KWS publishes half-year 2023/2024 results and confirms forecasts

Einbeck, February 08, 2024

  • Sales impacted by currency effects, operating business stable
  • Earnings figures negative on a regular basis
  • Forecasts for the 2023/2024 financial year confirmed

"Our business performance in the first half of the year was characterized by very opposing effects. While business with European winter crops developed favorably and strong early sales point to another successful sugarbeet season, our corn business declined significantly. In addition, strong currency effects had a negative impact on our earnings," commented Eva Kienle, Chief Financial Officer of KWS. "Despite these and ongoing economic and geopolitical challenges, we are confident about the upcoming spring sowing season and confirm our full-year forecasts."

Business development H1 2023/2024

The KWS Group's revenue fell by 8.0% in the first six months of fiscal year 2023/2024 to €518.6 (563.7) million. The decline is mainly due to negative currency effects, particularly for the Argentinean peso and Eastern European currencies. Comparable growth excluding currency effects was +0.6% in the period under review.

EBITDA and EBIT declined to € –45.1 (–24.5) million and € –96.4 (–71.9) million respectively. In addition to planned cost increases, effects from the devaluation of the Argentinean peso in particular had a negative impact on earnings in the low double-digit million range. By contrast, there was a positive earnings contribution in the low double-digit million range from a portion of the proceeds from divestment of the Chinese corn portfolio.

Net financial income/expenses was € –54.8 (–36.3) million, well below the level of the previous year. Income taxes amounted to –42.3 (–28.7) million. €. This resulted in a profit after tax of –108.8 (–79.5) million. €–3.30 (–2.41) per share. Free cash flow declined slightly to €–179.9 (–173.6) million due to earnings development and the build-up of working capital in the course of the planned business expansion.

Overview of the key figures

in € millions H1 2023/2024 H1 2022/2023 +/-
Net sales 518.6 563.7 -8.0 %
EBITDA -45.1 -24.5 -83.9 %
EBIT -96.4 -71.9 -34.1 %
Net financial income/expenses -54.8 -36.3 -50.8 %
Earnings before taxes -151.2 -108.2 -39.7 %
Income taxes -42.3 -28.7 -47.5 %
Earnings after taxes -108.8 -79.5 -36.9 %
Earnings per share (in €) -3.30 -2.41 -36.9 %

Business development by segment

The Corn Segment posted a sharp fall in net sales to €191.2 (290.9) million in the first half of the year. The effects of a delayed corn growing season due to weather-related reasons, coupled with lower area cultivation, the withdrawal from the distribution of soybean seed in Brazil and a decline in U.S. business weighed on the segment’s performance. In addition, the significant devaluation of the Argentinean peso resulted in appreciable negative exchange rate effects that impacted the segment’s net sales and earnings. Since the Corn Segment does not generate the major part of its annual net sales until the third quarter (January to March) in the Europe and North America regions, the segment’s earnings were negative, as customary for the period under review, and totaled € –100.1 (–70.1) million. The sharp drop in the segment’s income is attributable to the above-mentioned factors, but also takes into account the contribution in the low double-digit million range from a portion of the proceeds from divestment of the Chinese corn portfolio. Further positive earnings contributions from this transaction are expected in the course of the current fiscal year.

Net sales at the Sugarbeet Segment rose sharply in the first half of the year to €119.8 (93.8) million. The increase is mainly attributable to greater early purchases of seed in several European markets. Due to seasonal reasons, revenue from sugarbeet seed is low in the first half of the year; the main net sales for the segment are not generated until the spring sowing season in the third quarter (January to March). The segment’s income is negative as customary in the first half of the year but improved sharply to € –21.8 (–36.1) million year over year.

Net sales in the Cereals Segment, which generates the predominant share of its annual net sales in the first half of the year, rose sharply by 7% to €222.6 (207.8) million, mainly due to strong growth in rye, oilseed rape and wheat seed. On a comparable basis*, the increase was around 10%. This growth was mainly achieved in our core markets Central and Northern Europe. Given the strong growth in net sales and an improved product mix, the segment posted an above-proportionate increase in income to €87.5 (77.5) million.

Net sales at the Vegetables Segment fell by around 14% to €24.6 (28.7) million, mainly due to lower net sales in China and North America. The segment’s income declined to € –16.1 (–3.8) million, in particular due to greater planned expenditure on expanding the vegetable business.

Net sales at the Corporate Segment were €4.1 million and thus at the level of the previous year (€4.3 million). They are mainly generated from KWS’ farms. Since all cross-segment costs for the KWS Group’s central functions and research expenditure are charged to the Corporate Segment, its income is usually negative. The decline in the segment’s income to € –72.2 (–59.3) million is mainly attributable to the expansion of central R&D activities and an increase in administrative expenses.

*excluding exchange rate and portfolio effects

Forecasts for the KWS Group for fiscal 2023/2024 confirmed

For the KWS Group, the Executive Board continues to expect sales growth of 3 to 5% (on a comparable basis, excluding currency and portfolio effects) with an EBIT margin of between 11 and 13%. The research & development quota should be in a range of 18 to 19%.

About KWS*

KWS is one of the world’s leading plant breeding companies. More than 5,000 employees* in over 70 countries generated net sales of around €1.8 billion in fiscal 2022/2023. A company with a tradition of family ownership, KWS has operated independently for over 165 years. It focuses on plant breeding and the production and sale of seed for corn, sugarbeet, cereals, vegetables, oilseed rape and sunflowers. KWS uses leading-edge plant breeding methods to continuously improve yield for farmers and plants’ resistance to diseases, pests and abiotic stress. To that end, the company invested more than €300 million last fiscal year in research and development.

*excl. seasonal workforce

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