Contrary to expectations, the graphics subsidiary dpa-infografik GmbH was able to achieve a slight increase in both sales and earnings in a cyclical and still difficult market and reported a profit of 0.3 million euros for the 2019 financial year, an improvement of 0.1 million euros.
The service companies dpa mediatechnology GmbH, Rufa Rundfunk-Agenturdienste GmbH and dpa English Services GmbH closed the financial year at about the same level as the previous year with a slight increase in business volume.
dpa-AFX Wirtschaftsnachrichten GmbH, in which dpa holds a 76% stake, managed to keep turnover stable at 4.7 million euros last year despite a tense market environment. A dedicated cost management programme helped the subsidiary to achieve a profit of 0.6 million euros which is on a par with the previous year.
It was a different situation at the mecom Medien-Communikations-Gesellschaft mbH (dpa holds a 50% direct stake and indirect investment of 10%). Here, total sales declined as expected by 0.9 million euros owing to the completion of a major project with a limited time horizon and the discontinuation of the “Advertising Workflow for Magazines” business unit. Nevertheless, net income for the year was maintained at 0.7 million euros which was close to the level of 0.8 million euros for the previous year owing to a commensurate fall in expenses.
dpa-digital services GmbH (50% dpa stake) was able to generate a positive result for the third year in a row after the initial phase associated with start-up losses. However, sales growth again fell short of expectations, showing that the market environment remains difficult and challenging.
The two holdings in Switzerland, awp Finanznachrichten AG (50% dpa stake) and news aktuell (Schweiz) AG (now 70% dpa participation, 30% participation by news aktuell GmbH), developed quite positively in 2019.
At awp, the changes observed in the Swiss financial sector were noticeable, the company nevertheless managed to close the year with a growth in turnover and a profit of 1.6 million Swiss francs, almost matching the previous year’s level.
At news aktuell (Schweiz) AG, sales were maintained at approximately the same level as the previous year. This was due to the absence of one-off expenses in the course of the company’s personnel reorganization and the associated cost effects. Net income for 2019 increased notably and at 0.5 million Swiss francs, is even slightly above expectations.
Assets and financial position
The balance sheet total increased by 1.4 million euros to 53.7 million euros (previous year: 52.3 million euros).
On the assets side, scheduled depreciation and amortization reduced intangible assets and property, plant and equipment by 0.1 million euros to 15.9 million euros (previous year 16.0 million euros). Financial assets changed by 0.7 million euros compared with the previous year and fell to 12.2 million euros (previous year: 12.9 million euros). Lower investment values resulted from a write-down of shares in Contiago GmbH (-0.8 million euros).
Current assets increased on balance by 2.3 million euros, due to the increase in receivables and other assets of 0.8 million euros and the 0.7 million euros increase in securities positions with a simultaneous rise of 0.8 million euros in credit balances with financial institutions.
On the liabilities side, the increase in shareholders’ equity and higher liabilities had a positive effect on the balance sheet total. Shareholders equity rose to 40.1 million euros. This is almost entirely attributable to the net profit for the year of 1.3 million euros. The equity ratio was 74.7% on the balance sheet date (previous year: 74.5%).
Provisions remained almost unchanged from the previous year. Higher liabilities of 5.0 million euros (previous year: 4.7 million euros) resulted primarily from an increase in liabilities to affiliated companies of 0.3 million euros and higher tax liabilities of 0.2 million euros. On the other hand, trade accounts payable fell by 0.1 million euros.
With cash and cash equivalents (including short-term realizable securities) amounting to 13.0 million euros (previous year: 11.4 million euros), the company retains a solid financial basis. Long-term fixed assets continue to be fully covered by equity.
Cash flow from operating activities (including income from profit transfers and investments) amounted to 4.1 million euros for the 2019 fiscal year (previous year: 3.6 million euros).
The investment sum (excluding financial assets) remained virtually unchanged from the previous year at 2.6 million euros. The focus of investment activity in the past fiscal year was again on the further development of individual modules of our editorial and ERP systems, the expansion of the image portal and replacement of operating and office equipment.
4. Financial and non-financial performance indicators
In accordance with our corporate strategy, the internal control system was aligned and suitable control indicators were defined. Here, dpa differentiates between financial and non-financial performance indicators. The financial performance indicators include the sustained increase in profitability and the allied increase in the value of the company. In terms of earning power, sales and profit are the most important target and control indicators.
In the case of non-financial performance indicators, data such as the development of text volume are important control features. In addition, the changes desired by the market towards longer texts as well as time-consuming texts with a pronounced explanatory element must be taken into account.
As a result, the volume of reports dropped slightly to 190,000 (previous year 192,000). The number of long texts (from 80 agency lines) increased to 2,200 over the previous year (2,100). In addition, there was broader customer use (20, 30 or more prints) for texts with explanations and classification. In 2019 the number stabilized at just below 2,800 texts (previous year 2,700). Digital usage is still difficult to measure, but the trend corresponds to print usage.