The Metall Zug Group posted gross sales of CHF 1,219.8 million in the 2019 financial year. This year-on-year increase of 1.7 % was achieved thanks to the baseline effect of the acquisition of the Haag-Streit Group (consolidated since March 1, 2018). Adjusted for acquisition and currency effects, gross sales decreased by 0.6 %.
The operating result (EBIT) came to CHF 38.8 million (previous year: CHF 89.3 million). It contains provisions of CHF 13.1 million for ground remediation work at the Zug site. Despite the sometimes demanding environment and the operational challenges, Metall Zug continued to invest at the same level in future projects in the area of digitization, in Industry 4.0, in state-of-the-art production facilities, and in product developments. Metall Zug's objective here is to remain viable over the long term and to keep production sites in Switzerland competitive.
The financial result amounted to CHF 4.2 million (previous year: CHF -3.5 million). This led to a net income of CHF 29.2 million (previous year: CHF 63.6 million).
Household Appliances: Strong Growth Abroad, but Operational Problems Weigh on Result
The Household Appliances Business Unit generated gross sales of CHF 592.1 million, representing a slight decrease on the previous year (CHF 593.5 million). On an organic local-currency basis, gross sales declined by 0.1%.
In spite of the difficulties caused by the ERP (enterprise resource planning) system transition and to initial problems in the launch of a new family of household appliances, V-ZUG again successfully defended its market leadership in Switzerland. At CHF 522.2 million, net sales in the Swiss domestic market were 1.9 % lower than in the previous year. This decrease was due in part to supply problems in connection with the ERP transition.
Sales outside Switzerland rose by 31.4% to CHF 61.6 million (previous year: 46.9 million). In percentage terms, sales growth was highest in China. Above-average sales growth was also achieved in Europe and with the OEM partner in the US.
At CHF 28.7 million, the Business Unit's operating result (EBIT) was 40.5 % down on the previous year (CHF 48.3 million). This decline is mainly attributable to initial problems with the launch of a new appliance range and to higher costs in connection with the transition of the ERP system. The transfer of V-ZUG Infra AG to the Technologycluster & Infrastructure Business Unit as at January 1, 2019, also had a negative EBIT effect of CHF 3.5 million compared to the previous year.
Wire Processing: Challenging Environment
Reporting gross sales of CHF 207.8 million (previous year: CHF 222.3 million), the Wire Processing Business Unit performed relatively well despite what proved to be a very challenging market environment owing to a weaker automotive sector. Adjusted for the currency effect of minus 0.8%, the organic decline in sales amounted to 5.7%.
EBIT came to CHF 9.8 million (previous year: CHF 28.9 million). There were several causes of this year-on-year decrease of 66.2 %. Lower demand for standard products and the delayed delivery of some projects in the Process Automation segment in Cham (CH) led to a fall in sales. In the Process Automation segment, the actively pursued diversification of the customer structure and the associated development of new applications with an above-average share of innovations, plus investments in a new, fully scalable platform, also weighed on the result. The substantial investment spend on future-proof development projects in other segments, as well as the harmonization and introduction of new business systems also impacted the operating result.
Medical Devices: Investments in the Future
In 2019, the Medical Devices Business Unit achieved gross sales of CHF 209.6 million (prior-year period from March to December 2018: CHF 182.3 million). Both the Diagnostics Business Area and the Surgical Business Area were able to maintain the previous year’s high sales levels.
Sales in Europe benefited from stable, innovation-driven replacement business. The ambitious sales targets were achieved in both the US and China. The EBIT margin is around 8% lower than in the previous year. As anticipated, the investments in digitization, R&D, regulatory compliance and strengthened management structures, which had already been planned at the time of the acquisition, led to this EBIT and will temporarily reduce profitability. However, they will have a positive effect in the medium term.
Infection Control: Break-even Reached
The Infection Control Business Unit generated gross sales of CHF 187.4 million (previous year, incl. Life Science segment: CHF 203.6 million). In particular, the service business and sales of consumer goods made gratifying headway thanks to the new Belimed Prevent concept. Medical segment sales in the US and Europe did not meet expectations.
Posting an operating result (EBIT) of CHF 0.9 million, Belimed reached break-even. Without the elimination of value adjustments for a building in Mühldorf (Germany) in the amount of CHF 0.8 million, EBIT would amount to CHF 0.1 million. The operating result of CHF -10.5 million reported in the previous year included the Life Science segment, which has been operated as the separate Life Science Solutions Business Unit since January 1, 2019.
Life Science Solutions: Strong Demand
In 2019, the Life Science Solutions Business Unit achieved gross sales of CHF 36.0 million and an operating result (EBIT) of CHF -8.4 million. EBIT contains one-time costs in connection with the spin-off of the Infection Control Business Unit and the establishment of the new Business Unit. Life Science Solutions had been integrated in the Infection Control Business Unit until the end of 2018.
Life Science Solutions reported strong order intake for 2019. This underscores the attractiveness of both the market environment and the Life Science Solutions offering. However, the long lead times for the challenging projects mean that these will not be reflected in sales and income for another 12 to 18 months.
