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FOURTH QUARTER SALES & FULL-YEAR 2019 RESULTS

REXEL

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FOURTH QUARTER SALES & FULL-YEAR 2019 RESULTS
TARGETS ACHIEVED FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR
ADJUSTED EBITA UP +5.1% IN FY 2019 AND RECURRING NET INCOME UP 7.5%
FREE CASH FLOW CONVERSION BACK TO NORMATIVE LEVEL AT 62.5%


FULL YEAR 2019 TARGETS ACHIEVED IN A VOLATILE YEAR, ILLUSTRATING OUR ABILITY TO NAVIGATE IN A MORE ADVERSE ENVIRONMENT

  • Sales of €13.7bn, up 1.4% on a constant and same day basis
  • Adjusted EBITA of €685.1m, up 5.1%
  • Indebtedness ratio of 2.47x, improving by 20 bps
  • FCF before Interest & Tax conversion of 62.5% (of EBITDAaL)

→ SALES OF €3.521bn IN Q4, DOWN 0.5% ON A CONSTANT AND SAME-DAY BASIS, OF WHICH EUROPE at +0.3%, NORTH AMERICA AT -1.8% and ASIA-PACIFIC AT +0.3%

ADJUSTED EBITA UP 5.1% IN FY 19, THANKS TO A MORE EFFICIENT ORGANIZATION

→ NET INCOME UP 50.3% IN FY 19 AND RECURRING NET INCOME UP 7.5%

INCREASE IN PROPOSED DIVIDEND TO €0.48 PER SHARE, UP 9.0%, PAYABLE IN CASH

2020 GUIDANCE: IN AN ENVIRONMENT OF LOW SALES GROWTH, WE TARGET ADJUSTED EBITA GROWTH OF BETWEEN 2% AND 5%

Key figures1 Q4 2019 YoY change FY 2019 YoY change3
Sales €3,520.6m   €13,742.3m  
On a reported basis   +0.7%   +2.8%
On a constant and actual-day basis     -0.2%   +1.4%
On a constant and same-day basis   -0.5%   +1.4%
Adjusted EBITA2     €685.1m +5.1%
As a percentage of sales     5.0%  
Change in bps as a % of sales2     +18bps  
Reported EBITA     €677.5m +7.1%
Operating income     €486.4m +11.6%
Net income     €203.8m +50.3%
Recurring net income     €341.2m +7.5%
FCF before interest and tax      €461.6m +€110.3m
Net financial debt end of period (excluding leases)     €1,945.9m €69m reduction

1 See definition in the Glossary section of this document   2 At comparable scope of consolidation and exchange rates and excluding (i) amortization of PPA and (ii) the non-recurring effect related to changes in copper-based cable prices 3 FY 2018 restated for IFRS 16

Patrick BERARD, Chief Executive Officer, said:

Rexel’s 2019 performance was fully in line with our guidance, making it the third consecutive year of solid results.  These results demonstrate that the business model changes initiated in 2017, more focused on customers and organic development, have resulted in value creation through continued sales and earnings growth.  Confronted with a more volatile environment in 2019, we took actions to protect our profitability without compromising continued investments in our digital transformation. Investment in digital is showing very promising results both in terms of digital sales and adoption of analytical tools. We are ready for a more challenging macro-environment in 2020 and will further capitalize on self-help measures, leverage strategic initiatives and continue investing in our digital transformation to further improve profitability.”


FINANCIAL REVIEW FOR THE PERIOD ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2019


  • Financial statements as of December 31, 2019 were authorized for issue by the Board of Directors on February 12th, 2020. They have been audited by statutory auditors.
  • Financial statements as of December 31, 2018 have been restated for changes in accounting policies, following the adoption of IFRS 16 “Leases”; Impacts of IFRS 16 adoption  and restated figures for the year ended December 31, 2018  are presented in note 3.2.1 of the condensed consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 2019.
  • The following terms: Reported EBITA, Adjusted EBITA, EBITDA, EBITDAaL, Recurring net income, Free Cash Flow and Net Debt are defined in the Glossary section of this document.
  • Unless otherwise stated, all comments are on a constant and adjusted basis and, for sales, at same number of working days.

