2019 annual results of Eiffage group
The Board of Directors of Eiffage met on Feb. 27 to approve the 2019 annual accounts, which will be submitted at the next shareholders general meeting on 22 April 2020.
Following another upbeat performance in the fourth quarter (+6.3%, of which +6.1% for Contracting and +7.6% for Concessions), consolidated sales in the year reached more than €18.1bn, up by 9.4% on a reported basis and by 7.7% like-for-like (lfl).
Sales contributed by Contracting activity reached nearly €15.2 bn, increased by 10.8% (+8.8% lfl), fuelled by a still buoyant market in France (up by 11.1% on a reported basis and by 9.7% lfl) and the dynamism of the Group’s European operations (up 13.5%). Sales generated outside France climbed to more than €4.6bn (up by 10.2% on a reported basis and by 6.8% lfl).
In Construction, sales increased by 6.5% to €4.26bn. Growth reached 7.8% in France and 2.6% in Europe outside France. In property development, reservations for new housing units passed the 5,000 mark for the first time, increasing to 5,095 (up from 4,694 a year before).
In Infrastructures, sales increased by 16.3% to €6.44bn. There was an overall increase of 20.6% in France, growth reaching 10.8% for Road Construction, 37.1% for Civil Engineering (buoyed by the ramping up of work on the Grand Paris Express) and 11.4% for Metal. The division also pressed ahead with the development of its international activities, growth reaching 8.3% lfl.
In Energy Systems, sales increased by 7.7% to €4.48bn, growth reaching 3.0% in France, while for international activities it reached 19.3% on a reported basis and 14.2% lfl.
At Concessions, motorway traffic increased overall (+1.1% for the APRR network, +4.2% for the A65 motorway, -0.3% for the Millau viaduct and +28.0% for the Autoroute de l’Avenir in Senegal), favourably impacted in the fourth quarter by the disruption of rail services in France, bearing in mind that social unrest had had a negative impact on motorway traffic in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The total revenue contributed by Concessions increased by 2.9% to almost €3bn.
Finally, 2019 was marked by a series of successes that have strengthened and extended the duration of the concessions portfolio in France. In the airport sector, the Group acquired 49.99% and the control interest of Toulouse airport and was awarded, in consortium, the Lille airport concession. In the motorway sector, the consortium formed by Eiffage and APRR was awarded the concession for the Route Centre-Europe Atlantique (RCEA) project. The Group also signed an agreement that enables it to increase, indirectly, its stakes in APRR and ADELAC by 2%.
The Lille airport and RCEA concessions require significant investments on the part of the Group’s Contracting activities, the intention being for local firms to be involved in these projects. The related works contracts have not yet been added to the order book.
In February 2020, the Group was awarded the PPP consortium for the Biebelried-Fürth/Erlangen section of the A3 motorway in Germany.
Operating profit on ordinary activities came to €2,005m, up 8.0%.
In Construction, the operating margin declined by 20 bp to 3.7%. In Infrastructures, the operating margin rose sharply to 2.9%, up from 2.7% in 2018, buoyed by the strong growth recorded by Civil Engineering and Road Construction in France. The Energy Systems division recorded another good operating performance in France as well as abroad, the operating margin improving to 4.6% in 2019, up from 4.4% in 2018.There follows that the operating margin for Contracting reached 3.6%, level with 2018.
The contribution to consolidated operating profit on ordinary activities increased to €549m, from €488m in 2018 (representing an increase of 12.5% on a 10.8% increase in sales).
In Concessions, the operating margin increased to 49.7% (48.8% in 2018), with APRR recording another improvement in its Ebitda margin to 74.4% (73.8% in 2018).
Net finance costs declined for the fifth consecutive year, down to €265m, which represents a decrease of 28% in 2019 alone, reflecting both the expiration in June 2018 of the Eiffage interest rate swaps and the bond refinancing by APRR in 2018 and 2019.This reduction in finance costs, along with the further improvement in operating performances, paved the way for a 15.3% increase in net profit Group share to €725m (up from €629m in 2018).
Income tax expense reached €560m (€461m in 2018) and the effective tax rate was of 33.7% (32.5% in 2018).
Free cash flow increased to €1.3bn (€1bn in 2018). It is stated after still significant development investments of €537m in Concessions due to the ramping up of major infrastructure investments by APRR and AREA under their management contracts and further to the motorway investment plans.
In Concessions, Eiffage acquired a 49.99% shareholding in the Toulouse-Blagnac airport company for €502m, which represents the bulk of the spending on external growth for the year.
After taking into account capital transactions and dividend payments, net debt – excluding IFRS 16 debt and the fair value of CNA debt and of swaps – amounted to €10.2bn at 31 December 2019, stable compared with the year before, the free cash flow generated having funded growth investments in 2019.
The Group’s liquidity amounted to €4.6bn at 31 December 2019 (€3.4bn at 31 December 2018). It consists of available net cash of €2.6bn and an undrawn credit line that has been renewed in 2019 and increased to €2bn (from €1bn previously).
APRR has successfully placed two new bonds of €0.5bn each, the first on 10 January 2019 at 9 years (maturing in January 2028) and offering a 1.25% coupon, the second on 10 January 2020 at 3 years (maturing in January 2023) and offering a 0% coupon.
The Group finalised the refinancing of Eiffage’s credit line, which was increased to €2bn, in May 2019, and of the APRR and Eiffarie credit lines for an amount of €3.1bn, in February 2020. Signed for a period of five years with two possible one-year extensions, the credit margin on these lines is more favourable than it was for the previous credit lines. Their cost features a variable component that will depend on the Group’s performances with regards to health and safety and carbon footprint. With this innovative mechanism, which is consistent with the Group’s undertakings in these two areas, Eiffage is one of the very first companies in the sector to integrate extra financial criteria into its financial documentation on such an important scale (€5.1bn).
The Group continued to deploy its low-carbon strategy by running an awareness and training campaign for employees on the front line. Eiffage included a certain number of industrial partners in this approach through its Sekoya platform created especially for low-carbon materials and processes. The first call for solutions attracted 57 low-carbon proposals in France, from which five winners were chosen.
Eiffage will publish its first carbon climate report in April 2020 (TCFD recommendations).
Shareholders general meeting – Dividend
Eiffage SA recorded a net profit of €590m.
At the shareholders general meeting convened on 22 April 2020, the Board of Directors will propose distributing a dividend of €2.80 per share, which represents an increase of 16.7%. The coupon would be detached on 18 May 2020, with payment of the dividend taking place on 20 May 2020 on the 98,000,000 shares making up the share capital on 26 February 2020 as well as on the shares to be issued in connection with the capital increase reserved for employees decided by the Board of Directors on 26 February 2020.
In accordance with Afep-Medef recommendations, information about the ex post and ex ante remuneration of the Eiffage Chairman and CEO for the 2019-2021 period has been disclosed on the www.eiffage.com website.
The Ordinary and Extraordinary General Meeting will be held at 10.00 a.m. on 22 April 2020 in Salle Wagram, 39-41 Avenue de Wagram, 75017 Paris, France.
Given the major developments in Concessions and the solid €14.2bn order book in Contracting, Eiffage expects further growth in its activity and its results in 2020. Nonetheless, growth will be more moderate than in 2019 given that the increase in the Contracting order book was not as strong in 2019 (+2%) as the year before (+15%).
A more detailed presentation of the financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2019, in French and English, is available on the company’s website: www.eiffage.com