Rapala VMC Corporation
Financial Statement Release
February 15, 2019 at 9:00 a.m.


 

RAPALA VMC CORPORATION’S ANNUAL ACCOUNTS 2018: 7% ORGANIC SALES GROWTH AND STRONG PROFITABILITY INCREASE FROM LAST YEAR – STRATEGY EXECUTION PROGRESSING

 

January-December (FY) in brief:

  • Net sales were 262.4 MEUR, up 4% from previous year (253.3). Organically sales were 7% higher than last year.
  • Operating profit was 14.8 MEUR (8.9), up 66%.
  • Comparable operating profit* was 16.7 MEUR (11.4), up 46%.
  • Cash flow from operations was 6.7 MEUR (19.1).
  • Earnings per share was 0.13 EUR (0.05), up 160%.
  • Dividend proposal is 0.06 EUR per share (0.04).
  • 2019 guidance: Full year net sales with comparable FX rates expected to be around the same level as in 2018 and comparable operating profit to increase from last year.

July-December (H2) in brief:

  • Net sales were 119.9 MEUR, up 7% from previous year (112.4). With comparable exchange rates sales were 7% higher than last year.
  • Operating profit was -0.5 MEUR (-2.1).
  • Comparable operating profit* was 1.5 MEUR (0.1).
  • Cash flow from operations was 0.7 MEUR (11.1).
  • Earnings per share was -0.10 EUR (-0.11).

President and CEO Jussi Ristimäki: “We managed to achieve good results in 2018 and our net sales grew by 7% from last year with comparable exchange rates. We are especially happy that we grew sales in all reported geographical areas. Our position with major customers in North America is strong and we have solid underlying consumer demand for our products in the market. Consequently, we witnessed double digit sales growth in the area with comparable exchange rates.

We succeeded in generating a significant profitability improvement in 2018. Our comparable EBIT increased to 16.7 MEUR, which represents a growth of 46%. Strong sales growth in North America combined with successful performance improvement initiatives in European lure manufacturing and some other units supported profitability. On the other hand, our results continue to be negatively impacted by the Indonesian lure manufacturing operations, where we are making further operational changes and improvements. There is clear profit improvement potential, which will start to materialize gradually from 2019 and 2020 onwards.

Execution of our strategy of improving profitability, lightening balance sheet and improving operational performance is progressing well. Ongoing lean projects and supply chain management initiatives continue to yield results. Our 12 month rolling average inventories and inventory-to-sales-ratio decreased from last year despite the fact that year-end inventories were higher than in previous year. As a result of higher December inventory in 2018 than in 2017, our cash flow decreased from previous year’s good levels. Cash flow will be one of the focus areas in 2019. The strategic gradual shift from traditional marketing to digital marketing channels progressed. We opened successfully a content driven Rapala e-commerce site in Europe in 2018 to enhance brand experience and to increase customer service. One of our key near term strategic priorities is to accelerate the global development of the rod and reel category as well as to create full scale direct access to sell Rapala products in large European fishing tackle markets in Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and Benelux from the beginning of April 2019 onwards after the distribution agreements with Shimano will terminate.”

* Excluding mark-to-market valuations of operative currency derivatives and other items affecting comparability. “Other items affecting comparability” include material restructuring costs, impairments, gains and losses on business combinations and disposals, insurance compensations and other non-operational items.
   Rapala Group presents alternative performance measures to reflect the underlying business performance and to enhance comparability between financial periods. Alternative performance measures should not be considered in isolation as a
substitute for measures of performance in accordance with IFRS. Definitions and reconciliation of key figures are presented in the financial section of the release.