SALES

In Q4, sales were up 0.7% year-on-year on a reported basis and down 0.5% on a constant and same-day basis, reflecting lesser momentum in industrial countries such as the US and Germany

In the fourth quarter, Rexel posted sales of €3,520.6 million, up 0.7% on a reported basis, including:

  • A positive currency effect of €44.6 million (i.e. +1.3% of Q4 2018 sales), mainly due to the appreciation of the US dollar against the euro;
  • A negative net scope effect of €15.1 million (i.e. -0.4% of Q4 2018 sales), resulting from a divestment in China in Q4 2018;
  • A positive calendar effect of 0.3 percentage points.

On a constant and same-day basis, sales were down 0.5%, including a negative effect from the change in copper-based cable prices (-0.3% in Q4 19 vs -0.3% in Q4 18).

In FY 2019, Rexel posted sales of €13,742.3 million, up 2.8% on a reported basis. On a constant and same-day basis, sales were up 1.4%, including a negative impact of 0.3% from the change in copper-based cable prices.

The 2.8% increase in sales on a reported basis included:

  • A positive currency effect of €237.3 million (i.e. +1.8% of FY 2018 sales), mainly due to the appreciation of the US dollar against the euro;
  • A negative net scope effect of €48.8 million (i.e. -0.4% of FY 2018 sales), resulting from a 2018 divestment in China;
  • A neutral calendar effect.

In 2019, digital transformation remained our priority. Our digital sales increased by 12.9% and now stand at c. €2.4bn, representing c.18% of Group sales. In Europe our digital penetration reached 26% of sales.

Europe (54% of Group sales): +0.3% in Q4 and -0.2% in FY on a constant and same-day basis

In the fourth quarter, sales in Europe increased by 0.2% on a reported basis, including a limited positive currency effect of €3.1m (up +0.2% mainly due to the appreciation of the British pound against the euro). On a constant and same-day basis, sales were up 0.3%.

  • Sales in France (39% of the region’s sales)were up 4.6%. Q4 benefited from positive momentum, thanks to large recurring project wins, digital adoption and good HVAC sales, resulting in market share gains in Q4 and in 2019. We also benefited from:
    • Increased efficiency resulting in higher customer satisfaction (Net Promoter Score improvement)
    • Continued evolution towards a data-driven company: 18.8% digital sales in Q4 19 (from 14.5% in Q4 18), development of analytics and IoT (EnergeasyConnect: 10,000 units sold in 2019 - installed base of c. 25,000), first AI use cases.
  • Sales in Scandinavia (13% of the region’s sales) were down 2.5%, with negative momentum in Norway, down 9.6% due to a difficult environment in the utility and industrial markets. Sweden was down 1.5% due to lower residential demand and Finland was up 4.2%
  • Benelux (10% of the region’s sales) posted +3.0% growth, with good momentum in the Netherlands, up +9.2%, notably thanks to photovoltaic sales (+4.2% contribution), offsetting lower sales in Belux, down 1.1%
  • In the UK (9% of the region’s sales), sales dropped by 7.4%, as a result of market deterioration, customer selectivity (-4.2%) and branch closures (-1.6%, reduction of 11 branches in Q4 2019)
  • Sales in Germany (8% of the region’s sales) were down 7.0% mainly due to lower industrial demand. The new organization should help us benefit from better trends in the construction business in 2020   
  • Sales in Switzerland (7% of the region’s sales) were down 0.4%.

North America (37% of Group sales): -1.8% in Q4 and +3.9% in FY on a constant and same-day basis

In the fourth quarter, sales in North America were up 2.6% on a reported basis, including a positive currency effect of €41.6m (or up +3.2% mainly due to the appreciation of the US dollar against the euro). On a constant and same-day basis, sales were down 1.8%.

