The Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) Board of Directors met on 22 February 2016 to close the financial statements for the 2015 financial year4.
Patrice Caine, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, stated: “2015 was an important milestone in the success of our profitable growth strategy. We achieved a record order intake, and our sales witnessed solid growth after several years of quasi-stability. Profitability increased in line with our medium-term objectives, while we increased our investments in innovation, marketing and talent development.”
He added: “These good results strengthen our belief that Thales is now back on track to deliver sustainable growth. We are upgrading our organic sales growth target for the years ahead and confirm our margin target for 2017-2018. Thanks to the efforts of all its employees, Thales is undergoing a profound transformation which will foster profitable and sustainable growth.”
The new orders booked in 2015 amounted to a record €18,880 million, representing an increase of 31% compared to 2014 (+28% at constant scope and exchange rates). In all business lines, commercial initiatives launched as part of the Ambition Boost plan have delivered. At 31 December 2015, the consolidated order book totalled €32,292 million, which represents some 2.3 years of sales, strengthening the visibility in terms of activity in the coming years.
Sales amounted to €14,063 million, up 8.4% on a reported basis, and up 4.5% at constant scope and exchange rates (“organic” change). Sales saw a slight upturn in growth on mature markets3 (organic growth of +0.5%) while emerging markets maintained a high level of growth (organic growth of +16%, after +12% in 2014). As a result, emerging markets represented 28% of 2015 Group sales, compared to 23% in 2013 and 25% in 2014.
For 2015, the Group reported an EBIT of €1,216 million, which represents 8.6% of sales, compared to €985 million (7.6% of sales) in 2014. EBIT was notably driven by a strong performance in the Defence and Security segment.
Hence, Thales exceeded all of the financial objectives set for 2015, which were to achieve a low-single digit increase in sales and a level of EBIT between €1,130 million and €1,150 million.
The adjusted net income, Group share stood at €809 million, an increase of 44% which is mainly explained by the improvement in EBIT and a lower effective tax rate.
Cash indicators also witnessed a clear upturn, benefiting from the sharp rise in adjusted net income and advance payments received on orders placed during the year. Free operating cash-flow stood at €1,110 million, which represents a twofold increase compared to 2014. At 31 December 2015, net cash was €1,978 million, an increase of almost one billion euros compared to 31 December 2014.
In this context, the Board of Directors decided to propose the distribution of a dividend of €1.36 per share, an increase of more than 21% compared to 2014.
The new orders booked in 2015 amounted to €18,880 million, an increase of 31% compared to 2014 (+28% at constant scope and exchange rates1). The book-to-bill ratio was 1.34 for the 2015 financial year.
Thales also benefited from a particularly high number of large orders (with a unit value over €100 million): 24 large orders in all Group segments, following on from 19 in 2013 and 19 in 2014:
- 12 large orders in the Aerospace segment, including the installation of a new generation of individual screens across the entire A320 fleet of US airline JetBlue, the supply of two military satellite systems for the French Army (Ceres and ComSat NG), two telecommunications satellites (Bangladesh, Eutelsat), the construction of 8 additional satellites for the O3B constellation, a new phase of the Cosmo-SkyMed contract (Italy), a contract as part of the Galileo global navigation system and 4 contracts for the European Space Agency in observation and exploration (Sentinel 1C/1D, Sentinel 3C/3D, additional tranches of the Euclid and Exomars programs);
- 3 large orders in the Transport segment, for the supervision and signalling in the subway systems of London, Doha (Qatar) and Hong Kong;
- 9 large orders in the Defence & Security segment, including the upgrade of the French army’s air defence system (Aster B1NT), optronics systems for “Scout” armoured vehicles in the UK, "Hawkei” light protected vehicles for the Australian Defense Force, contracts for the Rafale fighter aircraft in Egypt and Qatar, airport security in Oman, an air defence system in Malaysia as well as the sale of military equipment to two customers in the Middle East.
In 2015, the Group signed 5 “jumbo” contracts with a unit value over €500 million: the signalling for 4 lines of the London Underground network, orders relating to the acquisition of the Rafale fighter aircraft by Egypt and Qatar, the order for over 1,000 vehicles by the Australian Defense Force ("Hawkei"), and a military satellite communications system for France (ComSat NG).
The positive dynamic order trend was not restricted to large contracts: orders with a unit value under €10 million were up 6% compared to 2014. From a geographical perspective1, orders were up sharply both in mature markets (€12,701 million, +26%, including France: +14%, United Kingdom: +68%, Australia/New Zealand: +58%) and in emerging markets (€6,179 million, +45%, including Asia: +17% and the Middle East: +93%).
Order intake for the Aerospace segment rose sharply to €6,279 million, compared to €5,024 million in 2014 (+25%). Avionics orders increased, boosted by continued growth in commercial and military avionics, both original equipment and support. In the in-flight entertainment (IFE) business, the Group signed several large contracts, including with JetBlue, Singapore Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Japan Airlines. There was a strong commercial momentum in the Space business, in the institutional segment for observation, navigation and exploration satellites as well as in the telecommunications segment, with the signing of the previously mentioned large contracts.
In the Transport segment, orders were up 71% on 2014, at €2,826 million, thanks in particular to the “jumbo” contract awarded by London Underground for the renovation of the signalling for four major lines on its network.
Order intake in the Defence & Security segment totalled €9,704 million compared to €7,608 million in 2014 (+28%). As previously explained, this segment enjoyed numerous commercial successes in Land & Air Systems (provision of "Hawkei" light protected vehicles to the Australian Defense Force, the French army’s air defence system upgrade, optronics for “Scout” armoured vehicles in the UK, etc.) and in Defence Mission Systems (equipments for the Egyptian and Qatari Rafales, submarine systems…). Orders in the Secure Communications and Information Systems business line fell slightly, but remained above sales.
