Revenues at € 1,320.6 million: up by 11% on 2020
Outperforming the market in all geographical areas
EBITDA margin at 14.6% of revenues higher than the EBITDA margin of 2020 (11.5%) and 2019 (12.1%)
Net income from continuing operations at € 28.6 million (loss of € 18.4 million in 2020 and earnings of € 13.8 million in 2019)
Free Cash Flow positive for € 32.4 million (negative for € 38.2 million in 2020 and for € 8.4 million in 2019)
Milan, February 25 2022 – The Board of Directors of Sogefi S.p.A., which met today under the chairmanship of Monica Mondardini, has approved the proposed financial statements for 2021 presented by Chief Executive Frédéric Sipahi.
Sogefi, a company of the CIR Group, is one of the main global producers of automotive components in three sectors: Air and Cooling, Filtration and Suspensions.
PERFORMANCE OF THE MARKET
In 2021 world car production rose by 2.5% compared to 2020. After the rise of 29.2% in the first half of 2021 compared to the first half of 2020 (impacted by the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown), in the second half global production was significantly lower than that of the same period of 2020 (-16%). It was particularly affected by the difficulties experienced in the sourcing of specific parts (which also involved the temporary closure of certain production sites of some of the top global producers), shortages of raw materials and the sharp rise in the prices of the same.
In 2021 Europe reported the worst performance, with car production at -6.2% compared to 2020; production remained substantially stable in NAFTA (+0.1%) and reported a recovery in China (+4%) and Mercosur (+16.2%).
Global production in 2021 did not see a return to the volumes of the pre-pandemic period, and reported -14.1% on 2019 (Europe -27.9%, NAFTA -20.1% and Mercosur -19.4%); the only exception was China, which did substantially return to the levels of 2019 (-0.6%).
After the fall reported in 2020 and the extremely weak recovery in 2021, IHS is forecasting 8.5% growth in production for 2022.
SOGEFI’S KEY RESULTS FOR 2021
The Group’s revenues recorded growth of 11% compared to 2020, clearly outperforming the market (+2.5%); compared to 2019 revenues were -8.3%, versus -14.1% for car production worldwide.
The recovery of revenues and the action taken to counter the economic impact of the crisis made it possible to close the year with:
- “Net income from continuing operations” of € 28.6 million, versus a loss of € 18.4 million in 2020,
- Positive free cash flow of € 32.4 million (a negative € 38.2 million in 2020),
- Net debt before IFRS16 lower at € 258.2 million (€ 291.3 million at December 31 2020).
The year 2021 was also a positive year for commercial activity.
The Air and Cooling Division obtained important contracts in Europe, NAFTA and China for the supply of thermal management products for electric mobility, which contain greater added value than the average standard value of traditional products for internal combustion engines. More specifically, these new contracts were with a prime German car manufacturer for a new-generation electric platform, with two producers of electric commercial vehicles, one pure electric and the other using fuel cell technology, and with various Chinese car manufacturers of full electric vehicles.
Filtration obtained a significant number of contracts for the supply of air purification Filters and two important contracts in the NAFTA zone for transmission filters.
Suspensions extended its customer portfolio, obtaining contracts with new customers focusing exclusively on electric products. The division also obtained contracts from historical customers for orders that will be produced in the new production plant at Oradea in Romania. Of these it is worth mentioning the first contract signed with one of the principal customers for the production of coil springs in Eastern Europe.
In the current context of generalized increases in the cost of raw materials, transportation and energy, which led to a deterioration in margins in the second half of 2021, Sogefi has started negotiations with all customers aimed at adjusting its sales prices to the situation to a more complete extent than that envisaged by the indexation mechanisms contained in the contracts. Sogefi’s management is determined and confident that it will be able to reach fair agreements with all of its customers in order to continue its commercial relationships in a way that is sustainable in the long term. With some of them this objective has already been reached.
In 2021 Sogefi’s revenues came in at € 1,320.6 million and were up by 11% on 2020.
After growth of 34.7% in the first half, the second half closed with a decline of 6.2% on the same period of 2020, although this was still significantly better than the market’s -16%.
Performance of revenues by geographical area
Revenues rose in all geographical areas: +7.8% in Europe, +4.6% in North America, +22.0% in Asia, +67.9% in South America.