  • In the US (78% of the region’s sales), sales were down 2.7% on lower industrial and commercial project growth, while residential and light commercial business benefited from our past initiatives, including 57 branch openings in 2017/2019 and investments in inventories and sales reps.   
    • Industrial business is down in mid-single digit, with O&G down 10%;
    • Commercial projects activity is down in low-single digit;
    • Residential is up in high-single digit, benefiting from our initiatives, including branch openings (Impact of 1.1% in Q4 19 and c. 1.2% in FY 2019, in line with objectives);
    • By region, we had good momentum in the electrical distribution business in the Northwest and California and faced a slowdown in the Northeast, Florida and the Midwest, mainly due to lower industrial demand;
    • On December 31st, we announced the refocusing on our core Electrical distribution business in the US with the agreement signed with LKCM Headwater for the disposal of Gexpro Services (400 employees, c.260M USD of sales).  The closing is expected in Q1 2020.  
  • In Canada (22% of the region’s sales), sales were up 1.8% on a same-day basis, driven by positive sales growth with large commercial contractors and industrial customers.

Asia-Pacific (9% of Group sales): +0.3% in Q4 and +1.2% in FY on a constant and same-day basis

In the fourth quarter, sales in Asia-Pacific were down 4.2% on a reported basis, including a negative scope effect of €15.1m or -4.8% following the disposal of our non-industrial business in China and a non-material currency effect (-€0.1m). On a constant and same-day basis, sales were up 0.3% (or up 3.2% restated for a large project in the Middle East that boosted our Q4 2018 performance).

  • In the Pacific (50% of the region’s sales), sales were up 3.3% on a constant and same-day basis.
    • In Australia (83% of Pacific’s sales), sales were up 5.9% with outperformance in the residential market, which remains under pressure, and good momentum in industrial EPC;
    • In New-Zealand (17% of Pacific’s sales), sales were down 7.6% on difficult industrial and commercial end-markets (agriculture notably).
  • In Asia (50% of the region’s sales), sales were down 2.5%, but up 3.2% restated for a large project in the Middle East that boosted our Q4 18 sales:
    • In China (82% of Asia), sales grew by 1.2%, despite slightly lower business than last year from a large project (-1.0% contribution to China) and a more challenging environment
    • India is up in double digits, driven by strong automation activity, offsetting the negative contribution from a large project in the Middle East that contributed to Q4 2018 (-5.7% contribution to Asia growth).

PROFITABILITY

Adjusted EBITA margin at 5.0% in FY 2019, up 18bps compared to FY 2018

In FY 2019, gross margin was up 36bps year-on-year, at 25.0% of sales, and opex (including depreciation) amounted to 20.0% of sales, representing an evolution (-18 bps year-on-year) mainly due to our growth investment (-25bps), mainly in  digital transformation, as well as cost inflation.

  • In Europe, gross margin stood at 27.3% of sales, up 57bps year-on-year. Gross margin improvement resulted from lower share of sales in lower margin countries (Germany & Spain), business selectivity in UK and positive country mix (France). Opex (including depreciation) stood at 21.2% of sales with the evolution (-32bps yoy) largely driven by our investment in digital transformation as well as transportation costs, to a lesser extent;
  • In North America, gross margin stood at 23.3% of sales. This represented a 26bps improvement year-on-year, mainly thanks to better pricing management in the US. Opex (including depreciation), stood at 18.9% of sales with the evolution (-26bps, year-on-year) largely explained by digital investments as well as negative channel mix in Canada, cost inflation (wages & transportation) and higher average number of FTE in the US (headcount reduction was initiated mid-year);
  • In Asia-Pacific, adjusted EBITA margin was down 6bps mainly due to digital investments, negative volume impact in New Zealand and investment in China to enter tier-two & tier-three cities;
  • At corporate level, opex amounted to €22.3 million, compared to €30.9 million* a year ago with higher reallocation to operations of corporate hosted expenses and lower corporate overheads compared to 2018.  