Sales for 2015 amounted to €14,063 million, compared to €12,974 million in 2014, up 8.4% on a reported basis1, and up 4.5% at constant scope and exchange rates (“organic” change), while in 2014, they fell organically by 1.1% compared to 2013.
Geographically speaking2, this performance can be explained both by the return of organic growth in mature markets (+0.5%) and by continued solid growth in emerging markets (+16%, following on from +12% in 2014).
In the Aerospace segment, sales amounted to €5,381 million, up 7.3% compared to 2014 (+1.7% at constant scope and exchange rates). The Avionics business continued to benefit from a favourable currency impact and the acquisition of Live TV, as well as the increased sales of commercial avionics and in-flight entertainment systems. However, sales of helicopter avionics and of tubes and imaging systems were down. Revenues in the Space business increased slightly, with the momentum in observation, exploration and navigation activities offsetting the fall in revenues seen from telecommunication satellites.
In the Transport segment, sales amounted to €1,519 million, up 8.4% compared to 2014 (+4.1% at constant scope and exchange rates). Despite execution difficulties on a number of contracts, this segment returned to growth after two years of organic decline in sales, thanks to main line rail signalling, supervision, and especially urban rail signalling projects, which are growing once again.
Sales in the Defence & Security segment reached €7,084 million, up 9.3% compared to 2014 (+6.8% at constant scope and exchange rates). All activities contributed to this positive trend. The Land & Air Systems business saw strong growth, specifically in missile systems, "Bushmaster" and "Hawkei" armoured vehicles, and civil and military radars. The Defence Mission Systems business benefited from the ramp-up of the SSOP (Sensors Support Optimisation Project) contract in the United Kingdom, and the start of the Rafale contract in Egypt. In addition to the good performance seen in cyber-security activities, the Secure Communications and Information Systems business did well in terms of radio-communications and started to book revenues on the Oman airports project.
For 2015, the Group reported an EBIT1 of €1,216 million, which represents 8.6% of sales, compared to €985 million (7.6% of sales) in 2014.
The EBIT for the Aerospace segment increased again to €518 million (9.6% of sales) compared to €505 million (10.1% of sales) in 2014. The EBIT margin, which reached a high level in 2014, was down slightly, due primarily to the effect of higher R&D spending.
The Transport segment reported an EBIT of €-37 million (-2.4% of sales) compared to €32 million (2.3% of sales) in 2014. As part of the in-depth review of the contract portfolio carried out during the first half of 2015, additional charges were booked, which had a major impact on the profitability of this segment. In line with the recovery plan implemented by the new management team, this segment achieved breakeven in the second half of 2015 (+€2 million). After 2016, which should see break-even achieved, the impact of the recovery plan will allow this business to gradually return to profitability in the coming years.
The EBIT for the Defence & Security segment increased significantly, totalling €760 million (10.7% of sales) compared to €620 million in 2014 (9.6% of sales). In addition to the very satisfactory level of contract execution, the rise in margins was driven by the healthy commercial dynamics, particularly in the Land & Air Systems and Secure Communications and Information Systems businesses.
The contribution made by DCNS to EBIT stood at €22 million in 2015, compared with €-117 million in 2014. DCNS is implementing its recovery plan as expected. DCNS results in 2015 were a little higher than expected, mainly due to non-recurring items.
The amount of net financial interest remained low, at €4 million in 2015 compared to €2 million in 2014, while other adjusted financial results1 were improving (€-10 million in 2015 compared to €-27 million in 2014). Adjusted financial income on pensions and other employee benefits1 fared slightly better than in 2014 (€-73 million compared to €-77 million), since the discount rates at the end of 2014, which were used to determine the 2015 financial cost, were lower than the 2013 rates. The adjusted net income, Group share2 stood at €809 million, compared to €562 million in 2014, after an adjusted tax charge1 of €266 million compared to €258 million in 2014. The effective tax rate is 27%, compared to 29% in 2014.
The adjusted net income, Group share, per share1 amounted to €3.89, up sharply on 2014 (€2.75).
Financial position at 31 December 2015
Free operating cash flow amounted to €1,110 million. It increased sharply compared to 2014 (€501 million), despite an increase in net operating investments (€458 million compared to €443 million in 2014) as part of the optimisation of the Group’s industrial base. Above and beyond the improvement in EBIT, it benefited from advance payments received on orders recorded during the year.
At 31 December 2015, net cash amounted to €1,978 million compared to €1,006 million at the end of December 2014. The acquisition of Vormetric, announced in October 2015, is expected to be completed in the first half of 2016.
Equity, Group share, stood at €4,646 million compared to €3,782 million at the end of December 2014, due primarily to consolidated net income, Group share, of €765 million.
At the Annual General Meeting on 18 May 2016, the Board of directors will propose the distribution of a dividend of €1.36 per share to the shareholders, an increase of 21% on 2014. If approved, the ex-dividend date will be 30 May 2016 and the payment date will be 1st June 2016. The dividend will be paid fully in cash and will amount to €1.01 per share, after deducting the interim dividend of €0.35 per share already paid in December 2015.
After the record level seen in 2015, new orders are expected to remain high in 2016, close to the level observed in 2013-20141. Sales should see a mid-single digit organic growth compared to 2015.
This positive trend, combined with continuing efforts to improve competitiveness, should result in Thales posting an EBIT between €1,300 and €1,330 million (based on exchange rates in February 2016), which will represent an increase between 7% and 9% compared to 2015.
In this context, Thales is upgrading its medium-term sales growth target. The Group is now aiming for mid-single digit organic growth in 2017 and 2018. It also confirms its EBIT margin target of 9.5 to 10% in the same time frame.