25.03.20, 07:05 pm
Ad-hoc Disclosure acc. to Art. 17 MAR: United Internet with good customer growth in 2019, slight increase in sales and operating earnings per share.Share
- Customer contracts: + 890,000 to 24.74 million contracts
- Sales: + 1.8% to EUR 5.194 billion
- EBITDA: + 5.4% to EUR 1.266 billion acc. to IFRS 16 (prior year: EUR 1.201 billion acc. to IFRS 15); - 1.9% like-for-like IFRS 15 trend
- Earnings per share (EPS): EUR 2.13, operating EUR 1.99 (prior year: EUR 0.94, operating EUR 1.96)
- Dividend proposal: EUR 0.50 per share (prior year: EUR 0.05 per share)
- Guidance 2020: sales and EBITDA at prior-year level
Montabaur, March 25, 2020. In its fiscal year 2019, United Internet made further investments in sustainable growth. All in all, the number of fee-based customer contracts was raised by 890,000 to 24.74 million contracts.
Consolidated sales grew by 1.8% in the fiscal year 2019, from EUR 5,102.9 million (like-for-like prior-year figure after adjusting the disclosed sales figures of a Group subsidiary) to EUR 5,194.1 million.
This at first glance only moderate growth was due in particular to fluctuations during the year in (low-margin) hardware sales (EUR -41.9 million compared to previous year) in the Consumer Access segment. Sales were also influenced by a deliberate ad space reduction as part of the repositioning of the Consumer Applications segment (EUR -8.4 million compared to previous year).
Consolidated EBITDA was positively influenced by the initial application of IFRS 16 (EUR +87.0 million) in the fiscal year 2019. There was an opposing effect in particular from regulatory effects and additional costs (in total: EUR -97.5 million) for wholesale purchases in the Consumer Access segment after the time-limited adjustment mechanism of a wholesale agreement expired at the end of 2018. Contrary to original expectations, the expired arrangement could not be compensated for by a price reduction during the reporting period following arbitration proceedings.
In addition to these extra costs, future investments (implemented as planned), such as the repositioning in the Consumer Applications segment and increased marketing expenses, especially in connection with the rebranding of the Business Applications segment, had an initial negative impact on earnings. EBITDA rose by 5.4% in the fiscal year 2019, from EUR 1,201.3 million to EUR 1,265.7 million (according to IFRS 16). The like-for-like development according to IFRS 15 amounted to -1.9%.
Due to the above mentioned burdens on earnings and one-offs, consolidated operating EBIT of EUR 791.7 million was down on the previous year (EUR 811.0 million) and virtually unaffected by IFRS 16 accounting. This operating EBIT figure does not include a special item from trademark writeups on the “Strato” brand (EBIT effect: EUR +19.4 million).
Earnings per share (EPS) rose from EUR 0.94 to EUR 2.13, or from EUR 1.46 to EUR 2.61 before PPA amortization. Without consideration of PPA amortization and impairment charges for Tele Columbus shares (EPS effect: EUR -1.02) in 2018, as well as impairment reversals for Tele Columbus shares (EPS effect: EUR +0.09) in 2019 and trademark writeups for Strato (EPS effect: EUR +0.05), operating EPS improved from EUR 1.96 to EUR 1.99.
Dividend and Annual General Meeting
For the fiscal year 2019, the Management Board and Supervisory Board of United Internet AG will propose a dividend of EUR 0.50 per share (prior year: EUR 0.05) at the Annual Shareholders' Meeting 2020. In view of the corona crisis, the exact date of the Annual Shareholders' Meeting originally planned for May 20, 2020 is currently still open. On the basis of around 187.7 million shares with dividend entitlement (as of December 31, 2019), the total dividend payment for fiscal year 2019 would amount to EUR 93.9 million. The dividend payout ratio would therefore be 23.7% of adjusted consolidated net income for 2019 after minority interests (EUR 396.4 million) and thus lie – in view of the investments due to be made in the mobile communications network of 1&1 Drillisch – within the lower range targeted by the Group’s dividend policy.
United Internet currently expects sales and EBITDA in the fiscal year 2020 to be approximately on a par with the previous year.