Financial result

BKW with Higher Revenue, EBIT and Net Profit

BKW increased revenue and EBIT in the first half of 2021. Both Energy and Services recorded revenue growth of 9 % which contributed to total revenue of CHF 1,655 million. EBIT increased to CHF 225 million, exceeding the previous year’s record by 3 %. Services in particular delivered a significant increase in EBIT margin during the first half of the year. The Energy business also improved EBIT due to price rises and additional volumes, although it did not quite match the previous year’s excellent trading result. Reported net profit of CHF 209 million is 86 % higher than in the previous year, thanks to the good performance of the state funds. Operating net profit, which excludes the performance of the state funds, amounted to CHF 142 million.

Excellent operating result: previous year’s record exceeded by 3 %

The EBIT achieved in the first half of 2021 improved against the previous year to CHF 225 million, exceeding the previous record by 3 %. This strong result demonstrates that BKW’s business model is robust with its combination of stable business areas and strong areas of growth. The trading result in the first half of 2021 matches expectations, although it is clearly below the exceptionally strong previous year’s result. Nevertheless, BKW has improved EBIT. This has been achieved thanks to profitable growth in the Services business, higher hedged electricity prices and increased sales volumes in the Energy business and a slightly improved contribution from the Grid business. Following the pandemic-impacted year of 2020, acquisitions in the Services business once again gained momentum and the EBIT margin already improved notably in the first half of 2021.

After adjusting the exceptional previous year’s trading result in the Energy business to planned levels, EBIT in this business also improved by more than 50 %.

Operating net profit (excluding the performance of the state funds for decommissioning and disposal) amounted to CHF 142 million, thus 8 % below that of the previous year. The reduction in operating net profit is largely the result of one-off effects and shifts in income tax. The good performance of the assets in the decommissioning and waste disposal funds led to a reported net profit of CHF 209 million, which is 86 % higher than in the previous year.

BKW confirms its guidance for an operating EBIT in the range of CHF 420 to 440 million.

Increased sales and EBIT

CHF millions

1st half-year 2020

1st half-year 2021

% change

Sales

1,529.8

1,654.9

8 % 

Energy procurement/transport

– 419.8

– 500.0

19 % 

Operating costs

– 791.3

– 833.6

5 % 

EBITDA

318.7

321.3

1 % 

Depreciation, amortisation and impairment

– 118.2

– 122.5

4 % 

Income from associates

18.1

26.5

46 % 

EBIT

218.6

225.3

3 % 

Financial result excluding change in value of state funds

– 35.7

– 36.4

2 % 

Income taxes excluding change in value of state funds

– 29.4

– 47.2

61 % 

Operating net profit 1

153.5

141.7

– 8 % 

Change in value of state funds net of tax

– 41.4

67.1

Net profit

112.1

208.8

86 % 

1 “Operating net profit” corresponds to the net profit before proceeds from the state decommissioning and disposal funds and is more suitable as a measure of operating performance than the reported net profit, since the proceeds from these funds are not operational in nature and BKW has no direct influence on how they are invested.

Stable comparable financial result, higher tax rate, improved fund performance

The comparable financial result, excluding the performance of the state funds, corresponds to the previous year’s level at CHF – 36 million.

The comparable income tax expense increased by CHF 18 million. Greater profits by companies in higher tax rate countries are primarily responsible for the increase. In addition, tax reductions adopted in Switzerland caused a reduction in deferred taxes in the previous year.

The assets in the state funds achieved a return of 6.5 % during the reporting period, significantly exceeding the target return of 2.1 %. The performance in the previous year had seen a fall of – 4 % due to the massive negative impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Funds from operations strong, but below previous year’s record value

CHF millions

1st half-year 2020

1st half-year 2021

% change

Funds from operations before utilisation of nuclear provisions

362.1

320.9

– 11 % 

Funds from operations

293.1

266.0

– 9 % 

Cash flow from operating activities before utilisation of nuclear provisions

329.0

182.8

– 44 % 

- Payments for decommissioning and disposal

– 69.0

– 54.9

Cash flow from operating activities

260.0

127.9

– 51 % 

Cash flow from investing activities before reimbursement from state funds

– 77.3

– 128.0

+ Reimbursements from decommissioning and disposal funds

53.5

28.5

Cash flow from investing activities

– 23.8

– 99.5

Cash flow from financing activities

– 166.6

– 175.6

Liquidity as at 30.06.

