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Edited Transcript of RATO B.ST earnings conference call or presentation 28-Apr-20 8:00am GMT

Q1 2020 Ratos AB Earnings Call

Stockholm May 12, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Ratos AB earnings conference call or presentation Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at 8:00:00am GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Helene Gustafsson

Ratos AB (publ) - Head of IR, Press & Sustainability

* Jonas Ågrup

Ratos AB (publ) - Acting CFO

* Jonas Wiström

Ratos AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director

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Conference Call Participants

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* Derek Laliberte

ABG Sundal Collier Holding ASA, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Mikael Löfdahl

Carnegie Investment Bank AB, Research Division - Research Analyst

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Ratos Interim Report January to March 2020. Today, I am pleased to present Jonas Wiström, CEO; Helene Gustafsson, Head of IR and Press; and Jonas Ågrup, CFO. (Operator Instructions) I'll now hand the call over to your speakers. Please begin.

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Helene Gustafsson, Ratos AB (publ) - Head of IR, Press & Sustainability [2]

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Good morning, everyone, and welcome to today's telephone conference where Ratos' CEO, Jonas Wiström; and interim CFO, Jonas Ågrup, will present Ratos report for the first quarter 2020. After the presentation, a Q&A session will follow. Now I leave the word over to Ratos' CEO, Jonas, to present the results.

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Jonas Wiström, Ratos AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [3]

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Thank you, Helene, and good morning, everyone, and welcome to this call where we will present the Q1 numbers for Ratos.

Let's move over to Slide #2, that is.

Well, we all talk about COVID-19 these days. And of course, it's had an impact on Ratos Group as well. We view it as a moderate impact of COVID-19. As most companies, we were affected mainly in March.

We have companies in different sectors, as you know, and the impact varied quite a lot. So we tried to group the companies into significant negative impact, which is the case for Aibel and Oase; moderate impact for Bisnode, Diab, HL Display, Kvdbil and TFS; and quite minor impact in airteam, HENT, LEDiL, Plantasjen and Speed, and I'm, of course, returning to these companies.

In general, we see our industrial companies have not suffered so much from supply chains, and production has, with the exception of China in the first half of March, end of February, has worked quite okay. Of course, all companies have implemented different measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, and I will come back to that as well.

Our priorities is, of course, the health and safety, liquidity and our EBITA in that order. And I'm quite happy to see how our governance model works now, with a closer contact with the company's less need of call in for Board meetings to take quick decision about, for instance, restructuring measures. This governance model serves us very well right now in this time.

So let's move to Slide 3.

I've been talking since I started off here in 2018 that we need to shift to the trend. We need to get into a positive trend of earnings, and I'm happy to be able to say that we have done so. Now we will have to see what the effects of the COVID-19 will have on us going forward.

In Q1, if we start on that, our sales has grown by 7%, actually 10% organically. We have divested Speed, as you know, in Plantasjen, and we have had 1% negative currency effect.

Our EBITA is growing 43% from the quarter, which we think is quite good. This is, of course, a small seasonable quarter for Ratos, as you know. More interesting is maybe to look at the rolling last 12 months numbers. We have had a healthy growth for quite some time now, and the number is plus 12% for the rolling 12 months, and EBITA is up 32% rolling last 12 months.

So with this, I would like to turn into Page 4 and go a little bit deeper into the first quarter.

Again, the sales grown organically with 10%. The main contributors for this growth is Aibel, HENT, Diab and Plantasjen. But it's worth to note that 8 out of 12 companies actually shows organic growth in this quarter in spite of the coronavirus. The EBITA increase is driven by Diab, HENT, Bisnode, TFS, Speed Group, HL Display and airteam. So the majority of the companies are also actually increasing their EBITA in the quarter.

And I'm at least as happy for the continuing improving of our cash flow from our operations, both in the quarter and in the rolling last 12 months. And to dig a little bit deeper into this and on our financial position, I would like to hand over to Jonas Ågrup to comment on this.

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Jonas Ågrup, Ratos AB (publ) - Acting CFO [4]

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Thank you, Jonas.

So if we look at the cash flow for the first quarter, we had a positive development. We were -- we had a better cash flow than in the first quarter last year. Main contributors were HENT, HL Display and airteam.

If we start to look at HENT, we saw a positive development of net working capital, mainly related to increased contract liabilities. If we look at HL, working capital in that company is actually quite low. They are performing well. So if we look at the working capital, they are tying up around 8% of rolling 12 months net sales, which is a very nice and fine number. In the quarter, working capital buildup in CapEx was lower than prior year for HL. And then if we look at airteam, we had also a very good strong cash flow in the first quarter, and this was mainly related to advanced payments from customers in larger projects.

We are working a lot on increasing focus on reducing net working capital or working capital. And of course, we are also looking into and working hard with improved earnings. And the profit improvement journey continues.

