AFRY press release generic image

Summary of ÅF's Annual Report for 2008 - a record year for ÅF, but a
more challenging market ahead

Tue, 02/17/2009 - 08:35
For further information, please contact:

Jonas Wiström, President/CEO                     +46 (0)70-608 12 20
Viktor Svensson, Director, Corporate Information +46 (0)70-657 20 26

Q4 2008

  * Net sales totalled SEK 1,345 million (Q4 2007: SEK 1,118 million)
  * Operating profit was SEK 146 million (SEK 108 million)
  * Earnings per share, before dilution, amounted to SEK 5.41 (SEK

Full year 2008

  * Net sales totalled SEK 4,569 million (2007: SEK 3,862 million)
  * Operating profit was SEK 479 million (SEK 332 million)
  * Earnings per share, before dilution, amounted to SEK 19.08 (SEK

Proposed dividend

  * The Board proposes a dividend for 2008 of SEK 6.50 per share
    (2007: SEK 6.50 per share)

A few words from the President, Jonas Wiström:

2008 was ÅF's best year yet. Sales rose by just over 18 percent, with
organic growth totalling 8 percent. At the same time, our operating
margin increased to 10.5 percent (2007: 8.6 percent).

In the fourth quarter, our operating margin was 10.9 percent (Q4
2007: 9.6 percent). This improvement in profits is largely due to our
continuing efforts to reduce costs and to the fact that the range of
services we now offer is more profitable.

However, the economic situation is now deteriorating in the wake of
the financial crisis. Recent months have seen significant falls in
incoming orders as well as in levels of production and employment
within the industry. We are bracing ourselves for a tough 2009 with a
very challenging marketplace.

The importance of a strong market position increases as the market
grows more uncertain. Fortunately, ÅF is in a favourable financial
position with well-established client relations and a strong brand,
all of which bodes well for the future. Moreover, the main focus of
our operations is on industries which have excellent prospects for
long-term expansion, such as energy, environmental engineering,
infrastructure and inspection.

It has not escaped our notice, however, that there has been a fall in
demand for consulting services relating to product development, which
accounts for ten percent of ÅF's business. We are therefore
implementing a skills development programme to enable us to transfer
consultants active in this field to areas of our operations where
demand remains strong. Even so, we have regretfully had to give
notice to 80 co-workers in the company's consulting operations and in
ÅF's parent company. The cost of the action programme has been
estimated at SEK 19 million: this will be charged against profits for
Q1 2009 but will reduce ÅF's costs by SEK 10 million from Q2 onwards.

Sales and earnings, Q4 2008

Net sales totalled SEK 1,345 million (Q4 2007: SEK 1,118 million),
which represents an increase of 20 percent.

Operating profit was SEK 146 million (SEK 108 million), and operating
margin was 10.9 (9.6) percent.

Capacity utilisation was 73 (75) percent.

Profit after tax was SEK 94 million (SEK 68 million).

Earnings per share before dilution were SEK 5.41 (SEK 3.95).

Sales and earnings, Q1-Q4 2008

Net sales totalled SEK 4,569 million (Q1-Q4 2007: SEK 3,862 million),
which represents an increase of 18 percent.

Operating profit was SEK 479 million (SEK 332 million), and operating
margin was 10.5 (8.6) percent.

Capacity utilisation was 74 (75) percent.

Profit after tax was SEK 328 million (SEK 220) million.

Earnings per share, before dilution, were SEK 19.08 (SEK 13.15).

Acquisitions, Q4 2008

ÅF acquired a 75 percent stake in the Russian technical consulting
company ZAO Lonas Technologia (Lonas). The head office is located in
St Petersburg and the company also has offices in Yekaterinburg and
Kiev. Lonas has 250 employees and specialises in power plants,
district heating plants and turbine plants. The company was
consolidated into ÅF on 1 October.

Lonas has sales equivalent to EUR 20 million and reported an
operating margin of around 10 percent in 2008. The company has a
well-filled order book (EUR 30 million). The initial purchase price
for the acquisition was EUR 6 million. An additional consideration
may be payable, depending on how the company's earnings develop in
the period 2009-2012.

Important events during Q4 and after the closing date

ÅF was commissioned by Iggesund Paperboard (Holmen) to supply a
customised PaperLine system for roll, sheet and warehouse management
at Holmen's Iggesund and Strömsbruk production facilities during
2009. ÅF estimates that the initial order value will be in the region
of SEK 15 million.

ÅF was awarded an order by Korsnäs AB worth approximately SEK
11 million. The assignment involves project engineering and planning
work in conjunction with a major investment that Korsnäs is making in
a new evaporation line and in rebuilding kraft recovery units at its
plant in Gävle. Work will be ongoing until the new evaporation plant
becomes operational in 2010.


The reduction in occupational pension premiums introduced by Alecta
had a positive effect on ÅF's operating profit of SEK 11.5 million in
the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with 2007. The cumulative effect
for the full year is SEK 40 million.

