Prudent financial management provides financial flexibility
Finnlines is one of the largest European shipping companies specialised in regular liner traffic services. Our main responsibility is to ensure a smooth flow of goods in a sustainable manner. Our extensive line network secures to the Finnish export industry scheduled and reliable seaways to the European market, while ensuring the transport of critical goods to Finland.
The Covid-19 pandemic continued to affect our operations at the beginning of 2021, but cargo volumes recovered during the spring and our summer season was above expectations. We shipped 785,000 cargo units (723,000 in 2020) and carried 171,000 (154,000) cars (excluding passengers’ cars). Once travel restrictions eased during the summer, an upward trend started and continued for the rest of the year. In total, 572,000 (501,000) passengers travelled with us in 2021, an increase of 14% compared to the previous year.
The Finnlines Group recorded revenue totalling EUR 579.9 (484.0) million in the reporting period, an increase of 20% compared to the same period in the previous year. Shipping and Sea Transport Services generated revenue amounting to EUR 555.3 (461.8) million, of which passenger related revenue was EUR 47.8 (39.0) million. The revenue of Port Operations was EUR 47.0 (42.8) million. Cargo volumes are clearly above the 2020 level, and the number of passengers also increased compared to 2020. Revenue of Port Operations also increased due to the growth of cargo. The internal revenue between the segments was EUR 22.3 (20.6) million.
Result before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was EUR 160.3 (140.8) million, an increase of 14%. Result before interest and taxes (EBIT) was EUR 78.2 (76.2) million.
As a result of the improved financial position, net financial expenses decreased to EUR -4.4 (-5.6) million. Financial income was EUR 0.2 (0.5) million and financial expenses EUR -4.6 (-6.1) million. Result before taxes (EBT) increased by EUR 3.2 million and was EUR 73.8 (70.6) million. The result for the reporting period was EUR 74.7 (69.7) million.
Our 2021 performance has been strong, beyond expectations we had at the beginning of the year. Our optimal fleet utilisation and route network create a formula that drives our performance. Our flexible fleet allows us to re-arrange vessels to routes where demand for capacity increases – or at times decreases. We provide added value for our customers as we carry all types of cargo and are able to provide challenging transport services for any type of special and classified cargo (project cargo, high & heavy, dangerous goods cargo).
We are committed to using ground-breaking technologies, exploiting digitalised and optimised processes in all our operations. We are investing in clean technologies and effectively ex-ecuting our strategy thanks to our highly productive, skilled and committed employees. All these actions increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our processes.
We are proud to announce that 2021 was a good year for Finnlines. We served Finnish and other European industries, transported goods and passengers without any public Covid-related subsidies throughout the year. In addition, our network has expanded and via the larger Grimaldi Group network the world is even more accessible to our customers.
Focus on the environment
We have continued our long-term measures for sustainable operations. Over the years, we have made substantial investments in our existing fleet, in environmental innovations and in cargo loading and carrying capacity.
We are in the process of investing in clean technologies and innovations and in new vessels over EUR 500 million. With this capital expenditure we can protect the environment by making sustainable investments and improving energy efficiency. Energy saving is the best way to reduce emissions and reach immediate results.
Our ongoing EUR 500 million newbuilding programme follows our strategy and we continue to deploy larger and larger vessels to benefit from economies of scale. While improving our services for our customers, we improve the green footprint of our fleet. The Green Newbuilding Programme consists of three hybrid ro-ro vessels and two Superstar ro-pax vessels. Their cargo capacity is 38% larger than that of the largest ships we operate today using the same amount of energy. The passenger capacity will increase by 58%. The new vessels are set to start in traffic in 2022–2023. Thus, we are well positioned for future environmental challenges.
Financial management and capital structure
Net cash generated from operating activities remained strong and was EUR 146.7 (138.0) million. The interest-bearing debt increased by EUR 18.7 (40.5) million to EUR 350.4 (331.7) million, excluding leasing liabilities of EUR 22.2 (17.7) million. Net interest-bearing debt at the end of period was EUR 348.5 (329.8) million. Net interest-bearing debt/EBITDA (rolling 12 months) ratio amounted to 2.2 (2.3) and the equity ratio calculated from the balance sheet was 60.4% (60.7%). Net gearing resulted in 45.6% (45.5%).
The Group has financial flexibility through strong liquidity position which at the end of the period, with cash and cash equivalents together with unused committed credit facilities, amounted to EUR 212.0 (226.8) million. The Finnlines Group has a strong balance sheet, cost-efficient operations and unused credit facilities, which all provide financial flexibility.
“Our financial strength and flexibility enables us to invest EUR 0.5 billion for green, state-of-the-art vessels.”
With the organisational, operational, and financial optimisation we have ensured that Finnlines’ services have continued unaltered and we are fulfilling our important role in the logistics chain. The Finnlines Group’s return on capital em-ployed (ROCE) was 7.2% (7.0%).
Moreover, Finnlines Group’s prudent financial management and strong long-term relationships with international banks and investors, enables us to have the required financial flexibility to invest close to EUR 0.5 billion in the ultra-green vessels and position ourselves for future success.
The short-term global economic outlook seems to be positive although the pandemic continues to cause uncertainty with new mutations, which may affect travel and passenger volumes. Regarding the freight outlook and possible changes to it, Finnlines vessels are flexible in terms of cargo mix, thus less exposed to volatility in single market segments.
Finnlines is well-placed to compete with its strategy. Considering the past investments made in the fleet as well as all the actions in improving efficiency, productivity and financial performance, the Finnlines Group’s result before taxes is expected to improve from 2021.
We have a strong owner with solid experience in shipping. It is widely known that the Grimaldi Group invests and takes part in maritime research and development activities and invests in innovative solutions and green technology. The shareholder structure reinforces our strategy and enables us to be the most efficient shipping company in the Baltic Sea.
Shipping is vital for Finland as about 90% of exports and 80% of its imports are shipped by sea. The island-like location makes the country dependent on sea connections. Carriers, such as Finnlines, supply services essential to both the private and public sectors, thus, for the whole Finnish economy. Together with our customers, we safeguard the national security of supply in a cost-effective, sustainable and responsible manner.