Overall assessment of the economic situation

The KION Group grew rapidly in 2021, with order intake at record levels despite persistent difficulties in the economy as a whole. The considerable, industry-wide challenges resulting from the difficult situation in the procurement markets and rising commodity prices were successfully managed overall, although it was impossible to avoid longer delivery times. The modest fall in revenue in the prior year was compensated for several times over by strong revenue growth in 2021. Adjusted EBIT rose at an even faster rate as a result of increased volumes and savings from measures to raise efficiency and reduce costs. Thanks to this very encouraging business performance, the KION Group adjusted the capacity and structural program that it had launched in 2020 in relation to personnel measures aimed at reducing capacity in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Going forward, the KION Group will focus on its structural program and the related efficiency measures.

The KION Group’s order intake amounted to a record €12,481.6 million, which was 32.2 percent higher than the figure for the previous year (2020: €9,442.5 million). This significant rise was mainly driven by the Industrial Trucks & Services segment, whose order intake grew by 40.9 percent year on year and even exceeded the pre-pandemic order levels of 2019. Whereas the first half of the year was dominated by pent-up demand following the restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, the rest of the year saw customers increasingly bringing orders forward in the face of stretched global supply chains and significantly longer delivery times. In the Supply Chain Solutions segment, order intake rose by 18.5 percent, primarily as a result of increased capital spending on warehouse automation. As at the end of 2021, the Group’s order book had grown to a record €6,658.5 million.

Consolidated revenue increased by 23.4 percent to €10,294.3 million (2020: €8,341.6 million). Despite the supply bottlenecks becoming more severe as the year went on, revenue in the Industrial Trucks & Services segment grew by 13.8 percent on the back of very high customer demand. The Supply Chain Solutions segment increased its revenue by 44.5 percent, primarily by working through the substantial order book in the project business (business solutions). The growth of the service business also contributed to the segment’s rise in revenue.

Adjusted EBIT increased significantly to €841.8 million, up by €295.0 million, or 53.9 percent, on the very low figure of €546.9 million in 2020. The greater volume in business in the two operating segments had a positive impact, as did the first contributions to earnings from ongoing structural measures. The adjusted EBIT margin rose substantially from 6.6 percent to 8.2 percent, though it still has some way to go to reach pre-pandemic levels. Significantly higher material prices and logistics costs had a negative impact on the margin, as did inefficiencies in production and projects as a result of the supply bottlenecks.

At €568.0 million, net income greatly exceeded the figure for 2020 (€210.9 million) and was also higher than in 2019. This upturn was driven by the increase in revenue combined with a relatively moderate rise in functional costs, by the improvement in net interest expense, and by positive non-recurring items in relation to defined benefit obligations resulting from plan adjustments. The tax rate of 25.2 percent was also considerably lower than in the prior year (2020: 30.1 percent). Basic earnings per share rose to €4.34 (2020: €1.81) based on an average number of 131.1 million (2020: 118.9 million) no-par-value shares. KION GROUP AG will propose a dividend of €1.50 per share to the 2022 Annual General Meeting (2020: €0.41).

Free cash flow amounted to €543.8 million (2020: €120.9 million), which strengthened the Group’s financial position. This increase was due mainly to the rise in the KION Group’s operating profit. The rise was limited by the growth in net working capital over the course of the year and by higher cash payments for capital expenditure on expanding and modernizing the production sites.

Net financial debt fell to €567.6 million (December 31, 2020: €880.0 million). This equated to 0.3 times adjusted EBITDA in the year under review (2020: 0.6 times). The repayment of long-term financial liabilities was partly offset by the higher funding requirement for the increase in net working capital.