Adecco Group AG ADEN
Q4 2012 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 03/13/2013

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to the Adecco Q4 Results 2012 Analysts and Investors Conference Call. I am, Zoya, the Chorus Call operator.

I would like to remind you that all participants will be in listen-only mode and the conference is being recorded. After the presentation, there will be a Q&A session. The conference must not be recorded for publication or broadcast.

At this time, it is my pleasure to handover to Mrs. Karin Selfors, Head of Investor Relations, accompanied by Mr. Patrick De Maeseneire, CEO of the Group; and Mr. Dominik de Daniel, CFO of the Group. Please go ahead, ladies and gentlemen.

Karin Selfors-Thomann - Head of IR: Good morning and welcome to Adecco's Fourth Quarter and full year 2012 results conference call. Patrick Group CEO and Dominik Group CFO will lead you through the presentation today followed by a Q&A session. Before we start, please have a look as always at the forward-looking statement in this presentation.

Let me give you a quick overview of today's agenda. Patrick will present the operational highlights to you, then Dominik reviews the financials after which Patrick will give you an outlook on our business before we open the line for your questions.

With that, Patrick, I hand over to you.

Patrick De Maeseneire - CEO: Thank you, Karin. Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to our Q4 results conference call.

First a few remarks on the full year 2012. After two years of double digit revenue growth, 2012 revenues were flat at EUR20.5 billion or declined 4% organically. General staffing revenues declined 6% organically, whereas professional staffing revenues held up well increasing 1%.

Geographically, we faced diverse trends. Most of Europe was challenging and we had double digit revenue declines in France, Italy and Iberia. Exceptions were the U.K. and Ireland, where revenues grew 6% in constant currency and also we continue to gain market share in Germany and Germany and Austria where revenues increased 1%.

We achieved solid results in North America, where organic revenue growth picked up throughout the year. Also the emerging markets continued to grow in double-digits. In Japan, revenues declined by 10% organically, as some of the bigger outsourcing projects were completed in earlier 2012. Our gross margin improved strongly in 2012. The gross margin was 50 basis points to 17.9% or up 30 basis points organically. We maintained strict price discipline based on our EVA approach and also profited from a better business and country mix.

Our focus on cost control was strongly maintained. SG&A organically and before restructuring and integration costs, was down 1% year-on-year. Despite revenue decline, we were able to protect profitability as we promised. We achieved an EBITDA margin of 4%, down only 10 basis points. We're excluding restructuring and integration costs.

Our balance sheet remains very healthy and we achieved a strong operating cash flow of EUR579 million, up 10% compared to 2011. Thanks to our solid financial position and cash rich balance sheet, the Board of Directors proposes a dividend of CHF1.80 per share for the year 2012, equal to the dividend paid for 2011 and equivalent to a payout ratio of 49% of adjusted net earnings. This is in line with the payout range of 40% to 50% of adjusted net earnings which we introduced as strong 2011.

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