Improved Performance in volatile markets
Braemar Shipping Services plc (LSE: BMS), a leading international provider of shipbroking, financial advisory, logistics and engineering services to the shipping and energy industries, today announces its preliminary results for the year ended 29 February 2020.
- Continued improvement in underlying performance, with a 2.5% increase in revenue and 5.5% increase in underlying operating profit
- Very strong performance for Shipbroking, well ahead of expectations
- Despite continued growth in client retainers and Group collaboration the Financial Division performance was subdued due to market conditions
- Opportunities and prospects for Financial Division continue to improve
- Logistics Division well set to be a consolidator following completion of strategic review
- Decision not to recommend a final dividend, reflecting the ongoing uncertainties surrounding COVID-19
SUMMARY FINANCIAL RESULTS
|Underlying Results||Reported Results|
|Operating Profit / (loss)||£9.6m||£9.1m||£6.3m||£(2.7)m|
|Profit/(Loss) for the year
Basic Earnings / (loss) per Share
|Net cashflow from operations
|Acquisition and disposal related expenditure
One off costs relating to Board changes
|Specific item operating loss
Gain on revaluation of investment
|Finance costs associated with acquisitions
Total Specific items before tax
|Loss from discontinued operations||£0.9m||£22.7m|
Ronald Series, Executive Chairman of Braemar, commenting on the performance and the outlook said:
“I am pleased to report that the year to 29 February 2020 was a successful one for Braemar, with the Group’s underlying performance from continuing operations during the year achieving an appreciable improvement over the previous year.
“Shipbroking delivered an excellent performance, well ahead of our expectations, with underlying operating profit of £11.7 million, up 26% over the previous year.
“We have started this year positively, particularly in Shipbroking, with current trading well supported by a strong forward order book and we look forward to the future with cautious optimism.”
This announcement contains inside information as defined under the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No. 596/2014.
Where this announcement contains forward-looking statements, these are based on current expectations and assumptions and only relate to the date on which they are made. These statements should be treated with caution due to the inherent risks, uncertainties and assumptions underlying any such forward-looking information. The Group cautions investors that a number of factors, could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statement.
Forward-looking statements in this announcement include statements regarding the intentions, beliefs or current expectations of our Directors, officers and employees concerning, among other things, the Group’s results of operations, financial condition, liquidity, prospects, growth, strategies, and the business. Neither the Group, nor any of the Directors, officers or employees, provides any representation, assurance or guarantee that the occurrence of the events expressed or implied in any forward-looking statements in this announcement will actually occur. Undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements. Other than in accordance with our legal and regulatory obligations, the Group undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
A presentation for analysts will be held at 10.00am today via conference call, please contact the team at Buchanan for details on [email protected]
For further information, contact:
Braemar Shipping Services
Ronald Series, Executive Chairman Tel +44 (0) 20 3142 4100
Nick Stone, Group Finance Director Tel +44 (0) 20 3142 4100
Matt Goode/James Thompson/ Kate Washington (corporate finance) /Andrew Burdis (ECM) Tel +44 (0) 20 7220 0500
Charles Ryland / Victoria Hayns / Stephanie Watson / Tilly Abraham Tel +44 (0) 20 7466 5000
Alternative Profit Measures (“APMs”)
Braemar uses APMs as key financial indicators to assess the underlying performance of the Group. Management considers the APMs used by the Group to better reflect business performance and provide useful information to investors and other interested parties. Our APMs include underlying operating profit and underlying earnings per share. Explanations of these terms and their calculation are shown in the summary above and in detail in our Financial Review.
About Braemar Shipping Services plc
Braemar Shipping Services plc is a leading international provider of shipbroking, financial advisory, logistics and engineering services to the shipping and energy industries. Founded in 1972, Braemar employs approximately 530 people in 28 offices worldwide across its Shipbroking,Financial, Logistics and Engineering divisions. Braemar joined the Official List of the London Stock Exchange in November 1997 and trades under the symbol BMS. For more information, including our investor presentation, visit www.braemar.com
PRELIMINARY ANNOUNCEMENT – YEAR ENDED 29 FEBRUARY 2020
I am pleased to report that the year to 29 February 2020 was a successful year for Braemar, despite being a challenging period. The Group’s underlying performance from continuing operations achieved an appreciable improvement over the previous year.
