US News Henkel keeps dividend stable despite decline in sales and earnings - Henkel shares little moved
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The consumer goods manufacturer Henkel wants to return to growth in the current year after a decline in sales and earnings.
At the beginning of the year there was still a high level of uncertainty about how the corona pandemic will develop, said CEO Carsten Knobel on Thursday when the annual figures were presented in Düsseldorf . However, he assumes that the industrial adhesives business in particular and the hairdressing business, which has been particularly hard hit by the restrictions, will recover.
therefore expects sales to grow organically, i.e. adjusted for currency and portfolio effects, by two to five percent in 2021. Management also expects the adjusted operating return on sales (EBIT) to make progress: it should improve from the previous year's figure by around 13 percent to 13.5 to 14.5 percent. The manufacturer of well-known brands such as Persil, Schwarzkopf or Pritt is also more confident when it comes to profits. Adjusted for special effects and currency fluctuations, earnings per preferred share are expected to increase from EUR 4.26 by five to 15 percent.
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Last year, the Düsseldorf company had to accept losses in connection with the corona pandemic despite improvements in the third and fourth quarters. Negative currency effects and investments also had a negative impact. Sales fell by around four percent to 19.3 billion euros. In organic terms, the minus was 0.7 percent and thus at the upper end of Henkel's expectations. In the fourth quarter there was again robust growth of 3.7 percent, to which all divisions contributed.
Last year, the adhesives business in particular struggled with a significant drop in demand from important customer industries and thus lagged behind the previous year. This was particularly evident in the second quarter, when large parts of the economy worldwide collapsed as a result of the pandemic. Demand recovered in the second half of the year, and the division achieved organic growth of 3.7 percent in the final quarter.
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The cosmetics division suffered from the closings of the hairdressers. However, business with end users in retail was good. On the other hand, the detergents and cleaning agents business benefited from the increased demand for hygiene products, which achieved strong growth over the year as well as in the fourth quarter.
The adjusted EBIT fell in 2020 by almost 20 percent to around 2.6 billion euros. The bottom line was that Henkel earned almost a third less with 1.4 billion euros. In addition to the pandemic, investments in brands, innovations and digitization, especially in the consumer business, had a negative impact. With the investments, Henkel wants to drive its growth again, which had already weakened before the pandemic.
In March of last year, Knobel announced that it would further thin out the brand thicket, invest in new products, streamline processes and place a stronger focus on sustainability and digitization. Sales and profits should therefore increase again in the medium term, according to his forecast. Thanks to robust cash inflows,
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shareholders are to receive an unchanged dividend of EUR 1.85 per preferred share for 2020. "Since going public 35 years ago, Henkel has always paid a dividend that was above or at least on a par with the previous year," said Knobel.Progress in portfolio streamlining and digitization
Henkel pushed ahead with portfolio streamlining despite the corona-related burdens last year. For businesses with an annual turnover of more than 100 million euros, "agreements on the sale have been signed, the sale concluded or they have been discontinued," said the Düsseldorf-based consumer goods group. For this purpose, a non-cash impairment loss totaling around EUR 300 million was posted in 2020.
Henkel announced in 2020 that consumer brands and categories with sales of 500 million euros would be sold or discontinued by the end of 2021.
Henkel also made progress in digitization over the past year. The digitally achieved sales have increased by around 20 percent across all corporate divisions, in the Consumer segment by more than 60 percent. The digital share of sales has increased to 15 percent, according to the DAX group.
The numbers, outlook and dividends hardly played a role on the stock market. The paper, which was one of the losers of the Corona crisis on the financial market, recently lost a marginal 0.10 percent to EUR 83.24 in a weak overall market via XETRA. (Dow Jones / dpa-AFX)
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