“We made a promise and we delivered on that promise,” said Karl-Ludwig Kley, chairman of Merck’s Executive Board. “Today we are strongly positioned in our three business sectors Healthcare, Life Science and Performance Materials, and we are poised for further organic growth after having established not only strong business sectors, but also innovation and growth platforms.”
Merck completed its efficiency program and achieved savings of €360 million in 2014. At the same time, through its “Fit for 2018” transformation and growth program, the company achieved three important milestones in order to secure sustainable, profitable growth in the future. In 2014, Merck completed the acquisition of the high-tech material manufacturer AZ Electronic Materials and agreed on the acquisition of the U.S. life science company Sigma-Aldrich. In November 2014, the company formed a strategic immuno-oncology alliance with Pfizer in order to develop Merck’s anti-PD-L1 antibody avelumab.
Over the course of the year, the Merck share price rose by approximately 20%, thus achieving the highest increase in value in the DAX 30, the German blue chip index. The share price high of €80.40 in 2014 was reached at the end of November. The upward trend has continued in 2015, during which the share price has clearly exceeded the €100 mark.
In March, Merck reported on the results of 2014, which saw sales growth of 5.5% to €11.3 billion (2013: €10.7 billion) driven by good organic growth. EBITDA pre one-time items increased by 4.1% to €3.4 billion (2013: €3.3 billion), likewise due to good operational performance and the acquisition of AZ Electronic Materials.
The proposed increase in the dividend to € 1.00 per share reflects the successful development of Merck. The total dividend payment takes into account the 1:2 share split in 2014 as well as the capital resources required for the company’s further transformation steps.
For 2015, Merck expects a slight increase in organic sales over the previous year amid moderately positive foreign exchange effects. Due to the inclusion of AZ for a full fiscal year, a slight positive portfolio effect is also expected. Owing to the expected operating development and positive foreign exchange effects, Merck also forecasts a slight increase in EBITDA pre one-time items and business free cash flow in 2015.
“If the acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich is completed by mid-2015 as planned, growth will be higher,” said Kley. “In this case, we expect double-digit growth rates in net sales. EBITDA pre one-time items and business free cash flow would also increase sharply compared with 2014.”