Nuremberg, 14 November 2012 – The GfK Group achieved a significant sales increase of 9.8 percent to €1,096.8 million in the first nine months of 2012. In the strategic growth regions of Latin America and Asia and the Pacific, double-digit growth rates in sales were recorded in organic terms. Business in North America as well as Southern and Western Europe also rose organically, especially in the third quarter. Major international orders confirm the strength of the Group’s new strategy. Reflecting expenses for product innovation and the development of new markets, the margin of 11.5 percent was lower than the figure for the same period in the previous year. For financial year 2012, total sales of around €1.5 billion are expected.
The strategic reorganization of the GfK Group is delivering a high performance based on a client-centric matrix organization. The aim of the new Own the Future strategy is to make global use of the numerous strengths for specific client groups and in various regions in the future. Major international contracts have already confirmed the success of this direction. In China, a telecommunications supplier was gained as a new customer. GfK has been commissioned by the company to analyze business customer satisfaction in over 80 countries encompassing more than 20 languages. A long-term global agreement was signed with Microsoft for surveying brand perception and the response to product campaigns.
Matthias Hartmann, CEO of GfK SE, explained: “Our strategic focus on the requirements of clients with global activities is proving a success. We expand in countries that represent the future for our clients and this enables us to substantially increase sales and build up our market position in these growth markets.”
Positive trend in both sectors
In the first nine months of 2012, the Consumer Choices sector again recorded strong sales growth of 6.7 percent to €423.6 million. At 3.5 percentage points, organic growth accounted for the largest share of the increase. The Consumer Experiences sector, achieved a rise in sales of 11.9 percent to €669.5 million.
Strong organic growth in strategic regions
The business trend was particularly strong in the region of Asia and the Pacific. In organic terms, sales were up by 16.0 percent in the first nine months of 2012, with organic growth in the third quarter standing at 18.5 percent. In China, customers from the automotive industry, in particular, contributed to this success.
In Latin America, sales climbed 10.1 percent in organic terms during the first nine months of the year. The North America region also achieved an increase, with organic sales growth of 2.4 percent in the first nine months of 2012. In the third quarter, organic growth amounted to a pleasing 5.7 percent. The acquisition of Knowledge Networks significantly strengthened GfK’s market position in North America. Sales for the first nine months of 2012 totaled €196.8 million in this region, which represents an increase of 34 percent. At 5.3 percent, the companies in Southern and Western Europe also achieved considerable organic sales growth in the third quarter of the year. Income impacted by expenses to boost future growth
Adjusted operating income totaled €125.8 million in the first nine months of 2012 and was 3.9 percent down on the result for the first nine months of the previous year. The margin in the GfK Group was 11.5 percent after 13.1 percent in the same period of the previous year. Compared with the same period in the previous year, additional costs of €11.1 million for expanding and securing business had a negative impact. The Consumer Choices sector invested heavily in the expansion of technological systems for new products, for example the Network Intelligence Solution (NIS) project. In the Consumer Experiences sector, expenses of €2.4 million arose for setting up a presence in Korea and a panel in Turkey. Outlook
The risks relating to the economic environment have increased in the course of this year. There are no signs of a swift solution to the euro crisis. At the same time, the USA is facing tax policy decisions which will have a considerable impact on economic developments and in the emerging markets a slowdown is evident, despite positive growth rates. These uncertainties are also affecting the market research industry. Clients are less inclined to commission new orders and use contract extensions to introduce adjustments.
At the end of September, a total of 87.2 percent of sales expected for the whole of 2012 had been posted or were in the order book. Although this percentage is lower than the previous year’s figure of 91.0 percent, within one month, the gap to the previous year’s level had already been reduced from 3.8 percentage points to 2.8 percentage points by the end of October.
For financial year 2012, the Company confirms its sales forecast of around €1.5 billion (+9 percent on the previous year) and strong growth in organic terms. The target range for the margin is between 12.2 percent and 12.7 percent.
GfK is one of the world’s largest research companies, with more than 12,000 experts working to discover new insights into the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. GfK is constantly innovating and using the latest technologies and the most intelligent methodologies to give its clients the clearest understanding of the most important people in the world: their customers. In 2011, GfK’s sales amounted to EUR 1.37 billion.
Since January 1, 2012, GfK has been focusing on the two complementary sectors of Consumer Choices and Consumer Experiences.
The Consumer Choices sector investigates what’s selling when and where. It focuses on the continuous assessment of market segments and trends by analyzing all major sales and information channels and media. The former Retail and Technology sector and the Media sector’s TV, radio and print measurement businesses have been folded into the new Consumer Choices sector.
The Consumer Experiences sector concentrates on consumers’ attitudes, perceptions and behavior and answers the questions who is buying, why they are buying and how they are buying. These are explored though highly creative, robust and flexible methodologies. GfK is pioneering sophisticated new ways of understanding how people experience brands and services. The former Custom Research business and ad hoc research from the Media sector are included in this new sector.
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