Key figures

  H2 H2 Change FY FY Change
MEUR 2018 2017 % 2018 2017 %
Net sales 119.9 112.4 +7% 262.4 253.3 +4%
Operating profit/loss -0.5 -2.1 +76% 14.8 8.9 +66%
% of net sales -0.4% -1.9%   5.6% 3.5%  
Comparable operating profit * 1.5 0.1 +1400% 16.7 11.4 +46%
% of net sales 1.3% 0.0%   6.4% 4.5%  
Cash flow from operations 0.7 11.1 -94% 6.7 19.1 -65%
Gearing % 47.8% 47.5%   47.8% 47.5%  
EPS, EUR -0.10 -0.11 +9%  0.13 0.05 +140%

* Excluding mark-to-market valuations of operative currency derivatives and other items affecting comparability. “Other items affecting comparability” include material restructuring costs, impairments, gains and losses on business combinations and disposals, insurance compensations and other non-operational items.
   Rapala Group presents alternative performance measures to reflect the underlying business performance and to enhance comparability between financial periods. Alternative performance measures should not be considered in isolation as a
substitute for measures of performance in accordance with IFRS. Definitions and reconciliation of key figures are presented in the financial section of the release.

Market environment

In 2018, the Group recorded growing sales numbers in all reported geographical areas. The highest growth was seen in the North American market where the Group has successfully adapted to the changing retail market and consumer demand was strong. In Europe, the Group grew both in the Nordics and Rest of Europe markets despite the very competitive market environment.

Business Review January-December 2018

The Group’s net sales for the year were 3.6% above last year. Changes in translation exchange rates had a negative impact on the sales and with comparable translation exchange rates, net sales were organically up by 6.9% from the previous year.

North America

2018 was a very positive year for the North American market. Even though the US and Canadian dollars depreciated in value compared to 2017, the sales increased by 6.6% from the previous year. With comparable translation exchange rates, the sales were up by 11.4%.

The challenges in the retail landscape the Group faced in North America in 2017, were overcome and the consumer demand for the Group’s products was strong. Canadian operations have also witnessed a successful turnaround, which is reflected in good sales growth. Overall, the market saw growing sales figures in most of the product categories, Rapala lures and ice fishing products being the biggest drivers for growth.

Nordic

The sales in the Nordic market grew slightly from last year. The weakening of Swedish and Norwegian kronen hindered the growth to some extent and with comparable translation exchange rates, the sales were up by 3.4%.

The sales growth was driven by excellent winter sports products sales in Finland in both winter seasons. In Sweden, the sales of Rapala lures developed positively, supported by the new product launches for predator fishing. On the other hand, Marttiini was below the record-high knives sales of the previous year boosted by the Finland 100 year anniversary knives.

Rest of Europe

With comparable translation exchange rates, the sales in Rest of Europe were 3.3% above the comparison period. The weakened Russian ruble, however, had a negative impact on the reported sales which were only 1.0% above last year.

The area showed positive signs in many countries, particularly in Romania and Poland, which both recorded strong sales growth. The contribution of Croatian distribution unit, for which 2018 was the first full year of operations, was also notable. On the other hand, challenging market conditions in Russia continued and offset most of the sales growth witnessed in other parts of the area.

Rest of the World

With comparable translation exchange rates, the sales in Rest of the World grew 9.6% from last year. However, as most of the market’s currencies depreciated against euro, euro-denominated sales growth was somewhat lower with a 5.2% increase from 2017.

As in the first half of the year, the sales growth was driven by South-East Asia and South-Africa, where especially the hunting business grew strongly. In addition, the sales in Latin America developed positively.

External Net Sales by Area*

  FY FY Change Comparable
MEUR 2018 2017 % change %
North America 95.4 89.4 +7% +11%
Nordic 55.1 54.3 +1% +4%
Rest of Europe 78.4 77.6 +1% +3%
Rest of the World 33.6 31.9 +5% +10%
Total 262.4 253.3 +4% +7%
         
  H2 H2 Change Comparable
MEUR 2018 2017 % change %
North America 45.8 41.8 +10% +8%
Nordic 22.8 22.6 +1% +3%
Rest of Europe 33.5 31.8 +5% +7%
Rest of the World 17.8 16.2 +10% +13%
Total 119.9 112.4 +7% +7%

*Geographical areas are presented based on unit location. Rest of Europe includes France, Russia, Eastern Europe, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, the Baltic countries, Switzerland and Kazakhstan. Rest of the World includes Asia, Latin America, Australia and South-Africa.

