DHL Group revenue was up 22.5% year-on-year to €81.7bn (US$90bn) – the highest revenue figure in the group’s history.
These figures were driven by continued strong e-commerce, the significant increase in global trade and growth in shipment volumes. As a result of this progress, DHL was able to use its network capacities more efficiently. The development led to earnings of €8bn (US$8.8bn) (2020: €4.8bn (US$5.1bn)) and an EBIT margin of 9.8% (2020: 7.3%).
For financial year 2022, the group expects EBIT of €8bn (US$8.8bn) (+/-5%). The guidance is based on the assumption that e-commerce will maintain its strength and continue its structural growth after a phase of normalization. Following the recovery in global trade over the course of 2021, growth in global logistics activities is expected to continue, although at a slower pace. Intercontinental transportation capacity is expected to ease earliest in the second half of 2022.
Frank Appel, CEO of DHL Group, said, “Our guidance does not include the impact of the conflict in Eastern Europe on global GDP growth and the world’s transportation markets, which is currently difficult to assess. Our priority now is to help the people in the war zone, to ensure the safety of all our employees and to keep global supply chains operating.”
The group invested €3.9bn (US$4.3bn) (2020: €3bn (US$3.3bn)) in its business, digitalization and sustainability in 2021. Most of this gross cumulative gross capital expenditure (capex) went into modernizing DHL’s Express division and its aircraft fleet as well as expanding the domestic and international parcel infrastructure. Free cash flow also improved to €4.1bn (US$4.5bn) (2020: €2.5bn (US$2.7bn)) despite higher gross capex.
Without taking into account acquisitions, like the take-over of Hillebrand, the company expects free cash flow of €3.6bn (US$3.9bn) (+/-5%) and gross capital expenditure of around €4.2bn (US$4.6bn) for 2022. These investments will continue to focus on the expansion of transportation and sorting capacities for the further increase in shipment volumes as well as the further implementation of the digital transformation.
In the presentation of its annual report, the group communicated its mid-term financial targets through 2024. Its EBIT is expected to increase to around €8.5bn (US$9.3bn) in 2024. Without taking into account acquisitions, the group expects to generate a cumulative free cash flow of around €11bn (US$12bn) between 2022 and 2024. Over the same period, the company anticipates capex of around €12bn (US$13.2bn).
The performance is also reflected in higher net profit. Consolidated net profit after deduction of non-controlling interests increased to €5.1bn (US$5.6bn) (2020: €3bn (US$3.3bn)). Basic earnings per share thus amounted to €4.10 (US$4.51) (2020: €2.41 (US$2.65)).
Against the background of the positive earnings development, the board of management and supervisory board will propose to the annual general meeting on May 6, 2022, an increase of the dividend from €1.35 (US$1.49) per share in the previous year to €1.80 (US$1.98) per share this year. If approved by the shareholders, the total payout would be €2.2bn (US$2.4bn), reflecting an adjusted payout ratio of 43% based on the dividend proposal. In view of this business development, the board of management and supervisory board have again decided to implement a share buyback program with a volume of up to €2bn (US$2.2bn).