English Estonian
Published: 2024-02-08 08:00:00 CET
Quarterly report

2023 IV quarter and 12 months consolidated interim report (unaudited)

Economic environment

The construction market has experienced rapid evolution in recent years, with notable trends emerging in 2023 following developments that began in 2022. These shifts have profoundly impacted companies within the construction sector. Persistently high inflation and interest rates have sustained an atmosphere of tension. According to Statistics Estonia, the construction price index has seen consecutive increases, while escalating labour costs further drive up construction prices. Despite this upward trend in the construction price index, input prices have stabilized somewhat in the latter half of the year due to decreased demand. However, this stabilization is insufficient to immediately spur demand, leading to challenges in executing planned investments with allocated resources. This situation is mirrored in both private and public sector decision-making processes. Stakeholders are constantly seeking strategies to align pre-existing business plans with significant changes in input costs, resulting in prolonged pre-construction phases. The duration between tender submission and conclusion of contract can extend over several months, a phenomenon evident in public sector procurements as well. Public sector investments, which have been a significant market influencer, are projected to decrease further in 2024.

Group result

In 2023, the group's sales revenue totalled €278,382 thousand, marking a decrease of approximately 14% compared to the previous year. This decline in revenue was anticipated, reflecting the overall decrease in construction activity within the market. Notably, while the volume of the Buildings segment decreased by 19%, the sales revenue of the Infrastructure segment defied the market trend, experiencing an 8% increase. This upward trajectory in infrastructure sales revenue can be attributed to significant projects in renewable energy and the accelerated construction of Rail Baltica. However, investments from one of the segment's key clients, the Transport Administration, saw a notable decrease during this period.
Despite successfully securing new contracts throughout the year, their impact on the overall sales revenue remained relatively modest in the reporting period.
Nonetheless, the group's profitability improved, showcasing resilience amidst challenging market conditions. Gross profitability for the Nordecon Group reached 3.7% (up from 2.6% in 2022), with improvements observed in both the Buildings and Infrastructure segments. The completion of the group's Infrastructure segment reorganization, initiated in 2022 and finalized in the first half of 2023, significantly contributed to this enhanced profitability. Streamlining operations and optimizing resource utilization led to greater efficiency and improved profitability. However, the group did incur a one-time loss in the reporting year due to a long-term building segment contract from 2019, impacted by the rapid escalation of construction prices in recent years.
As of December 31, 2023, the group's order book stood at €216,732 thousand, reflecting an approximate 45% increase in unfinished work compared to the previous year. Throughout 2023, new contracts totalling €276,901 thousand were signed, including €85,575 thousand worth of contracts in the fourth quarter alone.

Condensed consolidated interim statement of financial position

€’00031 December 202331 December 2022
Current assets  
Cash and cash equivalents11,8927,238
Trade and other receivables37,01048,084
Total current assets76,57087,504
Non-current assets  
Other investments7676
Trade and other receivables9,1138,604
Investment property5,5178,347
Property, plant and equipment14,29217,669
Intangible assets14,96415,134
Total non-current assets43,96249,830
TOTAL ASSETS120,532137,334
Current liabilities  
Trade payables39,79765,144
Other payables9,2998,324
Deferred income20,6026,996
Total current liabilities81,01598,945
Non-current liabilities  
Trade payables6,0112,769
Total non-current liabilities16,97911,129
Share capital14,37914,379
Own (treasury) shares(660)(660)
Share premium635635
Statutory capital reserve2,5542,554
Translation reserve3,7863,316
Retained earnings9192,691
Total equity attributable to owners of the parent21,61322,915
Non-controlling interests9254,345
TOTAL EQUITY22,53827,260

