Despite the pandemic scenario, 2020 proved to be a year of reassuring results in many regards. Behind the performance of financials, which exceeded forecasts, we boast a solid business model, a proven successful growth strategy, as well as a thorough execution of stakeholder-supporting policies that can be shaped by the needs of the moment.
Such an evidence provides higher visibility to the 2024 targets of the Business Plan and encourages the distribution of a dividend of 11 euro cents, meaning 0.5 cent higher than the amount originally indicated.
In 2020, Hera leveraged the benefits resulting both from the recent acquisitions and from the synergies already extracted in the first year of their management, to continue the growth path indicated in the Business Plan. Thus, the Group achieved a 3.5% increase at EBITDA level, despite the challenging environment due to the economic effects of the restrictions to fight the spread of Covid-19 and the extremely mild weather conditions. A strong cash generation allowed for a reduction in the Net Financial Debt at year-end, with a significant improvement of Hera’s financial profile.
The last few months of the year showed a recovery in the demand from industrial clients, thus proving that Hera’s business portfolio is well structured and can offer both resilience in uncertain times and growth opportunities when the macroeconomic scenario is improving.
The solid results of fiscal year 2020 represent a milestone in Hera’s growth path considering the scenario in which they were achieved. Therefore, they provide an anchor of certainty in a context of stock markets suffering from a severe lack of visibility, especially on the timing of exit from anti-pandemic restrictions.
Investors can read in a very positive way these 2020 results, which surprise while overperforming the preliminary data released in January. Hera confirms its characteristics of a company capable of promptly intercepting economic growth by improving its cash generation.
Since 23rd November 2020, Hera is part of the selected group of 323 companies included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index World, a basket consisting of listed companies that are in the top 10% of the ranking for their sector. The assessment, i.e., the process to operate the selection to be included in the index, is conducted by S&P Global on the basis of a detailed survey, composed by 540 questions and submitted to the leading 2,500 issuers in the world.
Given the high score achieved (87/100), Hera has also entered the selective Dow Jones Sustainability Index Europe, composed by European players that are real champions in sustainability performances. In Europe, the ESG awareness of both issuing companies and asset managers dedicated to Socially Responsible Investing have a more developed and consolidated tradition compared to other continents.