Third quarter returns Hawesko to growth

(November 02, 2009) - Continuing growth in end-customer sales
- Operating result (EBIT) remains the second best in company history
- Outlook for EBIT of at least € 19 million for 2009 confirmed

Hamburg, 2 November 2009. The wine trading group Hawesko Holding AG (HAW GR, HAWG.DE, DE0006042708) published its report on the first nine months of 2009 as well as its results for the third quarter today. In the quarter from 1 July to 30 September, Group sales increased over the same quarter of the previous year (€70.1 million) by 7% to € 75.0 million before sales taxes. Excluding the Swiss wholesaler GlobalWine AG, which was acquired as of 1 July 2009, sales rose by 5.4%. Development within the Group remains split in two: robust in the business with end- consumers in the specialist retail segment (Jacques' Wein-Depot) and in the mail order segment (Hanseatisches Wein- und Sekt-Kontor), but sluggish in the wholesale segment. Despite the acquisition of GlobalWine, the wholesale segment posted a decline in sales of 3.6%. The almost complete standstill in the secondary market for Bordeaux wines of older vintages, together with consumer restraint of ultra-premium wines in general and of the restaurant and catering industry in particular, had a strong impact on wholesale business development. In contrast Jacques' Wein-Depot increased its sales by 7.7% in the quarter under review (6.5% on a like-for-like basis) compared to the previous year: special advertising motivated previously inactive customers, which gave this segment a boost. Against the background of the successful acquisition of new customers and even more closely focussed advertising, sales in the mail order segment rose by 27.4% compared to the third quarter of 2008. In the third quarter of 2009, consolidated earnings (EBIT) amounted to € 2.9 million, slightly up from the previous year's value of € 2.8 million. Consolidated earnings of € 1.9 million after deductions for taxes and minority interests rose by a considerably higher percentage over the figure of the previous year (€ 0.5 million; in the third quarter of 2008 the purchase of minority shares had led to a non-recurring expenditure in the financial result). Profit per share amounted to € 0.21, up from € 0.06 in the same quarter of the previous year.   In the first nine months (January to September) 2009, sales of the Hawesko Group were 3.8% lower than in the previous year: € 218.8 million, down from € 227.5 million. Without acquisitions the decline would have been 4.3%. The operating result (EBIT) of Hawesko Holding AG for the nine-month period amounted to € 9.3 million and remains the second-best result in company history (same period of the previous year: € 12.0 million). Consolidated earnings after deductions for taxes and minority interests of € 5.9 million came very close to the previous year's figure of € 6.1 million.   The management board had already taken the basic effect of the outstanding previous year into account in its full-year planning and notes that the figures for the current year 2009 are within expectations. For fiscal year 2009 overall, the board assumes a decline in sales in the medium single-digit percentage range (Group sales in 2008: € 339 million). As in every year, the business development in the fourth quarter is crucial, as the Group generally earns one third of sales and over half of the operating profit in the last quarter of the fiscal year.  The management board makes no forecast for the 2009 result, but a distinctly positive result and a clearly positive free cash flow for the year overall are expected. With regard to EBIT, the Group still has a realistic possibility of achieving the second-best result in its history, i.e. over € 19 million.   Chief executive officer Alexander Margaritoff stated, 'We are continuing to invest vigorously in the acquisition of new customers, have made progress in our internationalisation with the acquisition of GlobalWine in Switzerland, and have won numerous awards for our marketing. After the first two quarters with their very demanding bases for comparison from the previous year we were able to post growth again in the third quarter, and we are coming down the home stretch to the crucial holiday season in good form. Even if the fourth quarter should end up with a slight decline in sales overall, we will be able to meet expectations for the full year.'   Hawesko Holding AG is a leading supplier of premium wines and champagnes.  In fiscal year 2008 the Group achieved sales of € 339 million through their three sales channels - specialist wine retail (Jacques' Wein-Depot), wholesale (Wein Wolf and CWD Champagner und Wein Distributionsgesellschaft) and mail order (in particular Hanseatisches Wein- und Sekt-Kontor). The Group employs 614 people. In 2009, Hawesko Holding AG was named in a study by the international management consultancy BBDO Consulting and the department for innovative brand management of the University of Bremen, which was the basis for the 'Best Marketing Company Award' as one of the 6 German companies listed on the stock exchange with the best market focus. The shares of Hawesko Holding AG are listed on the Hanseatic Stock Exchange in Hamburg as well as in the prime standard segment of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.