PRYSMIAN S.P.A. FY 2016 RESULTS

ADJ. EBITDA TARGET ACHIEVED IN HIGH-END OF GUIDANCE RANGE ADJ EBITDA €711M (+14.1%), HIGHEST EVER INCREASED MARGINS IN ALL BUSINESSES (EXCEPT FOR O&G)

Milan, Italy   -   03/01/2017

 
PRYSMIAN S.P.A. FY 2016 RESULTS
 

  • Adj. EBITDA target achieved in high-end of guidance range
  • Adj EBITDA €711M (+14.1%), highest ever
  • increased margins in all businesses (except for O&G)
  • Surge in net profit attributable to owners of the parent to €246M (+15.0%)
  • Strong growth by high-tech businesses: Energy Projects +18.5%; Telecom +8.5%
  • Net Financial Position improves to €537M (€750M at end of 2015)
  • Proposed dividend €0.43 per share

Drivers of competitiveness: technological innovation, new assets and capabilities for project execution, optimisation of manufacturing footprint and operational excellence, business sustainability

Milan, 1/3/2017. The Board of Directors of Prysmian S.p.A. has examined today the Company's consolidated financial statements and separate financial statements for 2016[1].

 

We have closed 2016 on a note of profitability, with Adj EBITDA at €711 million, the highest ever in the company’s history, commented Valerio Battista, CEO of Prysmian Group. Excellent sales performance in higher value-added businesses has been reflected in a significant improvement in profitability, also fostered by our focus on operational efficiency and manufacturing footprint optimisation. The technological innovations introduced by our Energy Projects business, like the new 600 kV P-Laser cable and the 700 kV PPL cable, represent milestones for the entire industry. With a view to providing a turn-key service, significant progress has also been made in developing our project engineering and execution capabilities, also thanks to expansion of our fleet of cable-laying vessels. Driving the Telecom business are our renewed competitiveness in fibre manufacturing and our creation of manufacturing centres of excellence, allowing the business to make the most of opportunities in a growing market. The outlook remains positive, both for submarine cables and systems, where we aim to win new power interconnection and offshore wind farm projects, and for the Telecom business, where optical cable demand remains high. Strong sales performance and improved profitability have helped to further strengthen the financial structure, with a better net financial position than expected, said Battista in conclusion.

[1]  The statutory audit of the consolidated financial statements and separate financial statements had not yet been completed as at today's date.

 

FINANCIAL RESULTS

Group Sales amounted to €7,567 million, posting organic growth of +1.0% assuming the same group perimeter and excluding metal price and exchange rate effects. The most significant contribution came from positive performances by the Energy Projects segment, with the execution of important submarine connection projects in the portfolio, and by the Telecom segment, which benefited from the continued upward trend in demand for optical cables. Energy & Infrastructure sales were down, affected by the decline in demand for building wires and slower growth in Power Distribution. The Industrial & Network Components segment reported a weak performance, as a result of refocusing the sales mix and of the slowdown in wind business in China. In contrast the Elevators business recorded significant increases. Sales continued to decline for the Oil & Gas business, in a market context suffering from the drop in oil prices which in turn is affecting extraction activities.

Adjusted EBITDA[1] was sharply up, reaching €711 million (+14.1%), the highest ever since the company’s birth. The improvement in margins was across all businesses, with the sole exception of Oil & Gas, with Adjusted EBITDA representing 9.4% of sales (8.5% in 2015). Profitability has also benefited from a concentration on operational and organisational efficiency, optimisation of manufacturing footprint and a favourable sales mix particularly focused on Energy Projects and Telecom.

EBITDA[2] amounted to €645 million (+3.6% on 2015), including net expenses for business reorganisation, net non-recurring expenses and other net non-operating expenses totalling €66 million (€1 million in 2015).

Group Operating Income came to €447 million (+11.5% on 2015).

Net Finance Costs came to €79 million, reporting a decrease from €89 million in 2015, thanks to lower borrowing costs as a result of the improved financial structure.

Net Profit amounted to €262 million, an improvement of +22.4% on 2015 (of which €246 million attributable to owners of the parent).