Financial Results and Profitability

Comparable (excluding mark-to-market valuations of operative currency derivatives and other items affecting comparability) operating profit increased by 5.2 MEUR (46%) from last year to 16.7 MEUR. The effect of translation exchange rates was negative and with comparable translation exchange rates, comparable operating profit increased by 5.6 MEUR from 2017. Reported operating profit increased by 5.9 MEUR (66%) from last year to 14.8 MEUR. The items affecting comparability had a negative impact of 1.9 MEUR (-2.6) on reported operating profit.

Comparable operating profit margin was 6.4% (4.5) for the year. Strong sales growth in North America contributed positively to the profitability increase of the Group. Additionally, performance improvement initiatives in European lure manufacturing and the Canadian unit had a positive impact on profitability, while Indonesian lure factory is still having a notable negative impact on the Group’s profitability.

Reported operating profit margin was 5.6% (3.5) for the year. Reported operating profit included mark-to-market valuation of operative currency derivatives of 0.7 MEUR (-0.3). Net expenses of other items affecting comparability included in the reported operating profit were 2.6 MEUR (2.3). The other items affecting comparability consisted mainly of restructuring expenses of the Batam plant in Indonesia, other restructuring expenses and a gain of a sale of a real estate.

Total financial (net) expenses were 2.1 MEUR (3.2) for the year. Net interest and other financing expenses were 1.4 MEUR (2.1) and (net) foreign exchange expenses were 0.7 MEUR (1.2).

Net profit for the year increased by 183% and was 6.5 MEUR (2.3) and earnings per share was 0.13 EUR (0.05). The share of non-controlling interest in net profit increased by 0.5 MEUR from last year and totaled 0.4 MEUR (0.0).

Key figures

  H2 H2 Change FY FY Change
MEUR 2018 2017 % 2018 2017 %
Net sales 119.9 112.4 +7% 262.4 253.3 +4%
Operating profit / loss -0.5 -2.1 +76% 14.8 8.9 +66%
Comparable operating profit * 1.5 0.1 +1400% 16.7 11.4 +46%
Net profit / loss -3.2 -3.7 +15% 6.5 2.3 +183%
* Excluding mark-to-market valuations of operative currency derivatives and other items affecting comparability. Other items affecting comparability include material restructuring costs, impairments, gains and losses on business combinations and disposals, insurance compensations and other non-operational items.

 

Bridge calculation of comparable operating profit

  H2 H2 Change FY FY Change
MEUR 2018 2017 % 2018 2017 %
Operating profit/loss -0.5 -2.1 +76% 14.8 8.9 +66%
Mark-to-market valuations of operative currency derivatives -0.4 0.2 -300% -0.7 0.3 -333%
Other items affecting comparability 2.4 2.0 +20% 2.6 2.3 +13%
Comparable operating profit 1.5 0.1 +1400% 16.7 11.4 +46%
More detailed bridge of comparable operating profit and definitions and reconciliation of key figures are presented in the financial section of the release.

Segment Review

Group Products

Sales of Group Products grew from the comparison period by 6.8% with comparable translation exchange rates. The increase from last year was mostly driven by increased sales of lures, hooks, fishing lines and ice fishing products. Furthermore, sales of winter sports products in the Nordic market increased from the previous year. Sales of hunting knives was below the comparison period as 2017 sales were significantly boosted by the Marttiini`s Finland 100 year anniversary knives.

Driven by the increased sales, the comparable operating profit for Group Products grew from the comparison period. Operational challenges in Indonesian lure manufacturing continued to burden the comparable operating profit of the segment.

Third Party Products

With comparable translation exchange rates, the sales of Third Party products grew by 7.2% from the comparison period. Increased sales were driven by growth in third party rod and reel business in many European markets, the expansion of hunting business as well as third party winter sports business in the Nordics.

Following the increased sales, comparable operating profit for Third Party Products increased from the comparison period.