Performance of revenues by Business Unit
The Air and Cooling and Filtration sectors reported revenues close to those reported in 2019. The growth of Air and Cooling compared to 2020 (+8.1%) was due partly to the recovery of the market but partly also to the expansion of the contract portfolio particularly in China, where revenues were up by 18.4% compared to the previous year.
The increase in the revenues of Filtration (+10%) reflects the strong recovery in India as well as the evolution of the market.
Lastly, Suspensions posted revenue growth of 14.7%, but business remains significantly below the levels of the corresponding period of 2019 (-16.6%).
The rise in revenues mainly reflects the good performance in South America and China.
OPERATING RESULT AND NET RESULT
EBITDA came to € 192.5 million, up from € 137.0 million in 2020 and € 174.6 million in 2019; gross profitability (EBITDA / Revenues %) rose to 14.6% from 11.5% in 2020 (13.1% excluding non-recurring restructuring charges) and 12.1% in 2019.
The contribution margin remained stable (30.6% versus 30.8% in 2020 and 30.1% in 2019) and the increase in profitability was due to the decline in the impact of fixed costs on revenues to 16.3% (16.9% in 2020 and 17.2% in 2019) and of restructuring costs. It should be noted that compared to 2019 fixed costs were down by 12.8%, thanks to the action plans put in place. Lastly, the higher EBITDA was partly due to the positive effect of exchange rates (€ +2.5 million in 2021 versus € -4.7 million in 2020).
In conclusion, it should be pointed out that, as was the case in the third quarter, the fourth quarter was negatively affected by the weakness in volumes and the generalized rise in the cost of raw materials, especially steel prices for the production of suspensions, which caused a reduction in the contribution margin for the quarter from 31.5% in 2020 to 28.1% in 2021.
EBIT came to € 58.4 million, up from € 7.1 million in 2020 and € 46.4 million in 2019.
Financial expense, totalling € 17.8 million, was lower than in 2020 (€ 22.1 million) thanks to the reduction in debt and to the recognition of an item of non-recurring financial income (of € 1.2 million); tax expense came to € 13.5 million versus € 3.4 million in 2020.
Net income from operating activity came in at € 28.6 million and compares with a loss of € 18.4 million in 2020 and earnings of € 13.8 million in 2019.
The net result of discontinued operations was a loss of € 24.5 million (a loss of € 16.2 million at December 31 2020) and related to the filtration business in Argentina, which was sold in 2021 and which generated an accounting loss in the income statement of € 24.1 million, of which € 20.8 million due to the restatement of accrued exchange rate differences from shareholders’ equity to the result for the period. This had no impact either on the cash or the equity position.
The net result was a positive € 2.0 million compared to a loss of € 35.1 million in 2020 and net income of € 3.2 million in 2019.
DEBT AND EQUITY
Free Cash Flow was positive for € 32.4 million, versus cash absorption of € 38.2 million in 2020, due to the particular circumstances that occurred in 2020 and more especially to the fall in revenues, which also had an impact on working capital. In 2021 the strong recovery of Free Cash Flow reflected the positive evolution of results and the specific action taken by the Group on working capital.
Net financial debt before IFRS 16 stood at € 258.2 million at December 31 2021, lower than at the end of 2020 (€ 291.3 million) and substantially in line with December 31 2019 (€ 256.2 million).
Including financial payables for rights of use, as per IFRS 16, net debt stood at € 327.6 million at December 31 2021, down from € 358.1 million at December 31 2020 (€ 318.9 million at December 31 2019).
At December 31 2021 the Group had committed credit lines of € 280 million in excess of its requirements (after repaying its convertible bond loan of € 100 million in May).
At December 31 2021 shareholders’ equity, excluding minority interests, stood at € 187.7 million compared to € 133.8 million at December 31 2020 (€ 188.7 million at December 31 2019).
KEY RESULTS OF FOURTH QUARTER 2021
In the fourth quarter of 2021, Sogefi reported revenues of € 330.6 million, with a decline of 8.4% compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, in a market in which production was -13.2%. The fourth quarter, like the third quarter, was affected by the temporary closure of certain production facilities of top global producers; the business unit most affected by the performance of the market was Air and Cooling partly because of its greater exposure to the two markets that suffered the most (Europe and NAFTA).