Net Financial Position amounted to €537 million at the end of December 2016, marking a significant improvement from €750 million at the end of 2015. Cash flow from operating activities, net of acquisitions and disposals in 2016, would have been €331 million. The principal factors influencing the year-end balance were:

  • €614 million in cash flow provided by operating activities (before changes in net working capital)
  • €67 million in reductions in net working capital
  • €76 million in tax payments
  • €10 million in dividends received from investments
  • €31 million in net cash inflow for disposals and acquisition
  • €227 million in net operating capital expenditure of which €11 million to acquire the assets of Shen Huan Cable in China
  • €68 million in net payments of finance costs
  • €102 million in dividend payouts

[1] Adjusted EBITDA is defined as EBITDA, as defined in the following note, before income and expense for business reorganisation, before non-recurring items and before other non-operating income and expense.

[2] EBITDA is defined as earnings/(loss) for the year, before the fair value change in metal derivatives and in other fair value items, amortisation, depreciation and impairment, finance costs and income, dividends from other companies and taxes.

 

LINKING THE FUTURE: DEVELOPMENT OF THE GROWTH STRATEGY

Innovation for smart and sustainable electricity grids and next-generation broadband networks

Resources employed in R&D have amounted to around €84 million in costs in 2016, in line with 2015. Prysmian aims to position itself as an energy revolution protagonist, with the development of technologies for more effective, efficient and sustainable electricity networks. Its major achievements include the launch of the new P-Laser 600 kV cable, which allows increased power transmission capacity at a cost of up to 10% less (per MW transmitted), and the introduction of 600 HVDC kV XLPE and 700 kV PPL cables, which can boost transmission capacity by up to 15%. In the field of inter-array connections for offshore wind farms, the Group launched the new 66 kV cable, which allows significant savings in wind farm construction and operation costs. The new Flextube, the optical cable with the highest density in the world with more than 2,000 fibres, represents a major innovation for broadband networks. Work has continued on developing Pry-Cam network monitoring technologies, which are meeting with growing approval: during 2016 a contract was signed with National Grid for online monitoring of its UK networks.

Fast Forward Operations: efficiency of manufacturing footprint and new centres of technological excellence

A total of €222 million, excluding the acquisition of the Shen Huan Cable assets, was invested in 2016 (€210 million in 2015). With Fast Forward Operations, the Group has embarked on a major project to improve the competitiveness of its industrial footprint. The new strategy focuses on a continuous quest for production efficiency in lower value-added sectors and on the creation of centres of excellence with high technological expertise dedicated to the higher value-added business segments. The goal is to bring the supply chain ever closer to the customer, by improving responsiveness to changing market conditions. The process of regaining efficiency in the manufacturing footprint has led to the closure of six smaller factories, whose activities have been relocated and concentrated in other more competitive factories, to the strengthening of production capabilities at the two Submarine cable factories in Pikkala (Finland) and Arco Felice (Italy), to the recouping of fibre manufacturing competitiveness at the factories in Battipaglia (Italy) and Douvrin (France), and to the creation of important centres of excellence for optical cable manufacturing in Slatina (Romania) and for data cables in Presov (Slovakia).

People: 50% of Prysmian employees are also shareholders

The Prysmian Group stands out for the innovative people development policies it has adopted. In the course of 2016 it continued to operate several talent development and recruiting programmes for both employees and potential candidates: over 1,000 employees have passed through the doors of the Prysmian Group Academy and the new Manufacturing Academy; the Graduate Program, now in its sixth year, has resulted in the recruitment of 50 new high-potential resources; the year saw the launch of a new edition of the Make it recruitment programme to recruit 50 engineers and technicians, and the launch of the new Sell It programme for 50 young high-potential sales staff, for a total of some 150 new young recruits to the Group. The YES share purchase plan for employees also continued, with the number of employee-shareholders climbing to almost 9,000, representing over 50% of those entitled.