As a result, adjusted EBITA stood at €685.1m, up 5.1% in full-year 2019

Adjusted EBITA margin was up 18bps at 5.0% of sales, reflecting:

  • an improved adjusted EBITA margin in Europe at 6.1% of sales, up 25bps;
  • a stable adjusted EBITA margin in North America at 4.4% of sales, and
  • a lower adjusted EBITA margin in Asia-Pacific at 2.3% of sales, down 6bps.

In the full year, reported EBITA stood at €677.5 million (including a negative one-off copper effect of €7.6 million), up 7.1% year-on-year.

  

* restated for IFRS16

NET INCOME

Net income of €203.8m in FY 2019, up 50.3%

Recurring net income up 7.5% to €341.2 million in FY 2019

Operating income in the full year stood at €486.4 million vs. €435.8 million* in FY 2018.

  • Amortization of intangible assets resulting from purchase price allocation amounted to €14.3 million (vs. €15.7 million in FY 2018);
  • Other income and expenses amounted to a net charge of €176.8 million (vs. a net charge of €181.2 million* in FY 2018). They included €32.6 million of restructuring costs (vs. €76.5 million* in FY 2018) mainly in Germany, Spain, UK and US. They also include a charge of €118.1 million from goodwill impairment and distribution network in Norway €58.9m, New Zealand €22m, UK €21.3m, Finland €9.3m and Middle East €6.6m, as well as asset depreciation for €17.2 million related to the agreements signed for the disposal of our Gexpro Services business and Spanish export activity (both classified in assets held for sale in the balance sheet).

Net financial expenses in the full year amounted to €165.3 million (vs. €144.9 million* in FY 2018) with effective interest rate down 18bps versus the previous year at 2.62% in FY 2019.  Restated for the following items, net financial expenses stood at €96.6m in 2019 (vs €97.7m* in 2018):

  • a €20.8m expense (of which a €16.9 million redemption premium) was recognized in the first half of 2019 related to the cost of the early repayment of the €650 million senior notes due 2023;
  • a €45.5m impact of interest expense on lease liabilities under IFRS16 in FY 2019 (€45.3m* in 2018)
  • a €2.3m expense from forex and interest rate mark to market impacts (€2.6m* in 2018)

Income tax in the full year represented a charge of €117.3 million (vs. €155.3 million* in FY 2018), reflecting a decrease in the tax rate (36.5% vs 53.4%* in FY 2018), mainly thanks to the release of a tax exposure provision of €29.5m.   

Net income in the full year is up 50.3% to €203.8 million (vs. €135.6 million* in FY 2018).

Recurring net income in the full year amounted to €341.2 million, up 7.5% compared to 2018 (see appendix 3).

FINANCIAL STRUCTURE

Positive free cash-flow before interest and tax of €461.6 million in full-year 2019

Indebtedness ratio of 2.47x at December 31, 2019

In the full year, free cash flow before interest and tax was an inflow of €461.6 million (vs. an inflow of €351.3 million* in FY 2018). The implied Free cash flow conversion (FCF before Interest and Tax/EBITDAaL) improved to 62.5% vs 51.2% in 2018. The improved net inflow included:

  • Lower cash expense from restructuring (€51.9m vs. €67.3m in FY 2018, mainly due to Germany and Spain);
  • Lower cash outflow from change in working capital of €70.0 million (vs. an outflow of €159.9 million* in FY 2018). Trade working capital stood at 12.6% of sales in 2019 vs. 13% in 2018, thanks to better receivables and stable inventories; 

* restated for IFRS16

            ·Higher capital expenditure (€116.5 million vs. €90.6 million* in FY 2018), as FY 2018 benefited from the disposal of our Rockwell automation business in Australia. Gross capital expenditure stood at €125.5 million in FY 2019 compared to €118.8 million* in FY 2018.

At December 31, 2019, net financial debt (excluding €1,010 million euros of leases liabilities vs €944.5 million euros) stood at €1,945.9 million, improving by €68.8m year-on-year (vs. €2,014.7 million* at December 31, 2018).

