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Aug 29, 2019

USU Software: Good Performance Thanks to Upturn in International Business

  • 10.3% sales growth in Q2 2019 
  • International sales up almost 40% in Q2 2019 
  • License revenue climbs by around 50% in Q2 2019
  • Significant upturn in adjusted earnings
  • Half-year figures on track
  • Level of orders breaks new record 
  • Sales and earnings guidance for year as a whole and 2021 confirmed

Thanks above all to strong license and SaaS business, consolidated sales of USU Software AG and its subsidiaries (“USU Group” or “USU”) in line with IFRS climbed by 10.3% year-on-year to EUR 22.9 million in the second quarter of 2019 (Q2 2018: EUR 20.8 million). One of the driving factors behind this was the higher than average growth seen in the US, which boosted sales revenue generated outside Germany by 39.8% to EUR 7.4 million (Q2 2018: EUR 5.3 million). This meant that the share of consolidated revenue attributable to international business amounted to 32.2% in the second quarter of 2019 (Q2 2018: 25.5%), thereby returning to above the target of 30%.

License business was particularly successful at USU, expanding by 49.9% year on year to EUR 3.2 million in the reporting period (Q2 2018: EUR 2.2 million). In the same period, the company bolstered its maintenance sales, including software-as-a-service (“SaaS”) revenue, by 24.4% to EUR 7.2 million (Q2 2018: EUR 5.8 million). By contrast, consulting income remained 4.1% below the previous year’s figure at EUR 12.0 million in the second quarter (Q2 2018: EUR 12.5 million).  

As forecast, the cost base of the USU Group increased to a lower extent than sales, rising by just 5.9% to EUR 22.8 million (Q2 2018: EUR 21.5 million).  This meant that earnings improved considerably compared with the previous year. EBITDA rose significantly from EUR -0.1 million in the second quarter of 2018 to EUR 1.4 million in Q2 2019. At the same time, USU saw EBIT improve to EUR 0.2 million (Q2 2018: EUR -0.9 million). The USU Group’s net result (IFRS) rose from EUR -1.2 million in the same quarter of the previous year to EUR -0.3 million in the quarter under review. This corresponds to earnings per share of EUR -0.03 (Q2 2018: EUR -0.11). USU’s earnings before interest and taxes adjusted for extraordinary effects due to acquisitions (adjusted EBIT) also increased significantly against the previous year to EUR 0.5 million in the second quarter of 2019 (Q2 2018: EUR -0.5 million). 

In the first six months of fiscal 2019, the company increased its consolidated sales (IFRS) by 7.4% year-on-year to EUR 44.9 million (Q1-Q2 2018: EUR 41.8 million). Thanks to the successful conclusion of projects postponed from the previous year to the current fiscal year and additional customer orders in Germany and abroad, software license business increased by 25.7% year-on-year to EUR 6.2 million (Q1-Q2 2018: EUR 5.0 million). At the same time, maintenance and SaaS business increased to EUR 14.0 million (Q1-Q2 2018: EUR 11.7 million) as a result of higher SaaS revenue. This represents growth of 19.5% compared with the first half of 2018. By contrast, consulting business declined by 2.3% year-on-year to EUR 24.1 million in total in the first half of the year (Q1-Q2 2018: EUR 24.7 million); this was due to muted license business in the previous quarters and the resulting lower level of consulting projects, as well as slightly weaker service business. The operating cost base of the USU Group increased by 8.0% year-on-year to EUR 45.1 million in the first six months of 2019 (Q1-Q2 2018: EUR 41.8 million). 

The expansion of high-margin software business meant that the USU Group achieved a significant improvement in earnings in the first half of fiscal 2019. Accordingly, EBITDA increased by 155.8% year-on-year to EUR 2.4 million (Q1-Q2 2018: EUR 0.9 million). However, EUR 1.1 million of this figure is due to the recognition of leases and rental agreements in accordance with the new IFRS 16. Adjusted for depreciation and amortization of EUR 2.4 million (Q1-Q2 2018: EUR 1.4 million), USU almost broke even in terms of EBIT in the same period (Q1-Q2 2018: EUR -0.5 million). 
Net finance costs amounted to EUR -0.1 million in the first half of 2019 (Q1-Q2 2018: EUR 0.1 million). Income taxes amounted to EUR -0.9 million in the first half of the year under review (Q1-Q2 2018: EUR -0.3 thousand). The significant increase in tax expense as against the previous year was primarily due to higher advance payments. However, the profit and loss transfer agreement between the company and its subsidiary USU GmbH, which was resolved at this year’s Annual General Meeting on July 2, 2019 and hence only comes into force subsequently, is expected to lead to a relative reduction in tax expense for 2019 as a whole. The high level of tax expense meant that the net result for the first half of the year was EUR -1.0 million (Q1-Q2 2018: EUR -0.7 million), corresponding to earnings per share of EUR -0.09 (Q1-Q2 2018: EUR -0.06).

Adjusted EBIT increased by 170.6% year-on-year to EUR 0.7 million in the first half of 2019 as a result of the expansion of high-margin software business (Q1-Q2 2018: EUR 0.3 million). 

As of the end of the second quarter of 2019, the USU Group’s total orders on hand increased by 18.2% year-on-year to EUR 54.2 million (June 30, 2018: EUR 45.8 million), thereby reaching a new high in USU’s history.
The Management Board expects to continue the trend of long-term growth in fiscal 2019 and, accordingly, significantly outperform the market in terms of growth once again. One key indicator supporting this guidance is the record level of orders on hand at a Group level. Accordingly, the forecast for 2019 involves an increase in consolidated sales to between EUR 98 million and EUR 101 million, accompanied by an above-average rise in adjusted EBIT to EUR 7.5-10 million. At the same time, the Management Board is reiterating its medium-term planning for 2021 of consolidated revenue of EUR 140 million and adjusted EBIT of EUR 20 million. These figures include growth due to acquisitions of approximately EUR 15 million. However, all assumptions are based on the absence of a fully-fledged recession in Germany or worldwide. 
Based on the above assumptions, the Management Board is in turn planning to enable the shareholders of USU Software AG to participate significantly in the company’s operating success in fiscal 2019, as in previous years, and to continue the shareholder-friendly dividend policy with the distribution of a dividend that is never lower than in the previous year and that amounts to around half of the profit generated.
 

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