- Double-digit revenue and profit growth in Renewable Energies and ITC
- Temporary drag on SHAC e-commerce from weak construction activity
- Management Board revises guidance for 2023
Marburg, 8 November 2023 – In the first nine months of 2023 (9M 2023), the consolidated revenue of 3U HOLDING AG (ISIN DE0005167902) from continued operations came in at around EUR 37.8 million, virtually unchanged from the year-earlier level (EUR 37.6 million). Revenue from the two profitable segments of ITC and Renewable Energies was raised further compared with the previous year’s period. Continuing on from the first half year, the SHAC segment also outperformed the market and Germany’s e-commerce industry in terms of revenue in the reporting period. Against the backdrop of a difficult economic environment and the associated all-pervasive decline in e-commerce and in the construction industry, making up the shortfall in the third quarter of 2023 compared with the previous year was not possible, however. This shortfall is principally attributable to the rise in interest rates and political uncertainty, compounded by delays surrounding the German Buildings Energy Act (GEG) which is essential for the energy transition. The development of the 3U Group’s segment which generates the highest revenue was not fully compensated either by renewed, pleasing growth in the other areas of business.
3U generated other operating income of EUR 1.4 million in the first nine months of 2023. In the previous year’s period, the Group was still recording extraordinary income under this item of EUR 12.8 million from selling office space in the InnoHubs office complex and further progress made in construction in Würzburg. By contrast, the cost of materials ratio (cost of materials as a percentage of revenue) came in at 63.4 % in the period from January to September 2023, reflecting a decline compared with the year-earlier period (64.9 %). The personnel expenses ratio stood at 17.4 % in the first nine months of 2023 compared with 15.9 % in the year-earlier period. Other operating expenses declined to EUR 5.4 million in the reporting period (previous year: EUR 12.5 million). Despite higher maintenance costs incurred by repair work carried out on a wind turbine in Roge in the first quarter of 2023, the share of other operating expenses in revenue stood at 14.3 %, thus falling significantly short of the year-earlier level (33.2 %). The decline is to be seen mainly in the context of the costs associated with the sale of InnoHubs office space in the previous year. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) totalled EUR 3.4 million in the first nine months of the financial year 2023 (previous year: EUR 7.9 million). In 2022, EBITDA was essentially impacted by the extraordinary income from the InnoHubs building project. Consequently, the Group’s EBITDA margin came in at 9.0 % following on from 21.0 % in the year-earlier reporting period.
Depreciation and amortisation in the Group amounted to EUR 2.5 million in the first nine months of 2023 (previous year: EUR 2.5 million). The financial result (balance of interest expenses and interest income) was boosted by the interest-bearing financial investments in the current reporting period, resulting in EUR 1.8 million in total, up from EUR –0,2 million in the first nine months of 2022. The tax expenses stood at EUR 0.7 million in the period under review compared with the year-earlier figure of EUR 1.6 million. A positive result (net of minority interest) was therefore achieved for the period in an amount of EUR 1.6 million (previous year: EUR 2.9 million). Accordingly, diluted and basic earnings per share stood at EUR 0.04 in the reporting period (previous year: EUR 0.08).
At EUR 10.4 million, the ITC segment generated revenues from continued operations which exceeded the year-earlier figure by approximately 14.8 % (previous year: EUR 9.1 million). The Data Center & Managed Services business in particular achieved substantial revenue growth, as opposed to Voice Retail that continued to decline in line with expectations. The interim report as at 30 September 2023 comprises the revenue and results of the acquired cs companies on a pro-rata basis. Excluding these components, revenue growth over the first nine months of 2023 came in at around 8.2 %. Thanks to internal efficiency improvements and an increase in service revenue, segment EBITDA of EUR 2.8 million was generated in the first nine months of 2023 (previous year: EUR 2.4 million). The EBITDA margin improved from 26.0 % in the year-earlier period to currently 26.6 %.
The Renewable Energies segment registered lower wind yield in the third quarter of 2023, while solar irradiation was higher than expected measured against the long-term average. While the market price of electricity declined again to a new low, the conditions negotiated for power purchase agreements (PPAs) in 2023 generally had a positive impact on the segment’s growth. Despite temporary downtime and the repair of a wind turbine at the start of the year, the revenue generated by the wind turbines and the solar park amounted to around EUR 6.0 million during the reporting period, reflecting a year-on-year increase of 10.1 % (previous year: EUR 5.4 million). In the first nine months of 2023, EBITDA improved significantly to EUR 4.4 million on the back of advantageous feed-in rates, reflecting growth of 75.9 % (previous year: EUR 2.5 million). The EBITDA margin increased to 73.3 %, up from 45.8 % in the previous year.