Condensed consolidated interim statement of comprehensive income

€’000Q4 20232023Q4 20222022
Cost of sales(76,442)(268,056)(80,454)(314,365)
Gross profit1,55610,3263,2318,495
Marketing and distribution expenses(153)(715)(177)(490)
Administrative expenses(2,899)(8,915)(2,148)(7,287)
Other operating income453491292,049
Other operating expenses(277)(489)(70)(462)
Operating profit (loss)(1,728)5569652,305
Finance income5,2195,51084258
Finance costs(1,071)(3,414)(1,037)(3,740)
Net finance income (costs)4,1482,096(953)(3,482)
Profit (loss) before tax2,4202,65212(1,177)
Income tax expense0(596)(64)(264)
Profit (loss) for the period2,4202,056(52)(1,441)
Other comprehensive income (expense)
Items that may be reclassified subsequently
Exchange differences on translating foreign operations5184706061,368
Total other comprehensive income (expense) 5184706061,368
Profit (loss) attributable to:    
- Owners of the parent1,510(942)(998)(3,650)
- Non-controlling interests9102,9989462,209
Profit (loss) for the period2,4202,056(52)(1,441)
Comprehensive income (expense) attributable to:    
- Owners of the parent2,028(472)(392)(2,282)
- Non-controlling interests9102,9989462,209
Comprehensive income (expense) for the period2,9382,526554(73)
Earnings per share attributable to owners of the parent:    
Basic earnings per share (€)0.05(0.03)(0.03)(0.12) 
Diluted earnings per share (€)0.05(0.03)(0.03)(0.12) 

Condensed consolidated interim statement of cash flows

€’00012M 202312M 2022
Cash flows from operating activities  
Cash receipts from customers345,372390,195
Cash paid to suppliers(294,828)(351,483)
VAT paid(12,337)(8,880)
Cash paid to and for employees(24,715)(26,075)
Income tax paid(615)(291)
Net cash from operating activities12,8773,466
Cash flows from investing activities  
Acquisition of PPE(362)(688)
Acquisition of intangible assets0(122)
Proceeds from sale of PPE431816
Sale of subsidiary, net cash flow(970)0
Loans provided(531)(25)
Repayments of loans provided2225
Dividends received126
Interest received509
Net cash from (used in) investing activities(1,348)21
Cash flows from financing activities  
Proceeds from loans received1,1974,581
Repayments of loans received(2,291)(4,879)
Lease payments(3,060)(3,481)
Interest paid(1,232)(984)
Dividends paid(1,494)(488)
Other payments6(8)
Net cash used in financing activities(6,874)(5,259)
Net cash flow4,655(1,772)
Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of period7,2389,031
Effect of movements in foreign exchange rates(1)(21)
Change in cash and cash equivalents4,655(1,772)
Cash and cash equivalents at end of period11,8927,238

Financial review

Financial performance

The group’s profitability has improved in challenging market conditions. Nordecon ended 2023 with a gross profit of €10,326 thousand (2022: €8,495 thousand) and a gross margin of 3.7% (2022: 2.6%). Profitability improved for both operating segments, although the fourth quarter performance of the Buildings segment was weaker than a year earlier. The gross margins of the Buildings segment were 4.4% for the full year and 3.2% for the fourth quarter of 2023 (2022: 4.1%, Q4: 6.7%). The gross margins of the Infrastructure segment were 3.1% for the full year and (2.8)% for the fourth quarter (2022: (2.4)%, Q4: (12.1)%). The restructuring of the group’s Infrastructure segment, which started in 2022 and was completed in the first half of 2023, has had a significant positive impact. Elimination of duplication of work has increased resource efficiency and thus profitability. Due to the surge in construction prices in recent years, the Buildings segment recorded a one-off loss on a long-term contract signed in 2019.
The group’s administrative expenses for 2023 were €8,915 thousand. Compared with 2022, administrative expenses grew by 22% (2022: €7,287 thousand) due to growth in staff costs and an overall rise in the prices of goods and services. The ratio of administrative expenses to revenue (12 months rolling) was 3.2% (2022: 2.3%).
The group earned an operating profit of €556 thousand in 2023 (2022: €2,305 thousand). EBITDA for the period was €3,938 thousand and EBITDA margin was 1.4% (2022: €5,766 thousand and 1.8%). Operating profit and EBITDA for the comparative period were influenced by other income of €1,560 thousand, recognised after the approval of the restructuring plan of Swencn AB.
The group’s finance income and costs resulted in net finance income of €2,096 thousand (2022: net finance costs of €3,482 thousand). The sale of the group’s subsidiary Nordecon Betoon OÜ had the strongest effect on finance income. Finance income and costs are also influenced by exchange rate fluctuations in the group’s foreign markets, particularly in Ukraine. In 2023, the Ukrainian hryvnia weakened against the euro by around 8%. The translation of the loans received by the group’s Ukrainian subsidiaries in euros into the local currency gave rise to an exchange loss of €480 thousand (2022: a loss of €1,416 thousand). In 2022, finance income was affected by the write-down of a loan granted to the Ukrainian associate V.I. Center TOV by €825 thousand. Neither the foreign exchange loss nor the write-down affected cash flow.
The group ended the year with a net profit of €2,056 thousand (2022: a net loss of €1,441 thousand). The net loss attributable to owners of the parent, Nordecon AS, was €942 thousand (2022: a net loss of €3,650 thousand).

