According to the figures for 2018 published today, USU Software AG (“USU”, ISIN DE000A0BVU28) increased its consolidated revenue (IFRS) by 7.3% year-on-year to EUR 90.5 million (2017: EUR 84.4 million). This upturn was driven essentially by strong domestic business, which expanded 9.4% to EUR 66.2 million (2017: EUR 60.6 million). In addition to the acquisition of new customers, established business with existing customers was a key factor in this. Despite several major US corporations delaying their orders, USU increased its international business by 1.9% compared with the previous year to EUR 24.2 million (2017: EUR 23.8 million). However, as a result of the strong growth in domestic business, the share of consolidated revenue attributable to international business was 26.8%, down from 28.2% in the previous year. As a result of the Group’s active capital expenditure outside Germany and with a view to the expansion of SaaS business, the Management Board expects the share of consolidated revenue attributable to international business to return to well above 30% in the medium term.
In comparison to the previous year, in 2018 the operating cost base of the USU Group went up by 11.4% to EUR 88.3 million (2017: EUR 79.2 million). This reflects primarily the increased capital expenditure outside Germany to successfully implement the medium-term targets and the associated recruitment, the expansion of the consultant team and increased administrative expenses for internal future projects such as the centralization of Group IT or the creation of the new unymira division.
As a result of the stated declining license revenue on account of delayed orders and increased capital expenditure outside Germany, the USU Group’s earnings performance fell short of the previous year in fiscal 2018. Thus USU increased its EBITDA by 19.5% year on year to EUR 5.5 million (2017: EUR 6.8 million), while EBIT declined in the same period from EUR 3.2 million to EUR 2.7 million.
Adjusted for extraordinary effects relating to acquisitions, EBIT (adjusted EBIT) at EUR 4.1 million was 32.7% down on the previous year (2017: EUR 6.1 million). Consolidated net profit for 2018 declined by two thirds to EUR 1.0 million (2017: EUR 3.4 million). Accordingly, earnings per share amounted to EUR 0.09 (2017: EUR 0.32).
In line with the Company’s strategy of never distributing a dividend that is lower than the previous year and that corresponds to around half of the profit generated, the Management Board has proposed the payment of a dividend of EUR 0.40 per share as in the previous year.
In the 2019 fiscal year, the Management Board expects the Company to continue on the long-term positive growth path recorded in recent years in terms of adjusted EBIT and consolidated revenue, although this growth will be slowed slightly by the trend towards SaaS business, as was the case this year. In addition, the Management Board is optimistic that a majority of the US projects delayed from the previous year will lead to orders this year and thus contribute to a positive business performance. However, it is not yet known whether the companies will choose a one-time license or an SaaS project. Regardless of this, the Management Board is expecting positive effects from the capital expenditure outside Germany in previous years, which were mainly geared towards stepping up sales and marketing activities. In addition, the deeper market penetration of the Knowledge Management portfolio, which was launched on international markets in 2018, is set to have a positive effect on international business. At the same time, business in Germany is expected to continue to develop successfully. However, Service Business, which was incorporated into the newly formed unymira division in the previous year and already has a high level of consultant capacity utilization, is also expected to continue to see slight growth both for full-time employees and freelancers/partners. Overall, the Management Board expects to significantly outperform the market in terms of growth once again in fiscal 2019. One key indicator supporting this forecast is Group-wide orders on hand, which increased by over 11.6% year-on-year to EUR 49.2 million as of December 31, 2018 (2017: EUR 44.1 million).
Accordingly, the forecast for 2019 involves an increase in consolidated sales to between EUR 98 million and EUR 101 million, accompanied by an above-average rise in adjusted EBIT to EUR 7.5-10 million. At the same time, the Management Board is reiterating its medium-term planning for 2021 of consolidated revenue of EUR 140 million and adjusted EBIT of EUR 20 million. These figures include growth due to acquisitions of approximately EUR 15 million. Strategic planning focuses on the three established growth pillars of the USU Group: increased internationalization, the development and launch of new product innovations and growth through acquisitions.
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