The business figures published today by USU Software AG (USU, ISIN DE000A0BVU28) for fiscal 2020 show that the company turned in a very positive operating performance despite the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time in the company’s history, revenue exceeded the EUR 100 million mark. On the back of strong software-as-a-service (SaaS) and consulting business, USU Software AG and its subsidiaries (referred to in the following as “USU” or the “USU Group”) increased consolidated revenue by 12.2% year on year to EUR 107.3 million (2019: EUR 95.6 million).
In particular, there was an above-average rise in consulting revenue to EUR 60.2 million (2019: EUR 49.9 million), or 20.6% more than in the previous year, due to the trend toward digitization and many new orders related to that. USU also benefited from very strong cloud and maintenance business: Maintenance revenues, including revenue from SaaS business, rose by 13.1% year over year to EUR 32.5 million (2019: EUR 28.7 million), of which SaaS revenue alone accounted for EUR 9.7 million (2019: EUR 6.9 million) or 40.3% more than in the previous year. Since a very large proportion of new business deals related to SaaS, licensing revenue in 2020 was EUR 12,9 million, 13.8% below the very strong figure for the previous year (2019: EUR 15.0 million), despite a positive final quarter. Looked at regionally, revenue in Germany increased by 13.9% to EUR 78.8 million (2019: EUR 69.2 million). However, USU also grew its international business by 7.9% year on year to EUR 28.6 million (2019: EUR 26.5 million).
The USU Group’s cost base increased in fiscal 2020 by 8.5% year over year to EUR –100.9 million (2019: EUR –93.0 million). Due to the sharp expansion in business and disproportionately low increase in costs, the USU Group grew its profitability significantly in 2020 compared to the previous year. USU thus increased its earnings before interest and taxes after adjustment for the effects of acquisitions (adjusted EBIT) by 48.5% year on year to EUR 9.2 million (2019: EUR 6.2 million), meaning the operating margin based on adjusted EBIT increased from 6.5% in 2019 to 8.6%. On an unadjusted basis, the USU Group grew its EBITDA year over year by 34.8% to EUR 13.4 million (2019: EUR 9.9 million) and its EBIT by 73.2% year over year to EUR 7.0 million (2019: EUR 4.1 million). Net finance costs amounted to EUR –0.2 million in fiscal 2020 (2019: EUR –4 thousand). Tax expense in 2020 was EUR –1.3 million following tax income of EUR 1.2 million in the previous year. That is attributable to the fact that since 2020 reversal of deferred taxes has been higher than the new capitalization of deferred taxes on existing tax loss carryfowards. All in all, consolidated earnings in 2020 improved by 4.0% compared to the previous year to EUR 5.5 million (2019: EUR 5.3 million), which is equivalent to earnings per share of EUR 0.52 (2019: EUR 0.50).
Given the USU Group’s successful business performance and in line with its policy that the dividend paid should amount to roughly half the profit generated, but should never be less than in the previous year, the Management Board and Supervisory Board of the company will propose a dividend of EUR 0.40 (2019: EUR 0.40) per share at the Annual General Meeting on June 6, 2021.
As a result of this positive earnings performance, the USU Group’s equity increased from EUR 60.2 million as of December 31, 2019, to EUR 61.8 million as of December 31, 2020. With total assets of EUR 115.5 million (December 31, 2019: EUR 104.5 million), the equity ratio was 53.5% as December 31, 2019 (December 31, 2019: 57.6%). At the end of fiscal 2020, USU had Group liquidity of EUR 18.5 million (December 31, 2019: EUR 10.4 million). With this equity ratio, extensive Group liquidity and no liabilities to banks, the USU Group still has extremely sound and secure financing, even in the times of COVID-19.
After a very successful fiscal 2020, the Management Board expects a slight growth in revenue coupled with an increase in adjusted EBIT to at least EUR 9 to 10 million in the current year 2021, despite the reluctance of many companies to invest due to the coronavirus. A key indicator underpinning this forecast is the new record level of orders on hand, which has increased sharply by 25.7% year on year to EUR 61.9 million (December 31, 2019: EUR 49.2 million). Moreover, the Management Board is also confirming the current medium-term planning, which includes average organic revenue growth of 10% over the next few years and – in view of the further growth in SaaS business – an increase in the operating margin based on adjusted EBIT to between 13% and 15% by 2024.
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