Strong growth in the second half of the year and a Current Operating Margin of 8.1%
Aubay Group’s Board of Directors which met on March 24, 2010 under Chairman Christian Aubert has approved the consolidated financial statements for financial year 2009 such as they are presented in the Appendix.
The accounts reflect two different business periods for Aubay in 2009:
– A first half of the year marked by the economic crisis during which the group chose to adopt a prudent and strict management strategy in order to protect its financial stability and rapidly adapt to the business environment.
– A second half during which the Group enjoyed an upturn in demand from its clients and posted a strong sales performance. Aubay’s utilization rate rose to 90% over the period, resulting in a spectacular recovery in its recurring operating margin to 8.1%.
France (€ 86.4 million in revenues)
The increase in investment proved particularly beneficial for the Group’s activities in France from May onwards. All in all, business held up well and only dropped 6.5%, resulting in a current operating margin of 7.4%.
The Group was able to resume its usual recruitment pace as of the month of September. Aubay’s sales drives were successful across all sectors and particularly buoyant within the Banking and Insurance industries, thanks to a two-pronged offer of services centers with a high value-added and skills centers.
International (€ 60.8 million in revenues)
In Italy, the decision by some of Aubay’s clients to downsize their investments in the last quarter of 2008 naturally had a substantial negative impact on revenues in 2009 (-21.3%). As the majority of projects were outsourced to subcontractors, their contracts were subsequently terminated as a precaution. This measure enabled Aubay to maintain a positive profitability rate of 2.5%. The last quarter saw a substantial increase in demand, making for a more attractive outlook for 2010.
Activity in Belgium and Luxembourg remained stable overall (-1.8%), and generated a satisfactory operating margin of 9.7%. The impact of the contract awarded by the European Parliament will take full effect in 2010, as will the Group’s listing as a key reference supplier for BNP/Fortis.
Activity in Spain plummeted 16.6%. However, thanks to the preventative measures taken by the Group, Aubay was once again able to safeguard its financial stability.
Weak non-recurrent expenses
Aubay’s weak non-current expenses of € 0.8 million clearly reflect its sound management strategy despite a difficult backdrop, resulting in an operating margin of 5.4%. No depreciation linked to goodwill was booked over the period.
Major reduction in net debt
On December 31, 2009, Aubay’s net debt amounted to € 1.3 million, down an impressive € 5.3 million on December 31, 2008. It is essentially made up of the € 10.2 million booked to liabilities in lieu of the Group’s OCEANE debenture bond. Cash flow held up well to stand at € 7.4 million.
Aubay’s financial expenses consist primarily of the interest on the Group’s OCEANE debenture bond which dropped € 0.6 million following its restatement under IFRS on the company’s balance sheet. The strong decrease in returns on cash investments did not allow for a reduction in net expenses.
Proposed dividend of € 0.13
In light of the Group’s results, the Board of Directors is to propose the payment of a dividend of € 0.13 for financial year 2009 at the General Meeting of Shareholders (vs. € 0.12 for 2008).
The start to 2010 has confirmed the improvement in activity seen in the second half of 2009. Aubay has a strong utilization rate for the beginning of the year and its headcount is up on December 31, 2009.
The Group has identified a number of opportunities amongst its client base and visibility is improving. Thanks to its clear positioning as a proximity provider of value-added services and its effective management during the crisis, Aubay has been able to quickly capitalize on the uptick in the economic climate.
The Group has decided to strengthen its sales teams and increase its recruitment potential in order to focus on its organic growth in the months to come. It forecasts a purely organic growth rate of 5 to 7% in financial year 2010 and is targeting an improvement in profitability.
Aubay will publish its revenues for the first quarter of 2010 on May 11, 2010 after the close of trading.