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News vom 09.08.2007

Austrian Post: Growth in H1 2007

 

• Group revenues up 29.6% compared to 2006, following integration of trans-o-flex
• Successful acquisitions in the first half of 2007:
   o Scanpoint Europe (Germany/digitalisation and administration of documents)
   o meiller direct (Germany/direct mail and production)
   o Road Parcel and Merland Expressz (Hungary/parcels services)
   o Scherübl (Austria/temperature-controlled special logistics)
• Purchase of a 5% shareholding in the consortium acquiring Austrian Post’s banking partner BAWAG P.S.K.
• Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) climb 28.2%, to EUR 85.0m.
• Cash flow at a high level
• Final negotiations to acquire further special logistics companies near to conclusion


Business development – earnings

Austrian Post performed very positively in the first half of 2007. Austrian Post increased its total revenues by 29.6%, to EUR 1,116.8m. This rise can be primarily attributed to the initial consolidation of trans-o-flex (Parcel & Logistics Division), acquired at the end of 2006, which contributed additional revenues of about EUR 240m, as well as organic growth. Revenues from the Mail Division were up 2.0%, and the Parcels & Logistics Division improved by 220.7%. In contrast, the Branch Network Division posted a decline in revenues of 3.1%. Austrian Post’s performance in Q2 2007 basically followed the same pattern. Total revenues in Q2 2007 climbed by 29.8%, to EUR 541.3m. Revenues in the Mail Division increased by 2.2% compared to Q2 2006, the Parcel & Logistics Division improved by 219.0%, whereas Branch Network Division revenues fell by 5.2% in Q2 2007. 

Dokument 1 = Business development – earnings 
Dokument 2 = EBIT up 28.2% 

The structure of the income statement of Austrian Post has changed considerably as a result of the initial consolidation of trans-o-flex, which features a very flexible cost structure, comparatively low staff costs and a high level of external services used. Accordingly, Austrian Post’s staff costs now only comprise about 50% of total revenues (previously more than 60%), whereas the share of expenses for raw materials, consumables and services used has climbed to roughly 29% of total revenues (previously about 15%).

In the first half of 2007, the EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) of Austrian Post increased by 28.2%, to EUR 85.0m, in comparison to the preceding year. Accordingly, the EBIT margin amounted to 7.6%. In Q2 2007, Austrian Post achieved an EBIT of EUR 29.9m, up from EUR 17.3m in Q2 2006.

All operating divisions made a positive contribution to earnings. EBIT at the Mail Division was
EUR 133.4m, at the Parcel & Logistics Division EUR 14.9m, and at the Branch Network Division EUR 5.8m.

The Other and Consolidation segment posted a negative EBIT of EUR 69.1m in the first half year (H1 2006: minus EUR 85.5m). This item encompasses costs for central departments, expenses in connection with unused properties, as well as increases in provisions for employee under-utilisation.

Earnings before tax rose 31.5% to EUR 67.9m in the first six months of 2007. Accordingly, earnings per share amounted to EUR 0.97 in the first half of 2007 (Q2 2007: EUR 0.36).



Solid balance sheet structure – equity ratio of 43%
The balance sheet structure of Austrian Post reflects the positive business development of the company in recent years. Accordingly, the equity ratio amounted to 42.7% at June 30, 2007. In addition, the financial strength of Austrian Post is extremely stable, with cash and cash equivalents totalling
EUR 390,5m, despite acquisitions carried out in recent months.

Cash flow
In the first half of 2007, operating cash flow before changes in working capital fell by 3.1%, to EUR 136.9m, compared to the same period of the previous year. This can be mainly attributed to higher tax payments. Including the changes in working capital, the cash flow from operating activities amounted to EUR 135.4m in the first half of 2007, up from EUR 82.6m in the comparable period of 2006.

To a large extent, this positive development enabled Austrian Post to finance, from its cash flow, both the recent acquisitions as well as the dividend payment for the 2006 financial year amounting to EUR 70.0m.

