• At Euro 34.2 million, sales on a par with prior year
• EBIT exceeds expectations at Euro 1.0 million
• Proposed dividend of Euro 0.27 per share
• Projections for 2010: Growth in booking volume and sales
Nuremberg, 26 March 2010 – As had been expected, hotel.de AG, a leading worldwide online hotel reservation service, generated sales of Euro 32.4 million in the fiscal year 2009 (previous year: Euro 32.7 million), thus outperforming its sector. Sales in the hotel industry declined by 5.4% in nominal terms in the past year. The sector primarily suffered from the sharp decline in business travel resulting from the financial and economic crisis. To offset these adverse effects, hotel.de introduced measures aimed at increased sales and earnings at an early stage. The company expanded its business with existing customers, strengthened its new business efforts and increased its margin. Growing by 7.2% to Euro 19.2 million, domestic sales showed a positive trend (previous year: Euro 17.9 million). The increase reflects the trend towards more domestic trips among private travellers. International activities contributed Euro 13.2 million to total sales (previous year: Euro 14.8 million). At Euro 0.55 million, sales generated by the young Meetings segment were on a par with the previous year’s Euro 0.53 million in spite of the sharp decline in the market for conferences and meetings.
Earnings clearly positive
Earnings picked up steadily in the course of the year, which is primarily attributable to the process optimisation and cost-cutting measures initiated by the company. In particular, personnel expenses were reduced by 3.6% from Euro 14.1 million to Euro 13.6 million. Accordingly, personnel expenses as a percentage of sales stood at 41.9%, compared to 43.0% in the previous year. In the fiscal year 2009, hotel.de employed 414 people on average, which represents a decline of 17.9% from the previous year. The cost of materials increased from Euro 3.2 million to Euro 3.6 million due to higher commission payments to the participants in the sales partner programme. Other operating expenses totalled Euro 16.2 million (previous year: Euro 15.3 million) and primarily included marketing expenses in an amount of Euro 7.9 million (previous year: Euro 7.5 million). This represents 50.0% of sales (previous year: 46.9%). Ongoing improvements in search engine marketing should help to reduce this ratio in the medium term.
Overall, hotel.de generated earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of Euro 1.0 million (previous year: Euro 1.3 million) and thus exceeded its projections of a balanced result issued at the beginning of the year. The operating result of Euro -0.9 million (previous year: Euro 0.7 million) was offset by the neutral result of Euro 1.9 million (previous year: Euro 0.8 million), which is reflected in other operating income. Net income for the year amounted to Euro 1.0 million, as tax and interest expenses of Euro 0.6 million were offset by a financial result in the same amount.
“Given the difficult environment, the operating result is acceptable but not satisfactory for the management. We nevertheless exceeded our target of a balanced result, while at the same time continuing to invest in our internationalisation, which has an annual effect of approx. Euro 4 – 4.5 million on the bottom line. We used the past fiscal year to optimally position our company for the coming years,” said Dr. Heinz Raufer, CEO of hotel.de AG.
As in the previous year, the Management Board and the Supervisory Board of hotel.de AG want to give the company’s shareholders a share in the performance of the fiscal year 2009 and will propose a dividend of Euro 0.27 per share to the Annual General Meeting on 20 May 2010.
Outlook on 2010
At the ITB, the international travel trade show, which was held in Berlin in March 2010, industry representatives expressed their optimism about the business trend in the current fiscal year. In particular, the business travel segment should benefit from the global economic recovery. “We believe that booking volumes began to bottom out in 2009. Should the environment continue to improve, we expect both booking volumes and sales to increases at low double-digit rates,” said Dr. Raufer.
The company intends to continue to invest in its internationalisation and has earmarked approx. Euro 4.0 million for this purpose. In addition, staff will be hired in the fields of IT development and project management. The operating result will nevertheless exceed the prior year level. The measures aimed at increasing sales, optimising processes and cutting costs will be continued in the coming months with a view to improving earnings figures in the long term.
The 2009 Annual Report, which includes detailed information on the past fiscal year, will be published at www.hotel.de, Investor Relations, on 21 April 2010.
hotel.de AG, with its international brand hotel.info, operates a free hotel reservation service for companies and private customers at www.hotel.de and www.hotel.info. The company offers more than 210,000 hotels worldwide for booking online. Customers benefit in this respect from considerable cost savings. hotel.de shows all available room rates for each hotel, thus always enabling customers to select the lowest or most appropriate rate. All bookings are forward simultaneously, securely and directly to the individual hotel. This is guaranteed by the unique integration of hotels’ own reservation systems (so-called CRS and PMS systems) and hotel.de’s own myRES reservation system under hotel.de’s standard user surface. hotel.de’s corporate application is already used by well-known companies, such as BASF, SAP AG, Texas Instruments and Ernst & Young AG. Since January 2007, hotel.de has extended its portfolio to include a conference enquiries and booking system. Business customers in particular stand to save time and money due to the optimised conference organisation processes facilitated by this conference tool.
hotel.info – the international brand of hotel.de AG – was created to promote the company’s expansion into international markets. To acquire new customers and hotels abroad, sales offices have already been opened in the UK (London), France (Paris), Spain (Barcelona), Italy (Rome) and China (Shanghai). The company’s high share of business customers with international operations facilitates its entry into new markets. The aim is to establish hotel.info as the leading online hotel reservation service for business and private customers in the foreign markets mentioned and then step by step across the whole of Europe.
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