Wessanen: continued growth at all four businesses

Highlights Total revenue in Q4-08 was EUR 442.2 million, against EUR 411.5 million in the same quarter last year, including a positive currency effect of EUR 11.2 million. This represents 4.7% growth in constant currencies, with all four businesses contributing. Operating result (EBIT) in Q4-08 ended at EUR 18.0 million, including a gain under ‘other income’ of EUR 0.8 million and a negative currency effect of EUR 0.5 million (Q4-07: EUR 22.3 million, including ‘other income’ of EUR 7.8 million). Net result was EUR 10.5 million in Q4-08, compared to EUR 15.7 million in Q4-07. Net cash flow from operating activities was EUR 29.0 million positive in Q4-08 (EUR 3.3 million positive in Q4-07), driven by a positive development in primary working capital. Net debt reduced to EUR 214.6 million (Q3-08: EUR 231.3 million). Dividend pay-out over 2008 of EUR 0.20 per share (2007: EUR 0.65 per share) to be proposed to the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on April 22, 2009. Approaching realignment of business portfolio. Wessanen CEO Ad Veenhof stepped down with immediate effect as per February 24, 2009; Frans Koffrie interim-CEO

CEO statement Frans Koffrie, interim CEO, comments: "In local currencies, all four businesses continued to grow during the fourth quarter of 2008. In a number of countries, we experienced some weakness and stock level reductions in the trade during December. Excluding gains under ‘other income’ and currency effects, EBIT increased in Q4-08 compared to last year. At the same time, we managed to solidify our financial position by improving our working capital and lowering our net debt. By the end of 2008, our net debt position had decreased to EUR 215 million.

Our focus remains on growing our top line and protecting our margins. In 2009, we will continue to focus on internationalizing some of our key brands, entering new categories and strengthening our basic product portfolio with innovations. We have also taken precautionary cost-saving measures to support our operational plans for 2009 in the midst of deteriorating economic conditions. At the same time, considering this current economic uncertainty, we believe it is not appropriate at this stage to provide a specific financial outlook for 2009.

As indicated before, in 2009 we are gradually entering the fourth phase of Wessanen’s strategy, which is a realignment of our business portfolio. In general, our aim is to continue to build our European Branded and Distribution operations and to further improve our North American Distribution business, each in the area of Health and Premium Taste foods. In this context, we will review the business case to divest our US-based drinks company American Beverage Corporation. In order to create financial flexibility, we want to strengthen our balance sheet. In this context, we have decided to propose to our shareholders on April 22, 2009, to declare a dividend of EUR 0.20 per share, equal to the interim dividend paid out in August 2008. This represents a pay-out of close to 40%. Going forward, we aim to pay out a dividend of between 35-45% of our net result, excluding major non-recurring effects. We will no longer pay interim dividends."
090225_Q4_2008_ENG.pdf (198 Kb)
090225_Q4_2008_NL.pdf (198 Kb)

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