Good Start to 2021: CEWE Increases Earnings in Q1

CEWE Stiftung & Co. KGaA (SDAX, ISIN: DE 0005403901) started 2021 with significantly better earnings, as shown by the first three months. The deciding success factor was once again positive earnings in the core business segment of photofinishing. With growth robust at 9.0%, photofinishing sales increased to 125.0 million euros (Q1 2020: 114.7 million euros), thus virtually compensating for declines caused by the lockdown in the business segments of Retailing and Commercial Online Printing. Group turnover, at 145.9 million euros, thus fell just short in total of that of the same quarter of the previous year (Q1 2020: 146.4 million euros). At the same time, the earning power of the company improved significantly: Group EBIT in the first quarter rose to 8.6 million euros (Q1 2020: 2.0 million euros) – an increase of 6.6 million euros. This manifested the long-term trend towards an increasingly stronger first quarterly period. "We are delighted that we are able to bring great joy to more and more people with our photo products. In doing so, our core business segment of photofinishing enables CEWE to get through these pandemic times with a generally steady growth in earnings. Our focus on our customers, our innovative capacity and our strong online business in cooperation with our retail partners constitute the key to this success," says Dr. Christian Friege, CEWE Stiftung & Co. KGaA CEO.

Photofinishing develops strongly in the first quarter
The important photofinishing performance indicators are all developing positively: the number of photos as well as the value per photo contributed to a 9% rise in sales, to 125.0 million euros. The number of photos sold increased by 2.4% to 520.1 million photos (Q1 2020: 508.1 million photos) and turnover per photo increased by 6.5% to reach 24.03 eurocents (Q1 2020: 22.57 eurocents). The outstanding increase in Group EBIT is hence almost completely based on the contribution to earnings made by the core business segment of photofinishing, which raised its EBIT by 6.5 million euros to 9.8 million euros against that of the same quarter of the previous year (Q1 2020: 3.3 million euros), with the CEWE PHOTOBOOK, wall art, photo calendars and also many other photo gifts increasing sales – in some cases by high double-digit growth rates. In this case the pandemic-related stay-at-home effect with its increased demand for online products continued to back up the trend.

Commercial Online Printing stabilises earnings
As positive as the development of photofinishing in the first quarter may have been, the lockdown nevertheless continues to hit Commercial Online Printing particularly hard. Customer groups most severely affected by the pandemic, such as the event sector, retailing or the catering industry are themselves hardly ordering any printed advertising material nowadays. Given this environment, sales in the Commercial Online Printing business division were down by 43.2%, to 12.8 million euros in the first quarter (Q1 2020: 22.6 million euros). At the same time, it must be taken into account that in the same quarter of the previous year, the consequences of the coronavirus crisis, with strong declines in sales, only made themselves felt as of mid-March. Commercial Online Printing had still increased with a low, single-digit growth rate up to this point in time in the previous year. Thanks to a strict system of cost management and a generally optimised production and cost structure, EBIT for the business division, at -0.6 million euros, remained at the same level as in the previous year, in spite of a strong decline in sales (Q1 2020: -0.6 million euros).

CEWE Retailing improves earnings slightly
Sales in retailing are declining according to schedule anyway due to the focus on photofinishing business (reported on in the business segment) and due to a conscious foregoing of low-margin hardware business. Lockdown restrictions for retailing also had an impact, with turnover in the business division declining by 16.8% to 6.3 million euros in the first quarter (Q1 2020: 7.5 million euros). The positive effects of a rigorous system of cost management and growing e-commerce business are however also apparent here: at -0.4 million euros, the division was even slightly better in the first quarter than in the same period of the previous year (Q1 2020: -0.5 million euros).

Traditionally sound capital ratio reaches 58.2%, ROCE increases to 21.9%
The capital ratio was raised again as at 31 March 2021, by 4.2 percentage points to an extremely sound 58.2% (31 March 2020: 54.0%). At the same time, the ROCE developed positively, with the performance indicator increasing by more than seven percentage points in a comparison with the previous year, to an outstanding 21.9% (Q1 2020: 14.6%).

Outlook for 2021 confirmed
The CEWE management sees itself confirmed in its declared aim by the results returned for the first quarter, and is adhering to its outlook for 2021: Group turnover is to reach a figure in the range of 710 to 770 million euros. Group EBIT is expected to be in a corridor of 72 to 84 million euros in 2021, EBT is to be in the range of 70 to 82 million euros, and after tax earnings are to amount to between 48 and 56 million euros. For a few years now, the first-quarter share of earnings in annual net income has been increasing steadily, with the trend for the second and third quarters moving towards decreasing shares in earnings. The fourth quarter of any given year is by far the most important thanks to Christmas business, and is also seeing its share of earnings increasing from year to year. Targets for the 2021 financial year constitute ranges that are more or less expected, with the range at the same time reflecting the uncertainty currently caused by the general coronavirus situation and its potential effects on the development of business at CEWE.

CEWE distinguished as "Best Managed Company" for the second time in succession
The constant search for innovations and improvements is a significant element of the CEWE corporate culture. Proof that this approach leads to excellent results is given by the most recent distinction as a "Best Managed Company" by Deloitte, Wirtschaftswoche, Credit Suisse and BDI. After being distinguished in 2020, CEWE has now received this award for the second time in succession. "This new distinction is at the same time approval and motivation for all our staff members. We are delighted to have received this award and see ourselves confirmed in having our sights set firmly on the right priorities when it comes to continued development for CEWE," says Christian Friege. The international provider of Institutional Shareholder Services, ISS, also rated and distinguished CEWE with an "Environmental Quality Score of 1" for the company's highly sustainable corporate philosophy.

Virtual Annual General Meeting on 9 June to resolve on 12th consecutive dividend increase
Since the pandemic began, CEWE has assumed responsibility for ensuring the best-possible protection for its employees, business associates and shareholders. This involved the implementation of comprehensive measures to counter the spread of the virus as far as possible and to prevent employees from being infected and operations and units from having to be shut down. As part of this rigorous strategy of preventing the infection from spreading, CEWE will this year once refrain from holding its Annual General Meeting as an event with physical presence; instead it will be holding the meeting as a purely digital online Annual General Meeting on 9 June 2021. During the AGM, voting will also take place on raising the dividend to 2.30 euros for the 2020 financial year. Should shareholders approve the proposal made by the Supervisory Board and the Board of Management, this would be the twelfth dividend increase in succession. This makes CEWE one of the few German companies to have consistently raised dividends over a period covering so many years.