2015 proved to be a year of high and global uncertainty in the macro-economic sphere. The loss of dynamism and growth in emerging areas with China the centre of attention, the sharp drop in the price of raw materials and the crisis in Greece, constitute the main factors behind this backdrop, in a world that in terms of GDP had grown at a rate of 3.1% according to estimates from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), lower than the 3.4% registered in 2014.
Likewise, the central banks of the main economies took centre stage in a context of lower growth. There was a tightening of the Federal Reserve monetary policy in the United States, which when faced with the country’s economic improvement, began reducing monetary stimuli and raised interest rates. On the other hand, the European Central Bank, whilst maintaining the reference interest rate of 0.05%, intensified its expansive monetary policy in response to the weak economic growth, and the risk of deflation in the area.
In parallel to this, the different stage in the monetary policy cycle between Europe and the United States was also transferred to the currencies exchange market with a significant strengthening of the US$ in comparison to the € and other currencies from emerging economies.
The global growth model continued to shift, characterised by the moderate recovery of developed areas, whilst adjustments continued to be undertaken in emerging areas, which with a rate of 4.0% in 2015, decelerated growth for the fifth year running as a result of the instability in some countries such as Brazil and Russia, which entered into recession in 2015, as well as the slowdown of the Chinese economy.
China, one of the world economic drivers, continued to register a deceleration in its growth (+6.9%) with the country re-balancing its economy towards a model based on internal consumption. By the end of 2015 the service sector represented more than 50% of the GDP. In this respect, a contraction is taking place of manufacturing and investment activity in the country, spreading into other economies with volume declines of exports and imports.
In 2015 developing countries continued showing signs of recovery and advanced at a modest rate, supported by greater internal demand, improvements in the labour market, and better credit conditions.
The United States has continued to display a positive growth trend over recent years, with an estimated 2015 rate of 2.5%, the highest since the 2007 financial crisis. This behaviour has been backed by internal consumption and greater investments outside the oil sector. Likewise, the strength of the labour market is outstanding in a country that created employment consistently throughout 2015, resulting in the year end registering an unemployment rate that dropped to 5.0%. In negative terms, the weak global demand and the strength of the US$ led to a fall in net exports.
The Euro-Zone has continued to undergo a certain degree of recovery, though it still registers moderate growth levels, with an estimated rate of 1.5% in 2015. The growth pillar was internal demand, thanks to private consumption helped by lower oil prices and favourable financial conditions, as well as more exports benefitting from a weaker euro. Spain is outstanding in terms of growth, with an expansion of 3.2%. Germany also contributed positively (+1.5%), as did France (+1.1%) and Italy (+0.8%). More wealth, but in terms of volume levels given that prices remain stagnant, the fear of deflation remained latent throughout the year, with a price index of nearly 0%, far from the ECB objective of 2%. Alternatively, employment creation continued to be consistently strengthened, with the unemployment rate dropping by up to 10.5% in 2015 compared to the 11.6% in 2014 and the 12.0% in 2013.
On this basis, for 2016 the IMF expects a world GDP growth of 3.4%, an upturn compared to 2015, though lower than the previous estimations. Key factors that are set to influence the context are the final outcome of China’s transition towards lower, more sustainable growth rates, a context with very little inflation with the drop in price of raw materials, tensions from some emerging markets, and the gradual withdrawal of the accommodative monetary policy in the USA.
Against this backdrop stock markets was shaped by the high level of uncertainty and volatility, likewise the monetary policies of the main central banks continue to exert a significant influence on price formation in financial markets.
Thus, stock markets also exhibited decorrelation: the US S&P 500 ended 2015 with a slight rise of +0.02% while in Europe the Ibex-35 fell -7.2% in Spain, the DAX advanced +9.6% in Germany and the CAC rose +8.5% in France. In overall terms the global indexes ended 2015 at virtually the same level as at the start of the year or with slight losses. Returns range between -0.3% for the MSCI The World Index and -4.1% for the FTSE World. The three previous years had ended with positive returns.
Viscofan’s share is admitted to trading in the Spanish stock market in Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao. Likewise, the share trading in the continuous market since its flotation in December 1986 belongs to the General Index of the Madrid Stock Exchange (IGBM) and is part of the Consumer Goods segment, the Food sub-sector, as well as the Euro Stoxx Food & Beverage index.
In 2015 the share registered an annual revaluation of 26.3%, 29.1% including dividend remuneration, closing the financial year with a share quote of €55.64, near the average daily quote throughout the year of €54.70. As such, the Viscofan market capitalisation grew to €2,593 million upon closing 2015 (+26.3% vs. 2014).
Overall, throughout the year over 58.3 Viscofan shares were negotiated, i.e., 125% of all the shares in circulation, with a turnover of 3,180 million euros, equivalent to a daily average of €12.3 million.
