03 March 2015

2014 Preliminary Results.

James Fisher and Sons plc, the leading marine service provider, announces its results for the year ended 31 December 2014.

 

2014

2013

Change

Revenue

£444.8m    

£413.7m    

+8%

Underlying operating profit*

£51.5m

£46.6m

+11%

Underlying profit before tax*

£46.9m

£41.4m

+13%

Diluted earnings per share*

74.0p

65.6p

+13%

Dividend per share

22.0p

20.0p

+10%

Cash conversion

109%

134%

(19%)   

Statutory operating profit

£53.9m

£44.9m

+20%

Statutory diluted earnings per share                          

79.2p

75.7p

+5%

* underlying profit excludes separately disclosed items

 

Financial headlines

  • Revenue of Marine Service divisions (Marine, Offshore & Specialist Technical) up 11%
  • Strong profit growth at Specialist Technical and Offshore Oil
  • Enhanced order book at Specialist Technical
  • Strong cash conversion at 109%; balance sheet gearing of 31% (2013: 30%)
  • Dividend raised for 20th consecutive year to22.0p (2013: 20.0p)
  • Acquisition of Subtech announced today

 

Commenting on the results, Chief Executive Officer Nick Henry said:

"The Group had a further year of consistent growth with underlying operating profit increasing by 11% to £51.5m and underlying diluted earnings per share increasing by 13%. The strong result underlines our broad geographic spread and range of specialist services across diverse marine sectors.

James Fisher is well placed to invest organically and to take advantage of further acquisition opportunities. Looking forward to 2015 we believe the Group continues to be well placed to provide further growth and value for our shareholders." 

 

Chairman's statement, Year ended 31 December 2014

Group results and dividend

"I am pleased to report that James Fisher and Sons plc continued to progress in 2014 achieving a strong overall result with Group revenue increasing by 8% to £444.8m and underlying profit before tax up 13% to £46.9m. Underlying diluted earnings per share was 74.0 pence, an increase of 13% over 2013.

Three of the Group's four divisions achieved a strong financial performance. Specialist Technical increased its profit by over 50% with the combined Divex and Defence businesses performing well and our Nuclear business continuing to build its contract order book. Offshore Oil had another successful year boosted by substantial equipment sales to Brazil as well as a generally strong performance across all sectors other than Norway which slowed in the second half.

Tankships maintained the positive trend of recent years with a further improvement in contract utilisation rates. The strength of these three divisions outweighed a lower result in Marine Support where volumes in the ship to ship transfer market were down and trading at the division's Australian and Brazilian subsidiaries was weak. A combination of fixed cost reductions and some firming of volumes placed this division on a better footing by year end.

Cash conversion in 2014 remained strong at 109% and year-end balance sheet gearing was 31% compared to 30% at 31 December 2013.

The continued good progress of the Group has led the Board to propose a 10% increase in the final dividend to 14.9 pence per share which together with the 7.1 pence interim will bring the total dividend for the year to 22.0 pence per share (2013: 20.0 pence). This will be the 20th consecutive year that the Group has increased the dividend paid to its shareholders."

Strategic developments

The Group continues to apply a consistent strategy of investing in niche businesses which operate in demanding environments where their strong marine service and specialist engineering skills are valued and rewarded. All divisions have a broad international presence with growth in recent years coming principally from new markets in Africa, Asia and the Far East.

The strong cash flow generated by the Group has been reinvested in both organic projects and bolt-on acquisitions. This has helped strengthen the market presence and product range of our companies, providing a stronger platform for further development. This enhanced operational capability shows through in the increased size of contracts being won, often for multi-year periods.

During 2014, the Group made three bolt-on acquisitions for an initial gross consideration of £13.9m. In January, Subsea Vision Ltd, an operator of underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) was acquired to strengthen our Marine Support division's survey and underwater handling capability. In March, Defence Consulting Europe AB (Sweden) was acquired to reinforce our presence in the swimmer delivery vehicle segment of our Specialist Technical defence business.

Testconsult Limited joined the Group in June to complement our existing Strainstall business in stress monitoring and testing both offshore and on land. Since the year end a further two acquisitions have been completed: National Hyperbaric Centre Limited in Aberdeen, which will strengthen Divex's (now JFD) market leading position in the saturated diving sector and Subtech Group Holdings (Pty) Limited of South Africa, announced today, which will greatly enhance our marine project capability in the growing markets of Southern Africa.

These acquisitions demonstrate our continued ability to find sensibly priced businesses which reinforce our market presence and capability while enhancing their own growth prospects via their access to the capital resources and international network of the James Fisher Group.

The board

Michael Everard retired from his Non-Executive position on the Board in April after seven years of service - I would like to thank Michael for his contribution during that time and for his help in shaping the integration of the FT Everard business into the Group.

In November 2014, I was delighted to welcome Aedamar Comiskey to the Board as a Non-Executive. Aedamar is a partner in Linklaters LLP and brings wide commercial and international experience, adding further strength to the Board in these areas.

