QSC planning to boost free cash flow and again raise dividend
Cologne, February 26, 2014. During the 2013 fiscal year, QSC continued its evolution into an ICT provider, and increasingly invested in future growth. With revenues of € 455.7 million, an EBITDA margin of 17 percent and a free cash flow of € 25.6 million - according to preliminary numbers - the company achieved all of the targets it had announced in early 2013. Given QSC's stronger financial position and profitability, the Management Board will propose that the Annual Shareholders Meeting raise the dividend by 1 cent to € 0.10 per share.
ICT business in Direct Sales grows by 11 percent
Preliminary numbers show that QSC generated revenues of € 455.7 million in 2013, as opposed to € 481.5 million the year before. Regulatory- and market-induced declines in conventional TC revenues were offset by rising ICT revenues. In 2013, just the significant reduction in mobile and fixed-network routing and interconnection fees in December 2012 led to a revenue shortfall of nearly € 30 million year on year. Plus revenue shortfalls in the same amount stemming from persistent stiff price competition in the conventional TC market.
On the other hand, ICT business in Direct Sales, in particular, developed on a positive note in 2013, with revenues up by 11 percent to € 209.2 million. Its Outsourcing, Consulting and Networking business is benefiting from the sustained high level of order bookings, totaling € 153.9 million in 2013. Moreover, in 2012 QSC had won requests for proposals for three major Outsourcing projects valued at some € 120 million, thus enabling it to post new orders of € 193.1 million overall.
Transitioning these major projects into regular operation and the investments this involved played a major role in raising capital expenditures to € 39.6 million in 2013, as opposed to € 37.9 million the year before. Nevertheless, preliminary numbers show that free cash flow improved to € 25.6 million from € 23.6 million the year before.
Workforce rises by 14 percent to 1,689
In addition to fixed assets, QSC increasingly invested in future growth in 2013, first and foremost in ICT professionals and innovations. The workforce grew by 204 people in 2013 to a total of 1,689. The development budget rose by € 3.9 million to € 5.9 million. However, these investments in future growth initially had hardly any impact on QSC's profitability: According to preliminary numbers, EBITDA of € 77.8 million in 2013 remained virtually unchanged from the previous year's level of € 77.9 million, even though tightened regulation burdened EBITDA by just under € 4 million. The EBITDA margin advanced by 1 percentage point to 17 percent. As a result of declining depreciation expense, EBIT rose from € 24.6 million the year before to € 26.5 million, with consolidated net income improving from € 19.0 million the year before to € 23.6 million.
Outlook for 2014: QSC to increasingly invest in growth
During the current fiscal year, QSC will be increasingly investing in future growth, focusing on innovative ICT and Cloud products. Acquisitions of small technology companies can accelerate this innovation process; just at the beginning of this week, QSC acquired encryption specialist FTAPI. Depending upon the progress that is made in conjunction with the market launch of its innovations, QSC anticipates revenues of between € 450 and € 470 million for 2014, along with an EBITDA of between € 60 and € 70 million and a free cash flow of between € 26 and € 32 million.
As in 2013, revenues are likely to develop on a two-track basis: As a result of market and regulatory effects, rising ICT revenues will be offset by sharply declining TC revenues. Both this decline as well as tightened price competition, first and foremost in ADSL2+ business, are likely to burden EBITDA by nearly € 10 million in 2014. Moreover, QSC is planning a development budget that is some € 5 million higher than in 2013. In addition, during the current fiscal year QSC will no longer be able to benefit from the return of deferred income in the amount of some € 20 million per year that had been formed in connection with the buy-back of network operating company Plusnet and returned on a periodic basis through year-end 2013. Since this return had no impact on liquidity, the company is planning for a renewed rise in free cash flow in 2014, in spite of higher investments in future growth.
QSC Chief Executive Officer Jürgen Hermann notes: "In 2013, we internally concluded the transformation process of becoming an ICT provider. With our existing team, in 2014 we'll now be able to focus on expanding our positioning as an innovative ICT provider." Hermann also intends to continue to enable the company's shareholders to participate in QSC's success: "The proposed 10-cent dividend per share represents the minimum for future distributions."
|In € million||2013||2012|
|Revenues, Direct Sales (ICT)||209.2||187.9|
|Revenues, Indirect Sales (ICT/TC)||123.2||125.1|
|Revenues, Resellers (TC)||123.4||168.5|
|Consolidated net income||23.6||19.0|
|Earnings per share||0.19||0.14|
|Free cash flow/strong>||25.6||23.6|
The 2013 Annual Report will be available for download at www.qsc.de/en/qsc-ag/investor-relations.html from March 31, 2014. This corporate news contains forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and forecasts of future events by the management of QSC AG. Due to risks or mistaken assumptions, actual results may deviate substantially from those made in such forward-looking statements.