“2017 was a good year for us. We performed well in a challenging environment and met all our targets for the year,” said Stefan Oschmann, chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “We are staying the course and will continue to purposefully implement our innovation-driven growth strategies for Healthcare, Life Science and Performance Materials. In addition, we are resolutely working to quickly lower our acquisition-related debt-to-equity ratio.”
In 2017, Merck KGaA generated net sales of €15.3 billion (2016: €15.0 billion). This increase of 2.0% over the previous year was mainly attributable to the strong organic sales performance of the Healthcare and Life Science business sectors.
The operating result (EBIT) rose by 1.8% to €2.5 billion (2016: €2.5 billion). EBITDA pre, the company’s most important earnings figure, declined by -1.7% to €4.4 billion (2016: €4.5 billion). Apart from the difficult foreign exchange environment, the adjustment process in the Liquid Crystals business also contributed to this.
Net income rose in 2017 by nearly 60% to a record level of €2.6 billion (2016: €1.6 billion). This increase in the very good year-earlier figure was due not only to the successful operating business, but also to exceptional income of €906 million in connection with the tax reform in the United States.
Earnings per share pre declined by -0.8% to €6.16 (2016: €6.21). The proposal to the Annual General Meeting on April 27, 2018 will be to increase the dividend by €0.05 to €1.25 per share. This would mean sustained dividend increases since 2009.
As of the end of fiscal 2017, Merck KGaA had lowered its net financial debt, which mainly stems from the Sigma-Aldrich acquisition, by a total of €1.4 billion or 11.9% to €10.1 billion (Dec. 31, 2016: €11.5 billion). The company will resolutely continue along this course.