- Record performance across key measures
– Revenue growth of 4%, with an underlying increase of over 7%
– EBITDA of €1,545 million, a 25% improvement. Group EBITDA margin of 17.3%
– Pre-exceptional basic EPS up 58%
– Strong free cash flow of €494 million, an increase of 61%
– ROCE of 19.3%
– Net debt to EBITDA ratio of 2.0x
- Significant acquisition activity with acquisitions in France, the Netherlands and Serbia
- Refinancing of senior credit facility and bond issuance of €1 billion
- Proposed final dividend increase of 12% to 72.2 cent per share
Performance Review and Outlook
Tony Smurfit, Group CEO, commented:
“Our 2018 performance demonstrates the Group’s transformation of recent years, which is delivering progressively superior returns. This creates the platform for success in 2019 and beyond. The Group delivered on or exceeded its key measures. This reflects our market-leading positions, our innovation capability and investment decisions. Above all else, it reflects an unrelenting focus on delivering value to our
customer base, a performance-led culture and the quality of our people. EBITDA of €1,545 million is materially better than 2017, representing a 25% increase, with a corresponding EBITDA margin of 17.3%.
“Our European business performed very strongly in 2018 with underlying revenue growth of 7%. This was driven by a combination of demand growth, input cost recovery and the benefits of our investment programme.
“The Americas region had underlying revenue growth of 8% and our business continued to improve as the year progressed with particularly strong performances in our major markets of Mexico and Colombia. Across the region, we have seen progress in input cost recovery, demand growth and, as with our European business, the benefits of our investment plans.
“The Group has made significant progress on its Medium-Term Plan since its announcement in February 2018, together with continued expansion of its geographic reach, including acquisitions in France, the Netherlands and Serbia. These acquisitions are well positioned in their respective markets and offer great opportunities for future growth, adding three paper machines and four converting sites to the Group’s operational footprint.
“The Group is proud to support and develop the many Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives in the countries in which we operate. Such initiatives are consistent with our long-term commitment to support and develop programmes that benefit our communities, and form an integral part of our corporate values. The year also marked a significant shift in consumer awareness as to the benefits of renewable, recyclable and
biodegradable paper-based packaging as against less environmentally friendly materials. As the leader in our field, we launched our ‘Better Planet Packaging’ initiative, which will progressively promote our products and allow us to leverage our unique applications to capitalise on this opportunity and help us deliver a more sustainable world.
“After almost 65 years of successfully operating in Venezuela, due to the continuing actions and interference of the Government of Venezuela the Group deconsolidated its Venezuelan operations in August 2018. The Group has initiated international arbitration proceedings to protect the interests of its stakeholders and seek compensation from the Government of Venezuela for its unlawful actions.
“While we are always conscious of macro-economic risk, SKG is very well positioned to capitalise on industry opportunities and to deliver consistently excellent performance for all stakeholders. The current year has started positively, and together with the continued development of sustainable packaging, e-commerce and other demand drivers, SKG has an exciting future.
“Reflecting its confidence in the strength of and prospects for our business, the Board is recommending a 12% increase in the final dividend to 72.2 cent per share.”
Source: Smurfit Kappa