Neckarsulm, 19 March 2020 – For Bechtle AG, the fiscal year 2019 was one of the most successful in its history. Revenues increased 24.3 per cent to €5,374.5 million, the second-highest growth rate of the past 15 years. Earnings before taxes (EBT) went up 22.3 per cent to €236.3 million. Despite higher depreciation and amortisation, the EBT margin amounted to an excellent 4.4 per cent. In 2019, Bechtle was able to reduce its capital commitment significantly; thus, the free cash flow as of the end of the year amounted to €109.5 million. As of 31 December, Bechtle had 11,487 employees, some 1,482 or 14.8 per cent more than in the prior year.
Revenues grew by double-digit rates in all regions and segments. Due to acquisitions and other reasons, the growth of the international companies was especially strong. For the first time in its history, Bechtle generated overseas revenue of more than €2 billion in one fiscal year. The group’s organic growth amounted to 15.2 per cent. “2019 was the third year in a row in which we were able to present double-digit growth rates. We now benefit from the strategic reinforcement that we have systematically implemented over the past years,” says Dr Thomas Olemotz, CEO of Bechtle AG.
Systems integration business undergoes strong organic growth
In 2019, the IT Systems Integration & Managed Services segment increased its revenue 19.9 per cent to €3,485.0 million. Organic growth was strong and amounted to 16.8 per cent, borne both by the companies in Germany and by the companies abroad. In the reporting period, the company further expanded its broad spectrum of services, e.g. in the fields of hybrid and multi-cloud concepts, modern workplace and data centre architectures, networking, security and application solutions. EBIT went up 18.8 per cent to €149.8 million. The EBIT margin thus remained stable at 4.3 per cent.
E-commerce reports strong margin
In 2019, the IT E-Commerce segment increased its revenue 33.3 per cent to €1,889.4 million. This also reflects the acquisition of the French Inmac WStore in September 2018. However, the segment also achieved organic revenue growth of 11.8 per cent. The growth was especially strong in Benelux and in Southern Europe. Despite the high increase in depreciation and amortisation in connection with the purchase price, EBIT underwent significant growth of 32.7 per cent to €91.5 million. At 4.8 per cent, the margin remained close to the prior-year level (4.9 per cent).
Reduced capital commitment despite high growth rate
In the reporting period, Bechtle began taking measures to optimise the cash flow and the working capital. Thus, despite the high revenue growth, inventories only increased 1.9 per cent. In total, the working capital increased 11.5 per cent, a rate significantly below the revenue growth rate. This positive development could also be seen in the cash flow. As of the balance sheet date, the cash flow from operating activities increased to €186.0 million, and the free cash flow to €109.5 million, exceeding the mark of €100 million for the first time. This very comfortable liquidity situation is one of the reasons why Bechtle AG proposes to the General Meeting to increase the dividend by 20 per cent to €1.20 per share.
Uncertainties abound in the 2020 fiscal year.
The overall economic situation at the beginning of the year has taken a hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. It is not currently possible to predict with any certainty just how dramatic and lasting the expected negative impact on global economic developments will be. Despite these uncertainties, Bechtle is sticking with its plan to significantly increase revenue and earnings over the course of the year. The target EBT margin is to be at least on par with the previous year. “The current situation is anything but positive. Since production in China was halted for a period, we expect a considerable shortage in the supply of certain products during the year, and the economic climate in Europe will very likely cool down under the pressure of the corona pandemic. The extent to which we can achieve our goals against this backdrop hinges on how the crisis will unfold. On the other hand, the current situation has underscored the critical importance of information technology. We expect that once the pandemic has passed, our customers’ propensity to invest will be as strong as ever,” says Dr Thomas Olemotz.
Bechtle KPIs 2019
IT Systems Integration
IT Systems Integration
Earnings after taxes
Earnings per share
Operating cash flow
* including time deposits and securities