Net Sales by Segment

  FY FY Change Comparable
MEUR 2018 2017 % change %
Group Products 174.6 168.8 +3% +7%
Third Party Products 87.8 84.5 +4% +7%
Total 262.4 253.3 +4% +7%
      


  H2 H2 Change Comparable
MEUR 2018 2017 % change %
Group Products 80.1 73.9 +8% +8%
Third Party Products 39.8 38.6 +3% +6%
Total 119.9 112.4 +7% +7%
      

Comparable operating profit by Segment

  H2 H2 Change FY FY Change
MEUR 2018 2017 % 2018 2017 %
Group Products 3.2 1.6 +100% 17.2 13.0 +32%
Third Party Products -1.7 -1.5 -9% -0.5 -1.6 +69%
Comparable operating profit 1.5 0.1 +1400% 16.7 11.4 +46%
Items affecting comparability -2.0 -2.2 +7% -1.9 -2.6 +27%
Operating profit / loss -0.5 -2.1 +76% 14.8 8.9 +66%
 

Financial position

Despite the improved profitability, cash flow from operations decreased by 12.5 MEUR from the comparison period being 6.7 MEUR (19.1). The impact of net change of working capital to cash flow from operations was -11.1 MEUR (11.6) as, contrary to previous year, cash was tied to inventories. Accounts receivables also tied more cash following the sales growth.

December 2018 inventory value was 99.1 MEUR (92.5). In addition to sales growth, the ramp-up of a centralized lure buffer inventories in Estonia serving the European market also increased inventories. Even though the year-end inventory value was higher than last year, 12-month average inventory decreased from the previous year and the average inventory to sales -ratio improved from last year.

Net cash used in investing activities decreased by 1.7 MEUR from the comparison period amounting to 4.7 MEUR (6.4). Capital expenditure, consisting mostly of normal operative capital expenditure, was 6.4 MEUR (6.0). Net acquisitions were 1.5 MEUR lower than last year as there were no acquisitions in 2018. Disposals, related to a sale of a real estate and sales of certain manufacturing equipment were 0.7 MEUR higher than in 2017 amounting to 1.7 MEUR (1.1).

Liquidity position of the Group was good. Undrawn committed long-term credit facilities amounted to 49.9 MEUR at the end of the period. Gearing ratio increased and equity-to-assets ratio weakened slightly from last year. Leverage level (ratio between net interest-bearing debt and reported EBITDA) was below covenant limits and the Group is compliant with all financial covenants.

Group equity includes a hybrid loan of 25.0 MEUR issued in May 2017. The accrued non-recognised interest on hybrid bond at December 31, 2018 was EUR 1.3 million (0.8). The accrued interest of EUR 1.3 million, resulting from the decision to pay dividends, was paid out in May 2018 and was recognized as a deduction from Group’s equity.

Key figures

  H2 H2 Change FY FY Change
MEUR 2018 2017 % 2018 2017 %
Cash flow from operations 0.7 11.1 -94% 6.7 19.1 -65%
Net interest-bearing debt at end of period 70.3 67.8 +4% 70.3 67.8 +4%
Gearing % 47.8% 47.5%   47.8% 47.5%
Equity-to-assets ratio at end of period, % 53.2% 53.9% 53.2% 53.9%
Definitions and reconciliation of key figures are presented in the financial section of the release.

Strategy Implementation

The Group updated its strategy in 2017. Following the conclusions of the strategy update, in order to build a solid financial and operational platform for long term growth, the Group’s primary focus in the coming years will be on capturing organic growth opportunities in the fishing tackle business. The Group will also take determined actions to improve its profitability, lighten balance sheet and improve operational performance. In longer term, the target is to return to a more aggressive growth track and actively seek synergistic growth opportunities also outside the fishing tackle business.

The Group’s existing assets and capabilities form the foundation for future strategies, both in short and long term. Future strategies are built upon utilizing and capitalizing the brand portfolio, manufacturing and sourcing platform, research and development knowledge, as well as the broad distribution network and strong local presence around the world supporting the sales of Group’s own and selected synergistic third party products.

The execution of the updated strategy is progressing on all levels in the Group. Several organic growth projects are ongoing in all businesses utilizing deep market and customer understanding. Special focus has been set to leverage Group’s global innovation power to address growing product categories and niches within fishing. Synergistic hunting products have been added to the distribution portfolio in certain countries to leverage the existing distribution network.

