2020 a 12 months of unity, resilient operations and strategic strikes Iceland Inventory Trade:MAREL


2020: Resilient profitability and strategic moves

  • Orders received were EUR 1,234.1m (2019: 1,222.1m).
  • The order book was EUR 415.7m (3Q20: 434.3m, 4Q19: 414.4m). 
  • Revenues were EUR 1,237.8m (2019: 1,283.7m). 
  • EBIT* was EUR 166.8m (2019: 173.4m), translating to an EBIT* margin of 13.5% (2019: 13.5%). 
  • Net result was EUR 102.6m (2019: 110.1m).
  • Basic earnings per share (EPS) were EUR 13.62 cents (2019: 15.33 cents).
  • Marel took actions earlier in the year that will deliver EUR 8m in annualized savings with around EUR 4m in non-recurring cost. Additionally, the pandemic has accelerated new ways of working and use of digital solutions that provide opportunities for further operational efficiencies.
  • Cash flow from operating activities before interest and tax was EUR 217.6m (2019: 189.8m). 
  • Net debt/EBITDA was 1.0x at year-end (3Q20: 0.5x, 4Q19: 0.4x). Targeted capital structure is 2-3x net debt/EBITDA. 

Q4 2020: A strong close to 2020

  • Orders received were EUR 319.7m (4Q19: 302.6m).
  • Revenues were EUR 343.3m (4Q19: 320.1m).
  • EBIT* was EUR 52.3m (4Q19: 32.0m), translating to an EBIT* margin of 15.2% (4Q19: 10.0%). 
  • Net result was EUR 29.1m (4Q19: 10.2m). 
  • Basic earnings per share (EPS) were EUR 3.87 cents (4Q19: 1.34 cents).
  • Cash flow from operating activities before interest and tax in the quarter was EUR 38.9m (4Q19: 60.2m).
  • Free cash flow at EUR 17.7m (4Q19: 44.0m).

      * Operating income adjusted for purchase price allocation (PPA) costs related to acquisitions and beginning in 2020, adjusted for acquisition related costs.

TREIF acquisition completed 8 Oct 2020

  • TREIF is included in the consolidated financial statements in 4Q20. Annual revenues prior to acquisition were about EUR 80m, with EUR 13m EBITDA.
  • In 4Q20, TREIF delivered seasonally strong revenues and operational profits.


Arni Oddur Thordarson, CEO

“I would like to take this opportunity and thank team Marel, our customers, suppliers and partners, for all their commitment and dedication to ensure that one of the most important value chains in the world remains operational. While ensuring the safety and well-being of our employees and our customers, we have met every obstacle with optimism to secure daily access for consumers around the world to quality food that is safe, affordable and produced in a sustainable way. 

Marel’s digital platform and global reach with a local presence, with sales and service engineers servicing customers in over 140 countries, have proven to be key differentiating factors in supporting our customers. Team Marel took transformative decisions in early 2020 to ensure continued innovation and operational resilience in a highly volatile and challenging environment. We secured long-term sustainability-linked financing, solidified our supplier partnerships and ramped up inventories, and canceled all traditional tradeshow activity to focus solely on virtual events.

As a result, we close the fourth quarter on strong note, with revenues of EUR 343 million and EBIT in excess of 15%. We should note that TREIF’s complementary cutting technology solutions and services are included in 4Q20, positively contributing to revenues and margins. We close the year with a healthy order book and strong financials with net debt at one times EBITDA.

Overall, we are satisfied with the full-year performance, orders were on par with the previous year, although revenues and EBIT were down by 4%. Cash flow remained strong, enabling us to continue to invest in infrastructure and take on acquisitions in line with strategy. Quality of earnings remained good with recurring revenues from aftermarket at the 40% level in 2020.

Automation and digital solutions in the food value chain are a driving force to further transform the industry, with COVID-19 further accelerating the strong underlying secular trends. We embed sustainability in everything we do and we are pioneers in our industry to commit to SDG goals, including committing to the Science Based Targets initiatives to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. In addition we add financial disclosure requirements on climate risk, that is based on the Task force recommendation (TCFD climate risk reporting).

While we are mindful of the fact that in times of such transformation on top of economic uncertainties, there can be fluctuations quarter-by-quarter, Marel is fully committed to its mid-term and long-term targets of continued growth and value creation.”

2020 in review

Marel remains committed to its mid- and long-term targets 

Management is committed to its mid-term targets to achieve gross profit of 40%, SG&A of 18% and maintain the innovation investment at the 6% strategic level by year-end 2023.