Business sustainability, a strategic driver of growth

The total economic value generated by the Group amounted to €1,710 million in 2016, up 8% on 2015. The Group has continued to devote ever more attention to Corporate Social Responsibility, with the adoption of the new SDG Sustainable Development Goals issued by the UN, the definition of a broad set of KPIs covering the three dimensions (namely economic, environmental and social), the adoption of the new Sustainability Policy and Human Rights Policy, the improved disclosure and reporting system (with the number of GRI indicators included in its Sustainability Report rising to more than 70) and the implementation of stakeholder engagement initiatives. Particular attention has been paid to the position in sustainability indexes, with the Group's scoring in the DJSI improving to 76 points (70 points in 2015).

External growth: acquisitions of Shen Huan Cable in China and Corning copper data cables in Germany

In 2016, the Group acquired the assets of Shen Huan Cable in China, with the aim of pursuing an independent growth strategy in this country, and the copper data cables business of Corning in Germany. The Group also moved ahead with the integration of acquisitions made in the past, namely Gulf Coast Downhole Technologies (GCDT) in the US and Oman Cables Industry.

ENERGY PROJECTS OPERATING SEGMENT PERFORMANCE AND RESULTS

  • Record performance by Submarine cables
  • Sound growth for High Voltage underground
  • Positive outlook for 2017 with new projects expected

 

Energy Projects sales to third parties reached €1,634 million in 2016, posting organic growth of +18.5% on. 2015. Profitability also improved significantly, with Adjusted EBITDA climbing to €260 million (+17.6% on 2015) thanks to constant focus on operational efficiency and better project execution capabilities.

Sales of Submarine Cables and Systems for power transmission recorded double-digit growth, driven by progress in the completion of numerous projects already in the order book, such as the Western Link, Dardanelles Strait, Greece-Cyclades, and the Panay and Cebu Negros interconnections and connections for major offshore wind farms like Dolwin3 and 50Hertz in Germany. The submarine projects order book stood at €2,050 million at 31 December 2016, with a positive outlook for 2017 both for interconnections and for offshore wind farm connections. In particular, the Group will be able to leverage on its upgraded installation assets, with a fleet that can now count on 3 cable-laying vessels (the new barge Ulisse started operations in July 2016), and on the development of more and more turnkey-oriented capabilities, ranging from project engineering to cable design and manufacture and the monitoring of network operation and efficiency using technology developed by Prysmian Electronics.

Sales of High Voltage Underground power transmission cables grew, reporting a slowdown only in the last quarter due to the phasing of certain projects. In particular, the biggest impetus came from North America and APAC, while the situation was less brilliant in Europe, except for France, and in Russia, due to political uncertainties. In China the Group has opted to pursue an independent growth strategy in the High Voltage sector, after divesting the participation in Baosheng HV Cable JV and acquiring the assets of Shen Huan Cable. The order book for High Voltage Underground cables stood at €350 million at 31 December 2016.

ENERGY PRODUCTS OPERATING SEGMENT PERFORMANCE AND RESULTS

  • Favourable business mix and OCI consolidation have helped improve margins
  • excluding OCI, Trade & Installers sales down and Power Distribution stable
  • Industrial: troubled performance for Specialties & OEM, with sharp drop by Renewables; Elevators and Network Components positive

 

Energy Products sales to third parties amounted to €4,469 million, posting an organic decline of -3.6%, primarily attributable to challenging conditions on the South American market. Adjusted EBITDA amounted to €280 million (+10.9% on 2015).

Energy & Infrastructure

Energy & Infrastructure sales to third parties amounted to €3,016 million (of which €537 million contributed by Oman Cables Industry), with an underlying change of -3.1% on 2015. Adjusted EBITDA climbed to €154 million (of which €37 million from the additional contribution of fully consolidating OCI), up +20.1% on 2015 (with the Adjusted EBITDA margin on sales at 5.1% vs 4.6%).

The results for Trade & Installers were adversely affected by the challenging conditions on the South American market and by the slowdown in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. In contrast, positive performances were recorded in Northern Europe and Australia. Constant attention to optimisation of the manufacturing footprint and the favourable sales mix, combined with the first-time consolidation of OCI, sustained margins during the year. The building wires market will see the European CPR (Construction Products Regulation) come into force in July 2017, imposing higher standards of safety and quality. This legislation could represent an important opportunity for the Group, which is positioned at the high-end of the market and has launched a major sales and marketing campaign to underline the competitiveness of its offer.