If we look at Q1, as Jonas said, it is a seasonally weak quarter with, in general, quite low activity levels. And we see in Plantasjen especially, but also in the Oase, we see seasonal inventory buildup in the first quarter. Because for these 2 companies, quarter 2 is a very strong and important quarter.

If we look at profit before tax, we had minus SEK 85 million in the quarter for the Ratos Group. We were hit by higher financial expenses, and this is mainly related to currency effects. So we had a negative currency effect in the financial net of SEK 42 million this year compared to SEK 10 million the prior quarter -- the first quarter last year. And also, we had a negative effect when we have the -- we used the equity method to consolidate Aibel since we only own 32% of the company. We had a negative result in the first quarter this year of SEK 28 million and it was a positive result last year of SEK 23 million. So we had a hit of roughly SEK 50 million in this quarter compared to the first quarter last year.

If I then move on to Page #5, you see the table of the leverage of the Ratos companies.

If we look at -- if we take the Ratos companies and look at the leverage and then we also include Ratos parent company net cash position, the leverage is 3.3x. And if you look at the table, you can see that we are actually improving in most of the companies. 8 or 9 of the 12 companies, we are actually improving. We see overall improved EBITA, but also lower net debt, I would say, with the exceptions for Aibel and Oase Outdoors where we actually see increased net debt.

If I move on to development. Aibel -- and the leverage for Aibel is impacted by lower EBITA. Oase Outdoors had a negative effect of COVID-19 in the first quarter. And we are in the company also, as I mentioned earlier, building up for the high season in Q2. And for Plantasjen, we continue to be on a quite high level, 7.3x.

If we look at the Ratos' net cash position, and this is the holding company, Ratos AB, we have a net cash position of roughly SEK 1.4 billion. And then we have also a loan facility of SEK 1 billion, which is unutilized.

So back to you, Jonas.

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Jonas Wiström, Ratos AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [5]

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Thank you, Jonas.

And then let's go into our business areas and our companies.

Starting with Construction & Services. Business area as a whole grew with 16%, EBITA grew from SEK 71 million to SEK 76 million.

Let's start with Aibel. We actually grow the organic net sales with 42%. Still, EBITA went down from SEK 53 million to SEK 29 million. How that is -- why is that? Well, you all know that Norway has taken tougher measures than, for instance, Sweden when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. If we -- we should bear in mind that at the close of the quarter, the order book amounted to NOK 16.3 billion. In addition to this, Aibel has a significant order value in the joint venture with Keppel FELS from Singapore of the DolWin 5 offshore wind projects. And wind projects now stands for roughly 40% of Aibel's order book.

Turning back to Norway. During the quarter, foreign labor totaling some 400 employees have been forced to leave Norway. Another 200 offshore personnel was demobilized from sea due to the infection risk. Aibel's Spanish subcontractor, Navantia, they are working as a subcontractor for the Johan Sverdrup P2 project, a very large project for Aibel. They have been forced in Spain to temporary close their operations.

So there are several effects on many of the projects due to the COVID-19 outbreak, although the projects as such technically are developing according to plan. But this together with the development of the -- quite dramatic development, one might say, of the oil price, has led to increased provisions for unforeseen events coming forward. And for you who have followed Aibel a couple of years, you know they want to avoid negative surprises in the end of these big projects. So -- and we are happy for this conservatism, which has served us well. This time, of course, it hits our profit numbers significantly, both in Aibel, of course, but also in Ratos. Again, as a precaution -- to take all precautions possible, Aibel has prepared to temporary lay off 3,000 employees if the future will look darker than it does today.

Then airteam, which is a company that have had minor effects of COVID-19 so far, actually minor than we thought in the beginning, net sales grow by 9%. EBITA, a small quarter again for airteam, but the EBITA grow or doubled from SEK 3 million to SEK 6 million. Both the Swedish and the Danish operations are actually developing quite well. And we can see positive effects also in Sweden in profitability and growth. The order book is higher than ever with DKK 941 million. And during the first quarter, airteam secured a major ventilation and cooling contracting connection with construction of a new underground line to Copenhagen's Sydhavn district. The effects we can see from COVID-19 in airteam is some small effects so far in the service sectors where customers are more restrictive to take in service people due to the risk of infection.

HENT grow their sales with 10% during the quarter, EBITA up from SEK 18 million to SEK 35 million. There has been a stabilization in the project portfolio, although, of course, challenges remain. Recently awarded projects developed well, and cash flow in the first quarter was, as Jonas has mentioned, strong. In the quarter, HENT signed an agreement with the Norwegian State Administration Authority of Statsbygg for the construction of the largest building in the new government quarter in Oslo. This project is worth around SEK 1 billion and is expected to start next summer 2021. We're quite happy with the fact that the public stack sector now stands for roughly 2/3 of the current order book. The corona effects were minor in the quarter, but in the end of the quarter, we could see more effects. The activity level in the project was roughly 80%, 90%. And we expect that this will continue at [average] level in the second quarter, and that have a negative effect on the results can therefore be expected.

