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Edited Transcript of LTEN.PA earnings conference call or presentation 24-Jul-19 3:45pm GMT

Q2 2019 Alten SA Earnings Call

Aug 1, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Alten SA earnings conference call or presentation Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 3:45:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Bruno Benoliel

Alten SA - Deputy CEO

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Conference Call Participants

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* Anthony Dick

Societe de Bourse Portzamparc, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Charles Lepetitpas

ODDO BHF Corporate & Markets, Research Division - Analyst

* Derric Marcon

Societe Generale Cross Asset Research - Equity Analyst

* Gregory K. Ramirez

Bryan Garnier & Co Ltd, Research Division - Analyst

* Laurent Daure

Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Head of IT Software and Services Research

* Matthieu Lavillunière

Invest Securities, Research Division - Financial Analyst of Technology

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Welcome to the occasion of this Alten teleconference reporting on H1 2019 results.

Moving on to the delegate General Director reporting live.

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [2]

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Thank you very much for attending our teleconference reporting on the H1 2019 results. As we're able to discover in the press release, H1 activity has been in line with that of last year's and has remained sustained in France as internationally.

Alten has achieved a consolidated revenues of EUR 1292.3 billion as at end of June 2019, up 17.5% against last year. In France, activity has been up 13.4%. Outside of France, 21%. The organic growth base has remained high throughout the half year, greater than 12%. The organic growth of Q2 stands at 12.4% after Q1 at 12.6%. Organic growth at 12.5% for the half year contributed to 4.3% of the growth and ForEx at 0.7%. Indeed, 27% of the activity of Alten has been achieved in currencies and it's exclusive USD and the Swedish krona, and that relates to the ForEx impact.

Indeed, this year, H1 has accounted 1 negative calendar day against last year and has been penalized activity (inaudible) to 0.7% number of working days constant. The organic growth would have stood at 13.2%, making up for the negative impact in terms of calendar effect in terms of H1.

On the contrary, H2 should account for 0.7% of the calendar effect. So a net 0.7% of calendar effect in H2 and should make up the negative effect of H1 in terms of negative calendar effect. Q2 2019, with a total growth of business, reaching 17.5% as in Q1. Organic growth has been up 12.5%, 14.3% in France, 10.9% outside of France. The activity rate in H1 stands at 91.9%, slightly down against last year. It was 91.8% in H1 and 92% in -- 91% -- 91.8% in Q1, 92% in Q2. Alten employees, 35,500 employees, of which 31,200 consultants for a total headcount of 33,700 at the end of December 2018. Total headcount has grown by 1,800 since the end of 2018. So hence -- and this relates to the organic growth return of 1,180 employees, 420 related to acquisitions.

So looking at all the geographical areas. They've been growing in the course of this half year. In France, activity is growing, 13.4%. The most dynamic areas are aerospace, thanks to Airbus [OP] and OEMs. Life Sciences, and thanks to pharmacy. Energy plus 14%; as well as nuclear, plus 21%; and oil and gas, plus 11%. So the activity has grown across all of the clients except for Total. The growth has remained sustained in rail/naval, 24.5%, and in DS, 23.3%.

Automotive industry accounting for, while a significant area, has experienced growth below that of the average growth within the group's OEMs, including PSA, has been making progress but has been going down across the OEMs in the automotive industry. Internationally, growth has been heterogeneous depending on geographical areas. On a per geographical areas basis, North America activity up 24.6%, of which 17% organic growth in 2018. This will come as no surprise. We'll have automotive industries plus 33% with Volvo, Ford and Honda as well as OEMs going up. Energy plus 7 -- plus 55%, and thanks to PMO and Agile, so consulting-related activities.

Life Sciences, plus 57%. Thanks to pharmacies -- pharmaceutical industries, medical equipment. Finances and service industry, plus 13%. In Germany, the activities has become -- has recovered since the end of 2018 with organic growth penalized by 1 negative calendar effect and against -- so as a result of Q2.

Growth stands at 4.4% in the half year, up 5.5% in the automotive industries, accounting for 46% of revenues and 5% in aerospace. The activity in aerospace has been going up, well not with the OEMs but with the contractors. And this relate to, notably, the activities like Tech Doc that's been stabilized against the end of last year.