Since the year end, the impact on our operations, our people and our clients due to the COVID-19 outbreak has of course become a major consideration for us. However, we are pleased that we have been able to continue operating and servicing our clients at a very high level during this time, whilst maintaining a priority focus on the health and safety of all our employees and their families.
The resilience of our established cloud-based IT operating systems has been instrumental in enabling our staff to work from home where necessary, in line with Government guidelines in the relevant countries in which we operate, whilst maintaining our focus on successfully not only meeting but also exceeding our clients’ needs and expectations. Shipbroking produced another excellent performance for the year under review, showing just how the growth of our capabilities, including the establishment of a presence in Athens, has enabled Braemar to provide enhanced services to our clients. Shipbroking’s result was well ahead of expectations, and its forward order book has grown from $43 million at 1 March 2019, to $50 million at 1 March 2020, and has continued to grow since that date.
Our shipbroking expertise lies at the centre of most of what Braemar does. It facilitates the combining of our areas of expertise to enable Braemar to offer comprehensive advice both in shipping investment and risk management – a “One Braemar” approach. In a volatile shipping world, Braemar provides expertise, dedication, and perseverance to our clients to enable them to minimise their risks and maximise their returns.
During the last financial year, we completed the disposal of the loss-making offshore, marine and adjusting businesses within our Technical Division to Aqualis ASA, leading to the formation of AqualisBraemar ASA (“AqualisBraemar”), which is listed on the OSLO Bourse. This transaction was announced on 13 May 2019 and completed on 21 June 2019, and with it, Braemar became the largest shareholder in AqualisBraemar with a 27% holding. We are encouraged by the prospects for our investment in AqualisBraemar and we look forward to working with the AqualisBraemar Board to grow that business further in the coming years.
This disposal was one of the key decisions made by the Board in the financial year, as part of which the Board considered its duties under section 172 of the Companies Act 2006. The Board felt that the AqualisBraemar management team had the requisite skill-set to deliver longer-term growth and profitability for the businesses for the continued benefit of Braemar’s shareholders. Furthermore, it felt that the combined entity would be well-placed to continue to offer high service standards to its customers, and that the transaction was the best strategic option for the business’ employees. The newly formed business is already demonstrating its ability to deliver profitable growth, highlighted in the recent positive Q1 results reported to the OSLO Bourse.
We noted in last year’s Annual Report that when we sold three out of the four business units comprising our Technical Division, we decided to retain the Engineering business. This was mainly because the services offered by the Engineering business to the LNG industry have a close working relationship with our Shipbroking Division. We are pleased to report that Engineering’s relationship with our Financial Division is also developing positively, enabling us to also offer financial services to Engineering clients.
Our Financial Division, Braemar Naves, had a busy but challenging year, with a number of transaction-based success fee mandates not proceeding to completion. However, the business made good progress with retainer-based advisory fees, particularly in the restructuring advisory space and the number of mandated clients has continued to grow. As noted above, by working together with our Engineering Division, a number of opportunities for financing various engineering projects on a world-wide basis are being developed. The Singapore office developed well during the year, with a number of new client mandates being taken on.
During the last financial year, we also conducted a strategic review of our Logistics Division, Cory Brothers, to determine the optimum future strategy for our investment in this sector. Cory Brothers, acquired by Braemar in 2003, has a proud and long record stretching back to its founding in Cardiff in 1842. We have determined that, in the current market, taking into account the probable impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opportunities potentially to be provided by Brexit, and the likelihood of some consolidation within the Agency market, our investment in Cory Brothers should be maintained.
We will continue to improve the operations of this Division and to look for opportunities to grow its business within the UK, as well as internationally. The successful restructuring of certain areas of the Logistics Division during the year reduced its operating costs, improved its technology base, and provided a platform from which to participate in possible consolidation within the industry and to grow this business in future years.
Finally, we are currently undertaking a strategic review of the Engineering Division to enable us to refine our future strategy for this remaining part of the Technical Division. We anticipate that this review will be finalised during the second half of 2020.
