Asklepios Kliniken GmbH & Co. KGaA started the first quarter of 2020 with sound results in what is shaping up to be a challenging financial year. From March onwards, hospital operations were impacted significantly by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany. More than 1,500 COVID-19 patients had been treated by mid-May. The company reported a decline in consolidated net income (EAT).
In the period from January to March 2020, the healthcare facilities of the Asklepios Group treated a total of 583,107 patients, 4.1% less than in the same period of the previous year (3M 2019: 607,055). As expected, numbers decreased in both inpatient and outpatient care as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Starting from the lockdown in mid-March 2020, Asklepios hospitals kept intensive care beds free at an early stage so as to be prepared for a potential increase in COVID-19 patients. Operations and treatments were postponed where medically justifiable. The resulting loss of income was partly compensated by the flat-rate allowance for keeping capacity available under the German COVID-19 Hospital Relief Act passed in March 2020.
Our revenue totalled EUR 915.5 million in the first quarter of 2020, up 4.4% or EUR 39.9 million year on year (3M 2019: EUR 875.6 million). In the individual months of January and February – i.e. before the effects of COVID began – Asklepios recorded significant revenue growth. EBITDA amounted to EUR 80.8 million in the first three months of 2020 (3M 2019: EUR 77.0 million) with an EBITDA margin of 8.8% (3M 2019: 8.8%). Overall, consolidated net income (EAT) for the period from January to March 2020 was down year on year at EUR 9.7 million (3M 2019: EUR 13.3 million). The return on sales was impacted by depreciation, amortisation and impairment of EUR 55.9 million (3M 2019: EUR 51.5 million) and net interest expenses of EUR 12.5 million (3M 2019: EUR 11.5 million). Income from equity investments amounted to EUR 1.8 million (3M 2019: EUR 6.0 million). The EAT margin fell to 1.1% (3M 2019: 1.5%).
“The first quarter of 2020 was one of the most challenging in Asklepios’ company history. We rose to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and have so far overcome them successfully in the best interests of our employees and patients. Asklepios has made an important contribution to the German healthcare system in this exceptional situation,” said Kai Hankeln, CEO of the Asklepios Group. “Furthermore, we are sticking with our strategy to reinforce our pioneering role in the digitalisation of healthcare and drive forward the partnership with RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG so that we can secure the future of healthcare together.”
Despite the difficult environment, Asklepios has maintained its high level of capital expenditure on its hospital locations, digitalisation and IT. In the first quarter of 2020, Asklepios’ total investment was EUR 62.6 million including subsidies (3M 2019: EUR 62.6 million). The share of own funds was EUR 50.1 million, equating to around 80.0% of the total investment (3M 2019: 75.2%). In the first quarter of 2020, net cash flow from operating activities came to EUR 49.6 million (3M 2019: EUR 25.0 million).
The Asklepios Group’s financial position was stable at the end of the first quarter of 2020, with the Group’s net debt amounting to EUR 1,229.0 million as at 31 March 2020 (31 December 2019: EUR 1,119.1 million). Cash and cash equivalents increased to EUR 440.5 million (31 December 2019: EUR 265.0 million). The ratio of net debt to EBITDA for the past 12 months was 3.0x (31 December 2019: 2.8x).
“Being able to deliver the best possible treatment to all patients during the coronavirus pandemic required us to continue to invest significantly in medical equipment – primarily using our own funds to do so. This was made possible by the sheer fact that Asklepios has established a sound financial footing over previous years,” explained Hafid Rifi, CFO of the Asklepios Group. “The coronavirus crisis will remain the defining issue for the healthcare sector in 2020. The financial implications are still impossible to gauge in any detail. Where medically justifiable, planned operations have been postponed to keep intensive care beds free for potential coronavirus cases. The second quarter of the year will be affected even more significantly by this situation. But we will continue to press ahead with our strategic growth trajectory regardless, even in this challenging climate.”
On 26 May 2020, Asklepios Kliniken GmbH & Co. KGaA obtained clearance from the German Federal Cartel Office to combine the mutual shares of RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG and RHÖN founder Eugen Münch within a joint venture company and for the voluntary public takeover offer for all outstanding shares in RKA. Clearance was granted in the initial exploratory phase without any additional requirements and conditions.
Asklepios Kliniken is one of the leading private operators of hospitals and healthcare facilities in Germany. The hospital group stands for highly qualified care for its patients, with a clear commitment to medical quality, innovation and social responsibility. On this basis, Asklepios has grown dynamically since it was founded almost 35 years ago. The Group currently has around 160 healthcare facilities throughout Germany, including acute care hospitals for all levels of care, specialist clinics, psychiatric and forensic facilities, rehabilitation clinics, nursing homes and medical service centres. In the 2019 financial year, 2.5 million patients were treated at the Asklepios Group’s facilities. The company has more than 49,000 employees.