Overall assessment of the economic situation
In 2015 the KION Group achieved encouraging growth in revenue and earnings. Consolidated revenue rose above the €5 billion mark for the first time, climbing by 9.0 per cent year on year to reach €5,097.9 million. A strong increase in new truck business meant that the KION Group and its brand companies largely avoided the effects of the general slowdown in the global market. The KION Group expanded its global market share thanks to gains in Europe and Asia. The service business also made a significant contribution to the growth in revenue.
Higher demand for electric forklift trucks and warehouse trucks resulting from ever more sophisticated intralogistics solutions and the growing requirements of the e-commerce sector helped to push up revenue. Revenue also improved because of positive exchange rate effects and the first-time consolidation of Egemin Automation in August 2015.
The rise in order intake by 9.3 per cent, like the increase in revenue, was due primarily to a continuation of the favourable situation in the core European markets. This was also the main driver for the 13.1 per cent rise in the order book, which was valued at €864.0 million at the end of the year and thereby provides a solid basis for 2016.
EBIT, adjusted for non-recurring items, came to €482.9 million, a year-on-year increase of 9.0 per cent. The strong growth in earnings was helped by the fact that commodity costs only increased slightly. At 9.5 per cent, the adjusted EBIT margin remained at the same high level as in 2014.
In total, the KION Group generated net income for the year of €221.1 million. The earnings per share attributable to the shareholders in the KION Group amounted to €2.20. KION GROUP AG will propose a dividend of €0.77 per share to the Annual General Meeting, €0.22 per share more than in 2014.
In the coming years, as the Strategy 2020 continues to be implemented as planned, the KION Group will be well placed to take advantage of opportunities in the market. In key growth areas, such as automation and intralogistics solutions, the Group once again substantially improved its position last year.
Comparison between actual and forecast growth
In the past year, the KION Group was consistently able to fulfil the forecasts for 2015 specified in the outlook section of the 2014 group management report. Order intake, for example, did not rise moderately as forecast, but climbed by 9.3 per cent, partly because of positive exchange rate effects. At 9.0 per cent, the increase in consolidated revenue was also higher than anticipated, again due in part to currency effects. The slight rise in adjusted EBIT expected for the year was exceeded. Contrary to the prediction of a slight decline in free cash flow, a high level of incoming payments at the end of the year resulted in an increase in free cash flow. Free cash flow actually improved by 8.8 per cent compared with the previous year. The funds generated from free cash flow were used, as announced, to further bring down borrowing, enabling the Group to markedly reduce its net debt in the year under review.