April 9, 2020 9:25 am
Aspo discloses preliminary information on the Group’s Q1 2020 net sales and operating profit, Board of Directors amends its dividend proposal
Based on preliminary and unaudited financial information, the Q1 2020 net sales of Aspo Group were EUR 133.2 million (141.5) and operating profit stood at EUR 4.0 million (4.9).
The global coronavirus pandemic and related measures are causing significant changes in Aspo's operating environment. Aspo’s Q1 2020 net sales decreased due to a decline in raw material prices and cargo prices in the shipping business, in addition to the weakening customer demand. Furthermore, the exchange rates decreased in the Eastern markets, which are important to Aspo, which also contributed to lower net sales and operating profit.
Net cash from operating activities was EUR 14.2 million (1.9). The Group’s free cash flow also remained strong and was EUR 13.6 million, which can be considered an exceptionally good performance for the first quarter.
Due to solid EBITDA and strong free cash flow, the Group’s gearing decreased during the first quarter of 2020. Aspo's gearing was 158.5 % (181.1) and net debt to EBITDA was 3.5 (5.2).
The Group’s cash and cash equivalents totaled EUR 27.0 million (EUR 23.7 million at the end of 2019). In addition, the committed revolving credit facilities, EUR 40 million in total, were fully unused.
Board of Directors amends its dividend proposal
Aspo has today announced that it will withdraw its outlook for 2020 that was given on February 13, 2020, because due to the rapidly changing coronavirus situation, an accurate assessment of the impact of the pandemic on business is not yet possible to provide. Aspo’s Board of Directors has therefore reconsidered its dividend proposal made in connection with the financial statements bulletin.
The Board of Directors proposes to the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting that EUR 0.11 per share be paid in dividends for the 2019 financial year and that no dividend be paid for treasury shares held by Aspo Plc. The dividend of EUR 0.11 per share will be paid to shareholders who are registered in the shareholders' register maintained by Euroclear Finland Oy on the record date of May 6, 2020. The Board of Directors proposes that the dividend be paid on May 13, 2020.
In addition, the Board of Directors proposes that the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting would decide to authorize the Board of Directors to decide on a payment of dividend in the maximum amount of EUR 0.11 per share, through one or several installments, at a later time when Aspo can more precisely estimate the effects of COVID-19 pandemic to the company’s business. The authorization is proposed to be valid until the next Annual Shareholders’ Meeting. The company will separately disclose the possible dividend decision by the Board of Directors and in the same connection confirm the appropriate record and payment dates.
Aspo's Board of Directors has today, in a separate stock exchange release, invited Aspo Plc's shareholders to the Annual Shareholder Meeting, which will be held on May 4, 2020 at 9:00 am.
Aspo Group’s businesses in Q1 2020
ESL Shipping's general operating environment deteriorated sharply during the review period. The general price levels of the shipping business were significantly affected by the restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic in China at the beginning of the review period. The extension of restrictions to other market areas during March increased uncertainty in the assessment of industrial customers' production and transportation volumes for 2020. Transport volumes for industrial customers decreased in the first quarter of 2020 in both the steel industry and the energy sector. Transport volumes for smaller vessel category remained at a normal level. ESL Shipping’s net sales decreased and were EUR 42.7 million (43.7). Operating profit also decreased and stood at EUR 2.3 million (3.2).
In accordance with its goals announced in 2019, Telko has invested in improving profitability. Although net sales in the Telko segment decreased in the first quarter of 2020 and were EUR 63.6 million (71.9), the segment's operating profit remained unchanged from the comparative period and stood at EUR 2.4 million (2.4).
Leipurin's net sales increased in January-March, especially as the raw material needs of industrial bakeries increased. At the end of the review period, restrictions on small bakeries and especially coffee chains sharply reduced the customer segment’s net sales. Leipurin's net sales in the first quarter of 2020 were EUR 26.9 million (25.9). Leipurin’s operating profit increased to EUR 0.6 million (0.5).
Aspo will publish its interim report for Q1 2020 on Tuesday May 5, 2020, according to the previously announced schedule.
Aki Ojanen, CEO
tel. +358 400 106 592, email@example.com
Aspo is a conglomerate that owns and develops business operations in Northern Europe and growth markets focusing on demanding B-to-B customers. Our strong company brands - ESL Shipping, Leipurin, Telko and Kauko - aim to be the market leaders in their sectors. They are responsible for their own operations, customer relationships and the development of these. Together they generate Aspo's goodwill. Aspo's Group structure and business operations are continually developed without any predefined schedules.