Both Ahold and Delhaize have ended their final year as an independent company with good numbers. Ahold boosted its 2015 net profit 43.3 % to 851 million euro, while Delhaize did even better with a 312.5 % increase to 366 million euro.
Higher dollar thrusts American turnover upward
Ahold carries the most weight in the merger company and managed a 38.203 billion euro turnover in 2015, up 16.6 % compared to last year. Most of that growth comes on the back of a higher position of the dollar as the Dutch group has a sizeable presence in the United States. If exchange rates had remained stable, turnover would still have grown, but only 2.3 %.
American turnover, when exchanged into euro, would have grown 18.9 % to 23.732 billion euro, while Dutch turnover grew 6.3 % to 12.699 billion euro. The Czech Republic contributed 14.5 % of total turnover thanks to its 1.772 billion euro.
Operational margins are higher
Ahold not only performed well commercially, but also performed well operationally. It managed to gain market share both in the United States and in the Netherlands. Its online platform Bol.com also takes advantage of the surge in online shopping, while its profit received a nice boost thanks to cost-cutting measures.
Its fourth quarter operational margin, which indicates how much room there is left to pay back those who provide capital, grew from 3.7 % to 4.3 %. Ahold forecasts underlying operational margins to continue 2015's trend, even with the potential effects from its intended merger with Delhaize.
Shareholders will get a 0.52 euro dividend for Ahold's final year as a separate entity, which is 8.3 % higher than in 2014.
Delhaize also benefits from dollar
Delhaize's turnover reached 24.4 billion euro in 2015, up 15.6 % compared to last year, also thanks to the stronger dollar. If exchange rates had remained level, sales would have grown 3.2 %.
Delhaize's American activities generated 16 billion euro in turnover, with an unaltered 25.9 % gross margin. This number indicates the chunk of turnover that remains after the company paid all of its direct costs. Better cost management helped offset subsidiary Food Lion's price investments and inventory losses.
Its Belgian branch generated a 5 billion euro turnover, up 1.3 % compared to 2014. Gross margin dropped 17 points to 18.8 % because of price investments and higher inventory losses, which it could only partially cover thanks to improved purchase deals.
Delhaize sold an additional 9.5 % in Southeast Europe, resulting in a 3.4 billion euro turnover. Gross margins grew 54 points to 24.6 % thanks to better supplier deals and a decrease in Serbian low-margin sales.
Good final dividend
Net profit reached 366 million euro, which means that shareholders will see their dividend rise from 1.6 to 1.8 euro per share.
Shareholders from both companies will confirm their position on the merger on 14 March.