Ghent, 13 September 2019 – 17.00 CET – Press Release / Regulated Information

ABO-Group, the engineering firm specializing in construction, environment and energy, today announced its 2019 consolidated financial half-year figures.

Highlights of the first half of 2019

  • Geotechnics: key growth driver of the group
  • Organic revenue growth of 8.3%
  • EBITDA +61% (+35.3% excl. IFRS 16)
  • Loss-making division closed down
  • New sustainable building opened in Marseille

Outlook

  • Acquisition of Innogeo successfully completed
  • Targets confirmed
 H1 2018
In € 000
H1 2019
In € 000 (*)
Change
In € 000
Change
In %
Per share
In €
Revenue21,78223,6001,8188.3% 
Total operating income22,34824,0021,6547.4% 
EBITDA2,0463,3031,25761.4%0.31
Depreciation1,2962,07577960.1% 
Operating profit7501,22847863.7%0.12
Financial result-185-328-143-77.3% 
Profit before tax56590033559.3% 
Net profit32860127383.2%0.06
Net profit (group share)32655823271.2% 
      
Total equity14,05015,7071,65711.8%1.49
      
Balance sheet total39,93549,3649,42923.6% 

(*) The new IFRS 16 standard applies as of 1 January 2019. This had a positive impact of €534k on the H1 2019 EBITDA, albeit offset by a negative impact of €509k on depreciation and of €54k on the financial result. Consequently, the total impact of IFRS 16 on the H1 2019 net profit was €-22k.

Highlights of the first half of 2019

Geotechnics: growth driver of the group

In line with the strategy, the geotechnical division is the group’s growth driver. Revenue in that division increased by 14% in the first six months. For the first time, the geotechnical activities account for more than 50% of the group’s revenue. Soil & Environment also reported a solid 9% growth. The downturn in Asbestos & Energy is entirely attributable to the energy division, where a major framework contract came to an end, while the asbestos division continues to report a double-digit growth. The decrease in other revenue is the result of the phase out and integration of the international division.

 H1 2018
In € 000
H1 2019
In € 000
Change
In € 000
Change
In %
% of
Revenue
Geotechnics10,53512,0121,47714.0%50.9%
Soil & Environment9,58010,4558759.1%44.3%
Asbestos & Energy1,1231,067-56-5.0%4.5%
Other54566-478-87.8%0.3%
Revenue21,78223,600+1,818+8.3%100%

Organic revenue growth of 8.3%

The group reported an overall organic revenue growth of 8.3%, which is well above the target of 5%. Each of the three home countries contributed to this result, with France and the Netherlands even reporting a double-digit growth.

 H1 2018
In € 000
H1 2019
In € 000
Change
In € 000
Change
In %
In %
Revenue
France9,11910,368+1,249+13.7%43.9%
Belgium7,5428,074+532+7.1%34.2%
The Netherlands4,5995,114+515+11.2%21.7%
International52244-478-91.5%0.2%
Total revenue21,78223,600+1,818+8.3%100%

France

The geotechnical division, which accounts for more than 80% of revenue in France, is driven by large-scale projects, such as the development of transport infrastructure (e.g. SNCF, Grand Paris), industrial sites (EDF, Engie, …), and new infrastructure for the Olympic Games in Paris. The environmental division reported an 8% growth.

Belgium

Belgium reported an organic growth of 7%, driven by strong growth at ABO (soil and environment), Geosonda (geotechnical fieldwork) and Translab (measurement of asbestos in ambient air & laboratory activities). Environmental fieldwork (temporary fall-off in complex drilling assignments) and the energy department (end of a framework contract) performed less well.

The Netherlands

The Dutch construction market continues to do well, although the growth was primarily driven by the environmental fieldwork division as capacity was restored. Nevertheless, the further geographical expansion and accompanying investment in staff and equipment still fall short of yielding their maximum return. An organic growth of more than 11% was realized.

International

The group reoriented its international strategy following the disposal of the business activity of Ecorem NV with effect from 1 March 2019. International assignments are now covered by the existing brands and group companies instead of being sought in the context of a distinct business segment. In the first six months, for example, Sialtech and Geosonda carried out assignments in Sweden and Poland.

