Husqvarna Group - 2014 - 6% Net Sales increase
Kai Wärn, President and CEO: “I am pleased to conclude that the fourth quarter continued the strong trend of improvements that we have seen throughout the year. Sales, which are seasonally low in the fourth quarter, were up 6 percent adjusted for exchange rate effects, with the largest increases for Americas and Construction. The seasonally generated operating loss was reduced from SEK -308m to -230m, despite a negative currency impact of SEK -81m, and excluding items affecting comparability. The improvement came from Americas where the loss was cut from SEK -146m to SEK -43m, mainly due to continued material cost reductions and productivity improvements.
In June 2014 we announced a new organizational structure and also highlighted the risk of impairment. The organization is fully implemented as of January 1, 2015 and we have concluded that there was a need for impairment of goodwill of SEK -767m that was charged to the fourth quarter results.
To briefly sum up the full-year, we have completed the initial step in our profitability improvement program. Operating income increased by 47% to SEK 2,358m (1,608) and the corresponding margin rose to 7.2% (5.3), excluding the impairment of goodwill. The improvement is a Group-wide effort, thus especially pleasing that all business areas improved their profitability. More than half of the improvement in the full-year results is attributable to our Accelerated Improvement Program. Main improvements relate to mix of products sold and reduced cost of materials. In addition to our own efforts, we enjoyed support from favorable weather conditions, early in the season in Europe respectively late in North America. The Board proposes that the dividend will be increased to SEK 1.65 per share (1.50). The dividend is also proposed to be paid in two installments, one third in April and two thirds paid in October, to better match the Group's cash flow profile. We expect the new brand driven and business model differentiated organization to support growth in the medium and long-term. For now, we remain in the margin recovery mode, prioritizing margin before sales growth, aiming for 10% operating margin by 2016. Focus and execution of the Accelerated Improvement Program to continue to drive margin recovery is the Group-wide priority for 2015.”