ABO-Group Environment Half-Year Results 2021

Ghent, 16 September 2022 – 6.30 p.m. CET – Press release / regulated information

Highlights of the first half of 2022

  • ABO-GROUP realises a 16% growth in revenue to € 36.8 million
  • EBITDA increased with 39% from € 3.9 to € 5.4 million, resulting in a margin of 15% thanks to the further integration of acquisitions from 2021
  • Net debt increased to € 14.2 million, due to the acquisitions and continued investments
  • Smooth integration of the Dutch acquisitions from the first half of the year

Outlook

  • Further increase in PFAS research and guidance on environmental regulation
  • Increasing demand for study on climate change, circular economy and geotechnics
  • Continued focus on M&A to additionally support organic growth

Frank De Palmenaer, CEO of ABO-GROUP Environment: “In the first half of the year, ABO-GROUP managed to bring the French companies acquired in 2021, all active in the mining and quarrying market, to positive results. Moreover, despite these difficult crisis times, ABO-GROUP managed to absorb energy price increases and general indexation of costs through partial pass-through and efficiency gains. Finally, the demand for PFAS research in Belgium continues to grow, and with the accumulated experience and experts, ABO-GROUP is now also taking steps in this area in the French market.

Going forward, we expect to invest further in geotechnical equipment to continue to support the strong increase in geotechnical investigations in our three home countries and to enable the implementation of new techniques. Despite the challenges on several fronts, ABO-GROUP expects to successfully realise its growth plans for the coming years. All this thanks to the pooling of experience of all our motivated employees who continue to develop themselves into true experts in our activities.”

in € 000   1H 2022   1H 20212   % change
Revenue   36,354   31,131   16.8%
Total operating income   36,758   31,752   15.8%
EBITDA1   5,418   3,905   38.8%
Depreciation, impairments and provisions   -3,299   -2,541   29.8%
Operating profit   2,120   1,364   55.4%
Financial result   -346   -291   19.0%
Profit before tax   1,773   1,073   65.3%
Net profit   1,242    359   245.9%
Total result   1,252    494   153.3%
Earnings per share for the shareholders   0.12   0.05   153.3%
Net cash flow from operating activities   -84   1,383   -106.1%
             
in € 000   1H 2022   FY 2021   % change
Total equity   20,294   20,495   -1.0%
Net financial debt   14,177   9,255   53.2%
Balance sheet total   69,776   66,225   5.4%

 1 EBITDA defined as operating profit before depreciation, impairments and provisions
2 The results for 1H2021 were adjusted to reflect the accounting of the business combinations GEO+ Environment, Geosonic and Asper, as included in the consolidated financial statements of FY2021

2022 highlights

Strong 16% growth in operating income
In the first six months of 2022, the total operating income of ABO-GROUP amounted to € 36.8 million, a growth of 16% compared to the result in the first half of 2021. The contribution of the 2022 acquisitions of the trade funds of Geo-Supporting and Colsen, and the previously non-consolidated results from 2021 acquisitions Asper and Geosonic represent a 4% growth in revenue, which brings the organic growth of the existing business activities in 2022 to 12%.

In terms of activities, Geotechnology shows a significant growth of 19%, to € 20.9 million (€ 17.6 million in 1H 2021), to which the above-mentioned acquisitions of Geo-Supporting and the additional month of Geosonic have contributed. Without these contributions, revenue would still have risen by 14%. The revenue of the Environmental division increased by 12% to € 15.9 million (compared to € 14.2 million in 1H2021), 9% of which is organic. As a result, the share of the geotechnical activities further increased from 55% to 57%.

The contribution of the French operations increases with 16% to € 19.1 million, 13% of which organic. In particular the integration of Geosonic and GEO+ Environment turns out to be a strong growth drivers, both individually and through their impact on the activities of the other entities in France.

In Belgium, both the geotechnical activities – driven by large infrastructure projects around Antwerp and Brussels – and the environmental divisions – thanks to the implementation of major framework contracts in the context of the PFAS issue – register strong growth figures, accounting for an organic revenue growth of 13%. Together with the 4% growth through the contribution of asbestos specialist Asper, who joined the Group in July of last year, this resulted in a total growth of 17% for the Belgian activities, to a total revenue of € 11.2 million in the first six months of 2022 (against € 9.6 million in the first half of last year).

Environmental field work in the Netherlands has been under pressure in the first half of the year. This is compensated, however, by the strong performance in the consultancy division and geotechnical studies. Supported by the acquisitions of Colsen and Geo-Supporting, this raised the revenue to € 6.4 million, an increase of 12% compared to 2021, of which 7% is organic.

