USU Group grows sales and profits year on year in the first quarter of 2018
- Sales increase by double digits
- Profitability rises despite high investments
- Proportion of foreign business increases significantly
- Cash flow from operating activities and liquidity improve sharply
- Management Board confirms guidance
USU Software AG (USU, ISIN DE000A0BVU28), Europe’s largest solution provider for digitizing and automating service processes, remains on a growth trajectory. The company increased its sales according to IFRS by 11.2 percent to EUR 21,005 thousand in the first quarter of 2018 (Q1/2017: EUR 18,887 thousand).
This growth was driven by SaaS and maintenance business, which grew by around 15 percent year on year to EUR 5,873 thousand (Q1/2017: EUR 5,120 thousand). Sales from consulting also rose by 11.9 percent to EUR 12,167 thousand (Q1/2017: EUR 10,877 thousand). Regardless of the strong SaaS business, USU also increased revenue from licenses by EUR 2,634 thousand in Q1/2017 to EUR 2,804 thousand or by 6.5 percent.
Looked at regionally, the growth in sales in Q1/2018 was attributable in particular to resurgent foreign business, which rose by 37.6% to EUR 6,914 thousand (Q1/2017: EUR 5,026 thousand). Accordingly, the proportion of sales generated outside Germany increased from 26.6 percent in the previous year to 32.9 percent and so, as envisaged, surpassed the 30 percent mark.
In the wake of the higher investments abroad in order to increase market penetration, in particular in Western Europe and the U.S., operating costs at the USU Group rose by 9.2 percent to EUR 20,249 thousand (Q1/2017: EUR 18,535 thousand). That is mainly due to an increase in the Group’s workforce, which increased by 13.1% year on year to 683 employees (March 31, 2017: 604).
As a result of the sharp rise in sales, the USU Group increased its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to EUR 1,091 thousand or by 37.1 percent over the same period of the previous year (Q1/2017: EUR 796 thousand). Allowing for depreciation and amortization of EUR 708 thousand (Q1/2017: EUR 657 thousand), USU posted earnings before interest and taxes of EUR 383 thousand in the same period (Q1/2017: EUR 139 thousand), an increase of 175.5%. Consolidated earnings also rose from EUR –115 thousand in the previous year to EUR 473 thousand. Accordingly, earnings per share were EUR 0.04 (Q1/2017: EUR –0.01).
Earnings before interest and taxes adjusted for special acquisition-related factors (adjusted EBIT) increased in the first quarter of 2018 by 9.1 percent to EUR 752 thousand (Q1/2017: EUR 689 thousand). At the same time, adjusted consolidated earnings rose by 14.6 percent to EUR 462 thousand (Q1/2017: EUR 403 thousand), giving adjusted earnings per share of EUR 0.04 (Q1/2017: EUR 0.04).
On the back of its positive earnings performance, USU increased its cash flow from operating activities by 6.9 percent to EUR 6,747 thousand (Q1/2017: EUR 6,310 thousand). As a result, Group liquidity rose from EUR 15,729 thousand at December 31, 2017, to EUR 22,221 thousand at the end of the quarter under review.
The Management Board also expects growth to continue in the current fiscal year 2018. One positive indicator of that is existing orders, which were increased to EUR 46,103 thousand at March 31, 2018, or by 7.8% year on year (March 31, 2017: EUR 42,775 thousand).
Although growth is expected to slow a little due to the trend toward SaaS business, the Management Board of USU Software AG is optimistic that Group-wide sales will increase to EUR 93 to 98 million and the adjusted EBIT to EUR 7.5 to 10 million for the current fiscal year 2018. At the same time, the Management Board confirms the medium-term planning for the USU Group for 2021, which envisages sales of EUR 140 million and an increase in adjusted EBIT to more than EUR 20 million. Given the above premises, the shareholders of USU Software AG are again to share substantially in the company’s operational success in 2018 as part of a shareholder-friendly dividend policy.