It took into account:

  • €82.3 million of net interest paid in full-year 2019 (vs €84.3 million* paid in 2018);
  • €118.2 million of income tax paid in full year compared to €80.7 million paid in 2018, which benefited from a refund of 2017 income tax overpayment in France (€22 million) and of the 3% tax on dividends (€8m);
  • €26.4 million of negative currency effects during the year 2019 (vs a negative effect of €22.4 million in 2018);
  • €20.8m of costs related to the early redemption of the €650m bond maturing in 2023.

                    

At December 31, 2019, the indebtedness ratio (Net financial debt/EBITDAaL), as calculated under the Senior Credit Agreement terms, stood at 2.47x vs. 2.67x at December 31, 2018. The closing of the Gexpro Services transaction should take place in Q1 2020 and contribute to the acceleration in the reduction of the indebtedness ratio.


INCREASE IN PROPOSED DIVIDEND TO €0.48 PER SHARE, PAYABLE IN CASH


 Rexel will propose to shareholders a dividend of €0.48 per share, +4 cents or 9.0% higher compared to last year, representing 43% of the Group’s recurring net income. This is in line with Rexel’s policy of paying out at least 40% of recurring net income.

This dividend, payable in cash early in July 2020, will be subject to approval at the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting to be held in Paris on April 23rd, 2020.


 * restated for IFRS16

 2020 OUTLOOK


The benefits from our initial digital investments strengthen our conviction that Rexel’s evolution towards a data-driven company will reinforce Rexel’s positioning and contribute to market share gains and margin improvement.

Our priority will be to improve our adjusted EBITA margin and free cash flow generation notwithstanding the challenging environment, while continuing to invest in digital transformation.

In an environment of low sales growth and with a more challenging base effect in H1, we target for 2020, at comparable scope of consolidation and exchange rates: 

  • Adjusted EBITA1 growth of between 2% and 5%
  • FCF conversion of c. 65%
  • Further improvement of the indebtedness ratio2 (Net Debt/EBITDAaL)

The revamped business model of the company and expected results of our digital transformation will be presented during our next Capital Market Day in 2020. 

1 excluding (i) amortization of PPA and (ii) the non-recurring effect related to changes in copper-based cable prices.

2 as calculated under the Senior Credit Agreement terms

NB: The estimated impacts per quarter of (i) calendar effects by geography, (ii) changes in the consolidation scope and (iii) currency fluctuations (based on assumptions of average rates over the rest of the year for the Group's main currencies) are detailed in appendix 6.


 CALENDAR


April 23rd, 2020                                                First-quarter 2020 sales
April 23rd, 2020                                                 Annual Shareholder’ Meeting


FINANCIAL INFORMATION


The financial report for the period ended December 31, 2019 is available on the Group’s website (www.rexel.com), in the "Regulated information" section, and has been filed with the French Autorité des Marchés Financiers.

A slideshow of the fourth-quarter sales and full-year 2019 results publication is also available on the Group’s website.


ABOUT REXEL GROUP


Rexel, worldwide expert in the multichannel professional distribution of products and services for the energy world, addresses three main markets - residential, commercial and industrial. The Group supports its residential, commercial and industrial customers by providing a tailored and scalable range of products and services in energy management for construction, renovation, production and maintenance.
Rexel operates through a network of some 2,000 branches in 26 countries, with nearly 27,000 employees. The Group’s sales were €13.74 billion in 2019.
Rexel is listed on the Eurolist market of Euronext Paris (compartment A, ticker RXL, ISIN code FR0010451203). It is included in the following indices: SBF 120, CAC Mid 100, CAC AllTrade, CAC AllShares, FTSE EuroMid, STOXX600. Rexel is also part of the following SRI indices: FTSE4Good, Ethibel Sustainability Index Excellence Europe, Euronext VigeoEiris Europe 120, Dow Jones Sustainability Index Europe and STOXX® Global Climate Change Leaders, in recognition of its performance in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Rexel is on the CDP “Climate A List”.

