Net sales for the fourth quarter amounted to SEK 2,909 million (3,097). Organic growth totalled negative 1 per cent (neg: 2). No restructuring costs (739) impacted operating profit for the quarter. Operating profit excluding restructuring costs amounted to SEK 199 million (196), corresponding to an operating margin of 6.8 per cent (6.3). Profit after tax and including restructuring costs totalled SEK 98 million (loss: 677), corresponding to earnings per share of SEK 0.59 (neg: 4.06). Operating cash flow amounted to SEK 210 million (133). The Board proposes a dividend of SEK 1.00 (0.50) per share.
In total, market performance was deemed to be unchanged compared with the year-earlier period. The UK market continued to grow, but from a low level. The Nordic market is estimated to have remained unchanged, while the main markets in Continental Europe weakened.
Organic sales fell 1 per cent (neg: 2). Currency effects impacted net sales negatively for the quarter in an amount of SEK 17 million (neg: 64). Optifit, which was divested during the second quarter of 2013, reported sales of SEK 77 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. The changed reporting period in the UK had an adverse impact of SEK 74 million on sales compared with the fourth quarter of 2012.
The gross margin was 42.0 per cent (42.0), positively impacted by higher sales values and negatively affected by currency effects and lower sales volumes.
Operating profit excluding restructuring costs increased primarily due to higher sales values and cost savings. Currency effects of approxima-tely negative SEK 20 million (pos: 30) affected operating profit excluding restructuring costs, of which SEK 0 million (neg: 5) comprised translation effects and negative SEK 20 million (pos: 35) transaction effects.
Return on capital employed including restructuring costs amounted to 14.6 per cent over the past twelve-month period (neg. 5.3).
Operating cash flow improved primarily as a result of lower investments and restructuring payments and slightly higher earnings generation compared with the preceding year.
Comments from the CEO
Â€œThe sales trend in the UK was positive, but could only partly offset the negative growth in the Nordic and Continental Europe regions. The Nordic region again reported strong profitability and the merger of the MyresjÃ¶kÃ¶k and Marbodal brands has been successful to date. Our ambitions for 2014 are high. We are marketing NobiaÂ€™s new innovations and enhanced sales processes are being introduced in our stores. We are increasing our digital investments and developing websites and other digital aids for our customers. In addition, we are seeking new distribution partnerships. An example is our partnership with Finnish company Isku, which we believe will add sales of about EUR 10 million when the some 20 stores are completed by year-end,Â€ says Morten Falkenberg, President and CEO.