Austrian Post made investments totalling EUR 112.1m during the period under review, including the purchase of property, plant and equipment amounting to EUR 42.0m, the acquisitions carried out in the first half year (Weber Escal, Scanpoint, Scherübl, Road Parcel, Merland Expressz) as well as the purchase of a 5% stake in the consortium acquiring BAWAG P.S.K.

Outlook for 2007
Austrian Post continues to expect a stable mail market for the year 2007. Furthermore, Austrian Post is subject to increasing competition. As already mentioned, a German parcel services company commenced operations on the Austrian market, effective July 1, 2007. The owner of the new competitor, operating in the mail order business, was formerly a major Austrian Post customer, accounting for about 8m parcels annually in Austria (total number of parcels delivered by Austrian Post in 2006: about 47m). This is the primary reason for assuming a corresponding decline in Austrian Post’s revenues in the country’s parcels market.

All in all, Austrian Post continues to anticipate that organic revenue will remain constant in the 2007 business year. Additional growth will be driven by the initial consolidation of new subsidiaries. Austrian Post maintains its original forecast that earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) will be 20%-25% higher in 2007 in comparison to 2006. The basis for this expected increase is the contribution to earnings on the part of the new subsidiaries, as well as a further improvement in operating income.



Events after the end of the interim reporting period
On May 10, 2007, Austrian Post signed an agreement to acquire a 100% shareholding in the German direct marketing service provider meiller direct. The services provided by meiller direct encompass the conception and production of documents and direct mailings at two production facilities located in Germany and the Czech Republic. With its approximately 1,100 employees, meiller direct achieved revenues of EUR 112m in the 2006 business year. Final negotiations to acquire further special logistics companies are near to conclusion.

Mail Division
In the first half of 2007, year-on-year external sales by the Mail Division rose by 2.0% compared to the same period last year, to EUR 663.3m.

Business development in the Letter Mail Business Area was quite favourable, achieving a 1.8% increase in revenues in the first half of 2007. The initial consolidation of Scanpoint Europe (digitalisation and archiving of documents), acquired during the period under review, and the delivery of passports in Austria, contributed to the increase in revenues, which more than compensated for the decline in business in other areas.

External sales of the Infomail Business Area (addressed and unaddressed advertising) climbed by 3.0%, to EUR 206.5m, during the period under review. The Media Post Business Area recorded a decrease in revenues amounting to 0.6% in the first half of 2007.

Parcel & Logistics Division
External sales by the Parcel & Logistics Division climbed to EUR 357.2m during the first half of 2007. The increase chiefly relates to the initial consolidation of trans-o-flex, which contributed about EUR 240m in revenues, but is also partly the result of organic growth. Revenues posted by Austrian Post’s subsidiaries in Slovakia and Croatia also further increased.

As a result of the market entry of a German parcel service company, Austrian Post anticipates a decline in parcels volumes and revenues in the second half of 2007, related to the fact that the owner of the new competitor was formerly a major parcels customer of Austrian Post, mailing about 8m parcels annually. In 2006, Austrian Post delivered a total of about 47m parcels in Austria.


Branch Network Division
External sales by the Branch Network Division for the first half of 2007 declined by 3.1%, to EUR 93.8m, compared to the same period of the preceding year. Sales for prepaid cards in the mobile telephony segment declined as the result of falling demand (lower rates generally result in longer phone calls). The decrease in financial services revenues resulted from the transfer of customer deposits which could not yet be won back, in connection with uncertainties surrounding Austrian Post’s financial partner BAWAG P.S.K. in the year 2006, as well as the shifting of savings deposits to savings forms with lower commission fees for Austrian Post. 

Dokument 3 = Key figures Austrian Post

Contact:
Austrian Post
Michael Homola
Head of Public Relations
Tel.: +43 (0) 57767-32010
E-Mail: michael.homola@post.at

Austrian Post
Harald Hagenauer
Head of Investor Relations & Public Relations
Tel.: +43 (0) 57767-30400
E-Mail: harald.hagenauer@post.at

Vienna, August 9, 2007

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