In Scandinavia and Nordic countries, growth stands at 21%, of which 11% related to organic growth. Finland, again, for 20% of revenues of Nordic countries. Growth has reached 13%. So notably, 10% related to telecom with Ericsson in Sweden. And most importantly, diversification of the portfolio, and this has allowed us to reap the benefits in the field of industrial equipment goods, 44%. So a dominant area. Obviously, automotive industries as well as heavy trucks. This has slowed down at 6%, accounting for 52% of the Swedish revenues.

In Spain, organic growth has slowed down, during -- with this second quarter, has been penalized by 1 negative calendar effect or day against last year, standing at 8.3% in the course of this half year. Only the defense sector has grown 13%, as for the other significant sectors, they've been going up 4% to 8% across the board.

Let's go to Southern Europe now. Italy, the pace of growth has been maintained. And a particularly high level 20% with 1 negative calendar effect. And the activity has been driven by finance service industries, plus 31%; defense sector, 32%; EMM, plus 19%; and industry is plus 25%. In Asia Pacific, it's still driven by China, organic growth at 48%. China, auto, EMM, [IRO] and India, in the -- so EMM and telecom for the local markets. In the U.K, we've seen a growth of 4% as a result of major sectorial disparities as you are aware of. O&G in the U.K. only account for 4% of revenues, (inaudible) 50% against last year. But other sectors of activities have grown particularly in terms of the year subsidiaries around the world and conversely, nuclear. Thanks to the EDF project, has been up 17%. The aerospace sector is plus 17%. OEM sectors, automotive industry, 27%. And this one has slowed down.

Finally, and so these service industry accounts for 15% as a result of the Brexit-related context in Belgium. The activity has stabilized as a result of the discontinuation of significant project and made up for and other sectors going up. So in Belgium overall, aero plus 35%; energy, 78%; EMM, 24%; and pharma has been stable.

So in the Netherlands, growth has been stable with significant work packages. And we can see that we've -- showed that we were capable to support major projects.

So coming back to the Netherlands, the growth has been stable driven by the electronic and semiconductor sectors. Other activities has been experiencing some difficulty. The financial services, plus 9%, account for 18% of revenues is in Netherlands. Industries, plus 25%. And life sciences going up over in excess of 25%.

If we now look at our activities from the point of view of pure income sector, all of the sectors' activities has been growing this year even O&G. Automotive industry accounted for 20.9% of revenues, has been up 9%, and the continuation is in-line with last year.

OEMs. In OEMs, the average growth stands at 10% with the likes of SCA, Toyota, Arun, Volvo cars, Volkswagen, Porsche, Daimler, PSA and has gone down with the likes of BMW, Ford, Tata and GLR. And so we can see that we've seen with OEM the average cost stands at 8.5%. With the likes of Bosch, Bosch Magna for Asia, others has been going down. The likes of countryside of Valeo, Magneti, the [Farrington] the naval, accounted for 4% of revenues.

Aerospace, 16.1% of revenues, quite a sustained pace. 17.5% with OEM growth has been mainly related to Airbus wins and AH with a very strong growth with Safran, RR and Dassault.

Defense & Security, 4.7% of revenues, up 17% related to the likes of Airbus, the Thales, Safran, Leonard and BDA. Energy, 10% of revenues, up 10.5%. Growth has sped up 5.3% related to O&G. And except for Total in terms of growth for the first time since 2014. This has been the turnaround of the activity in the sectors.

So everyone has been experiencing growth except for Total. So we have -- so the growth rate has accelerated in nuclear with over 21%. Thanks to activities [VDF]. Other industries account for 5.7% in revenues, accelerating their growth pace to 18% in Q2, 16% on average in H1. And due to industrial OEMs and goods manufacturers, telecoms and with the likes of Ericsson in Sweden, so achieving 9%, telecoms has delivered good performance in Q2.

And the Q1, so growth of 9%. So Ericsson in Sweden, in the U.S. and India, has driven apart from Ericsson or the OEMs in the market have slowed, -- has seen that growth slowing down. And this is a result of the like of significant projects in 5G as things stand. So 5G should be launched or is ought to be launched in the near future. The network is going to be rolled out, deployed in the first days -- will be starting as early as 2020. Electronic equities, multimedia accounted for 6% of revenues, growth of 11.5%. Thanks to the MicroElectronics and Semiconductors, with additional accounts the likes of ASML. Infineon advances to HP and the e-commerce sector, Amadeus, as a case in point.

Finance and services, 18.5% of revenues, up 7.7% and the sector sees a slowdown in Q2. External growth, our tenders has achieved 6 acquisitions internationally during Q1. The third proportion of that are the occasion of our latest call, and we acquired a company in the U.K., mostly in the U.K., in Australia and U.S. as well. This is a company operating in project data management in the automotive industry, delivering EUR 11 million in revenues last year.

