Aragon AG presents annual report for 2009 and confirms preliminary figures

End consumer sales strongest growth division / Positive outlook for 2010

(lifePR) ( Wiesbaden, )
Aragon AG, one of the leading financial services companies in Germany and Austria, returned to the growth seen in the previous years in the fourth quarter of 2009. The results for the 2009 financial year, published today in accordance with the international accounting standards IFRS, have confirmed the preliminary figures. The outlook for 2010 is optimistic.

In the fiscal year 2009 revenues only slipped back to EUR 69.4m (2008: EUR 80.2m pro forma BIW at equity), despite the very difficult market environment. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) came to EUR 0.2m in full 2009 (2008: EUR 8.3m pro forma BIW at equity).

"2009 was a hugely difficult year for financial service distribution firms. In contrast to most of our competitors, we reacted speedily and flexibly, and that enabled us to record a positive EBITDA. In this environment we see that as a great success", explained Dr. Sebastian Grabmaier, CEO of the Aragon AG.

The first half of 2009 was extremely difficult for the entire financial services industry. As a result, earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of the continuing operations in the full year are down to EUR minus 1.3m (2008: EUR 6.6m pro forma BIW at equity). Earnings per share for the continuing operations stand at EUR minus 0.30 (2008: EUR 0.99 pro forma BIW at equity).

The Aragon AG continues to be in positive territory as regards to the key balance sheet figures: on 31 December 2009 equity stood at EUR 52.9m and the equity ratio at 54 per cent, while liquid assets rose to EUR 9.4m (2008: EUR 8.4m).

End consumer sales strongest growth division

The continuing operations of the Aragon AG performed as follows:

With sales of EUR 55.8m (2008: EUR 73.0m), the Broker Pools division was again the strongest business unit of Aragon AG in terms of sales. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) came to EUR minus 0.3m in full 2009 (2008: EUR 1.7m). Earnings before interest and tax (EBITDA) reached EUR minus 1.7m in full 2009 (2008: EUR 0.5m).

The Financial Consulting division was the strongest segment of the Aragon AG, recording a 79 per cent rise in sales from EUR 7.2m to EUR 12.9m. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounted to EUR 1.2m in full 2009 (2008: EUR 1.1m). Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) stood at EUR 1.1m in full 2009 (2008: EUR 1.1m). This result is all the more pleasing because the inpunkto GmbH, Mönchengladbach, was not fully consolidated until December 2009 and the acquisition of the Vienna-based MLP Vermögensberatungs AG, completed on 31 December 2009, will not be consolidated until 2010. This means that the earnings contributed by this segment will rise sharply next year.

The Institutional Sales division recorded sales of EUR 0.9m (2008: EUR 1.8m). Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) came to EUR 0.1m in full 2009 (2008: EUR 0.8m). Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) reached EUR 0.1m in full 2009 (2008: EUR 0.8m).

The Holding division, which since the third quarter of 2008 has likewise include the stake in the BIW Bank für Investments und Wertpapiere AG, consolidated only pro forma at equity, recorded much better year-on-year earnings before interest, tax and amortization (EBITDA) of EUR minus 0.9m (2008: EUR 4.6m pro forma BIW at equity). After adjusting for the some EUR 8.4m in proceeds from the sale of BIW in 2008, earnings in 2009 actually climbed 76 per cent (pro forma BIW at equity).

A solid foundation for 2010

Despite initial signs of a slow recovery in the general economy, the Aragon AG is anticipating that the 2010 financial year will also present considerable challenges for the whole of the financial services industry, particularly in the brokering of investment products.

Nevertheless, the Aragon AG remains positive going into 2010. Alongside the reduction of about 26 per cent in its personnel and material cost base from 2008 to 2009 (after allowing for the one-off effects from restructuring), assets under administration by Aragon AG rose from the low of EUR 2.1bn at the end of March 2009 to reach some EUR 3.8bn by the end of 2009 - up some 81 per cent to the highest figure for 24 months. The number of brokers in Aragon AG's network also climbed from about 15,000 at the end of 2008 to just under 18,000 at the end of 2009. Concomitant with that is a rise in the number of customers looked after by Aragon companies to just under 800,000 in 2009 (2008: approx. 651,000).

"This solid foundation demonstrates the success of our strategy of anticyclical acquisitions and strict cost discipline", explained Wulf Schütz, COO of the Aragon AG. "In 2010 we expect to see a return to the previous year's growth rates seen with it a significant improvement in earnings."
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