Cash flow and financial position

Cash flow for the period January-December 2008 was SEK -54 million
(Jan-Dec 2007: SEK 53 million). Cash flow has been affected by SEK
142 million relating to the cost of acquisitions (SEK 224 million),
by investments totalling SEK 124 million (SEK 45 million) and by a
shareholders' dividend of SEK 110 million (SEK 49 million).

The Group's liquid assets totalled SEK 290 million (SEK 310 million).
The Group's net loan debt at the end of the year amounted to SEK 174
million (SEK 88 million).

Equity per share was SEK 99 and the equity/assets ratio was 47.1
percent. At the beginning of 2008 equity per share was SEK 79 and the
equity/assets ratio was 47.9 percent. As per December 31, 2008, the
equity was SEK 1 699 million. This is an increase of SEK 360 million
compared with previous year, including a change in translation
reserve of SEK 172 million.


Excluding corporate acquisitions, gross investment in tangible assets
during 2008 totalled SEK 124 million (2007: SEK 45 million). During
the course of the year SEK 32 million was invested in land and
buildings for ÅF's Swiss subsidiary, ÅF-Colenco, and SEK 43 million
was invested in ÅF's new head office in Solna.

Divisional Performance
*Sales & Earnings have been adjusted as if the internal restructuring
had taken place on 1 Jan 2008

Energy                                                              *Sales Q4:
                                                                    SEK 398
                                                                    (SEK 223
                                                                    margin Q4:
                                                                    Q1-Q4: SEK
                                                                    (SEK 700
                                                                    m)                                     *Operating

The Energy Division is a front-rank international energy consultant
and a world leader in nuclear power consulting.

On 1 October the division was restructured to focus exclusively on
energy consulting: 170 consultants for the pulp and paper industry
were transferred to the Engineering Division, and the Division's name
was changed from Process to Energy.

The market for energy consulting services remained strong during the
fourth quarter. However, there were some signs of growing uncertainty
in the wake of the financial crisis, and a number of clients in
different markets, including Finland, the Baltic states and
South-East Asia, have postponed their investment decisions.

The Energy Division's clients include private and public sector power
companies, other energy-intensive industries, government authorities
and financial institutions. Client investments are often large-scale
and extend over many years. The Energy Division has a substantial
order book corresponding to a sales value of approximately SEK 2

As an expression of ÅF's long-term confidence in the development of
the Russian energy market, ÅF has acquired a 75 percent stake in the
Russian energy consultant Lonas, which employs 250 people in Russia.
The strategy is to expand Lonas in the CIS countries and to utilise
the company as a subcontractor for power generation projects.

Engineering                                                      *Sales
                                                                Q4: SEK
                                                                million                    (SEK 382
                                                                margin Q4:
                                                                Q1-Q4: SEK
                                                                (SEK 1,407

The Engineering Division is Northern Europe's leading technical
consultant for industry.

Towards the end of the year the market in several industrial sectors
began to flag. Fortunately, however, the Engineering Division was
able to rapidly redistribute its consulting resources to respond to
the shortage of capacity in certain growing segments of the market
and thus maintain a satisfactory level of profitability.

Current demand comes chiefly in the form of efficiency improvements
in manufacturing plants, environmental engineering projects, the
development of alternative fuels and conversion to efficient energy

On 1 October the Engineering Division received an injection of new
resources following the transfer from the Energy Division of more
than 250 consultants with expertise in electrical power and process
engineers in the fields of pulp & paper, food technology and
pharmaceuticals. These new members of the team have given the
division a real boost as regards its expertise in industrial
processes, and this has strengthened the division in its ability to
participate in client projects from an early stage.

Infrastructure                                                     *Sales Q4:
                                                                   SEK 515
                                                                   (SEK 469
                                                                   margin Q4:
                                                                   Q1-Q4: SEK
                                                                   (SEK 1,602

The Infrastructure Division holds a leading position in consulting
services for infrastructure development in Scandinavia. It has
clients in industry, the public sector, the defence sector and the
property market.

On 1 October, as part of a corporate restructuring programme, the
Infrastructure and System Divisions were amalgamated under the
Infrastructure name to reduce costs and present clients with a
stronger offer.

The market for infrastructure consulting services remained strong in
the fourth quarter. The majority of business areas continued to
report high levels of capacity utilisation and the inflow of orders
was good. The sole exception was the deterioration in demand for
consulting services in product development. As a consequence of this
and in order to adapt operations to better reflect current needs, a
skills development programme is being implemented during the first
quarter of 2009. Even so, regrettably, we have had to issue
redundancy notices to some 65 of the division's consultants.

It is noteworthy that activity remains high in the largest business
area, Installations, which occupies over 500 members of staff in
Sweden and Norway. One of the major reasons for this high level of
activity is new legislation that is contributing to strong demand for
more efficient energy solutions in commercial, industrial and public
sector premises.

The second-largest business area, Infrastructure Planning, also
enjoyed the benefits of a market that, thanks to substantial
investments in Swedish rail infrastructure, continues to remain
strong. New environmental standards and the anticipated rise in
energy prices are fuelling growing political interest in rail
transport solutions, while labour market measures are also expected
to result in additional infrastructure projects.