EBITDA +61%

The solid revenue growth is reflected in a strong increase in EBITDA by 61% to €3.3 million. The implementation of the new IFRS 16 standard already resulted in an organic growth by €534k. On a like-for-like basis, a clear and convincing leap of 35% can be seen. The traditional mainstays of the group, ERG Géotechnique and ABO, both recorded a solid year-on-year improvement. Depreciation increased from €1.3 million to €2.1 million, of which €0.5 million is attributable to the application of IFRS 16. In a number of operating companies, decisions to invest in staff and equipment have increased costs, without so far producing the desired results. Further operational improvement would therefore seem a realistic assumption. All in all, the operating profit has already increased by 64%, from €750k to €1,228k. The financial charges increased due to a combination of higher debts and the impact of IFRS 16. The higher overall profitability means higher taxes. The net profit is just short of having doubled, rising from €328k to €601k.

Loss-making division closed down

The unpredictability of new order intake outside of Europe prompted the group to phase out this division. The disposal of the business activity of Ecorem finalized this process.

New sustainable building opened in Marseille

In France, the new multipurpose and green office building in Vitrolles opened at the beginning of April. The building is strategically well located, next to the airport of Marseille Provence and with a direct connection by train and high-speed rail to Marseille and other cities.

It has a floor area of 1,200 m² and includes a warehouse and geotechnical laboratory, along with 60 workstations. The total investment was just over €3 million, which was virtually entirely financed by bank loans. The building provides room for growth of both the environmental and geotechnical divisions.

The full set of figures (consolidated income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement, and statement of changes in equity) is attached to this press release.

Outlook

Acquisition of Innogeo completed

On 1 July 2019, ABO acquired the French geophysics engineering firm Innogeo. For ABO this means a valuable addition to the product portfolio. A first integration and synergy exercise has already been successfully completed. The services of Innogeo can also be deployed in Belgium and the Netherlands for many of the group’s clients. In France, however, the company has its own distinct growth trajectory. Innogeo is expected to contribute approximately €0.5 million to the group’s revenue.

Targets confirmed

ABO-Group confirms its medium-term ambition of double-digit organic and acquisitive revenue growth. Focus is on the organic expansion of the product offering (towards infrastructure, stability, urban development, etc.), machinery (complementary drilling techniques), and tapping into new geographical markets. The group also continues to seek to strengthen its market position in the home countries Belgium, the Netherlands and France through acquisitions. The group screens the market intensively in search of businesses that fit into its strategy.

The second half of the year looks positive; the order book of ABO-Group is well-filled in each of its markets. This leads us to expect the second half of the year to be in a similar vein, based on a high-quality execution of orders. For 2019, the group has set itself the target of around €50 million revenue and a double-digit EBITDA margin.

Financial calendar

31/03/2020: 2019 annual figures
27/05/2020: General Meeting

Statement regarding the fair presentation of the interim condensed consolidated financial information and the fair overview of the interim report

Frank De Palmenaer, CEO, and Johan Reybroeck, CFO, declare that, to their knowledge, the interim condensed consolidated financial information for the six-month period ending 30 June 2019, which was prepared in accordance with IAS 34 “Interim Financial Reporting” as approved by the European Union, gives a true and fair view of the assets, the financial position and the results of the company and the companies included in the consolidation. The interim report gives a fair overview of the most significant events and key transactions with related parties that have taken place during the first six months of the financial year and their effect on the interim condensed financial information, as well as a description of the most significant risks and uncertainties for the remaining months of the financial year.

About ABO-Group

ABO-Group is a company listed on Euronext Brussels, specializing in consultancy & engineering, testing & monitoring in the areas of construction, environment and energy. ABO-Group endeavours to offer its customers a sustainable solution in its three home countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and France) and internationally.

A more detailed description of the group’s activities can be found on the website of ABO-Group (www.abo-group.eu).

For more information, please contact:

Frank De Palmenaer                                                            Johan Reybroeck                             
CEO ABO-Group Environment NV                                     CFO ABO-Group Environment NV                                     
investors@abo-group.eu
T +32 9 242 88 88 
Maaltecenter Blok G, Derbystraat 255,
B-9051 Ghent (SDW), Belgium

This press release is available on our website www.abo-group.eu.

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