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Accor annual results released
2008 financial results:
Consolidated revenue totaled EUR7,739 million in 2008, representing a 2.8% increase at comparable scope of consolidation and exchange rates (like-for-like) and a 4.7% decline as reported. Reported revenue was negatively impacted by the large number of asset disposals during the year and the unfavorable currency effect, notably from the US dollar and the British pound against the euro. The 2.8% like-for-like growth was led by sustained gains in Prepaid Services and the firm resistance of Economy Hotels outside the United States.
Consolidated EBITDAR stood at EUR2,290 million, for an EBITDAR margin of 29.6%, up 1.0 point as reported and 0.4 points like-for-like compared with 2007.
Operating profit before tax and non-recurring items amounted to EUR875 million in 2008, in line with the Group's target given in October 2008. Excluding the impact of the cost of the return to shareholders, it increased by 13.0% like-for-like over the year, of which 25.3% in the first half and 4.3% in the second.
Net profit, Group share stood at EUR575 million, down 34.9% for the year. Part of the decline was attributable to the decrease in capital gains on asset disposals, to EUR150 million from EUR481 million in 2007.
Earnings per share came to EUR2.60, versus EUR3.92 in 2007, based on the weighted average 221 million shares outstanding during the year.
Operating profit before non-recurring items, net of tax, per share amounted to EUR2.73, down 4.5% from 2007.
At the Combined Annual and Extraordinary Shareholders' Meeting on May 13, 2009, shareholders will be asked to approve a dividend of EUR1.65 per share, unchanged from the dividend paid in respect to 2007. The dividend 2008 will be payable in cash or in stock at the shareholder's option. The payout ratio, calculated on operating profit before non-recurring items, net of tax(2), stood at 60%, versus 58% in 2007.
Net debt stood at EUR1,072 million at December 31, 2008, after taking into account EUR1,086 million in expansion capital expenditure (of which EUR1,014 million in the Hotels business) and EUR560 million in proceeds from asset disposals. The latter comprise EUR110 million from the sale of non-strategic assets (mainly EUR83 million for the Brazilian foodservices business) and EUR450 million from the disposal of 123 hotels under the hotel asset management strategy.
Dividends paid in 2008 amounted to EUR719 million, of which EUR332 million in a special dividend of EUR1.50 per share.
As of December 31, 2008, Accor had EUR1,345 million in unused, confirmed lines of credit and no major refinancing needs before 2012. Less than EUR500 million in debt will fall due over the 2009 to 2011 period.
In 2009, the estimated impact on net debt will include the settlement of Compagnie des Wagons Lits (CIWLT) tax dispute for a consideration of EUR242 million and a potential exercise of Colony's put on Casinos Lucien BarriÃ¨re (EUR250 million, value of the transaction in 2003). In addition, EUR62 million worth of shares were purchased during the year under the EUR400 million share buyback program approved in March 2008 and since suspended. After the impact on net debt of 2009 factors and after the bond issue (see below), the unused, confirmed lines of credit would total EUR1.5 billion.
The main financial ratios demonstrate the Group's robust financial position. Gearing stood at 30% at December 31, 2008, while the ratio of funds from operations to net debt(3) was 25.8%, versus 26.2% at December 31, 2007.
Return on capital employed(4) rose to a record 14.1% at year-end, compared with 13.6% at December 31, 2007.
A battle plan to face a difficult environment
As the effects of the global economic downturn quickly spread to the Hotels business, especially in the fourth quarter, Accor pro-actively moved to attenuate the potential impact on earnings with measures in three key areas:
Accor's marketing dynamic to carry on the battle for revenue is based on such powerful drivers as a broad range of accommodations from budget to luxury, a marketplace strategy in 20 leading European cities and the A|Club loyalty card currently used by 1.7 million members worldwide.
In addition, a program has been implemented to reduce support costs by EUR100million of which EUR75 million in 2009 and another EUR25 million in 2010. The savings will be primarily generated in marketing expenditure, purchasing, the cancellation or postponement of non-priority projects.
Renovation capital expenditure was already reduced by EUR25 million in the second half, with a further
EUR125 million reduction scheduled for 2009. After four years of major capital expenditure, renovation projects will be more carefully selected, without diminishing quality of service.
The hotel expansion capital expenditure budget, currently set at EUR500 million a year in 2009 and 2010, will be reduced to EUR400 million a year in the following years. The EUR100 million reduction will be divided between the Upscale (for EUR55 million) and Midscale segments (for EUR65 million). On the other hand, capital expenditure allocated to Economy Hotels in Europe will be increased by EUR20 million.
In January 2009, the Group carried out a highly successful EUR600 million bond issue of five-year maturing February 4, 2014 with a 7.5% coupon. The issue helped to diversify the Group's sources of financing in addition to bank loans and extended the average maturity of its debt.
Firm resilience in Economy Hotels outside US and growth in Prepaid Services
With 70% of its EBIT derived from Prepaid Services and Economy Hotels outside US, Accor is now less sensitive to economic cycles.
In the second half, for example, EBIT rose 19.4% like-for-like in Prepaid Services and was stable in the Economy Hotels in Europe segment, but declined 10.8% in Upscale and Midscale Hotels and 23.1% in Economy Hotels in the United States. All in all, consolidated EBIT was stable in the second half compared with second half 2007.
The 2008 results reflect the transformation of the Hotels business model, which is already well underway, and the shift to variable-rent leases will have an even greater positive impact in 2009.
Accor is staying on course and continuing to transform its two core businesses
Accor is continuing to grow its traditional prepaid products (employee benefits) and is committed to winning new contracts in the prepaid services market, which is experiencing very fast growth, especially in Europe. Accor Services' strategy is built around five markets (employee benefits, rewards and loyalty programs, expense management, insurance claims settlement and payroll cards), a variety of media from paper to electronic, and a wide range of acceptance networks. In this regard, the partnership with MasterCard Europe will play an important role in enabling the Group to meet its ambitions in Prepaid Services.
Accor intends to continue transforming its Hotels business model, a process that has been well underway for the past three years. To become the world leader in economy lodging and a major player in the Upscale and Luxury segments, Accor is leveraging three strategic growth drivers:
The brand portfolio has been reorganized and now covers every segment of the hotel market.
By the end of 2008, 625 hotels had been restructured, leading to the disposal of more than EUR4 billion in hotel property assets. At that time, 56% of the rooms in the hotel base were held under variable-rent leases, management contracts or franchise agreements, corresponding to 60% of the objective.
The pace at which the remaining 40% of the objective is met will depend on the property environment.
Depending on global demand, Accor is focusing its expansion capital expenditure on the Economy Hotels outside the US segment and emphasizing asset-light operating structures in the Upscale and Midscale segment. In addition, the Group may shift to acquiring hotel properties rather than driving organic growth.
The Group opened 28,000 new rooms during the year, 89% in the Economy and Midscale segments. Of the total, 79% are being operated under low capital-intensive structures, such as variable-rent leases, management contracts and franchise agreements.
Sustained expansion remains a priority, with 101,000 rooms in the pipeline and an objective to opening 30,000 in 2009, 35,000 in 2010 and 40,000 a year in the years afterwards. Those 40,000 rooms a year will represent an annual investment for Accor of EUR400 million.
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