Staff

The growth of James Fisher and the increasing complexity of its operations require a corresponding step-up in the management and staff development activities of the Group. A senior management development programme commenced in 2014 together with a skills focused training programme across our businesses. Increased attention to the graduate programme will see over 40 new graduates join the Group this year. These training and development programmes help build coherence across the Group's operations as well as enhancing the skills and capability of our staff. We intend to invest further in this area as we go forward.

The continued growth of the Group reflects the dedication and professionalism of our staff, many of whom work away from home in demanding environments. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank all our staff for the tremendous commitment they have shown throughout the year and for the success which they have achieved. The development of James Fisher over the past decade has been remarkable and bears testament to their effort.

Outlook

Performance in 2014, where the Group has delivered a strong overall result despite a downturn in one sector, underlines our broad geographical spread and range of specialist services. The Group is not overly dependent on any one regional market or business sector.

In 2015, we expect some slowing in our Offshore Oil division as a result of the recent reduction in oil prices, particularly as this division benefitted from some major one-off contracts last year. However, our businesses in this division are focused on the production and development sectors rather than on exploration and appraisal. Demand in these sectors is driven primarily by the volume of production and is less sensitive to cut-backs in capital investment budgets.

Our businesses' geographical focus is mainly on areas of the world where production levels are forecast to grow in the medium term. Therefore, while we have seen some softening in Norway and Aberdeen, our larger international businesses continue to show resilience.

Our other three divisions are well placed. Specialist Technical has a strong order book which is substantially underpinned by its Nuclear and Defence businesses. It has demonstrated its ability to win major contracts and we would hope for further significant contract wins in these sectors in 2015. Tankships has performed well in recent years and now has a well-balanced contract base to its business. Marine Support disappointed in 2014 but we would expect to see recovery in 2015 boosted by its project businesses and a firmer STS market.

The Group has strong cash flow and a conservatively geared balance sheet. This puts James Fisher in a good position both to continue to invest organically and to be alert for further incremental acquisition opportunities. We therefore look forward to 2015 with measured confidence and believe that we continue to be well placed to provide further growth and value for our shareholders.

Chief Executive's review

2014 results

The Group had a further year of consistent growth with underlying operating profit increasing by 11% to £51.5m and underlying diluted earnings per share increasing by 13%. Our Specialist Technical and Offshore Oil divisions produced strong growth, whereas the result in our Marine Support division was lower following several years of strong growth and impacted by strong sterling compared to the US Dollar. Tankships produced an improved result as a consequence of reducing capacity in recent years.

In 2014 the Group completed 3 further bolt-on acquisitions for total consideration of £13.9m whilst organic growth represented 80% of the increase in underlying operating profit As part of our buy and build strategy, the Group invested £32.2m (2013: £24.9m) in capital expenditure. The majority was spent within Offshore Oil on equipment for multi-year rental contracts.

Business model and strategy

The Group has pursued a consistent strategy over the past decade of growing its marine service businesses (Marine Support, Specialist Technical and Offshore Oil) by concentrating on niche high value services which have been marketed internationally. Over the past 5 years revenue has increased by a compound growth rate of 17% in these service businesses.

The Group has acquired 10 privately owned businesses during this period and organic growth has accounted for around 60% of the growth in underlying operating profit.

Our strategic aim is to deliver long term growth in earnings per share. This is reflected in a 13% increase in 2014 and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the last five years of 15%. The proposed 10% increase to the annual dividend in 2014 will be the 20th consecutive year of dividend increases and a CAGR since 1995 of 14% per annum.

Major strategic developments during 2014 have been the merger of our submarine rescue business with Divex, which was acquired in 2013. A combined manufacturing facility was acquired in January 2014 which was substantially operational by the end of the first quarter. This facility significantly increases the efficiency of our project build capability.

Our Nuclear decommissioning business continued to progress and further invested in Deeside and consolidated its headquarters into new premises in Preston in early 2015.

Our Scantech Offshore business increased its assembly capability with a new purpose built facility in Great Yarmouth, UK. The business successfully completed the supply of equipment to Brazil in the first half of 2014 following a successful tender for a major well testing contract. Sales of its 'PyroSentry' fire detection product made significant progress in 2014 and we supplied our weak link bail safety equipment to a project in Australia with a potential second order expected in early 2015.

Our Specialist Technical division completed the development of its 'Cobra' rebreather for the subsea market which offers divers a fully independent breathing system which lasts four times longer than existing technology. We have developed further products for the renewables sector which are expected to bear traction in coming years.

For further financial detail, please visit the investor news release.

 

For further information:

 

 

 

 

James Fisher and Sons plc  

  Nick Henry

  Chief Executive Officer

   020 7614 9508

James Fisher and Sons plc

  Stuart Kilpatrick

  Group Finance Director

   020 7614 9508

FTI Consulting

  Richard Mountain

 

   020 3727 1340

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