Cash flows

Operating activities produced a net cash inflow of €12,877 thousand in 2023 (2022: an inflow of €3,466 thousand). Operating cash flow is strongly influenced by the fact that the contracts signed with most public and private sector customers do not require them to make advance payments while the group has to make prepayments to subcontractors and materials suppliers. Cash inflow is also reduced by contractual retentions, which extend from 5 to 10% of the contract price and are released at the end of the construction period only.
Investing activities resulted in a net cash outflow of €1,348 thousand (2022: an inflow of €21 thousand). Payments made to acquire property, plant and equipment and intangible assets amounted to €362 thousand (2022: €810 thousand) and proceeds from the sale of property, plant and equipment amounted to €431 thousand (2022: €816 thousand). Loans provided amounted to €531 thousand (2022: €25 thousand). Proceeds from the sale of the subsidiary Nordecon Betoon OÜ were €9,050 thousand and cash outflow from the group’s statement of financial position as a result of the sale was €10,030 thousand; the net effect of the transaction on the group’s statement of cash flows was €(970) thousand.
Financing activities generated a net cash outflow of €6,874 thousand (2022: an outflow of €5,259 thousand). The largest items were cash flows related to loans and leases. Loans received amounted to €1,197 thousand, consisting of the use overdrafts and development loans (2022: €4,581 thousand). Repayments of loans received were €2,291 thousand (2022: €4,879 thousand), consisting of regular repayments of long-term investment and development loans. Lease payments were €3,060 thousand (2022: €3,481 thousand). Dividends paid in 2023 amounted to €1,494 thousand (2022: €488 thousand).
The group’s cash and cash equivalents at 31 December 2023 amounted to €11,892 thousand (31 December 2022: €7,238 thousand).

Key financial figures and ratios

Revenue (€’000)278,382322,860288,534
Revenue change(13.8)%11.9%(2.5)%
Net profit (loss) (€’000)2,056(1,441)(5,506)
Net profit (loss) attributable to owners of the parent (€’000)(942)(3,650)(6,310)
Average number of shares31,528,58531,528,58531,528,585
Earnings per share (€)(0.03)(0.12)(0.20)
Administrative expenses to revenue3.2%2.3%2.1%
EBITDA (€’000)3,9385,766(797)
EBITDA margin1.4%1.8%(0.3)%
Gross margin3.7%2.6%1.4%
Operating margin0.2%0.7%(1.5)%
Operating margin excluding gain on non-current asset sales0.1%0.6%(1.6)%
Net margin0.7%(0.4)%(1.9)%
Return on invested capital8.0%(0.5)%(6.5)%
Return on equity8.3%(5.2)%(16.8)%
Equity ratio18.7%19.8%20.8%
Return on assets1.6%(1.1)%(4.1)%
Current ratio0.950.880.94
   31 Dec 202331 Dec 202231 Dec 2021
Order book (€’000)216,732149,799266,856

Performance by geographical market

Revenue generated outside Estonia, mostly in Ukraine and Finland, accounted for approximately 3% of the group’s total revenue in 2023. Despite the ongoing war, Nordecon’s construction volumes in Ukraine have increased. In 2023, we completed and delivered construction phases I and II of a modular kindergarten with a bomb shelter in the city of Ovruch. Work continues on the reconstruction of substations and the installation of their physical protection. Finnish revenues, which mainly include subcontracting revenue from the provision of concrete works, have decreased. Nordecon did not generate any revenue and had no ongoing construction contracts in the Swedish market. The group operates on a project basis in Latvia and Lithuania, but in the period under review Lithuania accounted for less than 1% of the group’s revenue and the group did not earn any revenue in Latvia.


