Overall assessment of the economic situation
The year under review was the KION Group’s most successful year to date. Following flat revenue growth in the first half of the year, the Group was able to generate significant gains over the rest of the year, increasing revenue by 4.1 per cent to €4,677.9 million over the year as a whole. Thanks to a strong final quarter, revenue from new trucks business reached the 2013 level, but service business was up by 8.6 per cent, a considerable year-on-year gain which made a substantial contribution to the strong revenue growth at Group level.
The encouraging rise in order intake of 8.6 per cent or €388.1 million was attributable to the successful sales activities in the two operating brand segments. At the same time, the 13.5 per cent rise in the order book (€787.2 million) represents a good starting position for 2015. Based on an 8.5 per cent increase in units ordered, the KION Group outperformed the global market in terms of growth and consolidated its position as the second-largest provider worldwide. One of the contributing factors in this regard was the targeted expansion of the international business beneath the premium segment.
EBIT, adjusted for non-recurring items, came to €442.9 million, a year-on-year increase of 6.3 per cent. The adjusted EBIT margin improved from 9.3 per cent in 2013 to 9.5 per cent in the reporting period.
The further optimisation of the funding structure in the year under review was reflected in the significant decline in financial expenses. Despite non-recurring expenses in connection with the early redemption of two corporate bond tranches, the Group more than halved the interest expenses on loan obligations and capital market liabilities. In total, the KION Group generated net income for the year of €178.2 million. The earnings per share attributable to the shareholders in the KION Group amounted to €1.79. KION GROUP AG will propose a dividend of €0.55 per share to the Annual General Meeting, €0.20 per share more than in 2013.
The KION Group is well positioned to use its own resources over the next years to fund and implement the action necessary as part of its Strategy 2020. The aim of this strategy is to enable the Group to catch up with the global market leader within five years.
Comparison between actual and forecast growth
In the past year, the KION Group was consistently able to fulfil, and in some cases even exceed, the forecasts for 2014 specified in the outlook section of the 2013 group management report. For example, in the case of order intake, the Group was able to exceed the slight increase forecast for the year. As for consolidated revenue, the actual year-on-year increase was in line with the anticipated slight increase in this figure and the Group certainly achieved the significant rise in adjusted EBIT expected for the year. In the case of free cash flow, the KION Group managed to exceed the substantial forecast increase. The funds generated as a result were used to bring down borrowing, enabling the Group to markedly reduce its net debt in the year under review.