2015 was a strategically important year for Ascom
As announced in January 2015, Ascom has embarked to transform the Group into a company focusing on IT and communication technology primarily in the healthcare industry by 2020. Already today, Ascom is well positioned as a provider of integrated workflow solutions mainly in healthcare and the market offers attractive and profitable growth opportunities on a global level. During 2015, the Company accelerated investments into solutions, software and professional services and expanded Sales, Marketing and Technology capabilities.
Thanks to the Wireless Solutions Division, Ascom Group reported an increase in revenues at constant currencies in 2015 of 1.5%, and generated revenues of CHF 410.8 million (2014: CHF 437.7 million). EBITDA on Group level amounted to CHF 43.8 million (2014: CHF 64.8 million) including restructuring costs of CHF 4 million for the Network Testing Division. Excluding these restructuring costs, Ascom posted an EBITDA margin of 11.6% for fiscal year 2015 (2014: 14.8%).
Unchanged dividend of CHF 0.45 per share
Ascom generated a Group profit of CHF 24.3 million (2014: CHF 37.5 million). As of 31 December 2015, the Group has a net cash position of CHF 37.3 million (2014: CHF 27.1 million) and a solid equity ratio of 40.7% (2014: 34.4%).
The Board of Directors proposes an unchanged dividend of CHF 0.45 per share to the Annual General Meeting in acknowledgement of the continued solid business performance of Wireless Solutions, offering a dividend yield of about 3% and a payout ratio of 66.7% (2014: 43.2%).
Solid result for Wireless Solutions
In 2015, Wireless Solutions experienced a good performance in important key regions. Overall, the division recorded revenue growth of 3.7% year-on-year at constant currencies, posting revenues of CHF 304.2 million (2014: CHF 318.9 million). Growth in the acute care segment was clearly above-average. Despite additional expenditure of around CHF 6 million as part of the accelerated investment program, the division achieved a solid EBITDA margin of 15.0% (2014: 17.5%).
Supported by the successful launch of Ascom Myco, a purpose-built smart device for the healthcare industry leading to important hospital lighthouse project wins, the division was able to further strengthen its leading market position in healthcare ICT. Wireless Solutions established in 2015 an important strategic alliance with Tyco SimplexGrinnell for integrated healthcare communication solutions in the United States and Canada. Another important step towards becoming a leading provider of healthcare ICT solutions was the acquisition of the Italian medical software company UMS (United Medical Software), announced in December 2015.
Difficult market environment for Network Testing
In the second half-year 2015, Network Testing faced an increasingly challenging market environment due to substantial changes in the North American Telecom sector. One major North American operator postponed significant network investments, resulting in a revenue decline of USD 8 million for Network Testing in 2015. The negative impact was partly offset by otherwise good results in North America. In addition, Systems & Solutions (which was divested as of December 2015) suffered from a declining demand. Overall, Network Testing recorded revenues of CHF 107.0 million (2014: CHF 119.0 million), a decline by 4.5% at constant currencies. To improve profitability and to align the testing business to the new market realities, structural changes and cost measures already have been initiated in December 2015. Excluding restructuring costs of around CHF 4 million, the EBITDA margin was at 2.7%. The division's testing business (excluding Systems & Solutions) posted an EBITDA margin of 6% before restructuring costs.
In order to improve the division's profitability, also growth initiatives have been launched, including a partnering with Ranplan, a British mobile network planning and design innovator that opens up new market opportunities in the field of in-building networks.
Ascom has the ambition to be present in every tier-one hospital in the world by 2020, and will continue its transformation towards becoming a leading provider of healthcare ICT solutions. Wireless Solutions aims for sustainable growth both organically as well as through strategic partnerships or further targeted acquisitions, while maintaining and increasing its level of profitability. As announced, Ascom is actively pursuing ongoing discussions of potential strategic options for Network Testing with various interested parties, representing both strategic and financial investors.
Ascom confirms its guidance for Wireless Solutions for 2016 and 2017, targeting revenue growth of 5-10% at constant currencies with an EBITDA margin of 14-18%. Due to the seasonality of the business, the second half-year is expected to be distinctively stronger than the first one. Network Testing has the objective to return to growth combined with a significant improvement in profitability, also expecting a stronger second half-year.
|Net Revenue in CHFm||410.8||437.7|
|EBITDA in CHFm||43.8||64.8|
|Group profit in CHFm||24.3||37.5|
|Earnings per share (EPS) in CHF||0.69||1.07|
|Number of employees (FTE) at 31.12.||1,658||1,696|
|Incoming orders in CHFm||311.8||333.3|
|Net Revenue in CHFm||304.2||318.9|
|EBITDA in CHFm||45.5||55.8|
|Number of employees (FTE) at 31.12.||1,237||1,196|
|Incoming orders in CHFm||101.1||117.3|
|Net Revenue in CHFm||107.0||119.0|
|EBITDA in CHFm||-1.1||10.6|
|Number of employees (FTE) at 31.12.||407||485|
Ascom switches from IFRS to Swiss GAAP FER valid as of financial year 2015
The consolidated financial statements 2015 of the Ascom Group have been prepared in accordance with Swiss GAAP FER accounting standards for the first time. For reasons of comparability, the 2014 figures were restated to reflect a Swiss GAAP FER comparison for both financial years.