Overall assessment of the economic situation
Despite the deterioration in economic conditions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the KION Group delivered a satisfactory performance overall in 2020 and demonstrated the resilience of its business model. The Group’s order intake was higher than in the previous year, while consolidated revenue and adjusted EBIT stabilized in the second half of 2020 having been severely impacted by the lockdown measures.
Order intake in the Group went up by 3.6 percent to €9,442.5 million (2019: €9,111.7 million). As a result of the difficult market conditions created by the pandemic in the first half of the year, the Industrial Trucks & Services segment recorded a sharp fall of 8.8 percent, whereas the Supply Chain Solutions segment’s order intake jumped by 31.9 percent. Despite a brief period of reluctance to invest on the part of customers in some sectors, the Supply Chain Solutions segment’s project business and service business both achieved significant year-on-year increases. This confirmed the KION Group’s market assessment that the business of automated solutions for global supply chains, which is underpinned by long-term societal and economic trends, helps to stabilize the KION Group’s overall business performance. The big-ticket orders secured in the project business also reaffirm that the segment is highly competitive and very customer-oriented, laying excellent foundations for 2021.
New truck business in the Industrial Trucks & Services segment declined markedly owing to the high proportion of revenue generated in the EMEA sales region, which was hit hard by the pandemic. By contrast, the service business proved largely robust, recording only a small decline. The segment’s revenue fell by 11.1 percent, and the substantial 10.4 percent increase in revenue in the Supply Chain Solutions segment was not quite enough to make up for this. Consequently, consolidated revenue went down by 5.3 percent to €8,341.6 million (2019: €8,806.5 million).
Adjusted EBIT decreased to €546.9 million (2019: €850.5 million), primarily due to the fall in revenue. The cost-cutting measures put in place and an only moderate increase in material prices at the aggregate level helped to contain the decline in earnings. At 6.6 percent, the adjusted EBIT margin was down by a substantial 3.1 percentage points in the reporting year (2019: 9.7 percent).
Net income declined to €210.9 million (2019: €444.8 million). This included expenses of €45.8 million (before income taxes) for personnel measures under the capacity and structural program. Basic earnings per share came to €1.81 (2019: €3.86), while the weighted average number of shares outstanding increased only slightly from 117.9 million to 118.9 million no-par-value shares outstanding on average during the reporting year. The increase was due to the rights issue carried out in December 2020. KION GROUP AG will propose a dividend of €0.41 per share to the 2021 Annual General Meeting (2019: €0.04).
As expected, free cash flow recovered strongly in the fourth quarter and was in positive territory at €120.9 million for the year as a whole (2019: €568.4 million). The year-on-year decrease in free cash flow was mainly attributable to the decline in operating profit, higher tax payments, and the cash outflows for the acquisition of DAI and the minority stake in Quicktron.
Thanks to the proceeds from the capital increase, net financial debt fell sharply to €880.0 million (December 31, 2019: €1,609.3 million). This equated to 0.6 times adjusted EBITDA in the year under review (2019: 1.0 times).