Solid 2021/22 annual results: EBIT margin of 15.9% and doubling of net income

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At its meeting of May 31, 2022, Wavestone’s Supervisory Board approved the consolidated annual accounts for the 2021/22 fiscal year, ended March 31, 2022, which are summarized below. Auditing of the accounts is complete, and the auditors are in the process of issuing their report. 

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08/06/2022 |
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Revenue of €470.1m in 2021/22, an increase of +13%

Over the whole 2021/22 fiscal year, Wavestone generated revenue of €470.1m, an increase of 13%, which exceeded its target of €462m. During the year, Wavestone acquired the consulting practice of Everest Group, as well as the firms why innovation! and NewVantage Partners. At constant exchange rates and scope, annual growth was +10%, driven by sustained demand from clients and numerous major transformation projects. To note, the firm benefited from a positive working day impact over the whole fiscal year of +1.1%. 

Nearly 1,000 new hires over the year but staff turnover high  

A high rate of recruitment throughout the fiscal year enabled Wavestone to achieve nearly 1,000 gross hires in 2021/22, outperforming the objective, raised in December 2021, of 900 annual hires. This strong momentum enabled the firm to offset the increase in staff turnover rate, which stood at 18% over the 2021/22 fiscal year, compared with a target of 15%. Wavestone's objective is to gradually bring the turnover rate back to about 15% during the 2022/23 fiscal year.  At March 31, 2022, Wavestone had 3,732 employees, compared with 3,453 at the end of the previous fiscal year. 

To note, Wavestone was once again recognized as a Great Place to Work ® , taking 1st place in the 2022 ranking of companies with more than 2,500 employees in France, as well as ranking 3rd in the “medium-sized companies” category in Luxembourg. 86% of the firm's employees consider Wavestone to be a Great Place to Work ® . 

High consultant utilization rate over the fiscal year and well-positioned sales prices

Buoyed by a level of order intake that remained strong throughout the year, the consultant utilization rate stood at 77% at the end of the 2021/22 fiscal year, compared with 71% a year earlier. This result is significantly higher than the level of 75% targeted for the fiscal year.  Over the whole of the fiscal year, the average daily rate stood at €854, showing an increase compared with the average sales price of €842 recorded in 2020/21. The integration of Everest Group consulting , why innovation!, and NewVantage Partners contributed €7 to this increase. 

Solid EBIT margin of 15.9% and doubling of group share of net income

Driven by strong levels of business activity and well positioned operating indicators, EBIT reached €74.8m in 2021/22, a sustained increase of +40% compared with the 2020/21 fiscal year.  The EBIT margin stood at 15.9%, in line with the objective, raised at the end of the fiscal year, of a margin above 15.5%. As a reminder, the EBIT margin achieved a year earlier was 12.8%.  After taking into account the amortization of customer relations and other non-current income and expenses, linked in particular to acquisitions during the year, operating income amounted to €72.8m, a sustained increase of +68% compared with the 2020/21 fiscal year. As a reminder, to reflect the effects of the Smartworking@Wavestone project, €8.3m of provisions and depreciation were accounted for under other operating expenses in 2020/21. After accounting for the financial result and the tax charge, of which the relative weight has decreased as a result of reduced corporate tax and CVAE (a French business tax based on corporate added value) rates, group share of net income doubled in the 2021/22 fiscal year, to reach €51.0m compared with €25.4m a year earlier.  Net margin stood at 10.9%, compared with 6.1% in 2020/21.  

Increase in self-financing capacity and cash flow from business activities of €56.3m in 2021/22

At the end of the 2021/22 fiscal year, Wavestone had generated a cash flow of €79.0m, an increase of +18%.  After taking into account tax payments of €15.8m and an increase in working capital requirements of €6.9m, linked to the return to growth in 2021/22, Wavestone generated an operating cash flow of €56.3m, compared with €70.8m a year earlier.  Investment transactions consumed €12.5m, related in particular to the acquisitions of Everest Group’s consulting practice, why innovation!, and NewVantage Partners.   Financing flows amounted to €24.0m, which includes €8.5m in net loan repayments, €4.6m in dividend payments for the 2020/21 fiscal year, and €7.6m in lease liability repayments (under IFRS 16).  

Available cash and cash equivalents of €60.3m at March 31, 2022

At March 31, 2022, Wavestone's equity had reached €257.0m. The net cash position [1] amounted to €60.3m at the end of the 2021/22 fiscal year, compared with €31.8m at the end of March 2021. Available cash and cash equivalents amounted to €108.3m, compared with €88m a year earlier. 