For the period 2017-2026 Marel has set a target of 12% average annual increase in revenues, through both organic growth and acquisitions. Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) 2017-2020 was 6.3%. Marel’s growth plan involves capitalizing on strong innovation investment and global reach to drive expansion and market penetration. The focus is on strategic partnerships and acquisitions to fill gaps in the value chain, and to augment our full-line product offering.

Acquisitions and strategic partnerships

With the acquisition of German food cutting technology provider TREIF in Oct 2020, Marel has strengthen the full-line product offering, increased standard equipment sales and will leverage its global sales and service network to synergize aftermarket potential. With around 500 employees and EUR 80m in revenues, TREIF’s product portfolio in cutting, portioning, dicing and slicing is highly complementary with Marel’s product portfolio. The purchase price on a cash and debt free basis was paid with EUR 128m in cash and 2.9 million Marel shares.

As of 4 Jan 2021, ownership of stake in Icelandic fish processing equipment provider Curio increased from 39.3% to 50% with an option to acquire the remaining 50% in three years. With the acquisition, Marel has a full-line offering of solutions for wild whitefish industry. Curio will be consolidated into Marel’s financial results in 2021.

Marel made a follow-on investment in Canadian software company Worximity, which was part of the original agreement in 2019, increasing the ownership from 14.3 to 25.0%.

Strategic partnership with Tomra on vision based technology is proceeding well. Over the year, the two companies have joined forces on different projects building on advanced sensor based grading, sorting, peeling and analytics equipment for the food industry.

Subsequent events in beginning of 2021

The acquisition of Dutch duck processing solutions provider Poultry Machinery Joosten (PMJ) announced on 21 Jan 2021, will enable Marel to strengthen the position in the duck market as a third pillar within poultry processing alongside broilers and turkey, and leverage its global sales and service network and expand into new markets. PMJ has 40 employees and annual revenues of around EUR 5 million and their complementary product portfolio of primary processing, including waxing and automated evisceration, will make Marel the industry’s only full-line provider of duck processing solutions in this growing 4.5m tons market (estimated to be ~EUR 6bn). 

The acquisition of a 40% stake in Stranda Prolog, a Norwegian provider of salmon processing solutions, and the launch of a strategic partnership between the two companies was announced on 29 Jan 2021. With 100 employees and EUR 25m in annual revenues, Stranda Prolog’s complementary product portfolio for primary salmon processing and aquaculture solutions will bring Marel closer to becoming a full-line provider to the global 2.5m tons salmon industry. 

Investment in innovation to maintain technological leadership

Marel R&D amounted to EUR 69.1m in 2020, equal to 5.6% of revenues. This is in line with the company’s innovation promise of ~6% on a continuous basis to drive further organic growth.

Through strong cooperation between centrally located innovation teams, local teams in close proximity to customers and our innovation partners, 2020 proved to be an impressive year for innovation despite the inherent challenges due to the pandemic. Innovation in recent years has focused on digital and full-line offering to improve automation, yield and efficiency as well as enabling processors to meet consumer demand for a balanced diet, traceability and food safety. In total, more than 30 new highly innovative products were introduced to the market in 2020.

Investments to support organic and strategic growth 

To best serve customer needs, Marel is focusing on increasing digitalization and agility, leading to an increased level of investments in the coming years. More specifically, Marel has identified opportunities to automate and digitize its manufacturing platform and aftermarket services, to best support our customers as they adapt to changing market conditions, as well as shifts in demand by channel and geographies.

Continued focus on streamlining the back-end while investing in front-end sales and service platform. In 2021, Marel will be opening sales and service offices, as well as demo centers in both Shanghai, China and Campinas, Brazil, expanding the company’s ability to support the region’s protein processing industries with advanced automated systems and solutions. 

Transforming food processing, sustainably (ESG)

Marel has formally committed to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, and set a defined path to achieve carbon neutrality well ahead of 2050. This marks an important next step in Marel’s sustainability journey, where innovation and high-tech solutions can optimize the production process and reduce food waste.

To improve the disclosure of climate-related risks and opportunities, Marel has also committed to integrating the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) into its 2021 climate-risk reporting.

New ways of working have had a positive impact on Marel’s CO2 footprint, with sales and marketing, installations, aftermarket services, and customer training moving online and significantly reducing fly-in fly-out. Focus on maintaining benefits from new ways of working since the pandemic.

Marel is committed to increase diversity and inclusion within its organization, whereby the improved gender balance in the Executive Team and Board of Directors is a recent example.

In 2020, Marel donated EUR 1.0 million to the Red Cross which will use the funds to improve the food security of the most vulnerable communities in South Sudan.

