KWS’ Annual Shareholders’ Meeting ratifies dividend increase
Shareholders adopt a dividend of €3.20 a share – New Supervisory Board elections – Guidance unchanged
All items on the agenda of today’s Annual Shareholders’ Meeting of KWS SAAT SE (ISIN: DE0007074007) were adopted by a clear majority. The shareholders endorsed the proposal by the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board on the appropriation of profits and approved the €0.20 increase in the dividend to €3.20 a share. The Annual Shareholders’ Meeting also elected the shareholder representatives proposed as members of the Supervisory Board and voted for conversion to a fixed compensation structure for the Supervisory Board, likewise by a large majority.
As has been customary for many years, the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting was held at the company’s headquarters in Einbeck. The Executive Board explained the company’s performance in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2017, to approximately 700 shareholders. KWS grew its net sales by 3.7% to around €1,075 million. It increased its EBIT year on year to €132 million, despite the fact that general conditions in the agricultural industry remained difficult. The EBIT margin was 12.2%, once again in line with the medium-term target of at least 10%. In keeping with the increase in earnings, the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board proposed that the dividend be raised by €0.20, or 6.7%, to €3.20 – the first such increase since the 2013 Annual Shareholders’ Meeting. The endorsement of this proposal by the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting means KWS will distribute a total of 21.6% of the KWS Group’s net income for the year and is thus continuing its long-standing practice of a dividend payout ratio of between 20% and 25%.
New Supervisory Board elections
The terms of office of all KWS’ Supervisory Board members expired when the Supervisory Board’s acts were ratified and the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting ended. Jürgen Bolduan and Christine Coenen had been elected as employee representatives by the workforce in an election held in June. The Annual Shareholders’ Meeting confirmed the shareholder representatives Dr. Andreas J. Büchting, Cathrina Claas-Mühlhäuser and Dr. Marie Theres Schnell for a new term of office and appointed Victor W. Balli of Zurich as a new member of the KWS Supervisory Board. Hubertus von Baumbach, who retired as a member of the Supervisory Board, was thanked extensively for his great commitment over all the years. He took over as Chairman of the Board of Managing Directors of the family-owned company Boehringer Ingelheim in July 2016 and thus did not stand for a further term of office on KWS’ Supervisory Board.
Adjustment to the compensation system for the Supervisory Board
As announced last year, the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board discussed the compensation system for KWS SAAT SE’s Supervisory Board, which was last adjusted in 2009, ahead of the 2017 Annual Shareholders’ Meeting. A decision was made to propose that the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting adopt a purely fixed compensation for the Supervisory Board. This change, which removes the link to the company’s business success, is intended to reflect the increased responsibility of the Supervisory Board and its bodies, especially that of the Audit Committee, by introducing the performance-independent compensation of the Supervisory Board.
Guidance for 2017/2018 unchanged
As reported at the end of November, the KWS Group grew its net sales slightly year on year by 2.0% in the first quarter of 2017/2018. EBIT was € –38.8 million and is negative at this stage of the year due to seasonal reasons. The Executive Board still expects net sales to increase slightly and to post an EBIT margin of between 10% and the previous year’s figure (12.2%) at the end of fiscal 2017/2018. Capital spending is expected to rise to more than €100 million as a result of the company’s continued growth trajectory and the related expansion of production plants and research and development capacities. Research and development expenditure will also be increased as planned to further enhance the company’s innovative strength, resulting in an R&D intensity of above 17% as far as can be seen at present.
KWS is one of the world’s leading plant breeding companies. In fiscal 2016/17, 4,950 employees in 70 countries generated net sales of EUR 1,080 million and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of EUR 132 million. A company with a tradition of family ownership, KWS has operated independently for more than 160 years. It focuses on plant breeding and the production and sale of seed for corn, sugarbeet, cereals, rapeseed and sunflowers. KWS uses leading-edge plant breeding methods to continuously improve yield and resistance to diseases, pests and abiotic stress. To that end, the company invested EUR 190 million last fiscal year in research and development, 17 percent of its net sales.
*All figures exclude the companies carried at equity AGRELIANT GENETICS LLC., AGRELIANT GENETICS INC. and KENFENG – KWS SEEDS CO., LTD
Wolf-Gebhard von der Wense
Head of Investor Relations
KWS SAAT SE