1,036.0

853.0

Funds from operations (FFO), cash flow before the change in net working capital and paid income tax were CHF 266 million, just 9 % below the record of the previous year and therefore at the second highest level in the last six years. The lower amount compared with 2020 is attributable to higher levels of income that were not realised until after the balance sheet date.

To improve comparability and assist interpretation BKW uses the cash flow indicators before utilisation of nuclear provisions for decommissioning and disposal of the Mühleberg Nuclear Power Plant. Operating cash flow of CHF 183 million before utilisation of these nuclear provisions was 44 % lower than the previous year’s record value due to the temporary build-up of net working capital and higher paid income tax. BKW expects its net working capital to return to a lower level by the end of the year. The reported cash flow from operating activities of CHF 128 million is around the same level as 2019 and therefore also below the excellent previous year’s comparable value.

Current liquidity, including current financial assets, was slightly lower compared with the year-end, but remained at a high level at around CHF 0.9 billion.

BKW invested around CHF 180 million in tangible assets and acquisitions in the first half of 2021 (previous year: CHF 90 million). Some 60 % of this went into growth investments. Acquisitions were made in all major areas of the Services business (BKW Building Solutions, BKW Engineering and BKW Infra Services), while in the Energy business there were investments in new small hydroelectric power plants and district heating projects. Most of the CHF 70 million investment in replacement and maintenance was dedicated to the distribution grid (CHF 52 million). The generated funds from operations therefore again significantly exceeded investments.

Continued strong equity and financing situation

CHF millions

31.12.2020

30.06.2021

% change

Current assets

2,191.5

2,357.7

8 % 

Non-current assets

7,236.6

7,478.9

3 % 

Current liabilities

1,351.9

1,829.3

35 % 

Non-current liabilities

4,086.8

3,768.4

– 8 % 

Shareholders’ equity

3,989.4

4,238.9

6 % 

Balance sheet total

9,428.1

9,836.6

4 % 

The balance sheet total grew by 4 % to CHF 9.8 billion at half-year. This increase is largely contingent on the valuation of the energy derivatives open on the balance sheet date. Owing to the increased prices for electricity and CO2 certificates, these valuations were high for both purchase and sales contracts. The half-year profit and actuarial gains in the calculation of pension liabilities have resulted in a 6 % increase in equity to CHF 4.2 billion. At the same time, the equity ratio climbed to 43.1 % (end of 2020: 42.3 %). Alongside the valuation of derivative contracts, the reason for the marked increase in current liabilities is the maturity next April of the CHF 200 million debenture bond, which has therefore been reclassified as a current liability.

BKW’s financing situation remains sound. However, net debt (financial liabilities less current financial assets and cash and cash equivalents) was higher by CHF 183 million at the half-year point at CHF 685 million. The net debt-to-EBITDA ratio (LTM, last twelve months) is around 1.0 and therefore still at a low level. BKW also retains access to an unused syndicated loan totalling CHF 250 million. The financial framework necessary for implementing and safeguarding financial and operational flexibility is sufficient and thus ensured at all times. This is also the case with regard to the maturity of the CHF 200 million debenture bond next April.

Energy: Profit growth only partially compensates for the previous year’s record trading result

The Energy business is consistently focused on the opportunities and challenges of a changing energy market. It is responsible for the production, sales and trading of electricity, certificates and energy-related commodities.