Speed Group, growing net sales with 2%, significantly improving their EBITA from a negative result to plus SEK 6 million. Has not been so much affected during the quarter. It's mainly the book distribution that has been affected -- negatively affected. In the quarter, we signed a 3-year agreement with Mondiale Publishing Company, and those operations we'll see the effects of in January next year. The big improvement of EBITA is driven by the measures we were taking around -- or they were taking around productivity and OpEx in the last year's program. Of course, a lot of safety measures are taken in Speed Group as well with different kinds of scenario plannings, but we have -- including, of course, preparations for possible terminations, et cetera. But so far, Speed Group is developing well.

So with that, let's move over to Consumer & Technology. The business area had a drop in net sales of 6%, mainly driven by Oase Outdoors. And the EBITA was negatively affected again due to Oase Outdoors but also Plantasjen.

So starting with Bisnode, which had no growth in the quarter. Net sales was -- organic net sales, I should say, was down 1%. Bisnode are in 2 areas: credit solutions and business information. Credit solutions actually developed positively in the end of the quarter, while the performance of marketing solutions was poor due to the coronavirus, of course. The EBITA has improved from SEK 46 million to SEK 58 million. And it's mainly driven by the efficiency projects and measures taken during 2019, with lower costs and a more scalable product portfolio. So we're happy to see the results improving in spite of the corona pandemic. The outlook for coming quarters is uncertain, mainly due to the marketing solution offer.

Let's move over then to Kvdbil. Had a very strong 2 first months in the quarter, but in March, we saw a quite sharp slowdown. I stated in my report to the market that we could see some stability in the end of March. But nevertheless, March was affected. All in all, KVD managed to actually take market shares in a very weak broker sector for cars and machinery in the quarter.

Then Oase Outdoors, down 28% in organic sales, down EBITA with 50%. Oase has had big impact from closed stores in their main markets and also camp sites in their core markets. People tell me Oase must be a great company to have now when people will not travel with airplanes to different parts in the world. They will be out in the nature. However, the camp sites are closed so far. And the official measures that will be taken in different countries will decide whether Oase Outdoors will gain from this COVID-19 or if it will continue to be a big problem for the company.

So then I ask you to move to Slide 8, business area, Industry.

The business area actually grow 5% and EBITA increased significantly from SEK 89 million to SEK 128 million, mainly driven by Diab and TFS. Well, Diab had a good sales development during the quarter and an even better EBITA development, from SEK 37 million to SEK 67 million. Although Diab actually was affected by COVID-19. Of course, I mentioned the factory problems we had in China. The factory there are now working almost 100% and logistics are working. But I'm impressed to see despite of the corona effects, the company -- which they've handled extremely well, I think. One should know that their factories are not only in China, but also in the mid of the pandemic area in Italy, where they have been able to keep production up almost 100% during the quarter.

The greatest challenge for the future would be logistics and distributions from factories. We see the wind market continue to be strong, whereas aerospace and marine segments are going down. The order situation and the trend remains positive, with a slight downturn in Europe and U.S. -- and being offset by U.S. and China. The wind segment in China has start to grow significantly.

HL Display had actually 2 very strong first months in the quarter. As you know, HL's customers are grocery retail, who are doing very well in these times. However, COVID-19 hit us or hit the company quite badly in March due to almost a closedown of France, which is a very important market for HL Display. And we have -- or HL Display has broadened its range to include sales of protective equipment for the retail food sector. Revenues are expected to decline, but very much is depending how the development in France and U.K. will be in the coming quarters.

LEDiL had a negative organic net sales with 3%, which affected the EBITA, going down from 18% to 14%. Order intake is still fairly good. However, operational costs are still on a too high level.

TFS, finally. You might remember that TFS did a restructuring program with a new CEO in December. That is the main reason for EBITA growing significantly to another level. Sales were increasing 1%. However, although TFS is participating in COVID-19 clinical studies, the main business is outside COVID-19. Of course, that's just a small project so far. And it's very difficult now for TFS to perform and conduct their clinical studies at hospitals since, you all know, they're limited during this intensive part of the corona pandemic.

So with that, I think I've gone through all the companies in our group. And just as a summary then.

We have continued to grow our business, both strong sales and EBITA development. Our financial position is stable or strong, thanks also to the good work Jonas talked about when it comes to working capital. So we have strong cash flows.