At the Shareholders’ Annual Meeting on July 28, 2022, Wavestone's Management and Supervisory Boards will propose a dividend payment of €0.38 per share for the 2021/22 fiscal year, an increase of +65% compared with 2021. This dividend marks a return to the usual payout rate of 15% of the group share of net income. 

A new impetus on sustainable development

During the 2021/22 fiscal year, Wavestone gave fresh impetus to its sustainable development policy. The year was rich in achievements: the re-expression of Wavestone's CSR ambition in 5 commitments, impact credit combining ESG criteria with the firm's financing, co-construction of the Impact strategic plan with all employees and stakeholders, and the reinvention of ways of working as part of the Smartworking@Wavestone project.  

In line with its commitments, the firm achieved or exceeded its objectives during the fiscal year in terms of deploying its responsible consulting approach, commitment from employees, gender equality, social commitments, and a reduction in its carbon footprint.  

However, the firm still has room for improvement in terms of client satisfaction, with an NPS® [2] of 48 against a target of 50, as well as that of employee retention, with an annual staff turnover rate of 18% against a target of 15%. Wavestone has also decided to strengthen its contribution to the climate challenge and intends to submit in June to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), targets for reducing its emissions by 2025 and 2050, in accordance with the Net - Zero Standard . 

During the year, Wavestone was once again recognized for its extra-financial performance, it took 2nd place in its category in the Gaïa Research ranking and 1st place in the Technology sector of the Humpact index in terms of human resources. 

Launch of the Impact strategic plan in 2021/22  

The 2021/22 fiscal year saw the launch of the new Impact strategic plan, with a 2025 horizon. Impact aims to make Wavestone the privileged partner of large companies for their major transformation programs. This ambition means that Wavestone will prioritize the three strategic challenges that large groups will face in the coming years: competitiveness challenges, digitalization challenges, and sustainable development challenges.

In terms of Impact , Wavestone has set the following objectives for 2025:  

  • Reaching a new growth milestone, with the aim of revenue of €750m
  • Having five, non-French, major accounts within its Top 20 clients
  • Positioning the firm within the 5% of best-performing companies in CSR terms

Following the publication of this new strategic plan, Wavestone has launched several initiatives aimed at aligning its operating model with the challenges of Impact , globalizing some of its offers, and the strengthening of its expertise.

The acquisition in early April 2022 of Nomadéis, a French consulting firm specializing in the environment and social responsibility, falls within this framework. Nomadéis will form the backbone of the new Sustainability practice that Wavestone has launched. 

A market that remains dynamic but a more uncertain economic outlook  

2021 was characterized by a very buoyant market and growing demand in most sectors of activity and across all the firm's geographies. This momentum was maintained in the first months of 2022. Visibility on projects remains excellent, with an order book of 4.3 months of work at March 31, 2022.

Against a backdrop of inflationary pressures, close attention will be paid to salary levels over the fiscal year. The firm will continuously monitor the situation in terms of adjusting its salary policy to maintain competitiveness in HR terms.

At the same time, Wavestone is aiming for a further increase in sales prices in 2022/23, in order to optimally manage its price-to-salary ratio. Continuing the sustained pace of recruitment, which will limit the effects of salary inflation on average compensation, will also contribute to managing this ratio.  

The evolution of the economic climate and repercussions of the conflict in Ukraine are another area to be closely monitored during the fiscal year. Wavestone is particularly vigilant in this respect and is maintaining a sustained level of business development activity to better counter a potential slowdown in demand in certain sectors.  

2022/23 financial targets: revenue of more than €505m and an EBIT margin of the order of 15%  

For the 2022/23 fiscal year, Wavestone has set itself the objective of achieving a revenue of more than €505m. In profitability terms, the company is targeting an EBIT margin of the order of 15%. These objectives include Nomadéis and are calculated on a constant forex basis, excluding new acquisitions. In parallel, the firm will continue to pursue external growth with the objective of making new acquisitions; the US and the UK remain the priorities, without ruling out tactical purchases in France. 

Next events: Q1 2022/23 revenue, Wednesday, July 27, 2022, after Euronext market closing; and the Shareholders’ Annual General Meeting, Thursday, July 28, 2022, at 9:00am.

[1] Excluding lease liabilities

[2] NPS ® is a registered trademark of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. 

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