KWS SAAT AG – Annual Shareholders’ Meeting approves increase in dividend to €3.00 a share

A moderate rise in net sales and a double-digit return planned for fiscal 2013/2014 – Higher research and development expenditure to secure future growth – Foresighted succession arrangement for the Executive Board.

By a large majority, the shareholders of KWS SAAT AG (ISIN: DE0007074007) have approved the proposal of the Supervisory Board and Executive Board to increase the dividend to €3.00 (previous year: €2.80) per share. The Annual Shareholders’ Meeting has thus confirmed KWS’ approach of distributing an earnings-oriented payout. The increase is in line with the 7% rise in KWS’ operating income (EBIT) to €150.7 million in fiscal 2012/2013. The other recommendations by the Supervisory Board and Executive Board were also adopted by almost unanimous consent. A foresighted arrangement for a successor to Chief Executive Officer Philip von dem Bussche, who is retiring in December 2014, was also announced at the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting.

Net sales and income rise sharply – Equity increases

KWS posted growth in all product segments in fiscal 2012/2013. Net sales rose by 16.3% to €1,147.2 million. Operating income (EBIT) increased by 7% to €150.7 million, resulting in an EBIT margin of 13.1%. The tax rate rose to 35%, resulting in a slight drop in net income for the year to €91.3 million (previous year: €94.4 million). This was due to tax expenses from previous periods and strong income growth in countries with higher tax rates. Equity increased to €667.5 (603.1) million. Since total assets also increased, the equity ratio remained stable at 55.0% (55.2%).

Investments secure the KWS Group’s future growth

KWS is continuing to expand its research and breeding activities in fiscal 2013/2014, aiming to maintain its innovative strength and competitiveness and secure its future growth. The Executive Board again plans to increase expenditures on product development and expand the global distribution organization in the current fiscal year. Almost €160 million (previous year: €142 million) are earmarked for product development alone. KWS intends to invest around €100 million in property, plant and equipment in the current fiscal year. One focus will be on expanding production capacities to cope with further growth.

Outlook: KWS envisages moderate growth in net sales in 2013/2014

KWS posted a slight fall in net sales in the first quarter of 2013/2014, although the Executive Board expects a further increase for the fiscal year as a whole. The planned growth will probably be achieved entirely in the Corn Segment, with North and South America and Eastern and Southeastern European having been identified as growth regions. The company currently expects net sales to increase by 5% to around €1.2 billion (€1,147 million) and to post an EBIT margin of 11.5% (13.1%) for fiscal 2013/2014 as a whole.

Changes on KWS’ Executive Board in 2014
The Chairman of the Executive Board, Dr. Andreas J. Büchting, also announced the following changes on KWS’ Executive Board at the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting:
Chief Executive Officer Philip von dem Bussche will retire from the Executive Board of KWS SAAT AG at the end of 2014 as he approaches his 65th birthday. Dr. Hagen Duenbostel, who was Chief Financial Officer at KWS until mid-2013 and is now in charge of the Corn Segment, will take over as Chief Executive Officer effective January 1, 2015, after the departure of Philip von dem Bussche.
The Supervisory Board has appointed Dr. Peter Hofmann as a new member of KWS’ Executive Board effective October 1, 2014. He will assume responsibility from Philip von dem Bussche for the product segments Sugarbeet and Cereals, as well as for Corporate Marketing. Dr. Hofmann is 53 years old, has a degree in agricultural engineering and has been with KWS for 19 years. He has managed operational business at the Sugarbeet Segment since 2005.

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