In India, we acquired small companies. We completed an acquisition in the field of semiconductors, a small acquisition. And this company has achieved EUR 8.5 million in revenues, employing 260 people. In Denmark, we completed the acquisition of very small companies, 45 people, and with extremely interesting referencing in the LS business lines. And so in the first half year 2019, performance of the group has been satisfactory. The economic context, economic environment remains favorable and in line and results of the groups are in line with the first quarter and first half year. It's likely that the results will be double-digit between -- for the whole year. So in systems continuing and being rolled out in identical situations so that we've been describing it.

I shall now hand it over to the participants. If you can just open the call so that the participants can submit their questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) We have first question from Gregory Ramirez.

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Gregory K. Ramirez, Bryan Garnier & Co Ltd, Research Division - Analyst [2]

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Bruno, 2 quick questions. From what you've been describing, you're telling us the recruitment context has remained favorable. I was wondering, isn't there any overheating areas in terms of recruitment in every one of the countries that the group operates in? That would be the first question, meaning in terms of the capacity to recruit or hire. And the second question on acquisitions. Could you give us some indications as to the profitability of these assets?

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [3]

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As to the recruitment. Well, things are not obviously easy given the context. Nothing new. So we have a wide variety of types of recruitments going on and so we have consultants in charge of recruitment and they have not reported on specific challenges in the field regarding acquisitions. If I can give you indications pertaining to margins, given the size of companies, the management systems are pretty -- if not absent, they're pretty basic. So we have to work out the margins post-acquisition. So the one company we bought, we took over in the U.K. achieved a growth of 4%. So 11% in India in semiconductors and the one we bought, we took over in Denmark. As betas, 4%. So if we are capable of optimizing the loss of contracts of these companies, we'll probably see this figure going up in terms of the EBIT.

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Operator [4]

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Next question from Charles Lepetitpas from ODDO.

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Charles Lepetitpas, ODDO BHF Corporate & Markets, Research Division - Analyst [5]

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Quick question on the margin of the (inaudible) 20. We know that they are negative calendar effect. I understand that the German market has been challenging in H1 and has been in IFRS 16 positive effect. Can you quantify these impacts, please? If you can assist us, I'm not into get into the details of the Q1 margin. But as you've highlighted, losing 1 days of work that stands at 0.7% on the revenues and 0.5% to 0.6% on the margin.

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [6]

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So in these situations -- we've experienced these situations in the past. If we -- so this gives you an idea as to the landing in terms of the margins. Now in terms of the H1. H1 has been challenging in Germany and other geographical areas as well. The margin for Germany will not be satisfactory in H1 but will not be worse than that of last year. Because last year, we've experienced challenges in the subsidiaries. So even if it stays limited, it will not impact from a differential standpoint against last year the margins of H1 overall. And there are also positive effect we should note if we consider that the pluses make for the minuses is very simplistic way of looking at it but will have -- very well accounts have now been closed for H1. And they are still in progress, and there will be no specific or any particular surprises as to the margins overall.

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Charles Lepetitpas, ODDO BHF Corporate & Markets, Research Division - Analyst [7]

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Maybe one question on the financial sector. Any specific accounts that have been -- have come to your mind as examples of slowing down?

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [8]

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The sector of insurance, banking sector as well. Now talking about the U.K. because here in the U.K., it's really clearly slowing down in France and other countries as a result of the impact slowing down. The performance of the banking sector are not as strong this year against last year, and we've seen this in the size of tendering and corporate tenders, as a result of this, growth that we had last year. I think the pace of growth has slowed down. I think we'll have a second half year in keeping with the first half year. We're not anticipating a growth to accelerate in the banking sector.

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Operator [9]

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(Operator Instructions) We have one question from Laurent Daure from Kepler Cheuvreux.

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Laurent Daure, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Head of IT Software and Services Research [10]

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Two questions here, Bruno. I want to come back to the Q2 recruitments. So Q2 recruitments has been not such a clear improvement. Maybe there's an issue with regards to the churn rate. Could you clarify what is happening there recruitment-wise?

