A time-tested business model underpinning solid 2022 results
Hera has achieved uninterrupted growth since inception in 2002 to date.
Embracing from the very beginning an innovative multi-business and multi-stakeholder model has proved to be a winning choice. Over time, Hera has executed a clear growth strategy, based on two pillars: on one hand fuelling organic development through the deployment of significant technical investments and the expansion of market shares in liberalised businesses, and on the other hand expanding externally through targeted M&A operations, always effectively integrated.
Leveraging on such approach, consistently applied over time, Hera has achieved great results even in the most challenging scenarios, creating value for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Hera’s 20 years since its listing in June 2003 are an opportunity to focus on the reasons behind this virtuous path, which represents a unique case within the sector.
Hard work to build and affirm a solid Group identity, useful for later expansion
Hera was born from the integration into one entity of 11 different municipalised companies, each one deeply rooted in its own territory: after the establishment of the new Group, it was essential to build a common identity: otherwise, the homogenisation of processes – which would bring savings and synergies – would not have been possible. It was a path that required a deep managerial commitment, crucial to build that platform, made of know-how and experience, underpinning future expansion through the merger and acquisition of other similar companies.
Today Hera is a reality with a strong corporate
The essential choices, at the heart of a linear growth path over time
Right from the onset, Hera has adopted an innovative business model, which has since been widely replicated within the industry.
This model combines organic and
external growth, through M&A deals.
Their integration follows a format that allows
for quick and effective extraction of synergies.
Over the past 20 years, a total of around 50 acquisitions have been made: without developing from the outset a model for the accurate selection of M&A opportunities and the successive integration of the companies acquired, it would have been impossible to systematically hit the jackpot 50 times, as was the actual experience.
Leveraging on the solid infrastructure of the Group, over time Hera has also expanded its scope of action from regulated to liberalised markets. Such a path required the building of new skills and proved particularly successful, considering the market shares gained at national level.
Therefore, the current size of the Hera Group is the result of growth achieved in a wise and disciplined way, remaining consistent to the original formula: for this reason, no false steps have ever been taken and the returns on the investments made have always materialised very quickly.
A stable governance, capable of balancing the interests of different shareholders and inspiring credibility in the financial markets
One of the peculiarities of Hera’s development path – which is also undoubtedly a strength – lies in the stability of its governance, which favoured the shaping of the model and the build-up of the management team, along with an industrial strategy based on a long-term vision. The 2022 results, achieved in a highly challenging context for the whole sector, reflect the solid foundations built over twenty years and the management’s ability to activate all the levers at its disposal to give continuity to the uninterrupted path of growth.
Hera has thus managed to gain credibility
on the financial market
The commitment to achieve clear strategic objectives – always met or exceeded – and transparent communication, through ongoing dialogue with the financial community, underpin the credibility that Hera has earned over time on the financial market, which also represents an intangible asset at the service of future growth plans.
Hera achieved significant growth over the two decades after its establishment
Looking back, there can’t be but pride for the results achieved. In 20 years, investments exceeded 8 billion euro. They were allocated in such a way as to build a business portfolio that is not just profitable but also well-balanced – thus ensuring an optimal ratio between expected return and risk. This paved the way to a six-fold increase in the EBITDA, which from the initial 190 million euro almost reached 1.3 billion euro last year, continuing to grow year after year.
These are impressive numbers, which have translated
into value creation for all stakeholders.
The positive financial results set the premise for significant shareholder returns
From listing to the end of 2022, the Total Shareholder Return was 234.9%, a number that represents the sum of capital gain and dividend yield. Hera’s market capitalisation, which was 3.8 billion euro at the end of 2022, reached 6 billion euro when the share price peaked at 4.4 euro in February 2020, before the pandemic. Overall, Hera has also generated profits over the last 20 years, which allowed for the distribution of around 2 billion in dividends. Therefore, Hera’s equity story can rely on a unique condition in the panorama of major Italian listed companies.
The company has always distributed dividends,
maintaining them at the same level or increasing them
compared to the previous year.
This continuity over time has allowed the stock to be included in the ETF Aristocrats Dividend, which focuses on companies with such kind of track record for the last ten years.
The growth of the business, which led to higher stock prices, allowed Hera’s share to enter the Italian blue-chip index, the FTSE MIB, in 2019. Similarly, as a result of a DNA that is genuinely oriented towards the highest social and environmental standards, the performance achieved in the ESG area allowed Hera to enter the prestigious Dow Jones Sustainability Index in 2020, as the best company in the multi-utility sector, and to retain this status until today.
A great wealth also to the benefit of the communities in which Hera operates
In the last 20 years, Hera shared a
substantial part of the value created.
The investment plans deployed contributed to the development of competencies in the reference areas, which went hand in hand with the improvement of the quality of services offered to citizens and enterprises.
Therefore, Hera’s expansion meant higher occupation, with employees, 9,300 today, more than doubled compared to the origin, and better work quality, as repeatedly recognised by Top Employer certifications.
The attention to sustainability – today an imperative competitive advantage for a listed company – for Hera is actually a development engine, by native vocation, given the deep connection with the local communities, the strong osmosis with all stakeholders and a true orientation to long-term growth.