Increased total operating revenue, lower EBIT than expected

CHF millions

1st half-year 2020

1st half-year 2021

% change

Total operating income

623.9

677.2

9 % 

Energy procurement

– 370.0

– 450.1

22 % 

Operating costs

– 98.5

– 95.9

– 3 % 

EBITDA

155.4

131.2

– 16 % 

Depreciation, amortisation and impairment

– 36.8

– 37.8

3 % 

Income from associates

9.2

10.7

16 % 

EBIT

127.8

104.1

– 19 % 

Employees 30.06.

840

780

Investments

11

38

At CHF 677 million, the total operating income of the Energy business is 9 % higher than in the previous year. This development has been defined in particular by higher hedged electricity prices than in the previous year and additional volumes on the sales side (+10 %). Weather conditions resulted in a slight sales increase in the regulated distribution business to 1.2 TWh. The sale of electricity to SMEs and industrial customers also recovered from the Covid-19 situation of the previous year and rose by 12 % or 0.3 TWh to 2.8 TWh. Overall, the sales revenue amounted to around CHF 280 million.

The energy management and trading result in the first half of the year has been solid. However, as expected, it is significantly below the excellent result achieved in the previous year. The notable increase in electricity prices in the first six months of 2021 was driven in particular by the CO2 price. This led to rising energy procurement costs and therefore a lower energy management result. Energy procurement costs thus increased by 22 % to CHF 450 million. Increased production and sales volumes also contributed to the higher procurement costs. During the first half of 2021, BKW produced a total of 4.4 TWh of energy (previous year: 4.2 TWh). In addition to this slight increase in production volumes, the production mix also changed marginally during the reporting period. Production volumes from hydroelectric plants (1.7 TWh) and wind farms (0.9 TWh) were comparable to the previous year. While the wind generating capacity was increased with the commissioning of three additional wind farms at Fosen in Norway, low wind volumes compensated for the additional capacity. Nuclear power plants produced less electricity with a reduction of 0.2 TWh to 1.0 TWh. The main reason for this is the major overhaul of the Leibstadt nuclear power plant, which started in June. In contrast, the production of fossil-fuel power plants doubled to 0.8 TWh due to price factors.

The operating profit of CHF 104 million was 19 % below the strong previous year result, which had been characterised by an excellent trading result. The positive effects of the higher hedged electricity prices compared with the previous year were more than offset at EBIT level by a solid yet significantly lower result from the management and trading business. After comparison with an average trading result, Energy also delivered a significantly increased profit.

Grid: Stable earnings contribution and planned investments in modernisation

The Grid business builds, operates and maintains BKW’s distribution grid. The grid carries the electricity from where it is produced in the power plants to consumers, measures production and consumption, transforms the voltage, monitors, analyses and controls load flows and integrates distributed production systems such as photovoltaic systems and wind farms.

Higher result from increased distribution volumes

CHF millions

1st half-year 2020

1st half-year 2021

% change

Sales

270.0

274.0

1 % 

Energy transport expense

– 49.8

– 50.3

1 % 

Operating costs

– 93.6

– 92.0

– 2 % 

EBITDA

126.6

131.7

4 % 

Depreciation, amortisation and impairment

– 42.5

– 44.0

4 % 

Income from associates

8.9

15.8

78 % 

EBIT

93.0

103.5

11 % 

Employees 30.06.

600

610

Investments

56

52

The income from distribution grid usage fees contained within sales increased by 6 % to CHF 243 million. However, the previous year’s period suffered the negative effects of lower distribution volumes due to both the Covid-19 pandemic and weather conditions. An increase in consumption was measured at all grid levels during the first half of 2021. This is a result of a higher number of heating degree days and a return to normal in respect of the pandemic. Despite the higher distribution volumes, sales remained stable at CHF 274 million (+1 %). The reason is a one-off payment of CHF 9 million from Swissgrid in connection with an ElCom ruling relating to transmission grid assets transferred to Swissgrid in 2012. The payment was included in the previous year’s revenue and positively affected the reported revenue in that period.

Energy transport expenses, comprising the costs charged by Swissgrid in particular, remained stable overall. Further efficiency gains allowed operating costs to be reduced by 2 %.