For more information, visit Rexel’s web site at www.rexel.com


CONTACTS


FINANCIAL ANALYSTS / INVESTORS

Ludovic DEBAILLEUX +33 1 42 85 76 12 ludovic.debailleux@rexel.com
     

PRESS

Brunswick: Thomas KAMM +33 1 53 96 83 92 tkamm@brunswickgroup.com


GLOSSARY


REPORTED EBITA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes and Amortization) is defined as operating income before amortization of intangible assets recognized upon purchase price allocation and before other income and other expenses.

ADJUSTED EBITA is defined as EBITA excluding the estimated non-recurring net impact from changes in copper-based cable prices.

EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) is defined as operating income before depreciation and amortization and before other income and other expenses. 

EBITDAaL is defined as EBITDA after deduction of lease payment following the adoption of IFRS16.

RECURRING NET INCOME is defined as net income adjusted for non-recurring copper effect, other expenses and income, non-recurring financial expenses, net of tax effect associated with the above items.

FREE CASH FLOW is defined as cash from operating activities minus net capital expenditure.

NET DEBT is defined as financial debt less cash and cash equivalents. Net debt includes debt hedge derivatives.


For appendix, please open the pdf file by clicking on the link at the end of the press release.

DISCLAIMER


The Group is exposed to fluctuations in copper prices in connection with its distribution of cable products. Cables accounted for approximately 14% of the Group's sales and copper accounts for approximately 60% of the composition of cables. This exposure is indirect since cable prices also reflect copper suppliers' commercial policies and the competitive environment in the Group's markets. Changes in copper prices have an estimated so-called "recurring" effect and an estimated so called "non-recurring" effect on the Group's performance assessed as part of the monthly internal reporting process of the Rexel Group:  i) the recurring effect related to the change in copper-based cable prices corresponds to the change in value of the copper part included in the sales price of cables from one period to another. This effect mainly relates to the Group’s sales; ii) the non-recurring effect related to the change in copper-based cable prices corresponds to the effect of copper price variations on the sales price of cables between the time they are purchased and the time they are sold, until all such inventory has been sold (direct effect on gross profit). Practically, the non-recurring effect on gross profit is determined by comparing the historical purchase price for copper-based cable and the supplier price effective at the date of the sale of the cables by the Rexel Group. Additionally, the non-recurring effect on EBITA corresponds to the non-recurring effect on gross profit, which may be offset, when appropriate, by the non-recurring portion of changes in the distribution and administrative expenses.

The impact of these two effects is assessed for as much of the Group’s total cable sales as possible, over each period. Group procedures require that entities that do not have the information systems capable of such exhaustive calculations to estimate these effects based on a sample representing at least 70% of the sales in the period. The results are then extrapolated to all cables sold during the period for that entity. Considering the sales covered. the Rexel Group considers such estimates of the impact of the two effects to be reasonable.

This document may contain statements of future expectations and other forward-looking statements. By their nature, they are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, including those described in the Document de Référence registered with the French Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) on April 3, 2019 under number D.19-0264. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of Rexel's future performance, Rexel's actual results of operations, financial condition and liquidity as well as development of the industry in which Rexel operates may differ materially from those made in or suggested by the forward-looking statements contained in this release. The forward-looking statements contained in this communication speak only as of the date of this communication and Rexel does not undertake, unless required by law or regulation, to update any of the forward-looking statements after this date to conform such statements to actual results to reflect the occurrence of anticipated results or otherwise.

The market and industry data and forecasts included in this document were obtained from internal surveys, estimates, experts and studies, where appropriate, as well as external market research, publicly available information and industry publications. Rexel, its affiliates, directors, officers, advisors and employees have not independently verified the accuracy of any such market and industry data and forecasts and make no representations or warranties in relation thereto. Such data and forecasts are included herein for information purposes only.

This document includes only summary information and must be read in conjunction with Rexel’s Document de Référence registered with the AMF on April 3, 2019 under number D.19-0264, as well as the consolidated financial statements and activity report for the 2019 fiscal year which may be obtained from Rexel’s website (www.rexel.com).


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