“2017 marks a year of strong financial performance for the Group and across all Segments. We recorded profitable growth by securing wins in our markets and industries, delivered on our strategy and sustained a high EBITDA margin after offsetting sizeable investment expenses,” said Dr Roland Fischer, CEO Oerlikon Group
Strong Group performance
In 2017, Oerlikon delivered on its targets and recorded top-line growth as well as improved operating profitability across all Segments. The strong performance affirms the Group’s strategy and ability to capture business opportunities in its markets. The global economic expansion provided a steady backdrop for the upward trend in trade, export and capital investments in practically all of Oerlikon’s end markets, including automotive, aviation, tooling, general industries, energy, filament equipment, agriculture, construction and transportation.
Full-year Group order intake increased year-on-year by 24.5 % to CHF 3 005 million, including a positive currency impact of 0.7 %, while sales were 22.1 % higher year-on-year at CHF 2 847 million, including a positive currency impact of 0.8 %.
In 2017, the Group delivered on its strategy by strengthening the market and technology leadership of its Surface Solutions Segment, securing wins in the recovering filament equipment market for the Manmade Fibers Segment and successfully repositioning the Drive Systems Segment. The Surface Solutions Segment generated 48 % of Group sales and 66 % of Group EBITDA in 2017, making it the largest contributor to Group sales and profits for the year. The Manmade Fibers Segment and the
Drive Systems Segment each accounted for 26 % of Group sales. Oerlikon also saw sales growth across all regions in 2017. Europe continued to represent the largest proportion of Group sales with 39 % (CHF 1 101 million), reflecting a 13.2 % increase compared to 2016. Asia followed with 37 % (CHF 1 073 million), up 42.9 % versus 2016, and North America contributed 19 % (CHF 538 million), 8.5 % higher compared to 2016. Sales in other regions came in at around 5 % (CHF 135 million), an increase of 21.6 %. The Group generated 33.7 % of its revenue from services in 2017 (2016: 36.6 %).
Strong operating profitability, net result from continuing operations and balance sheet
Oerlikon achieved strong year-on-year growth in operating profitability for the full year, as measured by both EBITDA and EBIT. Group EBITDA increased 24.3 % to CHF 415 million, yielding a margin of 14.6 %. That compares with Group EBITDA of CHF 334 million and a margin of 14.3 % for the full year 2016. Full-year Group EBIT for 2017 was CHF 219 million, or 7.7 % of Group sales. The result from continuing operations was 78.0 % higher at CHF 146 million, compared to CHF 82 million in 2016. After including net results from discontinued operations of CHF 6 million in 2017, net income totalled CHF 152 million in 2017, or earnings per share of CHF 0.44. In 2016, the Group’s net result stood at CHF 388 million – mainly due to the positive impact from the divestment of the Vacuum Segment – or earnings per share of CHF 1.14 in 2016.
As of December 31, 2017, Oerlikon had equity (attributable to shareholders of the parent) of CHF 1 970 million, representing an equity ratio of 45 % (2016: 48 %). Net cash amounted to CHF 499 million at year-end 2017 (2016: CHF 401 million) and the cash flow from operating activities before changes in net current assets increased 50.6 % in 2017 to CHF 405 million, compared to CHF 269 million in 2016. In December 2017, Oerlikon exercised the optional one-year extension of a five-year unsecured syndicated credit facility of CHF 600 million, thus maintaining a strong financial base for further investment in core strategic businesses and new technologies, including additive manufacturing (AM), and to support future growth. The Group’s return on capital employed (ROCE) increased to 8.2 % (2016: 5.7 %).
Continued strong commitment to R&D
In 2017, Oerlikon strengthened its innovation pipeline by filing 91 patents. The company continued to invest 4 % (CHF 107 million) of 2017 Group sales in R&D, developing upgrades and new technologies to meet customers’ needs and demands. These efforts underline Oerlikon’s commitment to maintain its technology leadership in its end markets and to advance its strategic development.
