Neckarsulm, 19 March 2021 – Despite the difficult general economic conditions in the financial year 2020, Bechtle AG set new records. Revenue grew 8.3 per cent to €5,819.2 million. Earnings before taxes (EBT) increased 14.6 per cent to €270.7 million. The EBT margin increased from 4.4 per cent in the previous year to 4.7 per cent. At the same time, year-end liquidity and cash flow recorded new records. Bechtle also reported positive developments with respect to staff numbers: As of 31 December, 12,180 people were employed at Bechtle, which is 693 more than in the previous year.
Organic sales growth amounted to 7.1 per cent. One of the key drivers was the public sector. Revenues in this customer segment exceeded the €2 billion mark for the first time ever in 2020. However, across the Group, development in the regions and segments varied considerably. Outside the DACH region in particular, measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic were more restrictive in many countries, which took its toll on the regional Bechtle companies. “Our very pleasing growth in the past year is, on the one hand, an expression of our robust business model, but it is also the result of the outstanding work, great drive for success and solution focus of our employees,” says Dr Thomas Olemotz, CEO of Bechtle AG. To honour the extraordinary performance of staff, the Board has decided to pay all employees throughout the Group a bonus of €500.
System House business sees double-digit growth
The IT System House & Managed Services segment saw double-digit growth in 2020 as it increased revenue 10.9 per cent to €3,863.6 million. Organic growth amounted to 9.1 per cent. The companies in Austria and Switzerland performed particularly strongly with growth of 22.8 per cent. Domestically, the growth rate was in the high single-digit percentage range at 8.9 per cent. The most pressing needs of customers from industry and the public sector as a result of the pandemic particularly affected the strategically important areas of Modern Workplace and IT Security, as well as Multi-Cloud Solutions, which Bechtle has expanded considerably in recent years. Thanks to its broad range of expertise, decentralised structure, customer proximity and close contacts with vendors, Bechtle was able to position itself very successfully here. EBIT increased 19.8 per cent to €179.5 million. The EBIT margin increased from 4.3 per cent to 4.6 per cent.
E-Commerce has a high margin
The IT E-Commerce segment increased its revenue in 2020 3.5 per cent to €1,955.7 million. In the reporting year, Germany was less heavily affected by the pandemic than other European countries. For that reason, domestic companies performed considerably better. Their revenue increased 17.0 per cent to €415.9 million. In other countries, companies recorded a growth rate of 0.4 per cent. However, following an extremely challenging second quarter of 2020, all companies were able to catch up in the two subsequent quarters and achieve their goals. EBIT in the segment increased 6.5 per cent to €97.5 million. The margin improved from 4.8 per cent to 5.0 per cent.
Strong increase in cash flow and liquidity
In 2020, Bechtle continued to successfully implement measures for optimising cash flow and working capital. This is a huge success, in particular given the difficult economic conditions in the reporting year. Working capital increased only 0.8 per cent, a disproportionately low level. In relation to revenue it fell pleasingly from 12.1 per cent to 11.2 per cent. This positive development was also evident in cash flow. As of the balance sheet date, the cash flow from operating activities increased to €316.3 million, and free cash flow is almost €100 million above the previous year’s level at €202.9.
Dividend set to increase 12.5 per cent
Due to the excellent results and the extremely comfortable liquidity situation, Bechtle AG is proposing to the General Meeting that the dividend be increased by 12.5 per cent to €1.35 per share. This would be the eleventh increase in succession, evidencing the reliable dividend policy and appropriate involvement of shareholders in the company’s success.
The financial year 2021 will be challenging
While the general economic picture is more positive at the start of 2021 than it was in the reporting year, there continues to be great uncertainty in relation to further economic development, both in Germany and in Europe. The continuation of the pandemic and the associated effects on the economic environment cannot be reliably predicted. In addition, the supply situation throughout the IT sector is very strained. Nevertheless, the Executive Board expects the business performance of Bechtle to remain positive and above the industry average. Revenue and results are set to increase considerably, while the EBT margin is expected to stay at the high level of 2020. “Our goals for the current financial year are ambitious. We saw considerable cost savings in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, which are not sustainable to this extent. We are nevertheless optimistic about the current financial year. Bechtle is very well positioned to achieve profitable growth even in economically challenging times,” says Dr Thomas Olemotz.
Bechtle key figures 2020
IT System House
IT System House
Earnings after taxes
Earnings per share
Operational cash flow
* incl. capital and security investments