Several key strategic projects in the Group relate to changes in the distribution agreements with Shimano announced on January 18, 2019. The Group will cease to distribute Shimano-products, mainly rods and reels, during 2020 in the Group’s fully owned subsidiaries and Shimano will cease to distribute Rapala-products in April 2019. Accordingly, the Group will gain direct full scale access to the large European fishing markets in Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and Benelux countries, previously served by Shimano. Additionally, these changes will enable the Group to consider approaching the rod and reel category strategically on a global basis. The Group is already selling Rapala Group branded rods and reels in some countries and the Group will intensify and accelerate the development of this category in the future. The Group’s sales of Shimano products in the countries where the Group’s distribution of Shimano products will terminate in 2020 was some 27 MEUR in 2018, representing ca 10% of the Group’s total sales.

Significant focus and resources are allocated to streamline internal supply chains and to develop sales and operations planning to achieve lower group-wide inventories and improved service levels. Centralized fishing lure buffer inventory for European market was established in Estonia during 2018. The build-up of the buffer stock increased inventory levels temporarily at the year-end. Some warehouses in East Europe were also closed during 2018 to centralize delivery operations to bigger units.

In order to develop global manufacturing operations, lean projects are ongoing in several factories. One of the key projects for the Group is to execute a sustainable profitability turnaround for the Indonesian lure manufacturing operations. Certain low performing product categories are now being fully outsourced from the factory. Additionally the unit’s management resources have been strengthened, manufacturing operations are to be simplified and non-core production processes to be outsourced.

The Group has made investments in group-wide common IT systems and resources to increase efficiencies and enable better end-to-end supply chain and product management. Common ERP system was implemented to Scandinavian countries in 2018. The Group has also increased sales and marketing investments towards digital channels and direct consumer contacts in order to exploit these opportunities stronger in the future. Increasing proportion of Group’s products sales is reaching consumers through digital channels, either by e-tailers, omni-channel retailers or Group’s own e-commerce platform. Leveraging the experiences from Group’s US e-commerce platform, a content driven Rapala e-commerce website was successfully launched in European Union in May 2018 to promote the Rapala brand and offer improved consumer experience.

Product Development

Continuous product development and consistent innovation are core competences for the Group and major contributors to the value and commercial success of the brands. The Group has reorganized and boosted its lure product development procedure by centralizing the research and development know-how and key resources to one location in Finland that serves both the European and Asian lure manufacturing units.

Product development cycles are getting shorter which allows faster reaction to market needs and developing trends. Product launch schedules are more flexible and can be better adjusted to target specific markets’ seasons.

One of the most important product launches of the year were a European-wide coordinated launch of a series of new pike lures, which started in January in France and reached its full year sales targets already in the first six months. Sufix 131 G-Core braided line was launched at the European Fishing Tackle Trade Exhibition in June, where it was voted the Best New Braided Line. The new Rapala Super Shadow Rap lure – part of the new pike series – received the Best New Hard Bait award.

On the second half of the year at the ICAST exhibition, held in Orlando, Florida in July, VMC Tokyo Rig and VMC Neko Skirt were introduced to the bass fishing market, and VMC Neko Skirt was voted Best New Terminal Tackle of the show. Storm 360GT Searchbait Swimmer was another successful ICAST launch, extending the popular soft bait range. Additional extensions of the Rapala hero lure families like the Rapala RipStop Series were also introduced to the market.

Preparations for global and local new product launches for the year 2019 were well under way.

Organization and Personnel

Average number of personnel was 2 772 (2 736) for the full year and 2 742 (2 696) for the last six months. At the end of December, the number of personnel was 2 651 (2 626).

Short-term Outlook and Risks

Market outlook for North America is positive and the Group has a strong order book for 2019. The Group sees continued healthy consumer demand for its products via old and new channels. Furthermore, the Group’s position with major customers in North America is strong. In Europe, the price competition in certain product categories has increased and the markets continue to be very competitive. Overall, the Group expects to grow sales in Group Products.

