Solid financial foundation
Once again, the substantial contribution from free cashflow allowed the attractive dividend policy and the share buyback programme to be continued while also maintaining the very healthy financial foundation of the Group.
Total assets increased from CHF 3,553.8 million to CHF 3,601.1 million. Liquid funds increased from CHF 459.6 million to CHF 509.7 million. In addition, the Group had access to undrawn operating credit lines for the operating business of CHF 340.6 million. Debts were reduced to CHF 970.9 million (previous year CHF 1,139.2 million). This resulted in a reduction in net debt by CHF 218.4 million to CHF 461.2 million at the end of 2016. This development resulted from the strong free cashflow, the dividend payment to the shareholders, share buybacks and the repayment of debts (see also Increase in free cashflow).
(in CHF million; as of 31 December)
At CHF 147.3 million, net working capital was on a par with the previous year (previous year CHF 146.6 million). Property, plant and equipment increased from CHF 715.4 million to CHF 726.5 million, while goodwill and intangible assets dropped from CHF 1,757.1 million to CHF 1,681.1 million.
The ratio of net debt to equity (gearing) improved from 45.9% in the previous year to 28.2%. The equity ratio reached a very solid 45.4% (previous year 41.7%). Based on average equity, the adjusted return on equity (ROE) was 38.3% (previous year 32.2%); the non-adjusted value of this ratio was 35.9% (previous year 27.6%). Average invested operating capital, comprising net working capital, property, plant and equipment, and goodwill and intangible assets amounted to CHF 2,704.6 million at the end of 2016 (previous year CHF 2,504.9 million). The adjusted return on invested capital (ROIC) was 21.5% (previous year 20.1%); the non-adjusted value of this ratio was 20.2% (previous year 17.0%). For details on the non-adjusted gearing, ROE and ROIC calculations, please refer to the Financial Statements of the Geberit Group, Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements, 5. Management of Capital.
The Geberit Group held 239,869 treasury shares on 31 December 2016, which equals 0.6% of the shares entered in the Commercial Register. These shares are mostly earmarked for participation plans. The total number of shares entered in the Commercial Register stands at 37,041,427 shares. The share buyback programme, which began on 30 April 2014, ended on 29 February 2016. A total of 757,000 registered shares were bought back for CHF 247.8 million. When the programme ended, this represented 2.0% of the share capital recorded in the Commercial Register. The share buyback was conducted via a second trading line set up especially for this purpose. The average purchase price per share was CHF 327.40. The ordinary General Meeting of 6 April 2016 approved the proposal to cancel the shares that were bought back by means of capital reduction. This took place on 20 June 2016.