EBITDA came to € 48.3 million, up from € 38.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 and € 43.1 million in 2019. The EBITDA margin was 14.6%, higher than in 2020, but in line excluding the non-recurring expenses of the previous year. The contraction of the contribution margin (from 31.5% in fourth quarter 2020 to 28.1% in fourth quarter 2021) reflects the increase in the cost of raw materials, which had a particular impact on the results of the suspensions business unit; negotiations are in progress with customers to adjust sales prices to the current conditions of the commodity markets.
EBIT was a positive € 8.9 million (€ 3.8 million in fourth quarter 2020).
The net result of operating activity was a positive € 4.3 million, versus a loss of € 2.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The net result of discontinued operations was a positive € 0.2 million compared to a negative result of € 8 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 (due particularly to the Brazilian Filtration business, which was sold at the end of 2020).
The consolidated net result for the fourth quarter of 2021 was € 3.9 million, compared to a loss of € 12.0 million in the previous year.
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE BUSINESS
In 2021, despite the continuing pandemic crisis, the effects on the market in which the Company operates were less severe than those suffered in 2020. There was, however, a general weakness in demand, which is still lower than in the same period of 2019, particularly in Europe (-27.9%) and NAFTA (-20.1%), and operating difficulties linked to fluctuating production levels and personnel absences caused by contagion and, most of all, by contact with infected people.
During the year 2021, the Sogefi Group continued to apply all the rules for health and safety in the workplace aimed at reducing the risk of contagion, namely social distancing, the use of individual protective equipment and measures to limit the presence of personnel in the workplace, i.e. working from home.
RESULTS OF THE PARENT COMPANY SOGEFI S.P.A.
In financial year 2021 the Company recognized a reversal of an impairment loss on equity investments after conducting an impairment test at December 31 2021. The reversal was for € 68.1 million (recognized to the item “Adjustments to the value of financial assets”), relating to the French subsidiary Sogefi Filtration S.A.. Thanks to this reversal Sogefi S.p.A. realized net income of € 69.9 million in financial year 2021 after reporting a net loss of € 6.2 million in 2020.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS OCCURRING AFTER DECEMBER 31 2021
No significant events have occurred since the close of the year.
OUTLOOK FOR THE YEAR
Visibility as to the market trend in the next few months remains low, mainly due to the uncertainty, still existing, as to the evolution of the pandemic and the macroeconomic situation.
There are also specific areas of uncertainty regarding the trend of demand, the generalized increase in commodity prices and their availability, as well as logistic difficulties involving transportation and sourcing from Asian markets.
For 2022, after the decline in 2020 and performance in 2021 that was lower than expected at the start of the year, IHS is estimating a recovery in world car production volumes of 8.5% compared to 2021, with Europe +20.8%, Nafta +16.6%, South America +12.5% and China substantially breaking even (+0.9%); despite the expected positive trend, 2022 production would still be lower than that of 2019 (-6.8%), especially in Europe (-12.9%), Nafta (-6.9%) and South America (-9.4%), with only the Asian market at pre-Covid levels (+0.7%).
With regard to commodity prices, given the unprecedented price boom in 2021, it is difficult to make any forecasts for 2022 and the current situation seems to be continuing in the first part of this year. To mitigate the effects of this, the Group has already started resourcing activities, putting in place measures to contain costs and taking commercial action.
In this scenario and in the absence of any currently unforeseeable extraordinary events, Sogefi expects to achieve operating profitability for full year 2022, excluding non-recurring charges, substantially in line with that of 2021, thanks to the effects of the incisive action already implemented to reduce the impact of fixed costs and structurally improve profitability and, with regard to Suspensions in particular, the gradual entry into operation of the new plant in Romania.
The Board of Directors will put before the Annual General Meeting of the Shareholders the proposal that no dividend be distributed.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE SHAREHOLDERS
The Annual General Meeting of the Shareholders of Sogefi will be held at the first call on April 22 2022 and at the second call on April 26 2022.
