Letter from the Management Board
Dear shareholders, customers and business partners,
First of all, we would like to introduce ourselves to you as the newly formed Management Board team of NORMA Group. Miguel Ángel López Borrego took over as interim Chairman of the Management Board from Dr. Michael Schneider on January 1, 2023. As we already announced in the late summer of 2022, Dr. Schneider stepped down from the Management Board at the end of 2022 on the best of terms with the Supervisory Board.
Mr. López Borrego already knows NORMA Group from his work on the company’s Supervisory Board and brings along relevant management and industry experience. As a Management Board team, we will work to further improve NORMA Group’s efficiency and productivity in the current year and strategically and operationally align the company for the future. “Shaping tomorrow” – that is our focus!
Not losing sight of the goal and working together is crucial in achieving stability in times of uncertainty. 2022, a year burdened by a number of different factors, once again demonstrated this more than clearly. Like many other companies, we were exposed to headwinds, some of which were severe. In addition to the renewed emergence of the pandemic in China, the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022 and its consequences represented a major turning point. This event has profoundly shaken global developments in human, political and economic terms in many industries. For instance, production at many automotive manufacturers and suppliers in Ukraine was interrupted in the spring, resulting in a noticeable drop in demand from the car industry. This led to major uncertainties and significantly fluctuating order patterns among our automotive customers in the first half of 2022. The immensely uncertain conditions also resulted in drastically higher prices for gas and electricity in Europe. This resulted in unprecedented cost increases for raw materials and intermediate products as well as for transportation and logistics services. Coupled with a sharp rise in inflation, price increases were ultimately more than noticeable in all areas. The additional restrictions imposed due to the corona pandemic and fears of further lockdowns in China only further exacerbated the general economic uncertainties.
Overall, the factors just mentioned led us to revise our expectations for the development of the adjusted EBIT margin as well as for net operating cash flow in July 2022. With regard to the development of Group sales, we have stuck to the forecast we communicated in March 2022. As expected, we performed well again in the area of sales development, in particular by passing on price increases in our own selling prices.
NORMA Group’s sales increased organically by 7.1% compared to the previous year and amounted to EUR 1,243.0 million. Sales rose by a total of 13.8%, driven by the strong US dollar. Despite the complex and diverse challenges in the market environment, the company succeeded in generating higher revenues in all three segments – EMEA, the Americas and Asia-Pacific – in the past reporting year compared to the previous year. Sales in the Americas region in particular showed a very gratifying increase. Growth was driven by inflation-related price increases and double-digit organic growth in Water Management. The automotive business in EMEA also picked up significantly in the second half of 2022. In Asia-Pacific, the important market of China was still impacted by corona restrictions for much of the reporting year. Demand in the segment was therefore somewhat more subdued overall, especially in the automotive sector, which meant that the increase in revenue was mainly influenced by positive currency effects.
Unfortunately, the good development of sales is not fully reflected in our earnings. Adjusted EBIT reached EUR 99.0 million in fiscal year 2022, thus falling short of the previous year’s figure. This was mainly caused by the challenging environment referred to above. In addition, other operating costs, including IT implementation costs, had a negative impact on profitability. Nevertheless, at 8%, the EBIT margin was exactly in line with the revised target set in July 2022 that we have been expecting since then. At EUR 65.3 million, net operating cash flow even exceeded the revised target of “around EUR 60 million” that we set in the summer of 2022.
NORMA Group has thus achieved its targets that were adjusted in July for the full year 2022. Nevertheless, we are not quite satisfied with the result. In 2023, we want to continue working together to further stabilize the company and make it even more efficient. We as the Management Board have therefore set ourselves the goal for the current year of making even better use of the opportunities and potential within our three strategic business areas “Mobility and New Energies,” “Water Management” and “Industrial Applications.” In the coming weeks and months, we intend to focus on previously untapped growth potential in the high-margin water and industrial businesses and continue to build on our well-known strengths as a technology leader in joining and fluid-handling technology for the automotive industry. We will also work consistently and resolutely on making further improvements to gradually increase Group productivity.
Overall, we therefore see clear opportunities for the positive long-term development of NORMA Group. Nevertheless, taking the still volatile environment into account, we also approach fiscal year 2023 with caution and respect. For example, we assume that the overall economic development in fiscal year 2023 – as in the previous year – will be burdened by the macro- and geopolitical issues mentioned earlier. In particular, we continue to classify the potential after-effects of the corona pandemic in China and the further development of the war between Russia and Ukraine and its consequences for the global value creation and transport chains as major uncertainty factors. We also see the current high level of inflation worldwide and the turnaround in interest rates initiated by the central banks as negative factors.
Especially in volatile times, we need to act flexibly, in a solution-oriented and at the same time agile manner. After all, it has never been more important to identify potential challenges quickly, analyze them and derive options for action immediately. At the same time, despite all the current challenges, we are sticking resolutely to our strategy. By focusing on the relevant future markets of Water Management and Electromobility, we intend to secure and further increase our market share to be able to grow even more profitably in the future. Besides efficiency, innovations with a promising future are crucial here. “Shaping tomorrow” – actively shaping the future – is the motto of this year’s Annual Report and we will take this to heart.
A company is always the sum of all employees who show tireless commitment every day and work resolutely as a team on further development for the “new tomorrow.” Even in stormy times, NORMA Group can always depend on a capable and motivated team that supports the company’s vision and goals. We would like to express our sincere thanks to the more than 8,700 employees who work for NORMA Group every day. We know it has also been another very demanding year for them. But we have stood firm and been able to achieve a great deal together. The successes support our shared vision of being the market leader in joining and fluid-handling technology for both current and future markets worldwide.
We would also like to thank you, our shareholders, for your loyalty and faithfulness and also for your interest in NORMA Group’s developments. For the year 2022 – as in every year since the IPO – we want to distribute an appropriate share of our profits to our owners. The Management Board and Supervisory Board plan to propose the payment of a dividend of EUR 0.55 per dividend-bearing share for 2022 to the Annual General Meeting on May 11, 2023. As part of our sustainable dividend strategy, this would be a payout ratio of approximately 31% of adjusted earnings for the period. Rest assured that we are constantly working to increase the value of NORMA Group and to further strengthen our international positioning as a provider of innovative joining technologies.
We would be pleased if you would continue to accompany us on our journey!
Miguel Ángel López Borrego
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Dr. Friedrich Klein
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
These contents are part of the Non-financial Group Report and were subject to a separate limited assurance examination.