Technologycluster & Infrastructure: Provisions for Ground Remediation Work
Since January 1, 2019, the tasks and responsibility for the development of the various industrial sites, the establishment of the Technology Cluster in Zug and other planned infrastructure tasks have been combined under the new Technologycluster & Infrastructure Business Unit. In 2019, the Business Unit recorded an operating result (EBIT) of CHF -11.2 million, including provisions of CHF 13.1 million for ground remediation work at the Zug site and a compensation payment of CHF 6.0 million to V-ZUG AG in connection with the site transformation. This compensation payment will be utilized in the Household Appliances Business Unit over the coming years.
Strategic Transformation: Spin-off and Listing of the V-ZUG Group
As the result of a strategy review the organization of the Metall Zug Group has been adapted. As of June 1, 2019, various responsibilities have been transferred from the CEO of Metall Zug AG to the Boards of Directors of the Business Units and the autonomy and responsibilities of the Business Units were extended. This gives the Metall Zug Group and the Business Units greater flexibility.
In this connection, the Senior Management of Metall Zug AG was reduced from four to two members. As of April 1, 2020, it will consist only of Daniel Keist, who in his capacity as CFO will also assume the duties of CEO of Metall Zug AG.
The Board of Directors is of the opinion that the time is right to turn the V-ZUG Group into an independent company. As an independent, listed company, the V-ZUG Group can further strengthen and visibly position its brand as well as benefit from the additional strategic flexibility. Metall Zug will confine itself to the role of strategic anchor shareholder with a 30% stake with regard to V-ZUG Group.
Accordingly, the Board of Directors will propose to the ordinary General Meeting of Shareholders on April 24, 2020, that the newly established V-ZUG Holding AG, with the brands V-ZUG and SIBIR, be spun off and listed as an independent company on SIX Swiss Exchange, Zurich. Besides the Household Appliances Business Unit, the two real estate companies V-ZUG Infra AG and MZ Infra AG, including among others the essential operating properties of V-ZUG in Zug (CH) and the new refrigerator factory in Sulgen (CH), will be spun off. Gehrig Group AG, currently part of the Household Appliances Business Unit, is to remain in the Metall Zug Group.
The spin-off will be in the form of the distribution of a stock dividend. Subject to the 2020 General Meeting of Shareholders of Metall Zug AG approving the stock dividend and spin-off under item 6, every shareholder of Metall Zug AG will be allocated one registered share of V-ZUG Holding AG per type A registered share of Metall Zug AG and ten registered shares of V-ZUG Holding AG per type B registered share of Metall Zug AG.
In its role as strategic anchor shareholder, Metall Zug AG will continue to hold a 30% stake in V-ZUG Holding AG after the spin-off. Metall Zug intends to retain this strategic shareholding over the long term. The largest shareholder of Metall Zug, the shareholder group Buhofer, also says that it is in favour of the transaction being carried out and that the Buhofer family intends to remain invested in both companies in the long term.
More information on the spin-off of the V-ZUG Group and, in particular, the tax consequences can be found in the shareholder information brochure (available at https://www.metallzug.ch/en/investoren/generalversammlung, in German only).
Owing to the lower net income and upcoming investments in future projects and the development of the Technology Cluster in Zug, the Board of Directors will propose to the General Meeting of Shareholders of Metall Zug AG on April 24, 2020, that a cash dividend be distributed in the amount of CHF 1.70 gross per type A registered share (previous year: CHF 7.00) and CHF 17.00 per type B registered share (previous year: CHF 70.00).
In the current transformation phase, the Board of Directors attaches greater importance to sustainably strengthening Metall Zug than to distributing cash dividends. Resource requirements for future investments will probably mean that dividends will only increase again in the medium term.
Besides the cash dividend, in connection with the spin-off of the V-ZUG Group, shareholders of Metall Zug AG are to be allocated one registered share of V-ZUG Holding AG per type A registered share of Metall Zug AG and ten registered shares of V-ZUG Holding AG per type B registered share of Metall Zug AG as a stock dividend.
The planned spin-off and listing of V-ZUG will significantly change the profile of Metall Zug. The changed Metall Zug will be a more strongly focused industrial group and essentially be active in the two growing markets of medical technology and wire processing. We assess the growth prospects of both these markets as exceptionally good. With Haag-Streit, Schleuniger and Belimed, Metall Zug is very well positioned with strong brands in the relevant market segments to profit from the dynamism of these markets.
The environment will remain challenging in a number of Metall Zug’s key markets in 2020 as well. The 2020 result will also be impacted by overlapping investments in digitization, Industry 4.0, leading-edge production facilities, and product developments as well as in growing the Technologycluster in Zug.
Key figures for the Metall Zug Group
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1) Adjusted by a provision for ground remediation work in Zug (CHF 13.1 million) and release of a value adjustment for a building in Germany (CHF 0.8 million)
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2) In 2019, the cash flow from securities was reclassified from
cash flow from operating activities to cash flow from investing
activities. The prior-year figures were restated accordingly.