EBITDA increases by 39% to € 5.4 million, representing a 15% margin

The EBITDA for the first six months of 2022 amounted to € 5.4  million, an increase of € 1.5 million compared to the previous year. The integration of the acquisitions from 2021 has been largely accounted for, and they are now providing a positive contribution to the profitability of the Group. In addition, the Group is successfully compensating for the sharply increased costs of subcontracting, fuel and staff for the time being, by increasing prices where contracts allow for this, and by enhancing the efficiency within the organisation.

Depreciation and provisions increased from € 2.5 to € 3.3 million. ABO-GROUP is continuing to invest in the renovation and expansion of their machinery in order to be able to respond adequately to the needs of its customers. In addition, a specific provision amounting to € 0.5 million was included in connection with the ruling on a legal dispute relating to the previously sold international activities of ABO Logistics.

The financial result has risen slightly, in line with the increased debt level. Following the increased profitability, net profit increased significantly from € 0.4 million to € 1.2 million (€ 0.12 per share).

Revenue growth leads to an increase in working capital and net debt of 1.3x EBITDA

Net cash flow from operating activities amounts to € -0.1 million (compared to € 1.4 million in the first half of 2021). This is due to the fact that the operating capital requirement increased quite significantly in the first six months as a result of a combination of the seasonal increase in trade receivables and work in progress, with the start-up of several major projects at various entities. This substantial growth of € 7.8 million (versus € 4.8 million in the first half of 2021) was only partially compensated by the increase in trade receivables and other short-term liabilities by € 2.8 million (€ 1.9 million in the first six months of 2021), thereby increasing operating capital by € 5 million by the end of June.

In view of the recent acquisitions and the repurchase of part of the outstanding minority interest in Geosonda Netherlands, as well as the investments in operating capital and fixed assets, the net financial debt increased from € 9.3 million at the end of 2021 to € 14.2 million. The annualised debt ratio of 1.3x, compared to the EBITDA (1.1x at the end of 2021) remains very healthy, and provides the Group with room for further investments in assets and/or acquisitions.

The balance sheet total increased further, from € 66.2 to € 69.8 million. On the assets side, this mainly reflects the recent acquisitions, as well as the above-mentioned increase in operating capital, while short and long-term debts increased on the liabilities side. Total equity amounts to € 20.3 million, status quo against the situation at the end of 2021 as the realised result for the first part of 2022 is offset by the purchase of the minority interest in Geosonda as well as the accounting of the contractual agreements (specifically put and call options) that were entered into at that time with regard to the remaining stake. The equity ratio settled at 29.1% (against 30.9% at the end of last year).

The full consolidated income statement and balance sheet, the statement of changes in equity and the consolidated cash flow statement are shown immediately below.

Outlook

Maintaining group ambitions despite challenging geopolitical and economic situation

The first half of the year was characterised by a strong result and the order books for the coming period are well-filled, with some entities needing to refuse orders. Although the Group has up to now managed to pass on some of the cost increases resulting from the geopolitical situation and volatile markets, and is focussing on internal efficiency to counteract high inflation, the overall economic situation in which the Group is operating remains fragile. The various entities are working hard to provide suitable solutions for these challenges, both internally and for their customers.

Based on the current results and the expectations for the coming periods, the board and the operational management confirm their confidence in its plan to reach the revenue cap of € 100 million by the end of 2025 at the latest. ABO-GROUP expects that its proven concept of combining strong organic growth with targeted acquisitions should enable achieving the technical market leadership in its home markets. As always, the Group is actively seeking the right acquisition targets to support the implementation of its plan.

Financial calendar

30/03/2023: 2022 annual figures
31/05/2023: General Meeting

Statement regarding the fair presentation of the interim condensed consolidated financial information and the fair overview of the interim report

Frank De Palmenaer, CEO, declares that, to his knowledge, the interim condensed consolidated financial information for the six-month period ending 30 June 2022, which was prepared in accordance with IAS 34 “Interim Financial Reporting” as approved by the European Union, gives a true and fair view of the assets, the financial position and the results of the company and the companies included in the consolidation. The interim report gives a fair overview of the most significant events and key transactions with associated parties that have taken place during the first six months of the financial year and their effect on the interim condensed financial information, as well as a description of the most significant risks and uncertainties for the remaining months of the financial year.

About the ABO-GROUP

ABO-GROUP is a specialised, listed engineering office focussing on geotechnology, environment and soil remediation. Through its Consultancy and Testing & Monitoring divisions, ABO-GROUP is operating in Belgium, the Netherlands and France, as well as internationally. ABO-GROUP guarantees its clients a sustainable solution. Please consult the ABO-GROUP website (www.abo-group.eu) for a more detailed description of the activities of the Group.

For more information:

Frank De Palmenaer                                         
CEO ABO-Group Environment NV                  
frank.depalmenaer@abo-group.eu                               
T: +32 496 59 88 88

Derbystraat 255, Maaltecenter Blok G, B-9051 Ghent (SDW), Belgium

This press release is available on our website www.abo-group.eu

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