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [11]

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Please, indeed. Recruitment. Net recruitment of Q2 have been less. Well, not as good as those of Q1. And if we compare to last year, it's not good compared to Q2 2018. Although Q1 was more or less in line with Q1 2018. So between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019. The Q2 recruitment drive has been unprecedented. And so we end up in this, more or less the same configuration as when we had Q2. There was lower in net recruitment. And then we had a very a strong end of the year with lots of recruitments going on in September and October period. So this is what I can -- so for the time being, maybe this is too early days to come to some conclusions. But what happened in Q1 and Q2, especially in France, that we've seen an acceleration of people leaving. Although the start of the quarter has gone pretty well. And we had so many as those at end of June. So we'll have to see between incoming and outgoing people.

And we've seen lots of major projects that have been discontinued in Q2 in the field of Aerospace. And this -- people have now been rehired on new projects. This is one of the impacts. This has impacted the recruitment because matches have recruited but not to the same extent. So this has created -- this has generated an imbalance. And we've seen a slowdown in banking, financing and insurance industries. So sales managers who've been authorized to recruit have obviously slowed down their recruitment drive and -- with the inter-contract period.

And still with France because this is where the action is happening, there's a phenomenon related to the growth of offshore. Here we can almost work out the ratio between the number of hired engineers in France versus the increase in headcounts in offshore in jobs notably in the automotive industry. So as a result, when a project is driven in France or even more so than last year, there can be a kind of off-shoring results if we take revenues in France. So what happens is the headcounts are no longer in France, for the most part. They're now in Morocco or outside of the borders of France. As a result, this can be seen in French headcounts. And this -- and if we look at France and international operations, that explains the imbalance at the expense of France. And the revenues are accounted for in France, yes.

So the diluting, in fact, it means that -- so you should have the local side. So more internationally related.

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Laurent Daure, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Head of IT Software and Services Research [12]

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For a similar price in terms of the -- how would that translate in terms of extra revenues? I can see dilution in terms of your offshore employees, more really overall positions. I'm talking about growth here. If you have onshore/offshore a stable pricing, if we look at an estimate and the fact of having more headcount, why -- because you're going to be recruiting in areas where the labor price is lower.

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [13]

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Without any figures to back this up, it's really difficult to answer those questions. So when it comes to onshore and offshore, we have achieved a plus 115; in India, 130. That's 250 people recruited. This is over the quarter. So the average stands at 125, 130. If you look at the impact, this can be measured as the recruitment delta. So this gives you the lost revenues.

This is only theoretical because, in fact, if you can't meet a request of average price, it stands at a certain -- at a given level. There will always be competitors able to optimize their cost, their pricing, employing or recruiting locally. With what margins? I don't know. But in fact, the onshore and offshore debate is as long as we're going to defend market shares in terms of our responsiveness to positively respond to a client request even in difficult context allows us to maintain our revenues which we would have lost had we not done what we did And so we can take the market 10% lower or 15% lower in offshore. This becomes a kind of a margin. We eat up our margins so -- to meet our clients' requirements in terms of the product because that's what we are here for irrespective of the fact that we've seen significant growth in onshore as this -- such is the case right now. This generates significant issues when it comes to getting things organized, logistics aspects, in terms of Telecom, in terms of managing people. So it's not as simple as it seems in switching significant headcounts from France, Germany to Morocco and/or India.

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Laurent Daure, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Head of IT Software and Services Research [14]

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So in terms of the average price, because you're seeing increase in prices on onshore headcounts but you have dilution in offshore, so what's the -- have you managed to work out an average price?

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [15]

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And so as we switch to offshore, we need to look at this pricing by sector because this is really about the aeronautic sectors and Telecoms as well as well as Automotive. And so in these sectors of activities, we've seen prices going down on a financial basis, not sales basis, right?

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Laurent Daure, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Head of IT Software and Services Research [16]

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Yes. I get it, yes. And when you look at in terms of these projects, the average cost of headcounts, have you managed to regain your margins, your corporate margins in terms of percentage?

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [17]

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In percentage, yes, sir, because, well, we protect our minimum gross margins. Even if we switch part of the activities onshore, we're going to be in driving projects between 35%, 40% of gross margin. And these are project gross margins, this is not the company, the group gross margins because we have to take into account the inter-contracts, trainings, ramp-up and local investment cost which might be used or unused on the projects. It's like direct project costs, and we're going to extract our margin rates.

Now the impact of this evolution of the business is that the effort is in Europe, and German technical teams are in Europe. So they are European priced. So overall, if we try to work out these pooling efforts, this is really about maintaining the levels of margins.