Financial performance

Solid level of orders received in the quarter and for the full year 

Orders received in the quarter were EUR 319.7m, up 13.2% QoQ and 5.7% YoY. Orders received in fourth quarter include TREIF. Orders received in FY20 were EUR 1.234.1m, on par with last year.

Orders received continue to be well balanced between large projects, standard equipment and maintenance projects. 

The need for automation and digital solutions in the food value chain is driven by secular trends like population growth and urbanization. COVID-19 has been an accelerator for these trends, placing more focus on minimizing human intervention as a means to improve hygiene and disease, as well as traceability and trust in the food value chain. Marel is uniquely positioned to support the food industry with the use of robotics, increased tracking & tracing and process control.

Marel’s competitive position remains strong with the pipeline trending upwards, particularly in automated solutions. Timing of conversion of pipeline to committed orders remains uncertain. 

Strong revenues in 4Q20 with solid recurring aftermarket revenues

Revenues totaled EUR 343.3m in 4Q20, up by 19.5% QoQ and 7.2% YoY, with TREIF included in 4Q20, positively contributing to revenues and margins. Full year revenues were 1,237.8, down 3.6% YoY. Organic revenue growth -5.4% and acquired growth +1.8% in 2020.

Full-year aftermarket revenues were 40%, compared to 37% in 2019. Aftermarket in the quarter was 38% of total revenues (3Q20: 41%, 4Q19: 40%) due to higher proportion of project revenues in 4Q20 than in prior quarters.

Good delivery performance during the pandemic and growth in aftermarket revenues over the year, especially in spare parts, compensated for lower revenues from projects in 1-3Q20. Although service was impacted by the limitation of field service engineers to be on customers sites due to travel restrictions, the ability to offer remote support was paramount during this period.

The local teams with virtual and remote global support from industry experts, have shown great solution-driven leadership in installation and aftermarket services, reducing the carbon footprint of fly-in fly-out.

Marel’s global reach with a local presence, with sales and service engineers servicing customers in over 140 countries, has proven to be a key differentiating factor in operational resilience.

Resilient profitability in 2020 supported by lower OPEX 

Gross profit margin 37.4% in the quarter (3Q20: 39.2%, 4Q19: 36.2%) and gross profit was EUR 128.5m (3Q20: 112.5m, 4Q19: 116.0m), impacted by revenue mix, lower margin on projects due to higher cost and more complex execution associated with the pandemic. For the full year, gross profit margin was 37.4% (FY19: 38.3%) and gross profit EUR 462.5m (FY19: 491.1m).

Operating expenses at similar levels as last two quarters, lower costs due to travel restrictions, reduced physical trade show activity and more focus on online solutions and virtual events.

EBIT* margin was strong in fourth quarter at 15.2% (3Q20: 15.4%, 4Q19: 10.0%) and 13.5% for the full year (FY19: 13.5%).

To increase transparency of one-off costs related to acquisitions and better reflect underlying business performance, Marel has changed its adjustments of EBIT. Previously, Marel adjusted result from operations to exclude the impact of PPA related costs, and beginning in 2020, will exclude the impact of PPA related costs and acquisition related expenses.

Net result was EUR 29.1m in the quarter, down 1.0% QoQ and up 185.3% YoY. For the full year, net result was EUR 102.6 (FY19: 110.1m)

Basic EPS was EUR 3.87 cents (3Q20: 3.93 cents, 4Q19: 1.34 cents), and EUR 13.62 cents for the full year (FY19: 15.33).

Order book on par with last year

The order book at year-end was EUR 415.7m (3Q20: 434.3m, 4Q19: 414.4m). This equals 34% of 12-month trailing revenues and includes EUR 5.0m acquired order book from TREIF. 

The book-to-bill ratio in the quarter was 0.93 (3Q20: 0.98, 4Q19: 0.95), while at 1.00 for the full year (FY19: 0.95). 

Greenfields, such as large equipment orders, and large projects with longer lead times constitute the vast majority of the order book while services, spares and standard equipment have shorter lead times and run faster through the order book.

With its strong product portfolio of solutions, software and services, Marel is well positioned to lead the transformation of the food processing industry and support food processors channel flexibility to chase consumer-ready products.

Strong cash flow generation in 2020 

Operational cash flow in the quarter was EUR 38.9m (4Q19: 60.2m) and EUR 217.6m (FY19: 189.8m) for the full year. 

Free cash flow in 4Q20 was EUR 17.7m (4Q19: 44.0m) and EUR 140.5m (FY19: 115.3m) for the full year.

Strong cash flow generation FY20 and positive working capital development, despite strategic buildup on inventories.

Cash flow in the fourth quarter was impacted by payment of pension liabilities, elevated investment levels, and timing of invoicing. Partly offset by improved net contract liabilities.

