• Previously reported problems with projects in Australia result In first-quarter loss;
• Group performance nonetheless positive overall: Focus on three strategic growth areas delivering results;
• Operating business gaining momentum: New record order backlog in excess of EUR 50 billion.
After Leighton downgraded its guidance at the end of March, HOCHTIEF had to revise downward its own profit guidance for fiscal 2012. As a result the Group reported a loss for the first quarter. "Those figures are not representative of the course we are pursuing. Our business continues to develop positively," emphasizes Dr. Frank Stieler, Chairman of the HOCHTIEF Executive Board. The strategy of pursuing growth opportunities in energy infrastructure, major cities, and transportation infrastructure is delivering results: The Group secured numerous new contracts in all three of these areas. The order backlog grew to a new record high in excess of EUR 50 billion.
Key figures for first quarter of 2012
Work done, at EUR 6.36 billion as of March 31, 2012, surpassed the prior-year figure by 24.7 percent, or 16.3 percent on an exchange rate adjusted basis (Q1 2011: EUR 5.10 billion). The increase mainly reflected HOCHTIEF Asia Pacific working through its large order backlog. HOCHTIEF Americas surpassed its prior-year performance, including on an exchange rate adjusted basis. HOCHTIEF Europe likewise exceeded the comparative prior-year figure in Germany.
Group new orders in the first three months were at EUR 7.69 billion, a substantial 42.1 percent higher than the prior-year level (Q1 2011: EUR 5.41 billion). Adjusted for exchange rate effects, new orders exceeded the comparative prior-year figure by 32.4 percent. This is mainly accounted for by the HOCHTIEF Asia Pacific division, which secured a number of major contracts in the energy sector in the first quarter. HOCHTIEF Americas likewise increased new orders. HOCHTIEF Europe was awarded major infrastructure projects in Germany and internationally to attain a rise of 49.9 percent.
The order backlog has attained a new all-time record of EUR 50.26 billion. This is 10.2 percent (exchange rate adjusted: 2.7 percent) above the comparative prior-year figure (Q1 2011: EUR 45.61 billion). The Group entered the current year with a record order backlog of EUR 48.67 billion from the prior year. The main factors in the increase are new orders in excess of work done in the first quarter of 2012, the inclusion of Clark Builders, Canada, for the first time in the consolidated results, and exchange rate effects relative to the Australian dollar and the US dollar. The order backlog is equivalent to a forward order book of more than 22 months.
Driven by further growth in the operating business, HOCHTIEF generated EUR 5.57 billion in sales in the first quarter of 2012, representing a 13.3 percent increase on the comparative prior-year figure (Q1 2011: EUR 4.92 billion).
The HOCHTIEF Group’s earnings performance in the first quarter of 2012 was substantially below target due to the problems with the two major Australian contracts Airport Link and Victorian Desalination Plant. Profit before taxes - a loss of EUR 90.9 million—represented a significant improvement on the prior-year period (a loss of EUR 444.8 million). However, this still fell short of the targeted return into positive figures. The consolidated net loss attributable to HOCHTIEF shareholders came to EUR 34.1 million (Q1 2011: EUR 169.5 million.)
HOCHTIEF continued the process of fine-tuning its funding structure in the first quarter, placing its funding on an even broader basis with the first corporate bond issue in the company’s history. The bond issue, which has a five-year term to maturity until March 2017, has a nominal value of EUR 500 million and a coupon of 5.5 percent p.a. Strong demand from national and international investors ensured that the bond was oversubscribed eight-fold and opened up new groups of investors to HOCHTIEF in more than 15 countries. This once again underscores the confidence the capital markets place in the Group. The proceeds will be used to replace existing financing and further expand HOCHTIEF’s position in the growth markets of energy infrastructure, major cities, and transportation infrastructure.
All HOCHTIEF divisions recorded a strong level of new orders in the three strategic growth areas and carried through the momentum from the fourth quarter of 2011 into the new year. The Group has a record order backlog and is confident with regard to its onward development. HOCHTIEF therefore confirms its guidance for fiscal 2012:
• New orders will normalize somewhat below the prior-year level and the order backlog at a level beneath the 2011 record. The same applies to sales.
• The Group expects profit before taxes from operating activities of just under EUR 550 million and consolidated net profit slightly short of EUR 180 million. This guidance does not include any nonrecurring items from disposals.