However, as you know, the Ratos has -- the proposed Ratos dividend was withdrawn from our AGM in April. And instead, the Board intends to call the shareholders to an extraordinary AGM in the year -- later in the year if the market has stabilized at this time and the company's visibility in earning has normalized. And we will, of course, continue to focus to mitigate the effects on the COVID-19 pandemic.

So with that, Helen, I think I've gone through Ratos. And I guess we're open for questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) First question is from Derek Laliberte from ABG.

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Derek Laliberte, ABG Sundal Collier Holding ASA, Research Division - Research Analyst [2]

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I have a question here on -- I mean several of the companies you mentioned only had a minor impact in Q1 from the coronavirus crisis. I mean are there any of this with this minor impact that you see more significant risks going ahead here for the rest of the year? Is there any of those companies that's worth highlighting in particular?

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Jonas Wiström, Ratos AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [3]

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It's a very good question. Of the companies, I would maybe put HENT there. Plantasjen, I'm, in a sense, least worried about. You saw the positive sales development in Q1. The concern or the worry could be for Plantasjen that the authorities would take measures to reduce shopping or closing down stores, et cetera. We see no signs of that now, but that is sort of the risk we see there.

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Derek Laliberte, ABG Sundal Collier Holding ASA, Research Division - Research Analyst [4]

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Okay. And with regards to Plantasjen, how big has the e-commerce part of the business grown to? I'm thinking -- I mean just like you mentioned with Oase, that some people might -- when they can't travel abroad, they might care more about their gardens and plants, et cetera. But if maybe they can't go to the store, they don't -- sort of they are to go to the store, I mean is this e-commerce business well prepared enough to handle more pressure? Have you seen any trends just with that increase?

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Jonas Wiström, Ratos AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [5]

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It's a very good question. And I can't give you a number actually other than to say that the internet part is a minor, minor part of Plantasjen. What we do in Plantasjen is to have certain opening hours for people in risk groups, and of course, maintain distance, et cetera, et cetera, in the stores as such. So -- but the e-commerce for Plantasjen will grow, but it will have no significant impact on the Q2. But that is more a long-term project we're into in e-commerce for Plantasjen. But for Q2 and Q3, we will see the absolute majority coming from the stores.

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Derek Laliberte, ABG Sundal Collier Holding ASA, Research Division - Research Analyst [6]

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Okay. That makes sense. And finally, on Aibel. Clearly, the backlog and the order book looked very good heading into the year. Now we're in a situation here where some projects could be delayed or I guess even canceled. Could you remind us here a bit on how the revenue recognition works? I mean for instance, if an ongoing project is put on hold, what happens to the quarterly revenue development in the broader picture?

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Jonas Wiström, Ratos AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [7]

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Yes. As to my knowledge, no project is on hold. And we can arrange for you a special session with the CEO of Aibel at some time. But no project is on hold. You have followed us for a while, and you might remember how the revenue and profit development worked out for the one side of P1 projects where we in the end of the project have very low revenue and very high EBITA. Aibel is a company that is very conservative in recognizing profit from the projects, and I think it has served the company well. So -- but again, the uncertainty is, of course, and right now quite large, and therefore, they have taken these safety measures when it comes to EBITA recognitions from the projects.

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Operator [8]

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(Operator Instructions) We have a question from Mikael Löfdahl from Carnegie.

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Mikael Löfdahl, Carnegie Investment Bank AB, Research Division - Research Analyst [9]

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Most of my questions were actually answered. But just 1 follow-up on Plantasjen and the balance sheet. I guess operationally, it seems to be moving in at least a decent direction when it comes to sales. But what about the debt situation and your discussions with banks and the need of capital injection. Could you say something about that?

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Jonas Ågrup, Ratos AB (publ) - Acting CFO [10]

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No. I can't say anything about the discussion with the banks. I think we have a good relation through the banks in the consortium. Q2 is, of course, a very cash strong quarter for Plantasjen. So I think it's a good question, but it's even better in the end of the year than right now, if I put it that way. We focus now on to handle the negative currency effects that hit Plantasjen to some extent in the Q1. We were, of course, disappointed with negative EBITA when sales was growing so well. And that is sort of the focus right now. And it's no focus on the bank discussions. As of now, we're focusing on doing a good EBITA now in Q2.

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Operator [11]

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And there are currently no further questions registered so I'll hand the call back to the speakers. Please go ahead.

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Jonas Wiström, Ratos AB (publ) - CEO, President & Director [12]

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In that case, Helene, I will again like to thank you all for participating in this morning call in a rainy Stockholm. Let's hope the sun comes back soon for Plantasjen and us all.

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Helene Gustafsson, Ratos AB (publ) - Head of IR, Press & Sustainability [13]

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Thank you. And if you have any follow-up questions, please don't hesitate to contact any of us.

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Operator [14]

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This now concludes the conference call. Thank you all for attending. You may now disconnect your lines.