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Laurent Daure, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Head of IT Software and Services Research [18]

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I don't know if you can share with us the -- whether you've had a direct or indirect feedback from the clients as to how things have panned out. And between -- so -- and maybe possible risks? Should there be an acceleration of the business in Europe?

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [19]

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To be honest with you, not that I want to undo the questions, I don't think I am the best person to answer this question because I don't know how these -- I don't know about the various modalities or processes of onboarding depending on projects, business lines where synergies are going to be -- or are delivered, what the impacts for clients are. Were their high market positions too high at times even? Will clients appreciate the approaches in the same way or will have a kind of business line-related approach, an approach driven by the technical sort of teams? So I don't know. I'm not even sure that -- we need to see how this applies and what's the experience out there over the course of 6 months to a year.

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Laurent Daure, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Head of IT Software and Services Research [20]

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So this is not a stress-generating issue in terms of -- so far as you're concerned?

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [21]

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No. It is not.

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Operator [22]

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Next question from Derric Marcon from Societe Generale.

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Derric Marcon, Societe Generale Cross Asset Research - Equity Analyst [23]

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Bruno, Derric. To refer to Laurent's questions, at (inaudible) [977] for Q1, we've been okay, and [226] in Q2. And moving along, how do you reconciliate the comments for France, showing even for automotive industry is picking up.

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [24]

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In terms of the showing in Q2 in France, there's a double effect. So there is what we have onboard, and that is a very strong effect. Then we have a snapshot as of the 30th of June, which means that we're almost stable on the half year -- or quarter [sorry, says, the speaker] or going up and then going down. Because what happened is that headcounts have continued going up until the 15th of May, and then we start -- we started taking in major missions. Following this, people continued to produce. Meantime, as this part of Laurent's questions on offshore and onshore projects, the revenues have been driven by France.

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Derric Marcon, Societe Generale Cross Asset Research - Equity Analyst [25]

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And then we have -- so what you described is coming as subcontracting operations for France. Now if you look at the snapshot at end of June, if you work out the onboard growth, so on Q3, Q4...

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [26]

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No. That's not how we work this out in the way we've rendered those calculations to validate the 8% at least of H2 growth.

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Derric Marcon, Societe Generale Cross Asset Research - Equity Analyst [27]

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Yes, indeed. Okay. And a final...

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [28]

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I think we -- I'm pretty convinced, I'm pretty sure we'll be delivering this -- we'll deliver this 8%.

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Derric Marcon, Societe Generale Cross Asset Research - Equity Analyst [29]

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In France, can you give us the Q2 growth? Because you said there's an evolution in Q1 and Q2.

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [30]

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I don't have this figure offhand. Well, I will give you this figure later. This is at group level. So on a like-for-like scope, our perimeter, 11 9 in Q1, a little bit more in Q2, which is not below the levels of growth we had experienced. It's been going on for 18 months now. So if we hire -- you get used to these levels of double-digit growth, you get used to doing 9% or 8%. There's a tax loss of some assets. So challenging environment indeed.

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Operator [31]

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Next question from Anthony from Portzamparc.

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Anthony Dick, Societe de Bourse Portzamparc, Research Division - Research Analyst [32]

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Bruno, a few questions. Just to come back to acceleration of growth in Q2. So have you smoothened out the calendar? Or what about the maybe recruitments? Could these maybe hamper your growth, your dynamic? So in the aerospace sector, remaining pretty dynamic in this sector. Do you have any visibility in 2020 on projects, notably in digital, and -- as we are expecting a strong growth next year, right?

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [33]

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It's impossible to answer. 70% of growth in aerospace next year seems to me unachievable because there's -- lots of major, major projects have been launched over the past years in the portfolio. A call for tenders this year there, we've seen fewer projects in the pipeline, so accounted for several millions of euros. There are major projects in data science, digital and manufacturing and engineering and notably on design. And these have been in progress.

To come to the answer specifically, because we would need to know about the budget, the clients' budgets for, I'll say, 2020 and the technical impacts or engineering impact, we'll be able to kind of grasp a better idea of this next year. But I don't think we will obtain such a level of growth. This is what I would say.