The Board of Directors has voted to put the following proposals before the Annual General Meeting of the Shareholders:
a) The cancellation and renewal of the authorization of the same Board of Directors, in the light of the rules stated in Articles 2357 and following articles of the Civil Code, of Art. 132 of D.Lgs. no. 58/98, of Art. 144-bis of Consob Resolution no. 11971/1999, of EU Regulation no. 596/2014, EU Delegated Regulation no. 2016/1052, of Consob Resolution no. 20876 of April 3 2019 and Consob Guidelines of July 2019, for a period of 18 months, to buy back a maximum of 10 million own shares at a unit price that cannot be more than 15% higher or lower than the benchmark price recorded by the Company’s shares on the trading day preceding each single buyback transaction or preceding the date on which the price is fixed in the event of purchases made in accordance with the procedures stated in points
(a), (c) and (d) of the following paragraph, and in any case, when the shares are bought back through orders placed in the regulated market, the price must not be higher than the higher of the price of the last independent transaction and the highest current independent bid price on the same market. As of today’s date the Company is the owner of 1,993,372 own shares, equal to 1.65% of the share capital.
The buyback must take place in the market, in compliance with the terms of Art. 132 of D.Lgs. no. 58/98 and with the terms of the law and the rules in force at the moment of the transaction and more precisely (a) through a public tender offer to buy or exchange shares; (b) on regulated markets following operating procedures established in the rules for organizing and managing the said markets, which do not allow bids and offers to be matched directly; (c) through the assignment pro-rata of put options to the shareholders to be assigned within 15 months of the date of the AGM resolution authorizing the same with exercise within 18 months of the same resolution; (d) through the purchase and sale of derivative instruments traded on regulated markets that involve physical delivery of the underlying shares in compliance with the further provisions contained in Art. 144-bis of the Rules for Issuers issued by Consob, and as per the terms of Articles 5 and 13 of EU Regulation no. 596/2014.
The main reasons why this authorization is being renewed are the following: (i) to fulfil obligations resulting from possible stock option plans or other awards of shares of the Company to employees or members of the Board of Directors of Sogefi S.p.A. or its subsidiaries, or to fulfil any obligations resulting from debt instruments that are convertible into or exchangeable with equity instruments; (ii) to have a portfolio of own shares that can be used as consideration for any extraordinary transactions, even those involving an exchange of shareholdings, with other parties within the sphere of transactions of interest to the Company (a so-called “stock of shares”); (iii) to engage in action to support market liquidity, optimize capital structure, and remunerate shareholders in particular market situations, all within the limits established by current rules and regulations; (iv) to take advantage of opportunities for creating value, as well as investing liquidity efficiently in relation to the market trend; (v) for any other purpose qualified by the competent Authorities as admitted market practice in accordance with applicable European or domestic rules, and with the procedures established therein.
b) The approval of a stock grant plan for 2022 aimed at employees of the Company and its subsidiaries, in the terms to be defined by the Board of Directors and notified to the market in sufficient time for any legal obligations to be carried out. The Stock Grant Plan has the aim of rewarding the loyalty of the beneficiaries to the companies of the Group, giving them an incentive to increase their commitment to improving the performance of the Company.
APPOINTMENT OF THE NEW CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER AND THE EXECUTIVE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PREPARATION OF THE COMPANY’S FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
The Board of Directors has approved the appointment, as from May 1 2022, of Olivier Proust as the new Chief Financial Officer and Investor Relator in replacement of Yann Albrand who should be leaving the Company on April 30 2022. Mr Proust has been working for Sogefi since 2008 and is currently in charge of the group’s treasury. Mr Proust owns 8,394 shares in the Company.
It should be noted that Mr Albrand has terminated his relationship with the Company by mutual consent; in connection with the termination of the employment there will be payment of an all-inclusive sum as a negotiated settlement (including the notice period) of euro 307,000 and he will keep the benefits that he was assigned that have not yet vested under the stock grant plans approved by the Company for the years 2018 and 2019.
According to the information available to the Company, Mr Albrand owns 74,517 shares in the Company.
In addition to the position of Chief Financial Officer, Mr Albrand was also the Executive Responsible for the preparation of the Company’s Financial Statements. After obtaining the favourable opinion of the Board of Statutory Auditors, the Board of Directors has resolved to assign the title of Executive Responsible for the preparation of the Company’s Financial Statements to Ms Maria Beatrice De Minicis, who has been in Sogefi since 2004 and is currently in charge of the Company’s consolidated accounts and reporting. Ms De Minicis is the owner of 20,570 shares in the Company.