Power Distribution reported a stable underlying sales trend, with a fourth-quarter slowdown in line with expectations. Positive performances were recorded in North America and APAC, while the scenario remained weak in South America and phasing out by utilities investments caused business to decline in Germany. In terms of profitability, the continued focus on production efficiency and a favourable country mix supported Adj.EBITDA margins. The Group is closely monitoring market developments towards ever more efficient and sustainable electricity networks, and is offering its customers innovative technologies such as high-performance P-Laser cable and the network monitoring systems developed by Prysmian Electronics.

Industrial & Network Components

Industrial & Network Components sales to third parties amounted to €1,343 million, posting negative organic growth of -4.6%, mainly due to the instability of investment demand in certain industrial sectors linked to the capital goods market. Profitability took a positive turn, with Adjusted EBITDA improving to €127 million from €122 million in 2015, with margins rising to 9.5% from 8.1% in 2015, thanks to a favourable business mix.

Specialties & OEM had a troubled performance, mainly due to the selective commercial policies applied to renewables (particularly in China) and to poor performance by mining, nuclear and railway, as partially offset by good performance in the defence and marine applications. The Elevators business enjoyed significant growth thanks to excellent sales performance in North America and EMEA, partially offset by a softening trend in China, and to development of accessories business and after-market services which had a positive impact on profitability. The Automotive business reported stable volumes, accompanied by a good increase in Adj.EBITDA margins, helped by the improved manufacturing footprint and favourable product mix. The Network Components business recorded a good performance for High Voltage products, offset by soft demand for Medium and Low Voltage accessories.

OIL & GAS

  • Drop in oil prices impacts Oil & Gas sales; signs of stabilisation in Q4
  • Focus on optimising manufacturing footprint and supply chain efficiency
  • Consolidation of Gulf Coast supports Down Hole Technology

The performance of the Oil & Gas segment has been hit hard by the oil price trend, which is affecting investment decisions by the industry's players. Sales to third parties came to €300 million, posting negative organic growth of -29.3% on 2015, despite signs of stabilisation in the fourth quarter of the year, particularly in the Core Oil & Gas business. Adjusted EBITDA amounted to €8 million, down from €16 million in 2015 (-49.0%), with a margin on sales of 2.7% (3.8% in 2015).

In the Core Oil & Gas Cables business, the collapse in demand particularly concerned drilling activities, offshore projects and the ESP (Electrical Submergible Pumps) segment, albeit reporting a stabilisation in the fourth quarter. With the aim of stemming the erosion of margins, the Group remains strongly focused on optimising its manufacturing footprint and on achieving cost efficiencies in the supply chain.

In the SURF business (Subsea Umbilicals Risers and Flowlines), the performance of Umbilicals evolved in line with expectations, reflecting the slowdown in orders from Petrobras in Brazil. The Downhole Technology business reported a slight slowdown in sales and profitability in North America, as partially offset by the consolidation of Gulf Coast Downhole Technologies, a company acquired in the second half of 2015.

TELECOM OPERATING SEGMENT PERFORMANCE AND RESULTS

  • Continued growth in demand for optical cables
  • Profitability improves again
  • Positive performance also for Multimedia Solutions

 

Sales of Telecom cables and systems to third parties amounted to €1,164 million, with organic growth of +8.5% driven by healthy demand for optical fibre cables and by strong demand for copper cables in Australia. Adjusted EBITDA climbed to €163 million, posting an increase of +22.0% on 2015 and an improvement in margin to 14.0% from 12.1% in 2015.

In the Telecom Solutions business, the positive performance of optical cables and fibre reported another acceleration in the fourth quarter with excellent results in North America, France and Eastern Europe. Of particular note is how the Group managed in Brazil to offset the decline in optical cable volumes by repositioning its offer to OPGW cables for overhead networks. Demand for copper cables was lively in Australia, where the Group supports the technological choices of its customer National Broadband Network. The Group's competitiveness has benefited from the investments made to improve fibre manufacturing efficiency and to create new centres of manufacturing excellence.

