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Amplifon S.p.A.: the Board of Directors has approved the draft financial statements as of December 31st, 2008 and examined the consolidated statement as of the same date. The main consolidated figures show:
Revenues: Euro 641.4 million, -1.7% in real terms, -2.3% currency impact for a total of -4.0% with a positive trend in the European markets.
EBITDA: Euro 74.3 million, a reduction of 19.4% due mainly to the negative performance in the USA, an area which has been particularly affected by the current economic and financial crisis.
Recurring income: Euro 17.8 million. Excluding non-recurring operations, net income is a negative Euro 14.5 million as it was heavily impacted by GBP 28 million (Euro 29.4 million at 31/12/08 exchange rates) goodwill write-down in the United Kingdom.
Significant decrease in net debt: Euro -50.2 million vs. 31/12/2007.
Free Cash Flow: Euro 62.7 million, + 33.4%.
Milan, March 11th, 2009 Today the Board of Directors of Amplifon S.p.A., worldwide leader in the distribution and fitting of hearing aids and related services, approved the draft financial statements as of December 31st, 2008 in a meeting chaired by Anna Maria Formiggini Holland.
The Groups Performance in 2008
The unfavourable economic scenario, already highlighted earlier in 2008, continued through the fourth quarter of the year particularly in the United States due to a general decline in consumption which affected spending for medical and health related treatments and in the United Kingdom, in a market made even more difficult by the competition from the public sector.
Consolidated revenues from sales and services as of December 31st, 2008 decreased by 4.0% from Euro 667.9 million reported in the prior year to Euro 641.4 million (-1,7% at constant exchange rates).
Despite this difficult context, the positive growth trend in Continental Europe, which represents more than 70% of the Groups consolidated sales, begun in the second and third quarter, continued in fourth quarter 2008. The increase in volumes recorded in the last quarter reached 8.6%, while year-on-year the increase amounted to +6.2%.
More in detail, of note are the 2008 performances in Italy (+2.5%), in Germany (+17.8%), in the Netherlands (+6.3%), in Switzerland (+15.3%) and in Spain & Portugal (+13.8%).
EBITDA is equal to Euro 74.3 million, a decrease of 19.4% when compared to the same period of the prior year. North America has been heavily impacted by the current financial crisis and contributed with Euro 2.2 million EBITDA (Euro 18.3 million as of 31st December 2007). United Kingdom EBITDA was substantially stable, despite the strong drop in sales, thanks to rationalization: negative at Euro 6.6 million (Euro -6.4 million as of December, 31st 2007). In Continental Europe EBITDA was at Euro 78.6 million (Euro 80.3 million as of December, 31st 2007) and was influenced by the dilution effect caused by the acquisitions carried out in Germany during the year.
The Groups net income from recurring operations amounted to Euro 17.8 million.
Net income, net of non-recurring operations, is negative at Euro 14.5 million and was impacted by a goodwill write-down of GBP 28 million (Euro 29.4 million as of 31/12/08 exchange rates) in the United Kingdom.
Net equity as of December 31st, 2008 amounted to Euro 184.2 million compared to Euro 222.3 million as of December 31st, 2007.
Net debt as of December 31st, 2008 amounted to Euro 190.6 million, a drop of Euro 50.2 million compared to Euro 240.8 million recorded as of December 31st, 2007. This improvement is attributable to a constant increase in cash flow from operations and a careful management of the working capital.
Short term debt amounts to Euro 64.9 million and is off set by Euro 92.4 million in cash, therefore the short term financial position is positive and equal to Euro 27 million. Medium-long term debt amounts to Euro 218.1 million.
Free cash flow (before acquisitions and dividends distribution) amounted to Euro 62.7 million, an increase of 33.4% compared to Euro 47 million reported as of December 31st, 2007 thanks to significant improvement in the management of working capital.
With regard to the parent company Amplifon S.p.A., in 2008 it recorded revenues of Euro 192.7 million, an increase of 2.5% (compared to Euro 187.9 million as of December 31st, 2007), a profit before non recurrent operations of Euro 42.6 (compared to Euro 26.2 million as of December 31st, 2007) and net loss of Euro 22.4 million (compared to a net profit of Euro 9.2 million as of December 31st, 2007).
Significant events subsequent to year-end
Subsequent to the year end, the Amplifon Group signed a framework agreement with the Siemens Group which provides for the outsourcing of the Service Division, responsible for customization, maintenance and customer care for the hearing aids distributed in Italy.
Outlook for the first half of 2009
In the last part of 2008 and in the first few months of 2009 the hearing aids market has confirmed its defensive nature.
If the North American market has been impacted by certain difficulties, albeit to a lesser degree than in other areas, with an overall drop in volumes of approximately 3%, Continental Europe has confirmed its growth trend despite the slowdown due to the difficult economic scenario.
The Groups positive performance in Continental Europe also indicates that the hearing aids market in all the countries where Amplifon is active is under-penetrated and that, consequently, interesting growth opportunities still exist.
Amplifons goal over the next months is, therefore, to maintain organic growth in this area and to focus its sales efforts in a distinctive and different way for each country in order to meet specific needs.
Considering the current economic scenario, the Groups objective in the United Kingdom is to further regain efficiency to limit the operating losses, while in the United States the goal is to invert the current negative trend and recover at least part of the previous margins.
The Group intends to implement an important plan for the American subsidiary Sonus, consisting in the conversion of current directly operated stores and network members, into franchises.
The purpose of this plan, similar to a program that was successfully implemented by the other American subsidiary Miracle Ear, is to create a network of approximately 1,000 franchisees within 5 years.
2008 results stated Franco Moscetti, the Amplifon Groups Chief Executive Officer are substantially positive for the Group if considered in light of the actual macroeconomic context and if we exclude the non-recurring events. It is very important to underline the Groups positive performance in the fourth quarter, which inverted the 2008 trend, and its ability to generate cash flow which allowed for an important reduction in the net financial position.
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