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During its meeting on December 5, 2022, the Board of Directors of Wavestone approved the consolidated annual financial statements at September 30, 2022, a summary of which is presented below. These financial statements have been the subject of a limited review by the statutory auditors and their report is in the process of being issued.
First-half revenue up 9%, of which 4% on an organic basis
At September 30, 2022, at the end of H1 2022/23, Wavestone generated consolidated revenue of €237.1m, up 9% year-on-year. At constant scope and on a constant forex basis, organic growth came out at 4% for the year.
Note that, apart from the impact of acquisitions from the previous fiscal year, H1 2022/23 benefited from the contribution from Nomadéis, consolidated since April 1, 2022 and from PEN Partnership consolidated since August 1, 2022. Cœus Consulting will be consolidated from October 1, 2022.
Staff turnover still high but dynamic pace of recruitment
At September 30, 2022, the staff turnover rate stood at 19% on a rolling 12-month basis, at an identical pace to end-June, versus 18% for the whole of 2021/22.
The pace of recruitment remained steady over the six-month period in line with the full-year roadmap targeting the recruitment of more than 1,000 employees over the year.
Wavestone had 3,864 employees at September 30, 2022, versus 3,732 six months earlier.
Sales prices holding up well and consultant utilization rate at 75% mid-year
For the first half overall, the utilization rate came to 75%, in line with the normative level for the firm, versus 77% for the whole fiscal year 2021/22.
The average daily rate over the six-month period came to €880, up 3% compared with FY 2021/22 (€854). At constant exchange rates, it came to €872 and is up 2% compared with a year earlier.
Order intake remained steady over the summer and since the start of September. The order book stood at 3.7 months at end-September 2022. The decline in the order book compared with September 30, 2022
(4.2 months) reflects the expected growth in the headcount for the 3rd quarter of the fiscal year.
First-half EBIT margin at 12.5% and net margin at 7.6%
As announced, the EBIT margin suffered a decline over the first half. It came to 12.5% versus 14.6% in the first half of the previous year. As a result, EBIT came to €29.7 million, down 7% compared with H1 2021/22.
Note that profitability in H1 2021/22 was exceptionally high owing to the post-Covid-19 context, with a recovery in business and still moderate growth in operating charges.
During H1 2022/23, the firm, however, stepped up spending, notably on recruitment and human resources. Wavestone also decided to adjust its salary policy to maintain its appeal for increasingly sought-after talent, but this will not weigh on the ratio of sales prices to salaries thanks to growth in average daily rate.
After taking account of depreciation of customer relations and other non-operating charges, mainly made up of the costs linked to the acquisitions of PEN Partnership and Cœus Consulting, operating income came to €25.7m, down 15%.
The cost of net financial debt and other financial charges remained practically flat compared with a year earlier. The tax charge was reduced to €6.9 million, compared with €8.7 million a year earlier.
Group share of net income for the first half came to €17.9 million, down 14% compared with H1 2021/22. As a result, the net margin came out at 7.6% in H1 2022/23, versus 9.5% a year earlier.
Financing of three external growth transactions in the first six months of the financial year
In H1 2022/23, cash flow from operations came to €30.1m, down 12% compared with the same period of the previous year.
Changes in WCR consumed €25.4 million in cash (versus €22.8 million a year earlier), owing to business growth and the traditional decline in tax and social security charges during the first half of the fiscal year.
After taking account of taxes paid (€12.2 million) operating cash flow came to a negative €7.5 million versus positive operating cash flow of €3.5 million a year earlier.
Investment transactions cost €52.1 million in H1 2022/23 and consisted mainly of the acquisitions of Nomadéis, PEN Partnership and Cœus Consulting.
Financing flows consumed €21.1 million, including €7.6 million in dividend payments with respect of 2021/22, €6.5 million allocated to share buybacks enabling the full coverage of the employee free share allocation plans, and €4.1 million to repay financial borrowings.
Net financial debt at €16.2 million at September 30, 2022
At September 30, 2022, Wavestone's shareholders' equity came to €267.7 million.
It should be noted that financial assets include €25.5 million in equity investments following the acquisition of Cœus Consulting, completed mid-September but consolidated in Wavestone's financial statements from October 1, 2022. By March 31, 2023, the assets, liabilities and goodwill stemming from the Cœus Consulting acquisition will replace these equity investments on Wavestone's balance sheet.
Owing to acquisitions, net financial debt came to €16.2 million at September 30, 2022, versus a net cash position of €60.3 million six months earlier.
At the end of FY 2022/23, the firm targets a positive net cash position between €30 million and €35 million, excluding new acquisitions, thanks to traditionally higher cash generation during the second half of the year.
Towards a market slowdown in 2023, but resilience expected in certain sectors
The deterioration in the economic backdrop raises the increasingly probable risk of a slowdown in consulting demand, which could materialize from the start of 2023.
These anticipated trends prompt the firm to adopt a cautious approach to Q4 2022/23, with the start of the calendar year traditionally slow for order givers committing to spending.
Nevertheless, Wavestone remains confident regarding certain areas of activity, notably banking, energy and luxury.
In the UK, the acquisitions of PEN Partnership and Cœus Consulting are progressing nicely. Business is holding up well and operating synergies are already starting to be unlocked. Thanks to these acquisitions, Wavestone triples its size in this key geography of the Impact plan, and the targeted profitability for fiscal year 2022/23 is equal to or higher than that of the firm.
Regarding the public sector in France, controversies over the place of consulting firms and the uncertainties they generate do not appear to be abating. As a result, Wavestone has decided to significantly reduce its commercial investments allocated to this sector.
More broadly, over the coming months, despite the more demanding market environment, the firm has decided to maintain a dynamic pace of recruitment, while continuing its intense commercial activity, particularly in resilient sectors.
Revenue of €525 million, and 15% EBIT margin now targeted for 2022/23
For FY 2022/23, to factor in the consolidation of PEN Partnership and Cœus Consulting, Wavestone has updated its annual targets.
The firm is now guiding for consolidated revenue of more than €525m, compared with more than €505m initially.
Wavestone reiterated its EBIT margin target of around 15% for the full year.
In terms of external growth, the firm plans to continue its targeted acquisitions policy. After the acquisitions in H1 2022/23, Wavestone does not plan any further deals in the UK over the coming months. Therefore, the firm aims to give priority to the US, without ruling out the possibility of tactical deals in other geographies.
Next event: Q3 2022/23 revenue, Monday, January 30, 2023, after the Euronext market closing.
In a world where knowing how to drive transformation is the key to success, Wavestone's mission is to inform and guide large organizations in their most critical transformations, with the ambition of a positive outcome for all stakeholders. This ambition is anchored in the firm's DNA and summarized in its signature approach –"The Positive Way."
Wavestone brings together nearly 4,000 employees in Europe – where it is one of the leading independent consultants – in the United States and in Asia.
Wavestone is listed on Euronext Paris and recognized as a Great Place to Work®.
Excluding lease liabilities
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