Deutsche Post DHL
Europe's biggest mail and express delivery company forecasts little to no European economic growth this year, but no recession.
Rosen said the Bonn-based company's bigger presence in Germany, France and the UK -- where the economies are outperforming those of its other, smaller European markets, such as Greece and Italy, has so far mitigated the impact of the sovereign debt crisis.
Have we had much direct impact on our businesses so far? Not a huge impact, he said. But certainly if we would have very low economic growth or a recession in Europe during 2012, we would expect that would have a negative impact on our revenues for Europe.
Rosen, in a Monday investor presentation in New York, confirmed the 2011 forecast, raised in November as Asia demand boosted third-quarter results, for earnings before interest and taxes or EBIT to top 2.4 billion euros (1.98 billion pounds).
The company, which competes with U.S.-based FedEx Corp
Deutsche Post DHL, like FedEx and UPS, does not forecast a global recession.
We do think that it's going to be a below-trend rate of economic growth, on the order of 3 to 3.5 percent global real GDP growth, Rosen said. That already factors in our growth forecast for Europe in the zero to 1 pct range, 2 to 3 percent growth for the U.S., and high single-digit growth forecast for the emerging markets.
The company's parcel volume increased nearly 10 percent in 2011, including a 17 percent jump in holiday shipments fuelled by on-line shopping, he said.
Its goal is to stabilize mail division earnings around the current roughly 1 billion euro level, and for 13 to 15 percent annual operating income growth in the DHL division through 2015.
The DHL business saw the continued benefits of the increase in global trade, and in particular, growth in emerging markets where DHL is especially well positioned, in Asia, eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa and in Latin America, Rosen said. Intra-Asia trade also drove up business, he said.
DHL Express in November announced an average general price increase of about 6 percent for this year.
The company will continue its dividend policy of payments between 40 to 60 percent of net profit, Rosen said.
One of the possibilities, if we were in the position to generate excess cash, would be to think about an extraordinary dividend, but that won't be the case in 2011, he said.
Excess cash would tend to suggest a credit rating increase, but the company is comfortable with its current BBB+ rating and aims to maintain that level.
We're not generating so much cash that we're putting upward pressure on ratings, he said, which are solid investment-grade.
The company has less than 2 billion euros in financial debt outstanding.
It has bonds maturing late in 2012 and in 2014, and is still thinking about whether we want to refinance those in the bond market or pay them off with the liquidity that we have, Rosen said.
(Reporting By Lynn Adler; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)