Q4: ending the year strongly
For Q4 2017, the Oerlikon Group further increased top-line growth and profitability across all Segments. Order intake increased 25.8 % year-on-year to CHF 830 million (Q4 2016: CHF 660 million). Sales came in 35.2 % higher at CHF 829 million (Q4 2016: CHF 613 million).
The increase in the top line was witnessed in all Segments. The Surface Solutions Segment continued reporting growth; in particular, higher demand was noted in the aviation, automotive and general industries. The Manmade Fibres Segment recorded an increase in sales of over 85 % in Q4 2017, driven mainly by the filament equipment business but also boosted by upward sales trends in texturing, staple fibres and polymer processing. The Drive Systems Segments completed the year with very strong top-line results, registering growth in most of its markets with transportation as particularly noteworthy.
Following the strong revenues, the quarter saw strong operating profitability compared to the previous year. EBITDA came in 27.8 % higher at CHF 124 million, corresponding to a margin of 15.0 %. Q4 2016 EBITDA was CHF 97 million and the margin was 15.8 %. Q4 2017 EBIT stood at CHF 73 million, or 8.8 % of sales (Q4 2016: CHF 53 million; or 8.6 % of sales).
Based on the Group’s underlying performance improvement for 2017, the affordability from the balance sheet, and Oerlikon’s commitment to returning value to shareholders, the Board of Directors will be recommending an increased dividend payout of CHF 0.35 per share (2016: CHF 0.30 per share) at the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders (AGM), taking place on April 10, 2018, in Lucerne.
Outlook: sustaining performance in 2018
The positive development in the global economy and in Oerlikon’s key markets is expected to continue in 2018. However, certain uncertainties remain on the macroeconomic and geopolitical scene, which could impact Oerlikon’s end markets. Having established a strong foundation, financially and technologically, to further its growth, Oerlikon will execute three key drivers to sustain mid-term profitability: targeting growth markets, securing structural growth and expanding through complementary M&A.
Given Oerlikon’s strong performance in 2017 and assuming market prospects will remain positive, the Group expects order intake to increase up to CHF 3.4 billion and sales to around CHF 3.2 billion for the full year 2018, and to deliver an improved EBITDA margin, after offsetting investments, of around 15 %.
The Manmade Fibres Segment
The Manmade Fibers Segment saw a significant and positive turnaround in market demand in 2017 after two years of challenging conditions. The growth was mainly driven by a few key players in the China manmade fiber industry, but at the same time larger projects in Turkey and India could be secured as well. With its leading market position, among others, for pre-oriented and full-drawn (POY & FDY) filament equipment, the Segment was able to capture a healthy share of market opportunities.
For 2017, Segment order intake increased 40.4 % to CHF 810 million, compared to CHF 577 million in 2016. Segment order backlog increased 32.2 % to CHF 357 million at year-end 2017, compared to CHF 270 million at year-end 2016. Sales jumped 53.8 % in 2017 to CHF 740 million from CHF 481 million in 2016.
Segment profitability also improved substantially in 2017, with EBITDA more than tripling (up 256 %) to CHF 57 million, or 7.7 % of sales, compared to CHF 16 million, or 3.3 % of sales, in 2016. EBIT in 2017 totalled CHF 34 million, or 4.6 % of sales, compared to negative EBIT in 2016 (CHF -3 million, or -0.6 % of sales).
In addition to recovery in the filament equipment market in 2017, the Segment’s growth was complemented by a notable increase in global demand for staple fibres machinery and in texturing, including the delivery of its first DTY machines to a key customer in China. Good demand for bulked continuous filament (BCF) plant solutions for the production of carpet yarns was also seen in the USA and Turkey. In addition, a strong increase in sales was noted in polymer processing, driven mainly by Oerlikon’s joint venture with Huitong in this market. To position itself for future growth, the Segment has been ramping up its production capacity in all business areas. Additionally, the Segment created a separate business unit to capture opportunities in the attractive and growing nonwovens market and entered into a partnership agreement with Teknoweb Materials in Italy to add disposable nonwoven solutions to its product offering.