Capacity utilisation in the IT Services segment remains high. Operating earnings (EBITDA) before the positive non-recurring effect resulting from the sale of the e-Spirit Group rose by 76 % in total to EUR 38.0 million. Taking into account the positive EBITDA effect of EUR 17.7 million (EUR 0.6 million of which from subsequent sales proceeds in the second quarter), adesso reports a 158 % increase in EBITDA to EUR 55.7 million in the first half of the year. EBITDA increased by 112 % in the second quarter of 2021, more than doubling year on year to stand at EUR 19.8 million. Against the backdrop of continued demand for IT services and the higher number of working days in the second half of the year, adesso believes it is well on its way to achieving its full-year forecast for sales and EBITDA. Licence revenue in the product business that offers an opportunity to exceed the original guidance, depending on the actual figure, is expected in the second half of the year as well. The forecast for the year as a whole is confirmed on this basis.
In a generally more positive market environment, adesso succeeded in increasing its sales by a substantial margin in the first half of 2021. Thanks to a rise of 31 % to EUR 322.4 million (25 percentage points of which organic; previous year: EUR 246.1 million), adesso was able to once again easily exceed its target of outperforming overall market growth organically by at least a factor of two. Revenue increased on a broad basis across nearly all companies of the adesso Group. The adesso national subsidiary in Germany again recorded the largest increase in sales in absolute terms. Overall, business in Germany saw disproportionately strong growth of 33 %. Sales involving customers abroad increased by 25 %, with the subsidiaries in Turkey, Spain and Austria recording particularly marked growth. The relatively new company in the Netherlands also achieved a steep rise in revenue on account of the acquisitions in the previous year. Broken down by sector, all of adesso’s core industries generated growth. Additional budgets also materialised in the automotive sector, which had seen a temporary negative impact due to the coronavirus pandemic, leading to strong growth of 40 % year on year. In the insurance industry, the largest in terms of sales, customers have also been willing to make investments, resulting in disproportionate growth of 44 % due to in|sure licence sales and implementation projects, among other factors. The most recently added industry, manufacturing, continued developing strongly and posted a rise of 29 %. Only the healthcare and public administration industries saw somewhat weaker development on the tail of strong growth in 2020.
The number of employees continued to increase substantially. The number of full-time equivalents rose year on year by 1,050 employees, or 25 %, from 4,259 to 5,309 at the end of the period (31 December 2020: 4,975).
The implementation projects related to product sales from the in|sure ecosphere from the second half of 2020 onward also contributed to the particularly strong development in business with the insurance sector. Moreover, significant licence revenue was already possible with the successful product family in the first half of 2021, unlike in the previous year.
In the first half of the year, EUR 163.2 million in sales was generated at the adesso Group in the first quarter and EUR 159.2 million in the second quarter (previous year: EUR 125.6 million and EUR 120.4 million). The e-Spirit Group, which was sold in the first quarter of 2021, was deconsolidated in March. As a result, its business figures were no longer included in adesso SE’s consolidated interim financial statements from the second quarter onward.
The adesso Group’s total operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) came to EUR 55.7 million in the first half of 2020, up 158 % on the previous year’s figure. Without the positive non-recurring effect of EUR 17.7 million from the sale of the e-Spirit Group, the increase would have stood at 76 %, bringing the total up to EUR 38.0 million and corresponding to an EBITDA margin of 11.8 %. The EBITDA margin stood at 8.8 % in the first half of 2020.
The year-on-year increase in licence revenue, along with the constantly high level of capacity utilisation and booking intensity, contributed to the sharp rise in profitability. Moreover, the relative cost base decreased as a whole, indicating that a higher share of services were provided by in-house experts. The cost of materials rose at a significantly lower rate than sales, posting a 20 % rise to EUR 36.5 million (previous year: EUR 30.3 million), which equates to a 33 % increase in gross profit to EUR 285.9 million. Other operating expenses also developed at a slower pace than sales, thereby positively impacting margins, especially as business activities continue to take place largely remotely due to the restrictions associated with the pandemic. This effect is losing significance, since the situation from the second quarter of the previous year onward was comparable. After coming in at EUR 26.0 million in the previous year, other operating expenses increased by 9 % to EUR 28.4 million. Personnel costs, the largest cost item, increased by 30 % – largely in proportion to sales growth – and stood at EUR 222.7 million.
In the first half of 2021, EBITDA stood at EUR 35.8 million in the first quarter (previous year: EUR 12.2 million) and EUR 19.8 million in the second quarter (previous year: EUR 9.3 million).
Compared to the previous year, depreciation and amortisation rose by 28 %, mainly due to higher depreciation and amortisation for capitalised leases and company acquisitions made in the second half of 2020. Pre-tax profit amounted to EUR 37.7 million as compared to EUR 7.7 million in the previous year. Earnings per share stood at EUR 4.90 (previous year: EUR 0.89). The significantly reduced calculated tax rate of 19 % (previous year: 29 %) had a positive impact, especially as the positive non-recurring effect on EBITDA of EUR 17.7 million is largely tax exempt. Less this effect, the tax rate stood at 35 %, with earnings per share rising by 135 % to EUR 2.09.
Additional figures and information
As at the reporting date, adesso held liquid assets of EUR 29.4 million (previous year: EUR 34.8 million; 31 December 2020: EUR 55.1 million). The decline in liquid assets over the first half of the year corresponds in structural terms to the development of liquidity in previous years and resulted primarily from the scheduled payment of variable salary components for the previous year and the dividend payment. Higher tax payments compared to the previous year also played a role. Trade receivables and contract assets rose proportionately to sales by 31 % year on year to EUR 170.4 million (previous year: EUR 130.4 million). By contrast, trade payables and contract liabilities increased by merely 9 %. As a result, working capital increased disproportionately to sales by 37 % to EUR 137.2 million.
Compared to 31 December 2020, financial liabilities rose by EUR 28.2 million net to EUR 88.9 million in the first half of 2021 as a result of ongoing repayments and new loans being taken out. Net liquidity stood at EUR -59.6 million as at the reporting date (31 December 2020: EUR -5.6 million; 30 June 2020: EUR -20.1 million).
Both in Germany and in the relevant international markets for adesso, eased restrictions and successful vaccination campaigns have improved the outlook for economic development as compared to the start of the year. The most recent forecast issued by Bitkom predicts strong growth for 2021 and 2022 in the software and IT services segments, both of which are particularly relevant for adesso. In light of the sharp rise in sales in the core industries served by adesso in the first half of the year and the higher number of working days in the second half of the year, which is especially relevant for the IT services business, adesso is likely to continue benefiting from such developments. The previous year saw significant sales of in|sure licences in the second half alone. Coupled with solid capacity utilisation in the service business, those sales led to a 14.0 % rise in the operating margin in the second half of the year. Licence revenue in the product business is expected in the second half of 2021 as well, helping the company to achieve its forecast. Depending on actual licence sales, adesso stands a chance of exceeding the original guidance. However, the pandemic-related reluctance of individual insurance companies to make major investment decisions that was seen in the previous year could repeat itself in the event of a fourth wave of the pandemic. Because sales growth is generally expected to continue in the second half of the year, the sales target for 2021 of more than EUR 600 million appears to be well within reach. Against this backdrop, the company stands by its EBITDA margin target of at least 12.0 % (first half of 2021: 17.3 %) and its EBITDA forecast of over EUR 89 million (first half of 2021: EUR 55.7 million), which was adjusted in May to account for a non-recurring effect.
The complete half-year report and a tabular overview of key figures are available in the Investor Relations section of the adesso website at www.adesso-group.de/en/.