Multimedia Solutions posted a positive performance in Europe, also thanks to the production capacity enlargement for copper data transmission cables. Performance in South America was also good.

The high value–added business of optical connectivity accessories had positive results, fostered by the development of new FTTx networks (providing last mile broadband) in Europe (in particular in France, Spain and the Netherlands).     

BUSINESS OUTLOOK

The macroeconomic environment in 2016 saw modest but mixed growth for Europe's major economies, partially eroded by the uncertainty generated by the outcomes of referenda held in the United Kingdom (23 June 2016) and Italy (4 December 2016). In the United States growth was moderate although less intense than in 2015. Among the main emerging economies, Russia experienced a progressive stabilisation after almost two years of crisis, while the economic and political situation in Brazil has remained challenging, despite a slight improvement in the latter part of the year. After a slow start, the Chinese economy benefited from the government's economic stimulus package for the housing market and from growing investments in infrastructure, with government growth targets achieved thanks to better-than-expected recovery in the second half of the year.

In such a context, the Group's expectation for FY 2017 is that demand in the cyclical businesses of building wires and medium voltage cables for utilities will be in line with the previous year, with a general stabilisation in prices. With the Energy Projects segment seeing a growing market, the Prysmian Group expects to consolidate its market leadership and improve profitability in the Submarine cables business, while it expects a slight decline in the High Voltage underground business especially due to phasing of its manufacturing footprint in China. In the Oil & Gas segment, the gradual strengthening of oil prices, if confirmed in 2017, should lead to a slight recovery in cable demand in the second part of the year. In the Telecom segment, the underlying growth in the Group's turnover is expected to remain strong in 2017, thanks to growth in the North American and European markets, while a gradual stabilisation in volumes is expected in Australia.

In addition, assuming exchange rates remain at the same level as at the time of preparing the present document, the effect of translating the results of other group companies into the reporting currency would not have a material impact on the Group's 2017 operating income.

Lastly, the Prysmian Group is continuing in 2017 to rationalise its activities with the objective of achieving projected cost efficiencies and greater competitiveness in all areas of its business.

 

OTHER RESOLUTIONS BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Notice of Ordinary and Extraordinary General Meeting

The Board of Directors has given the Chairman of the Board of Directors and the Chief Executive Officer several authority to perform all the formalities to convene an Ordinary and Extraordinary General Meeting for Wednesday, 12 April 2017, in single call.

Based on the results for 2016, the Board of Directors will recommend to the forthcoming AGM that a dividend of €0.43 per share be declared.

If approved, the dividend will be paid out from 26 April 2017, record date 25 April 2017 and ex-div date 24 April 2017.

Share buy-back programme

The Board of Directors has decided to request the forthcoming General Meeting for authorisation to initiate a programme for the buy-back and disposal of treasury shares, after revoking the previous resolution adopted at the General Meeting on 13 April 2016.

The programme will provide the opportunity to purchase, on one or more occasions, a number of shares whose total cannot exceed 10% of share capital, taking account of treasury shares already purchased in execution of previous shareholder resolutions and not yet disposed of. Purchases may not exceed the amount of available reserves reported in the most recently approved annual financial statements. The programme will last for a maximum of 18 months commencing from the date of approval by the shareholders in AGM.

The shareholders' approval is being requested:

  • to provide the Company with a portfolio of treasury shares (a so-called stock of shares), including those already held by the Company, that can be used for any extraordinary corporate actions (for example, mergers, demergers, purchases of equity investments);
  • in order to use the treasury shares purchased to service the exercise of rights arising from convertible debt instruments or instruments exchangeable with financial instruments issued by the Company, its subsidiaries or by third parties (for example, in takeovers bids and/or stock swaps);
  • to use treasury shares to satisfy share-based incentive plans or share purchase plans reserved for directors and/or employees of the Prysmian Group;
  • to allow efficient management of the Company's capital, by creating an investment opportunity, also for its available liquidity.

Treasury shares will be bought back and sold in accordance with applicable laws and regulations:

  1. at a minimum price no more than 10% below the stock's official price reported in the trading session on the day before carrying out each individual transaction;
  2. at a maximum price no more than 10% above the stock's official price reported in the trading session on the day before carrying out each individual transaction.