The CHF 6 million increase in income from associates was generated by adjustments to the Swissgrid’s estimated result, which BKW is required to make on every balance sheet date since Swissgrid’s financial statements are not available before preparation of the BKW financial statements.

The EBIT of CHF 104 million is 11 % above the previous year’s figure, which was affected by the Covid-19 lockdown phase and the one-off payment from Swissgrid. It therefore remains stable at the expected level.

Continued high investment in ongoing modernisation of the distribution grid

Every year BKW invests significantly more than CHF 100 million to ensure the secure, efficient and high-performance operation of its distribution grid. This has also been the case in 2021. BKW invested CHF 52 million in the first half of the year (previous year: CHF 56 million). The current investment activities are focused on grid infrastructure in the Bernese Oberland and Seeland.

Services: Network of expertise supports profitable growth

The Services business mainly comprises BKW Engineering (engineering design and consultancy), BKW Building Solutions (building technology) and BKW Infra Services (services for energy, water and telecommunication networks). The strong network of specialised companies with their different fields of expertise ensures that BKW is a relevant supplier of comprehensive services in the buildings and infrastructure sector.

Increased margins achieved

CHF millions

1st half-year 2020

1st half-year 2021

% change

Sales

677.1

737.5

9 % 

Operating costs

– 625.0

– 669.0

7 % 

EBITDA

52.1

68.5

31 % 

Depreciation, amortisation and impairment

– 28.7

– 31.5

10 % 

EBIT

23.4

37.0

59 % 

Employees 30.06.

7,940

8,510

Investments and acquisitions

12

80

The Services business continued on its growth trajectory in the first half of 2021. Revenue increased by 9 % to CHF 737 million, with all three main areas of the Services business contributing to this development. BKW Engineering built its 5 % increase in revenue to CHF 190 million primarily through organic growth. Revenue at BKW Infra Services grew by 14 % to around CHF 170 million, with the strong increase in this area once again primarily attributed to organic growth. BKW Building Solutions increased its revenue by 9 % to around CHF 340 million. This increase is mainly due to acquisitions in the second half of 2020. Acquisition activity once again ramped up strongly in the Services business during the first half year.

In comparison with revenue, EBIT saw above-average growth in the first six months of 2021, growing by 59 % to CHF 37 million. The comparative period of the previous year was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which adversely impacted the result of the Services business. The satisfying profitable growth during this reporting period means that the Services business has once again achieved a margin comparable with the periods before the onset of the pandemic. The business had already started to recover rapidly in the second half of 2020 and has continued this positive development in 2021. The EBIT increase was realised primarily through organic business. Optimised organisational structures and improved harmonisation of administration made a notable contribution to this increase. Therefore, the margin has improved despite the continuing costs of acquisitions. A stronger second half of the year is expected due to the heavily seasonal nature of the industry (especially in BKW Infra Services and BKW Building Solutions).

Targeted acquisitions expand the network of expertise

In February 2021 BKW further expanded its engineering network by acquiring R&P Ruffert GmbH. The company provides engineering and expert assessment services at several sites across Germany, with a focus on structural engineering. Through this acquisition BKW Engineering is expanding the expertise within its network and strengthening its competitive position against multidisciplinary market leaders.

In April 2021, the Duvoisin-Groux Group based in western Switzerland was acquired, representing a significant expansion on two fronts. First, it allows BKW Infra Services to extend its presence in French-speaking Switzerland in the existing activity areas in the energy, transport and telecommunications markets. In addition, the new overhead line construction is taking place in the growing railway infrastructure market which therefore strengthens the business’s position as a service provider for planning, construction and maintenance of all types of network infrastructure across Switzerland.

In addition to further acquisitions, BKW Building Solutions strengthened its expertise in the forward-looking and technology-driven growth areas of IT networking and security with the acquisition of ngworx AG in the first half of 2021. Together with swisspro Solutions, ngworx will expand the BKW Building Solutions IT division as an end-to-end IT provider for customers, with network consulting, engineering and integration services primarily for corporate customers throughout Switzerland and Europe.

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