3.2 Asset, financial and earnings position
Overall statement by the Management Board of METRO AG on the business development and situation of METRO
Financial year 2020/21 was particularly dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated government measures. They had a negative impact on the business development, especially in the first half of the year. In the course of the second half of the year, government measures were eased, resulting in a trend reversal and a significantly improved business performance. The recovery in HoReCa demand that started during Q3 2020/21 continued in Q4 2020/21. With its multichannel approach (wholesale stores, delivery business, digital offerings), METRO was able to benefit disproportionately from this upswing. Sales have remained above pre-pandemic levels since June, supported by market share gains in the core business and a clearly positive development in Western Europe (excluding Germany), Eastern Europe (excluding Russia) and Russia.
The Management Board looks back on a volatile, but overall stable financial year. In a challenging environment, the business model has proven to have a clear advantage, and the targeted investments in market share gains as well as service and product quality have paid off.
Sales and adjusted EBITDA developed at the upper end of the adjusted outlook. Accordingly, the Management Board is overall satisfied with the development of the business considering the current circumstances. The reported earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations are €−0.15 (2019/20: €−0.40 for continuing operations). In line with METRO’s dividend policy (payout ratio of 45% to 55% of EPS), there are no planned dividend distributions in financial year 2020/21 for ordinary shares or preference shares. Last year, the Management Board and the Supervisory Board had proposed a dividend of €0.70 to the Annual General Meeting despite a negative EPS in the continuing operations, since the reported EPS including discontinued operations amounted to €1.27 due to the positive transaction proceeds (sale of majority stake in METRO China and the Real hypermarket business). Since no significant transaction proceeds were received this year and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to cause uncertainties, the Management Board and the Supervisory Board consider this proposal appropriate.