(Boursier.com) — Akwell climbed by more than 3% to 18.70 euros on Friday, while the group managed to achieve its objective of business growth, with a turnover published down -1.6%, but up by +2.8% at constant scope and exchange rates. Faced with low visibility and highly volatile manufacturers’ production levels, the group’s ability to adapt and its traditionally cautious inventory management enabled it to meet customer demand.
The disrupted production conditions as well as the partial and delayed repercussions of the purchase price increases logically weighed on the group’s cost structure in 2021. The gross operating surplus (EBITDA) is down -33 .2%, to 117.1 ME.
Current operating profit reached E75.2 million, down -33.8%, as anticipated when the annual revenue was published, and representing a current operating margin of 8.2%, comparable to the results before crisis. This level of profitability continues to position Akwel among the most successful European automotive suppliers.
The recognition of an impairment loss of 3.7 ME on the Swedish activities led to an operating profit of 70.4 ME, and after a tax charge down to 16.3 ME, the net profit attributable to the group to 51.2 ME (85.5 ME in 2020), i.e. a net margin of 5.5% of turnover.
Given the change in the group’s operating performance, its cash flow fell to €92.5 million. With WCR up by 6.8 ME and 30 ME in investments made over the financial year, AKWEL generated free cash flow of 57.1 ME in 2021, leading to positive net cash of 98 .2 ME (including rental obligations) and gross cash of 167.4 ME at the end of 2020, compared to 175.1 ME at the end of 2020.
The distribution of a dividend maintained at €0.45 per share for the 2021 financial year will be proposed at the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders to be held on Wednesday May 25, 2022.
While the global automotive market is expected to grow in 2022, production uncertainties remain high with tensions that will continue on raw materials and components and an inflationary global environment reinforced by the current geopolitical situation. In this context, Akwel, which has no direct exposure to the Ukraine-Russia zone, anticipates a moderate increase in its activity, with profitability probably still penalized by the lack of visibility on customer needs, by prices of upward trend in purchases, and a difficulty in rapidly passing on the sharp rises in energy and transport costs.
Backed by a particularly robust financial situation, the group will once again increase its investments from 2022 to optimize the competitiveness of its sites, and give itself the means to best exploit all the opportunities identified in terms of product potential in the framework of the transition from internal combustion engines to electric and hydrogen.
“Despite a difficult environment, Akwel manages to record one of the best performances in its sector and sees its profitability fall back only to its pre-crisis levels (MOC 2019 8.4%)” underlines Portzamparc who confirms his scenario at first glance and pending the analyst meeting scheduled for today, while adjusting its price target from 29 to 27.9 euros”.