2014 Annual results

Sales and volumes continue to advance - Operating income affected by high raw material prices and an unfavorable foreign exchange impact - Balance sheet remains strong

Meeting March 25, 2015, the Board of Directors approved the consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2014. The Board was informed that the statutory auditors had completed their audit of the consolidated financial statements and that their report was forthcoming.

Key figures

The Group reported further sales and volume growth in 2014, despite a continuation of lackluster economic conditions in Europe and unrest in some markets of the Near and Middle East region. After taking into account a negative 1.0% foreign exchange impact, consolidated sales advanced 3.3% organically to €2,783 million.

The growth once again reflected the strength of the Group’s core brands and the effectiveness of its targeted sales and marketing strategies in all geographical regions.

Operating income totaled €199 million, down 15.0% versus 2013. The Group was penalized in 2014 by rising average raw material prices, despite the easing observed in the last four months of the year, and by highly volatile foreign exchange fluctuations. Retail sales price adjustments and measures undertaken to improve operating efficiency were not enough to fully overcome the aggregate negative impact of those events. Furthermore, operating income included non-recurring expense of €15.3 million, compared with €6.4 million in 2013, reflecting the financial consequences of the Group’s decision to move its headquarters in 2015.

Consolidated sales and operating income are presented by geographical region in the following table:

In 2014, net financial expense totaled €15 million, flat versus 2013, and reflecting steady average net financial debt over both financial years.

Income tax expense came to €56 million, compared with €88 million in 2013, when the Group recognized approximately €20 million in non-recurring charges for a contested tax assessment.

In 2014, consolidated net profit, Group share, totaled €123 million, versus €126 million in 2013.

The Group’s balance sheet remained very robust. At December 31, 2014, total equity came to €1,299 million, compared with €1,212 million a year earlier. At the same time, net financial debt totaled €67 million, versus €54 million at December 31, 2013.

Dividends
In March 25, 2015, the Board of Directors voted to propose a dividend of € 6,25 per share, with an ex-dividend date of May 18 and payable as of May 20, 2015. The dividend is subject to the approval of the Annual General Meeting scheduled for May 12, 2015.

Outlook for 2015
The economic and geopolitical uncertainty ushering in the 2015 financial year does not augur well for consumer spending. The monetary environment and raw material supplies are on a more favorable trend but nevertheless remain highly volatile.

In this climate, the Group confirms its goal of advancing its positions sustainably in the world cheese market by building on the commitment of its employees, the strength of its brands and its policy of supporting innovation.

This press release may contain forward-looking statements. Such trend and/or target information should in no way be regarded as earnings forecast data or performance indicators of any kind. This information is by nature subject to risks and uncertainties that may be beyond the Company’s control. A detailed description of these risks and uncertainties is provided in the Company’s Registration Document, available at www.groupe-bel.com as of April 2, 2015. More comprehensive information about the Bel Group can be found in the “Regulatory Information” section of the www.groupe-bel.com website.

Press contact : Stéphanie Bruhière / Alice Dalla Costa
stephanie.bruhiere@bm.com / alice.dalla-costa@bm.com
Tel : + 33 (0)1 56 03 12 12