Increased sales, improved cash flow and improved earnings
Quarter January–March 2014
Net sales totaled SEK 73.3 million (63.4), up 15.6 percent. Changes in the USD and EUR exchange rates had a positive impact of SEK 0.6 million on net sales.
Cash flow from operating activities totaled SEK 9.1 million (1.4).
Operating profit was SEK 6.3 million (0.5).
Net profit was SEK 4.3 million (loss: 1.7).
Earnings per share amounted to SEK 0.91 (loss: 0.36).
Key events during the period
New organization and efficiency-enhancement program
A new functional Group organization was introduced in the first quarter. The new organization should primarily facilitate better cooperation and more efficient utilization of the resources in the Swedish and US operations.
An efficiency enhancement program has been initiated with the aim of improving earnings and cash flow. The aim is to achieve Boule’s 2015 profitability targets.
Expanded Group Management
Boule’s Group Management was expanded through the addition of two executives: Hans Johansson and Michael Elliott. Hans Johansson, Head of Production, has been employed at Boule since 2001. He has extensive knowledge of production and, with his involvement, has developed the production units in Sweden and China to supply world-class quality products. Michael Elliott, Head of Chemistry Development, has been employed by the wholly owned US subsidiary, Clinical Diagnostic Solutions Inc. (CDS), since 2000. With his background at Coulter Corp. and his time at CDS, he established a network in the US diagnostics industry. He has contributed to the building of a separate operating area in OEM production that constitutes an independent operation with significant growth potential for Boule.
Comments from the CEO
As we ended the first quarter of 2014, we could confirm that, compared with the year-earlier period, sales continued to grow, our margins improved and, not least important, cash flow improved. While we definitely face short-term challenges, including what is now happening in Eastern Europe, we are basically active in a stable industry where we continue to capture market share in several of our key markets.
Sales increased in the first quarter of 2014 by 15.6 percent, thus exceeding our long-term growth target of an average of 10 percent. At the same time, the gross margin improved by 1.6 percentage points – an improvement mainly attributable to the increased sales of consumables, the margins for which are higher than for our instruments. Operating expenses, as well as total investments in R&D, were also reduced. Altogether, this contributed to the strong increase in operating profit in the first quarter, from SEK 0.5 million to SEK 6.3 million.
The better earnings also had an impact on cash flow, which improved compared to last year. The next step to achieve higher margins and by extension achieve our profitability targets is a program to further enhance the efficiency of operating activities. The program was launched during the quarter and is scheduled to be completed in 2015.
Boule’s sales continue to vary strongly from quarter to quarter due to the customers’ purchasing patterns, which was also the case this quarter. Although instrument sales to the human market were somewhat lower year-on-year, this was offset by significantly stronger sales of veterinary instruments. Sales of consumables for Boule’s proprietary systems continued to rise, which resulted in system sales (Boule’s proprietary instruments and consumables for them) increasing despite unchanged instrument sales. Sales of other consumables (OEM and proprietary consumables for competing instruments) decreased somewhat.
Demand for our products is stable in a world market where the healthcare sector continues to be expanded, particularly in the emerging regions. As I mentioned in the introduction, it is not unlikely that the uncertainty in Eastern Europe could affect markets where we have prominent positions.
Nothing indicates this yet, but we will also be able to adapt to such a development and we stand by our long-term profitability target of an EBITDA margin in excess of 15 percent.