Inspection                                                         *Sales Q4:
                                                                   SEK 109
                                                                   (SEK 81 m)
                                                                   margin Q4:               10.4%
                                                                   Q1-Q4: SEK
                                                                   361 million
                                                                   (SEK 287 m)

The Inspection Division works with technical inspections, chiefly in
the form of periodic inspections, testing and certification.

The market for inspections remained strong in Q4. There is a shortage
of experienced testing engineers and inspectors, both in Sweden and
in neighbouring countries. Growth was particularly good in the
Lifting Appliances business area.

A charge of SEK 5 million was made to profit for the year for the
establishment of a specialist operation for the nuclear power
industry. The majority of the cost was charged to the results for the
fourth quarter.

Following an acquisition in September, ÅF-Kontroll, the Group's
Inspection Division, gained a leading position for itself in the
field of non-destructive testing in the Czech Republic. Late in the
year an office was also opened in Lithuania; here the focus is on
clients in the nuclear power industry and other test-intensive
industries in the Baltic States.

The process of technical harmonisation within the EU will become a
powerful new driving force for the division's development in the
future. The Inspection Division expects a number of European markets
to be deregulated, which will lead to a more international market and
to changes in the current competitive situation.

The Inspection Division continued to provide PEAB with services
relating to a comprehensive training programme focusing on safety in
the workplace. In total, around 10,000 of this client's employees
have now participated in the programme.
Number of employees

The number of full-time equivalents employed by the company was 3,948
(2007: 3,623). The total number of employees at the end of the
reporting period was 4,448 (3,892): 3,168 in Sweden and 1,280 outside

Parent company

Parent company sales totalled SEK 253 million (SEK 197 million), and
the loss after net financial items was SEK 39 million (SEK -25
million). Cash and cash equivalents totalled SEK 4 million (SEK 2
million), and gross investment in machinery and equipment for the
period January to December 2008 amounted to SEK 51 million (Jan-Dec
2007: SEK 9 million).
Accounting principles

This interim report has been prepared in accordance with IAS 34
("Interim Financial Reporting"). The report has been drawn up in
accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS),
as well as with statements on interpretation from the International
Financial Reporting Interpretations Committee (IFRIC) as approved by
the European Commission for use in the EU, and with the relevant
references to Chapter 9 of the Swedish Annual Accounts Act. The
report has been drawn up using the same accounting principles and
methods of calculation as those in the Annual Report for 2007 (see
Note 1, page 78). The parent company has implemented the Swedish
Financial Reporting Board's Recommendation RFR 2.1 ("Accounting for
Legal Entities"), which means that the parent company in the legal
entity shall apply all the IFRS and related statements approved by
the EU as far as this is possible while continuing to apply the
Swedish Annual Accounts Act in the preparation of the legal entity's
Risks and uncertainty factors

The significant risks and uncertainty factors to which the ÅF Group
is exposed include business risks linked to the general economic
situation and the propensity of various markets to invest, the
ability to recruit and retain qualified co-workers, and the effect of
political decisions. In addition, the Group is exposed to a number of
financial risks, including currency risks, interest-rate risks and
credit risks. The risks to which the Group is exposed are described
on pages 57-60 of ÅF's Annual Report for 2007. No significant risks
are considered to have arisen, but risk exposure has increased as a
result of turbulence in the financial markets, for example in Russia.

ÅF shares

The ÅF share price fell by 29.6 percent during 2008. During the same
period the Stockholm Stock Exchange all-share index (OMXSPI index)
fell by 42.0 percent, and the Mid-Cap index by 42.3 percent.

During Q4 2008 a total of 37,000 ÅF shares was acquired under the
mandate given to the Board at the Annual General Meeting of ÅF
shareholders on 23 April 2008. The mandate authorised the purchase of
up to 230,000 ÅF class B shares in the period prior to the Annual
General Meeting scheduled for 5 May 2009.
The purpose of the buy-backs is to safeguard the company's
obligations with regard to the 2008 performance-related share
programme approved by the AGM.


The Board proposes a dividend for 2008 of SEK 6.50 per share (2007:
SEK 6.50 per share)

Financial information - schedule for 2009

Interim report January-March 2009       5 May
Interim report January-June 2009        17 July
Interim report January-September 2009   21 October

Shareholders' Meeting (Annual General Meeting)

The Annual General Meeting will take place at 17.00 (5 p.m.) on 5 May
2009 at ÅF's head office at Frösundaleden 2, Solna. Formal notice of
the meeting will be given by means of an advertisement placed in a
national Swedish daily newspaper. The ÅF Group's Annual Report for
2008 will be despatched by post to shareholders who have requested a
copy from ÅF's Corporate Information Department, and will also be
available at ÅF's head office and on the website (
from 6 April onwards.

Stockholm, Sweden - 17 February 2009
Jonas Wiström
President & CEO, ÅF AB

This summary of the annual report for 2007 has not been subjected to
scrutiny by the company's auditors.

The information in this interim report is that which ÅF is required
by Swedish law to disclose under the terms of the Swedish Securities
Exchange and Clearing Operations Act and/or the Financial Instruments
Trading Act. The information was released for publication on 17
February 2009.

The full report including tables can be downloaded from the following

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