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2019-01-23 17:53 CET
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HIGHCO : Q4 2018 GROSS PROFIT

Paris, 23 January 2019 (6.00 p.m.)
                                                
2018: ANOTHER YEAR OF HEALTHY GROWTH FOR HIGHCO
(GROSS PROFIT UP 2.6% LFL)

Sixth consecutive year of growth with Digital representing a 53% share of total business

  • Q4 20181 gross profit of €23.19 M, up 11.5% on a reported basis and 3.5% LFL2.
  • FY 20181 gross profit of €87.57 M, up 6.5% on a reported basis and 2.6% LFL2.
  • Further growth surge in digital businesses: Q4 up 12.2% LFL, FY 2018 up 9.2% LFL.
  • Robust annual growth in France: Q4 up 0.3% LFL, FY 2018 up 4.4% LFL.
  • Decline in Benelux despite a pick up in Q4: Q4 up 10.9% LFL, FY 2018 down 2.6% LFL.

Improved profitability for FY 2018 in line with guidance

  • Rise in adjusted operating margin (adjusted headline PBIT/gross profit)3 of about 20 bp.

Gross Profit (in € M)1 2018 2017 Reported 2017 LFL2 2018/2017
Reported change
2018/2017
LFL2 change
Q1 20.73 20.38 20.38 +1.7% +1.7%
Q2 22.47 21.90 21.90 +2.6% +2.6%
Q3 21.19 19.16 20.62 +10.6% +2.7%
Q4 23.19 20.79 22.41 +11.5% +3.5%
Annual total 87.57 82.24 85.31 +6.5% +2.6%

1 Data currently being audited.
2 Like for like: Based on a comparable scope (i.e. including Useradgents over six months in 2017 and 2018, as of 1 July) and at constant exchange rates (i.e. applying the average exchange rate over the period to data from the compared period).
3 Adjusted headline profit before interest and tax: Recurring operating income before restructuring costs and excluding the cost of performance share plans. Adjusted operating margin: Adjusted headline PBIT/Gross profit.
4 Net cash: Cash (asset) minus gross financial debt (liability).

Cécile Collina-Hue, Chairman of the Management Board, stated: "With a strong fourth quarter, still driven by Digital business, HighCo continued its growth trend for a sixth consecutive year, with gross profit up 2.6% like for like. Despite the current social climate and challenges raised by new regulations applicable to retail promotions - a measure taken following the French National Food Conference - we were able to draw on our complementary range of solutions and strengthened expertise in data marketing to lead our major customers through projects that will have a fundamental impact on their business. As such, HighCo has consolidated its position as a key market player and anticipates another year of growth."

FURTHER GROWTH SURGE IN DIGITAL BUSINESSES

Still driven by Digital, the Group posted strong business growth in Q4 2018, up 11.5% on a reported basis and 3.5% like for like to €23.19 M.

The Group's gross profit came to €87.57 M for FY 2018, up 6.5% on a reported basis and 2.6% like for like.

With business rising 12.2% like for like in Q4 2018, Digital posted a second consecutive quarter of double-digit growth (Q3 2018 up 13.4% like for like). The share of digital in total Group business continued to grow, up from the reported figure of 50.2% in Q4 2017 to 58.3% in Q4 2018. Offline businesses closed the fourth quarter down 6.7% on a like-for-like basis.

Digital businesses posted overall like-for-like growth of 9.2% in 2018, accounting for 52.9% of the Group's gross profit (47.8% on a reported basis in 2017). This strong growth is mainly due to the accelerated digitisation of Data businesses and the successful integration of Useradgents, an all-digital agency, in the second half of the year. Offline businesses showed a like-for-like decline of 3.8% over the year.

Revenue for FY 2018 came to €173.8 M.

ROBUST ANNUAL GROWTH IN FRANCE

France turned in gross profit of €16.93 M in Q4 2018, up 0.3% like for like, equal to 73% of the Group's gross profit. This growth should be considered in light of the significant business growth registered for the fourth quarter in previous years (4.1% like for like in Q4 2017; 11.3% like for like in Q4 2016).
Gross profit in France totalled €64.68 M for the full year 2018, up 4.4% like for like, driven by the positive performance of Drive to Store and sharp growth in Data businesses.