RESULTS FOR THE YEAR
Revenue from continuing operations for the year was 2.5% higher at £120.8 million compared with £117.9 million in 2018/19. Underlying operating profit from continuing operations was 5.5% higher at £9.6 million compared with £9.1 million in 2018/19 and underlying earnings per share were 24.94 pence compared with 23.32 pence last year. All of these figures exclude the
Technical Division business units that were sold to AqualisBraemar in the transaction that completed in June 2019, which are treated as discontinued operations for this purpose. There was a reported profit for the year from continuing operations of £3.9million (2019: loss of £4.7 million) after taking into account other specific items of £3.1 million (2019: £12.0 million), mainly due to acquisition and disposal related expenditure which are further detailed in the Financial Review
The Shipbroking Division performed extremely well achieving an operating profit of £11.7 million (£9.3 million), which showed growth of 26% on revenue that grew by 9% to £82.4 million (2019: £75.7 million). This growth was largely driven by the Tankers desk (both deep sea and specialised) particularly in the second half of the year, but all desks had a good year. The forward order book grew by 16% to $50 million as at 1 March 2020 (2019: $43 million) and with a higher proportion due to be delivered in the next twelve months than was the case last year. The order book has continued to grow since the year-end.
Our Financial Division, which was created following the acquisition of NAVES Corporate Finance GmbH in September 2017, had a disappointing year. Although it remained very active, revenues fell from £7.0 million in 2019 to £5.9 million this year due to lower levels of transaction related fees. Operating profits were £1.1 million, down from £2.1 million in the year to 28 February 2019.
Cory Brothers, our Logistics Division underwent a year of restructuring and cost management that delivered increased profits at £1.0 million (2019: £0.8 million) despite revenue that reduced by 9% to £29.3 million (2019: £32.1 million).
Our Engineering Division reported a loss of £1.4 million (2019: £0.2 million) from flat revenues and full provisions for historic bad debts, in what was a year of disruption due to the sale of the rest of the Technical Division.
There was a loss for the year from discontinued operations of £0.9 million (2019: £22.7 million), which resulted from the trading loss made by the assets disposed of to AqualisBraemar in June 2019, whilst still in Braemar’s ownership. Reported profit for the year was £4.0million (2019: Loss £27.4 million).
In recent years, Braemar’s business has been directed at meeting the growing expectation from our clients for an integrated, comprehensive service offering which can meet many (if not all) of their needs Braemar’s depth and breadth of experience, coupled with its integrated, comprehensive expert advice, market research and intelligence , enables our experienced
Chartering and Sale and Purchase brokers to partner with our professional specialists in corporate finance, derivatives, engineering and technical consultancy to facilitate superior outcomes for our clients – the “One Braemar” approach. We are committed to developing and maintaining long-term relationships with our clients, to assist them in maximising their opportunities, whilst minimising their costs and risk.
The Shipbroking Division’s ongoing strategy of growing its capability into new geographies and into new areas of business has continued to provide positive momentum to its performance. We have recruited selectively in areas in which we wish to grow, whilst at the same time encouraging our younger talent to develop within our expanding business. The promotion of several of our younger brokers into newly introduced Associate Director positions has been positively received.
This year is the second full year of ownership of the Braemar Naves corporate finance business, which continued to grow and to interface more closely with the Shipbroking Division, delivering a tailored experience for our clients pursuant to our “One Braemar” strategy. However, due to the state of the shipping financial markets, Braemar Naves was not able to achieve the level of transaction fees that we had been expecting. Nonetheless, it continued to increase the number of retainer-based clients and has developed a healthy pipeline of prospects. We expect Braemar Naves to perform more strongly in the year ahead, particularly as the business was founded on the back of the distressed debt markets following the Financial Crisis in 2008.
The year proved to be a challenging one for Cory Brothers, our Logistics Division, with a restructuring and cost cutting exercise being actioned. Whilst this meant that its performance was ahead of the prior year, but behind budget for this year, it nonetheless showed its resilience. Our strategic review completed recently confirmed that there are a number of opportunities for consolidation in the Agency market. Cory Brothers, with its strong pedigree and long history, combined with its continuing improvement in IT systems, is well-placed to participate in this market. In addition, due to the nature of the markets in which it operates, it achieves a good return on the capital employed, even though its operating margin is relatively low.
As mentioned above, our strategy for the future development of our Engineering Division, Wavespec, is currently under review, and we will announce the results of this in due course. The combination of the bulk of our Technical Division’s business with the business of Aqualis created AqualisBraemar, a market leader in offshore, marine, adjusting and renewables (particularly Offshore Wind), with global coverage. With our 27.3% holding potentially rising to 33% (depending on the conversion of our performance-related warrants measured over the two- year period to 31 March 2021), we have a very strong investment platform from which to grow our participation in these markets. There is a very experienced management team at AqualisBraemar, which has been appropriately incentivised to grow the reach and profitability of that business, enabling Braemar to benefit still further.
