- Robust growth in the key financial and operating figures:
- EBITDA totalled €2,407Mn (+13% year-on-year) and revenue amounted to €3,612Mn (+9%).
- Traffic in the Group's main markets increased in the period: Spain (+5.5%), Chile (+6.7%) and France (+1.6%).
- The Group posted improvements in its mortality (-4.9%) and accident (-1.8%) rates on its toll roads, with especially notable performances in France, Brazil and Puerto Rico.
- Delivery of the 2015-17 Strategic Plan:
- Growth: in September the acquisition of the A4 Holding group, the concessionaire for the A4 and A31 toll roads in northern Italy, was completed.
- Investments: €2,175Mn
- Efficiencies: the EBITDA margin stood at 67% in the third quarter.
- Agreement with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) regarding the fund’s entry in Abertis' Chilean business with a 20% stake.
- Abertis’ Board of Directors yesterday approved the first payment of the dividend for the 2016 financial year for an amount of 0.36 euros per share.
Abertis posted improvements in all its key figures in the first nine months of 2016: EBITDA rose by 13% to €2,407Mn and revenues by 9% to €3,612Mn, largely thanks to the growth in traffic and the change in the consolidation scope. Net profit totalled €718Mn, up 10% in like-for-like terms since comparison of net profit between 2015 and 2016 is shaped by the capital gains from the listing of 66% of Cellnex Telecom in May 2015.
Consolidated figures in this period were affected by the negative exchange rate trends in Latin America (Brazil, Chile and Argentina). However, the growth in revenues mitigated these effects.
Traffic continued to grow in the Group's key markets, in particular in Chile, where average daily traffic was up 6.7%. The uptrend also continued in Europe, with increases of 5.5% and 1.6% in Spain and France respectively. Traffic also grew by 2.8% in Italy, though this country is only consolidated since September. In Puerto Rico, growth stood at 0.8%. These increases offset the decline in traffic in Brazil.
In the sphere of road safety, the Group posted improvements in both its accident (-1.8%) and mortality (-4.9%) rates. A big improvement was achieved in France, where the number of deaths on the road fell by 20%. Also Brazil recorded an important reduction of mortality. The accident rate for Group employees also declined (-4.8%).
Growth and extension of concessions
As for progress on achievement of the Strategic Plan, following the outright acquisition in January of Autopista Central in Chile, in September Abertis concluded the acquisition of 51.4% of A4 Holding, which manages the A4 (Brescia-Padova) and A31 (Vicenza-Piovene-Rochette) toll roads, for a total of €594Mn.
Both transactions are in addition to the agreements reached by the Group in its main markets in 2016 with the aim of extending the length of its concessions. Especially noteworthy are Plan Relance in France and the agreement with the Puerto Rican government to extend the Metropistas concession by ten years. The company is also currently negotiating fresh agreements with the Chilean and Argentine governments to extend its concessions in these countries in exchange for additional investment of around €2,000Mn.
Thanks to these concession extension agreements reached last years the Group has maintained the average lifespan of its current portfolio at the same level as in 2011, which in proportional terms means the average life of its assets has been extended by almost six years.
The company is also currently exploring growth opportunities in markets such as the UK, Brazil and Mexico which would enable it to increase the average life of its asset portfolio.
Abertis is also going in depth in its strategy to incorporate financial partners into its businesses. This helps the company to increase its financial capacity to face new investments and to maintain stable its credit rating. In the last few weeks the Group has reached an agreement with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) regarding the fund’s entry in Abertis' Chilean business with a 20% stake. Abertis has first-class financial partners in France, Brazil, Puerto Rico and now Chile.
Revenues in the first nine months totalled €3,612Mn, up 9% year-on-year, thanks to the increase in traffic and the inclusion in the consolidation scope of Autopista Central in Chile, the A4 and A31 toll roads in Italy and Túnels in Spain.
EBITDA totalled €2,407Mn (+13%), thanks, among other factors, to the strong operating performance. Excluding extraordinary effects, EBITDA increased by 8%.
The EBITDA margin improved to 67% in the period thanks to the progress of efficiency plans and the reduction in operating expenses.
Net profit increased in the first nine months to €718Mn (+10% like-for-like).
Business trends in the main markets
France is the largest contributor to the Group's revenue and EBITDA (35% of the total). Traffic on the toll roads managed in France grew by 1.6% in the period, with average daily traffic (ADT) of 24,781 vehicles. The mortality rate on the Group's French subsidiary Sanef's toll roads declined by 20%.
In Spain traffic continued to grow, increasing by 5.5% in the first nine months, with ADT of 20,823 vehicles. Spain contributed 35% of the Group's EBITDA and 29% of revenues.
The largest increase in traffic was reported in Chile (6.7%). Thanks also to the consolidation of Autopista Central, Chile accounted for 11% of the Group's total EBITDA. ADT in the country stood at 25,468 vehicles.
Brazil ranks third in terms of revenues (14%). Political and economic instability in the country continue to hamper traffic growth, in particular heavy vehicle growth. ADT at Arteris, Abertis' subsidiary in Brasil, was 17,516 vehicles, 3.1% lower year-on-year.
Following the completion of the acquisition of A4 Holding, Italy has been fully integrated in the Group's accounts since september. Traffic on the A4 and A31 toll roads increased by 2.8%, with total ADT of 63,413 vehicles.
In Puerto Rico traffic also increased by 0.8%, with ADT of 66,493 vehicles. There was also an impressive 70% decline in fatalities on toll roads.
The Group's investments in the period amounted to €2,175Mn, of which €631Mn corresponded to growth and €53Mn to operational capex. The main growth projects in the period related to improvements and lane expansions on toll roads in Brazil (€344Mn) and the outlay of €115Mn on the extension of the concession in Puerto Rico.
A total of €1,491Mn was also invested in growth projects including the acquisition of 51.4% of the Italian group A4 Holding, which was completed in September, and the purchase in January of the remaining 50% of the Chilean toll road concession Autopista Central.
Efficient balance sheet management
Owing to the inclusion of Autopista Central and A4 Holding in the consolidation scope, Abertis' net debt totalled €14,219Mn in the first nine months compared with €12,554Mn at the end of 2015.
Of the total debt, 65% is non-recourse while the percentage of fixed rate debt reached 90%.
At the start of October, Sanef, the French company controlled by Abertis, completed a 12-year €300Mn public bond issue (October 2028) with a coupon of 0.95%. This is in addition to the 10-year €1,150Mn bond issue (maturing in May 2026) with a fixed annual coupon of 1.375%, the lowest ever for corporate issues of the company, which was completed in May.
These transactions enable the company to extend its debt maturity profile and highlight the efficiency of its active balance sheet management. They also put Abertis in a better position to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the credit market to secure attractive conditions and to continue generating shareholder value.
Dividend distribution approval
Abertis’ Board of Directors yesterday approved –according to the forescasted budget– the first payment of the dividend charged to 2016 financial year for an amount of 0.36n euros per share. The total máximum amount of the dividend rises €356Mn.
This dividend is expected to be paid on November 2nd.