Performance by business line

Segment revenues

We strive to maintain the revenues of our two main operating segments (Buildings and Infrastructure) in balance, if this is permitted by market conditions, because this helps diversify risks and provides better opportunities to continue construction operations in more challenging market conditions where the volumes of one subsegment decline sharply while the volumes of another may grow more rapidly.
The group’s revenue for 2023 was €278,382 thousand, roughly 14% lower than in 2022, when the figure was €322,860 thousand. The Buildings segment generated revenue of €211,082 thousand and the Infrastructure segment revenue of €67,233 thousand. The corresponding figures for 2022 were €260,585 thousand and €62,048 thousand. The overall decrease in revenue was expected and is attributable to market contraction. Revenue declined by 19% in the Buildings segment, but increased by 8% in the Infrastructure segment. Although the group was successful in winning new contracts in 2023, these did not yet affect revenue for the period. High construction prices, mainly due to increased labour costs, combined with high interest rates and low demand, have delayed the start of development projects. The time lag between bidding and contract award may be several months, including for work tendered by the public sector. This also affected the group’s order book in the reporting period. Investments by the Transport Administration, one of the main customers of the Infrastructure segment, have decreased sharply, and the segment’s revenue growth is mainly driven by renewable energy projects and the pick-up in the Rail Baltica construction works.

Revenue by operating segment202320222021

Subsegment revenues

In the Buildings segment, the largest contributor is still the public buildings subsegment, with revenue for 2023 roughly at the same level as in 2022. In other subsegments, revenues have contracted significantly: by 40% in the industrial and warehouse facilities subsegment, by 21% in the commercial buildings subsegment and by 22% in the apartment buildings subsegment.
The period’s largest projects in the public buildings subsegment were the construction of the main building of the Estonian Internal Security Service in Tallinn, the design and construction of storage facilities and utility networks for the Centre for Defence Investment in Harju county, the construction of the building and outdoor premises of the Karlsson kindergarten in Viljandi and the construction of the Viljandi Rescue Station. The extension of the Maarjamõisa Medical Campus of the University of Tartu Hospital (construction phase III) was completed in 2023 after a construction period of around three years.
The apartment buildings subsegment generates most of its revenue from the construction of apartment buildings for third parties. During the period, the largest projects were the design and construction of the Luccaranna and Kastanikodu housing estates near Tallinn. Revenue from the group’s own development operations amounted to €10,273 thousand (2022: €11,459 thousand). Nordecon is continuing the development of the Mõisavahe Kodu housing estate (https://moisavahe.ee) and the construction of the Emajõe Residents housing estate, which is situated near the city centre on the banks of the Emajõgi river (https://emajoeresidents.ee) in Tartu. The group is also proceeding with the design and preconstruction activities for the Seileri Kvartal housing estate in Pärnu (https://seileri.ee/en). In carrying out our own development activities, we carefully monitor potential risks in the housing development market.
The largest projects in the commercial buildings subsegment were the construction of the Vektor commercial and residential complex and the Ahtri 4 and Kopli 68A office buildings in Tallinn, the design and construction of the Männiku commercial building in the Kandiküla district of Tartu, and the construction of a biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility for Icosagen AS in Kambja municipality.
The largest projects under construction in the industrial and warehouse facilities subsegment were a production facility for E-Piim in Paide, a production and office building for Harju Elekter AS in Hüüru, and a production and office building in Maardu.

Buildings segment202320222021
Public buildings37%30%28%
Apartment buildings27%28%29%
Commercial buildings23%24%29%
Industrial and warehouse facilities13%18%14%

The largest revenue contributor in the Infrastructure segment is still road construction and maintenance although in 2023 its revenue decreased by around 17%. During the period, a major share of the subsegment’s revenue resulted from the construction of the Tagadi ecoduct on the Rail Baltica route, the construction of the Neanurme–Pikknurme 2+1 road section of the Tallinn–Tartu–Võru–Luhamaa road in Jõgeva county and the reconstruction of the Hageri–Kohila road section in Harju county. The group also provides road maintenance services in Järva county.
The amount and share of revenue generated by the other engineering subsegment, which is currently involved in the construction of two wind farms (Tootsi-Sopi and Aidu) in Estonia, increased significantly compared with 2022. The revenue of the environmental engineering subsegment includes revenue from the design and construction of the Erra river and the Kiviõli ditch remediation projects.