On 23 April 2020, we announced that the Board would not be recommending a final dividend for the year to 29 February 2020. In reaching this decision, the Board considered a number of matters, including those set out in section 172 of the Companies Act 2006. The decision was made against the background of the COVID-19 outbreak, and the uncertainty of the extent and duration of its impact on Braemar’s operating performance. The Board needed to balance a final dividend declaration against the potential longer-term consequences of reducing the Company’s cash reserves available to support any impact on trading, and the potentially competing demands of other stakeholders and alternative opportunities for investing these funds to grow the business. At the time of producing this statement, many parts of the world are still in varying states of business and social lockdown and so it is still too early to determine the full impact of the outbreak. Although current trading is not yet showing any further evidence of decline, we believe it will be some time before we are able to know the full effects with confidence. It remains the Board’s intention to return to paying a dividend once the economic outlook is more certain, and provided that the Company’s financial position supports this.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
There were a number of changes to the Board during the financial year.
As reported in the 2019 Annual Report, I was appointed to the Board as Chairman on 15 April 2019 when David Moorhouse retired, and Nick Stone was appointed as Group Finance Director on 1 April 2019. On 27 July 2019, James Kidwell retired after serving on the Board for seventeen years, spending ten years as Group Finance Director, and seven years as Chief Executive.
On behalf of the Board, I would like to take this opportunity to thank David and James for their contributions. As announced at the time of James’ retirement, the Board requested that I take on the role of Executive Chairman on an interim basis, whilst we determined the future structure and direction of the business. It has always been the Board’s intention to appoint a new Chief Executive Officer when the time is right and we will update shareholders when there is progress in this matter.
On 15 June 2020, the Board appointed Nick Stone to the position of Group Chief Operating Officer, which responsibility he will fulfil alongside his current role of Group Finance Director. On behalf of the Board, I congratulate Nick on this well-earned appointment, and look forward to his continuing the significant contribution that he has made to the Group since his appointment as Group Finance Director.
On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our sincere thanks and congratulations to all of our employees who have “gone the extra mile” for colleagues and clients during these unprecedented times. We know that it has not been easy, with many family, personal and business issues providing day to day conflicts, but we are extremely proud of the way our people have responded to the challenges created by the onset of COVID-19. Braemar’s people are its key ingredients in value creation, and we are committed to the ongoing development of our staff. Their career growth is a key part of our succession planning.
To grow the Braemar brand still further, and to increase market awareness and understanding of the range of services that Braemar offers to its clients, we are currently engaged in the early stages of a review of our global branding, marketing and communications strategy. This will ensure that we maximise the opportunity from operating as “One Braemar” across the Group and will be of benefit to all Group operations.
Our Shipbroking Division has started the current year reasonably strongly, with high levels of activity in some of its markets, more than offsetting a slow-down in certain other areas. We expect the market to remain volatile for the rest of the year, and for the Shipbroking Division to continue to win business and grow market share during this period, as we continue to invest in our people and to expand into areas of opportunity. With the start to the year that we have already experienced, and with the strong outlook ahead, we are optimistic that the Shipbroking Division will have another good performance this year.
The Financial Division continues to develop and strengthen its reputation, and to grow into more geographies, benefiting from belonging to the broader Group. The current disruption in the value of shipping portfolios, particularly in the cruise liner market, offers additional opportunities for growth for our strategic and restructuring advice. We expect the Financial Division to show an improvement this year.
The Logistics Division has opportunities to advance in the current climate and is well-positioned for post Brexit supply chain support and to play a role in the likely consolidation that will take place in the Ships Agency market. The Engineering Division has positive longer-term prospects, particularly in the LNG sector, although the impact of COVID-19 has disrupted certain of its nearer-term prospects. However, the combination of our Engineering expertise with our Shipbroking and Financial skills, positions it well for providing comprehensive consulting advice to our clients.
The AqualisBraemar business is now re-balanced for growth, and with the continuing drive for improved profitability and cash generation by the strong management team, we look forward to an improved performance in 2020/2021. There are good opportunities for further consolidation in this sector, and AqualisBraemar will be in a strong position to play a major role.
The ongoing development of our strategy to integrate our service offerings in order to provide higher value-added services to our clients should continue to improve our results, to the benefit of all our stakeholders. The year has started well and current trading is resilient, despite the ongoing impact of COVID-19, and therefore we look forward to the year ahead with cautious optimism.
15 June 2020