As for the Group as a whole, in France this growth is driven by the strong development of digital businesses, which grew 8.6% like for like, reaching a 67.2% share in the gross profit for the fourth quarter.
In 2018, digital businesses grew 9.2% like for like, and their share represented 59.8% of total business activity, while offline businesses fell 2.1% like for like over the year.

DECLINE IN BENELUX DESPITE A PICK UP IN Q4

International gross profit rose 13.4% on a like-for-like basis to €6.26 M in Q4 2018, i.e. 27% of the Group's gross profit, benefiting from a favourable comparative base (7.9% like-for-like decline in Q4 2017). In Benelux, gross profit increased 10.9% like for like in Q4 2018 to €5.93 M.

International gross profit stood at €22.9 M in 2018, down 1.9% like for like.
Despite a pick up in the fourth quarter, Benelux continued to decline overall, down 2.6% like for like, accounting for 24.9% of the Group's gross profit. The 7.3% growth in digital businesses over the year, representing 29.9% of gross profit for the region, did not offset the drop in the volume of paper coupons cleared and the decline in offline in-store media.
With a very strong performance in the second half of 2018, business in Southern Europe showed significant growth for FY 2018 (up 15.9% like for like), in both Spain and Italy. The region now accounts for 1.3% of the Group's gross profit.

IMPROVED PROFITABILITY FOR FY 2018 IN LINE WITH GUIDANCE

Based on the year-end closing in progress, HighCo confirms its 2018 guidance and expects a rise in adjusted operating margin3 of about 20 bp (2017 adjusted operating margin: 18.1%).

Estimated net cash4, including working capital resources from the Data businesses, totalled approximately €52 M at 31 December 2018 (€45.91 M at 31 December 2017).

The 2018 annual earnings will be released on 26 March after market close. A financial analysts' meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, 27 March at 2.30 p.m.
  
About HighCo

Since its creation, HighCo has placed innovation at the heart of its values, offering its clients - brands and retailers - Intelligent Marketing Solutions to influence shopper behaviour with the right deal, in the right place, at the right time and on the right channel.
Listed in compartment C of Euronext Paris, and eligible for the "long only" DSS, HighCo has more than 750 employees and since 2010 has been included in the Gaia Index, a selection of 70 responsible Small and Mid Caps.

Your contacts

Cécile Collina-Hue                                             Cynthia Lerat
Chairman of the Management Board                     Press Relations
+33 1 77 75 65 06                                             +33 1 77 75 65 16
comfi@highco.com                                            c.lerat@highco.com

Upcoming events

Publications take place after market close.

2018 Annual Earnings: Tuesday, 26 March 2019
SFAF financial analysts meeting: Wednesday, 27 March 2019 at 2:30 p.m. (8 rue de la Rochefoucauld - 75009 Paris)
Q1 2019 Gross Profit: Thursday, 18 April 2019
Q2 and H1 2019 Gross Profit: Wednesday, 17 July 2019
2019 Half-year Earnings: Wednesday, 28 August 2019
Conference call on 2019 half-year earnings: Thursday, 29 August 2019
Q3 and 9-month YTD 2019 Gross Profit: Wednesday, 16 October 2019
Q4 and FY 2019 Gross Profit: Wednesday, 22 January 2020

  
HighCo is a component stock of the indices CAC® Small (CACS), CAC® Mid&Small (CACMS) and CAC® All-Tradable (CACT).
ISIN: FR0000054231
Reuters: HIGH.PA
Bloomberg: HCO FP
For further financial information and press releases, go to www.highco.com.

This English translation is for the convenience of English-speaking readers. Consequently, the translation may not be relied upon to sustain any legal claim, nor should it be used as the basis of any legal opinion. HighCo expressly disclaims all liability for any inaccuracy herein.

HUG#2232228