Marel paid EUR 107.0m for the acquisition of TREIF, which contributed positively to operational cash flow in 4Q20.

Marel continues to invest in its infrastructure and platform. Net cash used in investing activities, excluding business combinations and investments/loans in associates, was EUR 18.4m in the quarter (4Q19: 11.5m), or EUR 51.7m (FY19: 37.5m) for the full year equivalent.    

Strong financial position with leverage ratio below 1.0x

Marel has committed liquidity of EUR 646.4m at year-end 2020 and fully committed funding in place until 2025. 

Leverage was 1.0x at the end of 4Q20 following the TREIF acquisition closing in October 2020, compared to 0.5x at end of 3Q20.

Over the year, a total of around EUR 100m in dividends payout and share buybacks. In addition, Marel acquired TREIF for EUR 128m and 2.9m shares in Marel (net working capital settlement to be finalized in 1H21, purchase price allocation in progress and provisional).

Leverage is well below the targeted capital structure (2-3x) and coupled with Marel’s strong financial position, will support continued investment and facilitate future strategic moves in the ongoing industry consolidation wave, in line with the company’s 2017-2026 growth strategy.

In Dec 2020, a new corporate tax law was enacted in the Netherlands. Consequently, the reduction in corporate tax rate from 25.0% to 21.7% as approved by Dutch Government in 2019 will be reversed and the Dutch corporate income tax rate will remain at 25.0%, resulting in a negative impact of EUR 5.7m on the 4Q20 tax expense.

Resilient business model in challenging times and a united team

Significant investments in recent years in Marel’s global reach, digital platform and infrastructure, have been instrumental in positioning the company to successfully navigate a business environment colored by the pandemic, geopolitical uncertainty, trade constraints and change in consumer behavior already accelerated by the ongoing changes. 

The pandemic continues to accelerate Marel’s approach in providing virtual and remote support to engage and connect with our customers.

Marel is a critical infrastructure company in the food industry. Earlier in the year, Marel’s manufacturing sites in close cooperation with our suppliers, diligently organized themselves to ensure business continuity and safety for both employees and customers.

All manufacturing sites have remained open throughout the pandemic, although we did see increased inefficiencies (e.g. absenteeism and logistics costs). Uncertainty still remains for 2021 as to the impact of COVID-19 and the severe lockdowns on efficiency of operations.

Marel’s effort in recent years, to shorten production lead times and co-locate production, created more resilience in the supply chain. This together with the strategic inventory build-up allows us to be more agile, serve customers’ needs and ultimately keep the food value chain running.

Marel implemented a Global Pay Policy during COVID-19 in April 2020, to secure minimum pay for a defined period of time if employees could not, for one reason or the other, conduct their work due to COVID-19. 

Marel did not make use of government support or rent discounts related to COVID-19 in 2020. If government support was provided due to local laws, an equivalent or greater amount was donated to charity by Marel.

Dividend proposal of 40% payout ratio for upcoming 2021 AGM

In line with Marel’s targeted capital allocation and dividend policy of 20-40% payout ratio, the Board of Directors will propose a 40% payout ratio at the 2021 Annual General Meeting, to be held on 17 March 2021 (2020: 40%, 2019: 30%). 

Based on a EUR 5.45 cents dividend per outstanding share paid for the operational year 2020, or 6% lower per share than in 2020, the estimated total dividend payment will be around EUR 41.0m. 

Industry performance

Marel Poultry:

4Q20: 48% of total revenues with 19.7% EBIT margin
FY20: 51% of total revenues with 18.3% EBIT margin

Full-line offering with one of the largest installed bases worldwide, focusing on roll-out of innovative products and market penetration through cross-selling of secondary and further processing solutions.

M&A: Following the acquisition of PMJ, Marel will expand its third pillar within poultry processing alongside broilers and turkey and become the industry’s only full-line provider of duck processing solutions for this large and growing market.

Orders received for Marel Poultry were at a good level in 4Q20 and the full year. Pipeline is strong, as the need to automate processing with track and trace capabilities is rising, although timing of converting pipeline into orders is uncertain. Profitability in poultry has proven the most resilient during the pandemic due to its convenience, affordability and ability to adapt to supply relatively quickly.

Revenues in 4Q20 for Marel Poultry were EUR 165.1m, down 1.2% YoY. Revenues in 2020 were 635m, down 8% YoY due to drop in project revenues while compensated somewhat by higher aftermarket revenues.

EBIT in 4Q20 was EUR 32.5m (4Q19: 23.4m) and the EBIT margin was 19.7% (4Q19: 14.0%). EBIT margin for FY20 was 18.3% (FY19: 17.5%).