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Anthony Dick, Societe de Bourse Portzamparc, Research Division - Research Analyst [34]

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So yes, there was one question about the growth in France which I wanted to put to you, and this is about what Derric asked about. There were 60 days in Q2. So 60 and 62 days. This is calendar effect. The delta is quite minor. Activity rate is comparable, by and large, to that of last year. So this has been related to growth achieved at the end of Q1. And with the significant growth portfolio there, as I explained, irrespective of the fact that we have a slight de-growth, in fact, if we talk about number of people in a project, then we've -- and there's been an evolution in pricing. Few changes there. How is Q3 recruitment going to evolve with the fact of not having increased the prices in Q2. Will this hamper the onboarded growth in Q3 and in -- against the 2018 market?

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [35]

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So the curve has flattened out until the end of Q2 in actual fact. And this will have an effect not on Q3 growth. On top of that, Q3 is freed up by paid vacations in Q2. But if recruitment in Q3 remain -- were stable or flat...

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Anthony Dick, Societe de Bourse Portzamparc, Research Division - Research Analyst [36]

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What about organic growth?

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [37]

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The net recruitment in Q2 stands at 266% in -- for international operations, minus 40 in France as of the 30th of June. And we acquired 420 people or we hired in 420 people internationally. So organically and internationally, we've seen a decline in headcount.

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Anthony Dick, Societe de Bourse Portzamparc, Research Division - Research Analyst [38]

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We're not -- no, we're not -- headcounts are not going down. It's just that headcounts are not growing to the same extent, right?

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [39]

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That's...

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Anthony Dick, Societe de Bourse Portzamparc, Research Division - Research Analyst [40]

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Okay. I just want to clarify. So what about the turnover rate?

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [41]

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It is stable, around 24%. 25%. No change in the trends. So major number of people leaving at the end of May will not impact the turnover rate. And we'll also see if we'll continue to see more people leaving than we have, as we should, at the end of every month. They will -- well, then we'll have to wonder what's happening in terms of turnover, but there's no specific warning from the part of the managers as was the case in 2017 as a number of -- or greater number of people leaving the engineer population, or the most of us who will put in place a network, a major network with people who are in charge of meeting, interviewing engineers on a regular basis, making sure they're happy with their projects.

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Anthony Dick, Societe de Bourse Portzamparc, Research Division - Research Analyst [42]

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What about their career development and the likes?

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [43]

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Satisfaction rate has been stable.

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Operator [44]

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Next question comes from Matthieu Lavillunière from Invest Securities.

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Matthieu Lavillunière, Invest Securities, Research Division - Financial Analyst of Technology [45]

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I just had one question on Germany. Can you come back in more details as to activity in Germany and Germany updates? I think there's -- well, you need to describe the improvements in the automotive industry. What about the dynamic? Are we to expect a slowing down? Or more specific for them and specific to the quarter.

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [46]

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I gave you 2 or 3 items of organic growth. So Q1 to Q2 and H1. So there's one negative -- so calendar effect. So had we not have that, we'll probably be talking 4.5%. So this is a minor slowing down. So 1 point between Q1 and Q2 allows to -- in terms of the activity rate in Germany, this depends on the commercial activity, but it's very much linked in the way projects start off with clients as we have more and more work packages in Germany. So major sized projects as opposed to many countries. We've seen many customers, many clients. If an agreement is given on a project, they will not go for -- they will wait for all the administrative procedures to start it to, actually start a project. So when in France, even if we technically have to recover or to process orders, engineer can start a merger, yes. But in Germany, it doesn't work like that. Clients give their approval for project starts. And then sometimes, a project only starts 2 weeks, 3 weeks later either because the client is not ready or because the order has not been validated and approved for some levels of the companies. And then we will then have to start a project once all of users completed. So we'll have this particular concern to manage for Germany.

So growth has been heterogeneous in the sale of the automotive industry. We've seen OEMs, automotive industries, so groups doing, well, calls regarding the whole of the automotive industry is going down, but the growth has been heterogeneous. So just because the growth has been -- so slightly more limited in Q2 but only slightly.

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Operator [47]

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We don't have any further questions for the time being. (Operator Instructions) Next question from Matthieu Lavillunière.

Oh, he's disconnected. We don't have any further questions. (Operator Instructions)

We don't have any further questions.

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Bruno Benoliel, Alten SA - Deputy CEO [48]

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Well, such is now the case. Well, I will close the teleconference. Thank you very much for attending and enjoy your summer recess. Enjoy your vacations. And we shall meet again on the 20th of September when the quarter results of Alten will be published. Thank you very much and goodbye.

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Operator [49]

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Ladies and gentlemen, the conference is now over. Thank you very much for attending. You may now

(technical difficulty)

[Statements in English on this transcript were spoken by an interpreter present on the live call.]