For yet another year, stock market recognised Viscofan Group’s value creation, while combined with our commitment to remunerate our shareholders. Thus, over the last decade, there has been an average annual return of 20%, or 21% including shareholder remuneration. Analysing value creation over time, this is greater for shareholders holding their Viscofan shares for a longer period of time. For example:
A shareholder investing 1,000 euros in Viscofan shares on 31st December 2010, and selling them 5 years’ later on 31st December 2015, received 1,947 euros and 190 euros in dividends for this period. A combined return of 114%.
However, a shareholder with a greater investment horizon and who invested in Viscofan 10 years’ ago, purchasing 1,000 euros in Viscofan shares on 31st December 2005, and still holding them on 31st December 2015, would have an investment worth 6,009 euros and has collected 841 euros in dividends for this 10 year period. A combined return of 585%.
In 2015 the Viscofan Group closed the Be MORE Strategic Period (2012-2015), characterised by a high level of investments with €287 million designated to improving positioning, the market value proposal, and internally reinforcing operations. Greater investment activity without asking shareholders for any additional efforts, whilst simultaneously increasing the dividend per share, from €1.00 in 2011 to €1.35 proposed in 2015, an annualised growth of 7.8%. In total, €221 million were designated to shareholder retribution, whilst upholding a solid balance sheet, which is the best way of addressing the challenges in this sector with a degree of certainty, without turning down growth opportunities.
The remuneration proposed by the Board of Directors for the 2015 financial year of €1.35 per share is 14.4% higher than that distributed in 2014, and requires a distribution of 52% over the total of the net income attributed to the Viscofan Group, i.e. in 2015 the Viscofan Group shared out more than half the net income to its shareholders.
This retribution comprises an interim dividend of €0.52 per share paid on 29th December 2015, the complementary dividend proposal for approval at the General Shareholders Meeting of €0.82 per share, and the meeting attendance premium of €0.01 per share.
In terms of profitability, the total dividend proposed for 2015 is 2.5% over the average share quotation price during the year.
One of Viscofan’s objectives is to create value for the investment community through its Shareholder and Investor Relations Department, by improving accessibility, information, transparency and making the appropriate information available for a better understanding of the company, its results, strategy and operations. These objectives underlie the policy of communication with shareholders, institutional investors and their representatives or advisors, approved by the Board of Directors.
Viscofan offers the investment community a number of communication channels: presentations at seminars and events organised by the financial community; road shows with institutional investors, either promoted by the company or by brokers; the presentation of results; the General Shareholders’ Meeting; organised visits to the Viscofan head office; phone calls to a dedicated investor, a shareholder helpline (+34 948 198 436); e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org); notifications and regular public information reported to the CNMV (Spanish Security and Exchange Commission). All this in addition to the information posted on the website www.viscofan.com, particularly in the section of Investor Relations in which Viscofan publicises the latest news, relevant facts, reports and the quarterly presentation of results, annual report, evolution of the share price, etc.
The effort put into communication over all these years, has been recognised by the investment community. Institutional Investor in its “All European Executive Team” in 2016 awarded Viscofan for the 1st CEO for Sell-Side and 2nd Best CEO combined, and 3rd IR for Sell-Side on Paper & Packaging sector. In previous years it awarded Viscofan, 2nd Best IR Professional and Best Investor Relations for the Sell-Side in 2015 and 2012 as 1st Best IR professional for the Sell-Side in the packaging and food sector respectively.
Two-way communication is important, enabling the Financial Community’s questions and concerns to be taken into account and transmitted within the company, to give a more global view of the same. In 2015, the most frequent questions were related to the conclusion of the Be MORE Strategic Plan and the launch of the MORE TO BE Plan, shareholder remuneration, the impact of changes of the exchange rate and its impact on the commercial evolution of some countries, investments in fibrous and plastics, among others.
Viscofan has on-going contact with the financial markets. As a result, in 2015, a total of 17 national and international analysis companies covered the company on repeated occasions (BBVA, Bekafinance, Berenberg, BPI, Exane BNP Paribas, Fidentiis, Haitong Securities, JB Capital Markets, Kepler-Cheuvreux, Caixabank, Mirabaud, N+1 Equities, Renta 4, Sabadell, Santander, Societe Generale, UBS).
Likewise, in the course of 2015, Viscofan held 282 one-on-one meetings with investors, shareholders and non-shareholders alike, interested in the company. In 2014 there were 282 meetings, 293 in 2013, and 207 in 2012. These meetings were held at the Group’s head offices and in financial centres. Specifically, in 2015, Viscofan held meetings at 11 different financial centres, as in previous years. This diversity of centres is a result of the geographical diversification of the shareholder structure, with institutional investors in more than 25 countries around the world.
This commitment and close dialogue between Viscofan and the investment community is also reflected to a certain extent in the trading volumes. In 2015, a total of 58.3 million shares were traded, in other words 1.25 times the total number of outstanding shares.