The Group has launched various strategic initiatives to boost organic growth and improve cost and capital efficiency as well as operational performance in the future. These initiatives, together with projects relating to changes in Group’s partnership with Shimano, will continue to trigger some additional expenses and investments in 2019.

The Group expects 2019 full year net sales with comparable FX rates to be around the same level as in 2018 and comparable operating profit (excluding mark-to-market valuations of operative currency derivatives and other items affecting comparability) to increase from 2018. However, there is slightly lower visibility to sales of Shimano products in 2019 in those countries which are affected by the changes in the distribution agreements. Furthermore, the potential slowdown in global economic growth might have some impact on retail and consumer demand. In addition, weather changes may affect the sales of the Group.

Short term risks and uncertainties and seasonality of the business are described in more detail in the end of this report.

Other significant events

New Share-based Long-term Incentive Plan for Group’s key employees

On February 16, 2018 the Group announced that the Board of Directors of Rapala VMC Corporation has approved a new Performance Share Plan for the Group key employees. The aim of the new plan is to align the objectives of the shareholders and the key employees in order to increase the value of the Company in the long-term, to retain the key employees at the Company, and to offer them a competitive reward plan that is based on earning and accumulating the Company’s shares. The new plan is directed to approximately 40 people, including the CEO and other members of the Executive Committee of the Group.

The new Performance Share Plan 2018—2020 includes one three-year performance period, calendar years 2018—2020. The potential reward from the performance period will be based on the Group’s financial performance criteria which will be measured during the financial year 2020 and the Company’s share price criterion which will be measured during a measurement period of forty (40) consecutive trading days in November-December 2020. The Board of Directors may also resolve on other 40 trading day measurement periods. The financial performance criteria for the performance period are the Group Product sales in 2020, the Group’s Comparable Earnings before Interest and Taxes margin in 2020 (EBIT %) and the Group’s Average Working Capital Ratio in 2020.

The rewards to be paid on the basis of the plan correspond to the value of an approximate maximum total of 900,000 Rapala VMC Corporation shares including also the proportion to be paid in cash. The potential rewards from the performance period 2018—2020 will be paid partly in the Company’s shares and partly in cash in 2021. The cash proportion is intended to cover taxes and tax-related costs arising from the reward to the participant. As a rule, no reward will be paid, if a participant’s employment or service ends before the reward payment.

A significant proportion of the reward allocations of the CEO and other members of the Executive Committee of the Group will be dependent on their personal investments in the Company shares and share ownership of the shares acquired through such investments.

Proposal for profit distribution

The Board of Directors proposes to the Annual General Meeting that a dividend of 0.06 EUR for 2018 (0.04 EUR) per share is distributed from the Group’s distributable equity and remaining distributable funds are carried forward to retained earnings. It is proposed that the dividend is distributed in two equal installments. At December 31, 2018 the distributable equity in Group’s parent company totaled 20.4 MEUR.

No material changes have taken place in the Group’s financial position after the end of the financial year. The Group’s liquidity is good and the view of the Board of Directors is that the distribution of the proposed dividend will not undermine this liquidity.

Financial Statements and Annual General Meeting

Financial Statements for 2018 and Corporate Governance Statement will be published in the beginning of week 10 commencing on March 4, 2019. Annual General Meeting is planned to be held on March 28, 2019.

Half Year Financial Report 2019 will be published on July 19, 2019.

Helsinki, February 15, 2019

Board of Directors of Rapala VMC Corporation

For further information, please contact:

Jussi Ristimäki, President and Chief Executive Officer, +358 9 7562 540
Jan-Elof Cavander, Chief Financial Officer, +358 9 7562 540
Olli Aho, Investor Relations, +358 9 7562 540

A conference call on the financial year result will be arranged today at 11:00 a.m. Finnish time (10:00 a.m. CET). Please dial +44 (0)330 336 9104 or +1 323 794 2558 or +358 (0)9 7479 0360 (pin code: 028386) five minutes before the beginning of the event. A replay facility will be available for 14 days following the teleconference. The number to dial +44 (0) 207 660 0134 (pin code: 7833646). Financial information and teleconference replay facility are available at www.rapalavmc.com.

Attachment