ASIAKASTIETO GROUP PLC, STOCK EXCHANGE RELEASE 8 MAY 2020 AT 11.00 A.M. EEST
Asiakastieto Group’s Interim Report 1.1. – 31.3.2020: Strong growth continued in a dramatically changing business environment
January – March 2020 in brief
|1.1. –||1.1. –||1.1. –|
|Net sales growth, %||9,0||128,8||48,7|
|Operating profit (EBIT)||7,1||6,7||27,8|
|EBIT margin, %||18,9||19,3||19,0|
|Adjusted EBITDA margin, %||33,0||34,0||35,3|
|Adjusted operating profit (EBIT)||10,5||9,8||42,6|
|Adjusted EBIT margin, %||27,8||28,5||29,2|
|New products and services of net sales, %||4,4||4,4||4,0|
|Free cash flow||7,3||7,3||32,1|
|Net debt to adjusted EBITDA, x||2,8|| |
1 The comparable earnings per share does not contain amortisation from fair value adjustments related to the acquisitions or their tax impact.
JUKKA RUUSKA, CEO
The coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken to prevent its spread have led to growth forecasts being adjusted dramatically downward to an extent never seen before, both in Finland and elsewhere. The effects on Asiakastieto Group’s business have been minor thus far, and our net sales saw steady growth in the first quarter, reaching EUR 37,6 million (EUR 34,1 million), which represents year-on-year growth of 10,4 % at comparable exchange rates.
The development of the Group’s net sales was driven by the performance of the SME and Consumers business area, which was particularly boosted by the Proff acquisition, but also the business area’s positive development in the Swedish market in particular. The Risk Decisions business area also continued to see positive development, and growth was also accelerated by the strong growth of the Digital Processes business area, mainly in the Finnish market. The net sales of the Customer Data Management business area, however, decreased in both markets.
Adjusted EBITDA increased by 6,9 % at comparable exchange rates and amounted to EUR 12,4 million (EUR 11,6 million). The development of profitability lagged behind the growth of net sales due to the Proff business acquired in July 2019 having a diluting effect on the EBITDA margin as well as marketing investments aimed at growing the customer base of subscription services and increased IT expenses. The Group’s adjusted operating profit excluding non-recurring items and other adjustable items grew in the first quarter by 6,3 % and amounted to EUR 10,5 million (EUR 9,8 million). The share of net sales represented by new services was on a par with the previous quarter at 4,4 %.
At the start of the year, no-one could have predicted that the first quarter would end in such exceptional circumstances. The current situation is highly exceptional and different from previous economic downturns, which makes visibility on the remainder of the year almost non-existent. As for the impact of the pandemic on Asiakastieto’s business, we recognise both positive and negative factors. On one hand, the lower level of economic activity reduces the use of our services. On the other hand, loan restructuring and the growing need for liquidity increase the demand for our services. Rapid changes in the regulatory environment — such as the Finnish Government’s proposal to temporarily lower the interest rate ceiling on all consumer credit to 10 per cent — increase uncertainty in the financial markets. The extraordinary nature of the current situation makes the overall economic impact impossible to predict. With this in mind, Asiakastieto Group announced on 27 March 2020 that we are cancelling our financial guidance for 2020 for the time being.
We have drawn up various scenarios of the economy to gain insight into the potential impacts and consequences of the exceptional situation. We have taken proactive measures to secure our business and ensure our financial sustainability in all circumstances. We want our services to help our customers through this period and respond to special customer needs arising from the present situation. At the same time, we will continue the long-term development efforts concerning our services and IT platform.
For example, in the Swedish market, we have launched ID Protection for Companies, a service that monitors changes in the basic information and financial information of companies, creates alerts of such changes and helps companies maintain awareness of any changes to the registration data pertaining to their business. In addition, in Finland, Asiakastieto will start to document additional information about the effects of the coronavirus epidemic on companies’ payment default entries. This way, the credit information provides a more comprehensive picture of the causes and duration of insolvency. Our strong experience in the Nordic markets presents us with new service development opportunities. One example is the redesigned Omatieto.fi service launched in Finland in the first quarter. The experiences gained from nearly half a million consumer customers in the Swedish market contributed to the development effort.
The present situation also calls for actions and plans for getting out of the crisis. Asiakastieto Group’s Popcorn 2023 strategy development process, which began in autumn 2019, will play an important role in this respect. The results of the process will be announced during the spring.
The company issued a stock exchange release on 27 March 2020 cancelling its guidance for 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, severe and extensive restrictions have been placed on state level in the Nordic countries. In this situation, it is impossible to reliably predict the potential impact on Asiakastieto Group’s revenue and adjusted EBITDA. The situation is also likely to affect the levels of capitalised expenditure.
The year 2020 has started strongly, but the general economic situation and decreased customer activity are expected to decrease the demand and have an effect also on the demand of Asiakastieto’s services. As the impact on demand for services and the duration of the current situation are unknown, exact effects are impossible to evaluate. Due to the uncertain outlook, we will adjust our planned fixed cost base by 5 million euros during the rest of the year to secure short-term profitability and cash flow. We continue to invest in product and software development while also preparing to reprioritise the development portfolio to secure short-term cash generation if the economic environment so requires.
Once visibility on the development of economic activity in the main markets of Asiakastieto Group improves and the significant uncertainties have cleared, Asiakastieto Group will update the outlook and issue a new guidance.
NEWS CONFERENCE, WEBCAST AND CONFERENCE CALL
Asiakastieto Group will hold a webcast for analysts, investors and media in English on Friday, 8 May 2020 at 2.00 p.m. EEST, where CEO Jukka Ruuska and CFO Elina Stråhlman will present the performance and events of the first quarter 2020.
You can follow the English webcast and conference call at:
To participate in the conference call, please dial in using one of the numbers below
Finland: +358 (0)9 7479 0360
Sweden: +46 (0)8 5033 6573
United Kingdom: +44 (0)330 336 9104
United States, LA: +1 323-701-0223
The conference ID code: 390530
The presentation material will be available on the company’s investor website at 1.45 p.m. EEST and a recording of the webcast later during the day.
Helsinki, 8 May 2020
ASIAKASTIETO GROUP PLC
Board of Directors
For further information:
Tel. +358 10 270 7111
Asiakastieto Group is one of the leading providers of digital business and consumer information services in the Nordic countries. The Group's products and services are primarily used for risk management, finance and administration, decision-making and sales and marketing purposes. We are operating in Finland under the brand Suomen Asiakastieto and in Sweden under the brand UC. Our annual net sales for 2019 was EUR 146 million and the number of employees was approximately 420. The Group serves several industries, the largest ones including finance and banking as well as wholesale and retail sectors and expert service companies. Asiakastieto Group is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki with the trading code ATG1V. More information about Asiakastieto Group is available at www.asiakastieto.fi and www.uc.se.