In management’s opinion, the outlook for the SHAC segment with its focus on the megatrends of e-commerce, DIY and climate compatible heating systems remains excellent in the medium to long term. The development of the segment’s business over the period under review was nevertheless unable to decouple from the overall economic environment: According to information from the German Federal Association of E-Commerce and Mail-Order Trade (BEVH), the revenues of Germany’s e-commerce sector contracted by 13.9 % year on year across the industry from the start of July through to the end of September 2023. High interest rates keep conditions difficult in the construction industry. For instance, the number of building permits for single-family homes issued over the period from January to August dropped by 37.8 % according to the German Federal Statistical Office. In addition, a great obstacle to growth in the year so far has proved to be the virtually non-existent planning certainty regarding the funding schemes for the domestic use of environmentally compatible heating systems emanating from political uncertainties and delays surrounding the GEG which is essential for accelerating the energy transition. However, seeing as the German Bundestag passed the amended GEG on 8 September 2023, we currently assume that the prospects for a market recovery as from 2024 are positive again. Although business in the SHAC segment outperformed the sectoral environment in the first nine months of 2023, the segment nevertheless recorded a decline in revenue and earnings. Segment revenue totalled EUR 21.8 million in the period under review, down 7.2 % in a year-on-year comparison (EUR 23.5). In terms of earnings, compensating the decline in revenue through cost discipline and more effective warehouse management was not possible. EBITDA therefore decreased from EUR 0.09 million in the previous year’s period to EUR –0.90 million.
As of 30 September 2023, the 3U Group had cash and cash equivalents of EUR 64.8 million at its disposal (31 December 2022: EUR 189.7 million). The virtually full payout of 3U HOLDING AG’s profit available for distribution to the shareholders is also reflected in the Group’s equity. As of 31 December 2022, the consolidated result had increased to EUR 159.0 million essentially due to the disposal of weclapp SE. The profit carryforward as of 2023 September 2023 amounted to EUR 45.7 million, bringing consolidated equity to EUR 96.5 million as of the same date (31 December 2022: EUR 211.2 million). Since the 3U Group was in a position to reduce its liabilities in the first nine months of the financial year 2023, the consolidated balance sheet continues to report a very sound equity ratio of 75.4 % (31 December 2022: 86.7 %).
“We have delivered double-digit growth rates in revenue and earnings in the ITC and Renewable Energies segments, which is a huge achievement,” affirms Uwe Knoke, Board member responsible for strategy and business development at 3U HOLDING AG. “On the other hand, the second and third quarter of 2023 saw the construction industry suffer a significant slump. This situation temporarily put the brakes on us in the SHAC segment and has left its mark on the financial statements. These unforeseeable, massive upheavals in the economy have prompted us to adjust the outlook we communicated in March to current conditions.”
The gratifying development in the two segments of ITC and Renewable Energies is expected to continue, with the acquisition of the cs Group in the remaining months of 2023 also making a special contribution. Due to the difficult economic environment and the associated all-pervasive decline in e-commerce and in the construction sectors, particularly in the second and third quarter of 2023, 3U HOLDING AG’s Management Board specified its guidance for the current financial year as follows: The targets announced for 2023 are expected to be slightly lower compared with the range originally communicated. Accordingly, consolidated revenue is anticipated in a range of between EUR 52.0 million and EUR 56.0 million (formerly: EUR 55.0 million to EUR 60.0 million). In terms of EBITDA, the Management Board expects earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of approximately EUR 4.5 million to EUR 6.0 million (formerly: EUR 6.0 million to EUR 8.0 million). Consolidated net income is forecast to settle in a range of between EUR 1.5 million to EUR 2.5 million (formerly: EUR 2.5 million to EUR 3.5 million).
The actual operating result may be higher or lower than forecast here due to the acquisition or sale of the Group’s operating units. The resulting effects can only be planned for to limited extent, however. The 3U Group remains true to its corporate purpose of creating value in the interest of its shareholders and all stakeholders and will continue to pursue its strategic course of expanding successful parts of the business successfully in the long term and, given the relevant demand, of selling them at attractive conditions.
In harmony with the Group’s corporate strategy and its MISSION 2026, the Management Board is addressing a series of investment undertakings. Along with purchasing companies or customer bases in the financial year 2024 this pertains notably to repowering the Langendorf wind farm. Options for further, very promising investments are meticulously assessed on a running basis.
As Uwe Knoke explains: “The medium-and long-term outlook for 3U remains bright, as outlined in our MISSION 2026. Despite lacklustre conditions in the online sales sector environment, we are working rigorously on achieving our strategic goals. Through launching our pioneering ThermCube and meanwhile expanding the range of complementary products in the photovoltaic business, for instance, we have certainly done our homework thoroughly in our SHAC segment in 2023 to be well prepared for the market growth anticipated from the new GEG.”
The quarterly announcement on the first nine months of 2023 will be published today. The announcement will be posted on the company’s website and will be available for downloading under the “Investor Relations” heading, “Publications”.
3U HOLDING AG
Tel.: +49 (0)6421 999- 1200
3U HOLDING AG (www.3U.net), based in Marburg, Germany, was founded in 1997. As the operating management and investment holding company, it heads up the 3U Group. With a view to increasing the value for the shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers and all stakeholders, the company acquires, operates and sells companies in the three segments of ITC (Information and Telecommunications Technology), Renewable Energies and SHAC (Sanitary, Heating and Air Conditioning Technology). The 3U Group operates successfully and profitably with its business models in mega trends in all three segments and is striving to attain market leadership in particular with its e-commerce business model.
3U HOLDING AG shares are traded on XETRA, Tradegate and on German regional stock exchanges (ISIN: DE0005167902; identifier: UUU).