looking at anything particularly closely at the moment? And are you still targeting a 5% inorganic growth target each year? And just on the coronavirus, I’m wondering if you could give us the percentage exposure supply chain directly to China, that would be quite helpful.


Claude Tomaszewski, TAKKT AG – CFO & Member of Management Board [8]


So let me start with your M&A question. And yes, you’re right. Special dividends, certainly having a small impact, let me say, on our balance sheet and our ability to leverage the balance sheet. But I think it’s fair to say, even after we have paid that special dividend or the total dividend for the year 2019, we would have leveraged potential of firepower of about EUR 200 million. So we feel pretty comfortable with that. And coming to your second question, whether we have any specific M&A transaction right now in the pipeline or whether we are working on something? No, I think it’s — also here, again, fair to say that you shouldn’t expect any M&A activities in the, let me say, foreseeable or upcoming weeks. But we are talking to potential M&A candidates and the pipeline is interesting. There are good opportunities out there, but there’s nothing right now on the table where you can expect a deal in the upcoming weeks. That was, I think, the…


James Letten, Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. KG, Research Division – Analyst [9]


Just the coronavirus, on the exposure you have to China from your supply chain?


Claude Tomaszewski, TAKKT AG – CFO & Member of Management Board [10]


Yes. Yes. And I think there, you know that we have increased a little bit over the last few years our direct import from China, from Asia. And in total, out of that proportion you are seeing there, we would say that the total exposure of our, let me say, cost of goods sold or the stuff we are buying, 10% to 15% is coming from China.


Operator [11]


(Operator Instructions) There are no further questions from the audience.


Felix A. Zimmermann, TAKKT AG – Chairman of the Management Board & CEO [12]


Okay. Thank you very much for your participation. If there are follow-up questions after the call, then please do not hesitate to contact the IR team. And besides, I would like to point out that we will publish our annual report 2019 with further details on March 26. And on the same day, we will hold our analyst conference in Frankfurt, Germany. So thank you, again, for your participation. Have a good day, and talk to you soon again.


Claude Tomaszewski, TAKKT AG – CFO & Member of Management Board [13]


Yes. Thank you, and bye-bye.


Felix A. Zimmermann, TAKKT AG – Chairman of the Management Board & CEO [14]


Take care.

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