Boskalis ended 2019 on a positive note and is back in the black, despite a slight dip in earnings. The Netherlands-headquartered maritime group said the outlook for 2020 is more favourable compared to last year.

2019 revenues increased by 2.9 percent compared to a year earlier to EUR2.64 billion (USD3 billion). 2019 net profit stood at EUR75 million (USD84.8 million) – well above the EUR436 million (USD493 million) loss it posted in 2018.

Boskalis reported that EBITDA came in at EUR376 million (USD425.1 million) – up from EUR354 million (USD400.3 million) in 2018.

2019 EBIT decreased by EUR8 million (USD9.1 million) to EUR111 million (USD125.5 million) – both of which have been adjusted to account for extraordinary changes.

Boskalis said: “The decline in the result was mainly due to a poor first half of the year for the Offshore Energy division, with operational and contractual issues at a limited number of offshore wind cable and decommissioning projects.

"Following a thorough analysis of the project portfolio, provisions of more than EUR100 million (USD113.1 million) were taken in the first half of the year with respect to a limited number of contracts."

Various extraordinary items impacted the company’s results in both 2019 and 2018. In 2019, these related to a book profit on the sale of two harbour towage joint ventures – Saam Smit Towage and Kotug Smit Towage – plus the sale of equipment. In 2018, these extraordinary items related to considerable non-cash impairment charges.

Promisingly, as 2019 closed the company reported that it was net debt-free with a net cash position of EUR26 million (USD29.4 million), compared to a net debt of EUR420 million (USD474.9million) six months earlier. Peter Berdowski, ceo of Boskalis, said this was “no small feat in light of the difficult market conditions over the past few years and the investments and acquisitions we made”.

Looking ahead to 2020, Boskalis said the market outlook is improving. In its Offshore Energy division, the contribution of wind energy projects is expected to be positive and Boskalis also anticipates seabed intervention to have a reasonable year.

Surveying is expected to have another good year and will grow due to the consolidation of Horizon – at the end of 2019 Boskalis confirmed that it would acquire the remaining 37.5 percent stake in the marine geophysical and geotechnical surveying company.

The company added that 2020 would be a year of transition for its transport division as it emerges from several quiet years to an improving market in 2021 and 2022.

Still, given the project-based nature of a significant part of the company’s activities, along with the uncertain conditions, Boskalis did not declare its predicted annual result for 2020.

“As a result of two coinciding large investments, relating to the mega-cutter Krios and the Bokalift 2, capital expenditure is expected to be around EUR400 million (USD452.3 million) in 2020, excluding the purchase of the remaining stake in Horizon and any possible acquisitions. The financial position is extremely solid and Boskalis comfortably meets its financial covenants,” said Boskalis.