Infrastructure segment 202320222021
Road construction and maintenance63%78%87%
Other engineering30%20%10%
Specialist engineering0%2%0%
Environmental engineering7%0%3%

Order book

The group’s order book (backlog of contracts signed but not yet performed) stood at €216,732 thousand at 31 December 2023, reflecting 45% growth compared to the end of 2022. In 2023, new contracts were signed for €276,901 thousand, including contracts of €85,575 thousand signed in the fourth quarter (excluding the contracts signed in 2023 by Nordecon Betoon OÜ, the subsidiary sold at the beginning of December). The corresponding amounts for 2022 were €163,498 thousand and €25,381 thousand.

 31 December 202331 December 202231 December 2021
Order book (€’000)216,732149,799266,856

In terms of the breakdown of the order book between the two main operating segments, the share of the Buildings segment has further increased: it now accounts for 96% of the group’s order book, while the Infrastructure segment accounts for 4% (31 December 2022: 88% and 12%, respectively). Compared with 31 December 2022, the order book of the Buildings segment has increased by 58% and that of the Infrastructure segment has decreased by 47%. The volume of investments made by the Transport Administration has decreased sharply and this has had a direct impact on the size of the order book of the Infrastructure segment. The volume of procurements for the Rail Baltica project has increased and is partly offsetting the decline in investments made by the Transport Administration. Public investment in building construction has also declined, but according to currently available information investment in national defence infrastructure, a subsegment in which Nordecon has traditionally been very successful, will increase.
A significant proportion of contracts secured in the fourth quarter were signed by the Buildings segment. The largest of these were:

  • the design and construction of the LEED Gold compliant Golden Gate office building at Ahtri 6 in Tallinn with an approximate cost of €23,500 thousand;
  • the design and construction of a commercial building at Nõlvakaare 4 in Raadi village in Tartu county with an approximate cost of €4,900 thousand;
  • the construction of Loodusmaja (Nature Hub) at Vesilennuki 12 in Tallinn with an approximate cost of €54,300 thousand.

Although the order book has increased, management expects that in 2024 the group’s business volumes will decline compared to 2023, mainly due to the sale of Nordecon Betoon OÜ. The increase in materials and energy prices and the rise in labour costs will continue to push up input prices, which will keep profit margins under pressure. In a fiercely competitive environment, we will avoid taking unjustified risks that could materialise in the contract execution phase and have an adverse impact on the group’s results. We will continue to focus on cost control and pre-construction and design activities, where we can leverage our professional competitive advantages.


Employees and staff costs

The group’s average number of employees in 2023 was 558, including 374 engineers and technical professionals (ETP). Headcount decreased by around 15% year on year, due to the restructuring of the group’s Infrastructure segment and the sale of Nordecon Betoon OÜ at the beginning of December 2023.

Average number of employees at group companies (incl. the parent and the subsidiaries):

Total average558658685

The group’s staff costs for 2023, including all taxes, were €27,145 thousand compared with €27,248 thousand for 2022. Against a backdrop of continued upward pressure on wages, labour costs have remained at a level comparable to last year because the number of employees has decreased.
The service fees of the members of the council of Nordecon AS for 2023 were €179 thousand and the associated social security charges were €59 thousand (2022: €150 thousand and €50 thousand, respectively).
The service fees of the members of the board of Nordecon AS were €775 thousand and the associated social security charges were €255 thousand (2022: €417 thousand and €138 thousand, respectively). The fees include severance payments and associated social security charges for one member of the board, which amounted to €222 thousand (2022: nil) and €73 thousand, respectively.

Labour productivity and labour cost efficiency

We measure the efficiency of our operating activities using the following productivity and efficiency indicators, which are based on the number of employees and staff costs incurred:

Nominal labour productivity (rolling), (€ ‘000)499.3490.4420.8
Change against the comparative period, %1.8%16.5%(0.5)%
Nominal labour cost efficiency (rolling), (€)10.311.811.5
Change against the comparative period, %(13.4)%2.9%5.5%

The group’s nominal labour productivity increased year on year, mainly due to a decrease in the number of staff. Revenue decline has reduced nominal labour cost efficiency.

Andri Hõbemägi
Nordecon AS
Head of Investor Relations
Tel: +372 6272 022
Email: andri.hobemagi@nordecon.com



NCN investor presentation Q4_2023.pdf