On 27 February 2017, the date of the latest published disclosure regarding the Company's existing share buyback programme, Prysmian S.p.A. directly and indirectly held 3,706,228 treasury shares as of 24 February 2017. This number is subject to possible daily increases under the aforementioned share buyback programme.

The legally required documentation will be made available to shareholders and the public at the locations and within the deadlines required by applicable regulations.

Corporate bonds

The convertible bond, known as €300,000,000 1.25 per cent. Equity Linked Bonds due 2018, maturing on 8 March 2018 and reserved for institutional investors, will reach maturity within eighteen months of the end of 2016.

An equity-linked five-year zero-coupon bond for a total nominal amount of €500 million was placed with institutional investors on 12 January 2017. The initial conversion price of the bonds has been set at Euro 34.2949, which equates to a 41.25% premium on the average share trading price.

The principal objectives of the bond issue are:

-       To provide adequate financial flexibility to pursue the company's potential external growth opportunities;

-       To finance the purchase of treasury shares, through the buyback programme launched at the placement's close;

-       To increase the efficiency of the Group's financial structure;

On the same date, the Board of Directors approved the adoption of an ordinary share buyback programme for an aggregate amount of up to €125 million and terminating by 30 September 2017. The purpose of the programme is to create a stock of shares in support of any extraordinary corporate actions involving stock swaps and that can also serve the exercise of any conversion rights under the bonds.

Sustainability Report 2016

The Board of Directors has approved the Sustainability Report 2016 for the year ending 31 December 2016. The Prysmian Group's Sustainability Report, now in its sixth edition, is an annual document of communication with the Group's stakeholders with regard to its performance in the economic, social and environmental spheres. The Report describes Prysmian's commitment to creating value, not only for the business but also for stakeholders.

The Sustainability Report has been prepared in compliance with the G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, in accordance with the Core option which ensures a broad and effective level of reporting.

The GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines G4 require the Sustainability Report to contain information on topics deemed to be material, meaning those that have a critical impact for the organisation in economic, environmental and social terms and which significantly influence the judgements and decisions of stakeholders.

The Prysmian Group's Annual Report at 31 December 2016, approved by the Board of Directors today, will be available to the public from the Company's registered office in Via Chiese 6, Milan and from Borsa Italiana S.p.A. by 22 March 2017. It will also be available on the corporate website at www.prysmiangroup.com and in the authorised central storage mechanism used by the company at www.emarketstorage.com. The present document may contain forward-looking statements relating to future events and future operating, economic and financial results of the Prysmian Group. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainty because they depend on the occurrence of future events and circumstances. Therefore, actual future results may differ materially from what is expressed in forward-looking statements for a variety of factors.

The managers responsible for preparing corporate accounting documents (Carlo Soprano and Andreas Bott) hereby declare, pursuant to art. 154-bis par. 2 of Italy's Unified Financial Act, that the accounting information contained in this press release corresponds to the underlying documents, accounting books and records.

The results at 31 December 2016 will be presented to the financial community during a conference call to be held today at 18:00 CET, a recording of which will be subsequently made available on the Group's website: www.prysmiangroup.com.

The documentation used during the presentation will be available today in the Investor Relations section of the Prysmian website at www.prysmiangroup.com, and can be viewed on the Borsa Italiana website www.borsaitaliana.it and in the central storage mechanism for regulated information at www.emarketstorage.com.

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Prysmian Group

Prysmian Group is world leader in the energy and telecom cables and systems industry. With nearly 140 years of experience, sales of over €7.5 billion in 2016, 21,000 employees across 50 countries and 82 plants, the Group is strongly positioned in high-tech markets and offers the widest possible range of products, services, technologies and know-how. It operates in the businesses of underground and submarine cables and systems for power transmission and distribution, of special cables for applications in many different industries and of medium and low voltage cables for the construction and infrastructure sectors. For the telecommunications industry, the Group manufactures cables and accessories for voice, video and data transmission, offering a comprehensive range of optical fibres, optical and copper cables and connectivity systems. Prysmian is a public company, listed on the Italian Stock Exchange in the FTSE MIB index.