Marel Meat:

4Q20: 37% of total revenues with 12.1% EBIT* margin
FY20: 34% of total revenues with 8.7% EBIT* margin

Full-line offering with focus on strong product development, increased standardization, modularization and market penetration and further cross- and upselling.

M&A: The TREIF acquisition will double standard equipment sales for Marel Meat and enhance the full-line offering from post-farm to dispatch of consumer-ready products.  

Orders received for Marel Meat were at a good level in 4Q20. Pipeline is building up with interesting opportunities in Europe, Latin America and China, as customers pursue greater automation and channel flexibility, although timing of orders remains uncertain.

Revenues in 4Q20 for Marel Meat were EUR 128.0m, up by 12.1% YoY (4Q19: 114.2m). Revenues in 2020 were down 1% due to lower project revenues, compensated by aftermarket revenues and the TREIF acquisition.

EBIT* in 4Q20 was EUR 15.5m (4Q19: 9.2m) and the EBIT* margin was 12.1% (4Q19: 8.1%). EBIT margin for FY20 was 8.7% (FY19: 10.5%). In 4Q20, TREIF positively contributed to margins.

Management continues to target medium and long-term EBIT* margin expansion for Marel Meat.   

Marel Fish:

4Q20: 11% of total revenues with 0.0% EBIT margin
FY20: 12% of total revenues with 5.4% EBIT margin

Objective to reach full-line offering across farmed and wild whitefish and salmon through continued focus on innovation and M&A.

M&A: Curio will be consolidated into Marel’s financial results in 2021 and expected to positively contribute to margins (ownership increased to 50% with option to acquire the remaining 50% in three years). Salmon primary processing offering solidified through the 40% acquisition of Stranda Prolog and strategic partnership.  

Orders received in 2020 were soft, as the fish industry has experienced the biggest impact from the shift in consumer behavior from foodservice to retail.

Together with its innovation partners like Brim in Iceland, Marel has installed reference plants showcasing transformative solutions that improve agility and channel flexibility to cater to different consumer channels for bone-free, ready-to-cook products and for restaurants.

Revenues for Marel Fish in 4Q20 were EUR 37.3m, 3.3% up YoY (4Q19: 36.1m). Revenues in 2020 were up 1.5%, however still below the volume needed to deliver sufficient margin improvement.

EBIT in 2020 was EUR 8.1m (FY19: 6.4m) and the EBIT margin was 5.4% (FY19: 4.3%). EBIT in the quarter was EUR 0.0m (4Q19: -0.3m) and the EBIT margin was 0.0% (4Q19: -0.8%). 

Management continues to target medium and long-term EBIT margin expansion for Marel Fish. 


Market conditions have been challenging due to geopolitical uncertainty and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Marel enjoys a balanced exposure to global economies and local markets through its global reach, innovative product portfolio and diversified business mix. At the moment it is not known what the full economic impact of COVID-19 will be on Marel. 

Marel is committed to achieve its mid- and long-term growth targets. Our strategic mid-term targets are to achieve gross profit around 40%, SG&A of around 18% and Innovation at the 6% strategic level by year-end 2023.  

In the period 2017-2026, Marel is targeting 12% average annual revenue growth through market penetration and innovation, complemented by strategic partnerships and acquisitions.

      •       Marel’s management expects 4-6% average annual market growth in the long term. Marel aims to grow organically faster than the market, driven by innovation and growing market penetration. 
      •       Maintaining solid operational performance and strong cash flow is expected to support 5-7% revenues growth on average by acquisition. 
      •       Marel’s management expects basic EPS to grow faster than revenues. 

Growth is not expected to be linear but based on opportunities and economic fluctuations. Operational results may vary from quarter to quarter due to general economic developments, fluctuations in orders received and timing of deliveries of larger systems. 

Virtual investor meeting and live webcast/conference call 4 February 2021

On Thursday 4 February 2021, at 8:30 am GMT (9:30 am CET), Marel will host a virtual investor meeting where CEO Arni Oddur Thordarson and CFO Linda Jonsdottir will give an overview of the financial results and operational highlights in the fourth quarter and for the full year.

The virtual meeting will be webcast live on www.marel.com/webcast and a recording will be available after the meeting on marel.com/ir.

Members of the investment community can join the conference call at:

      •       IS: +354 800 7520
      •       NL: +31 10 712 9162
      •       UK: +44 33 3300 9262
      •       US: +1 833 526 8384

Upcoming virtual investor events

      •       Citi‘s 2021 Global Industrials Virtual Conference, 18 February

For the latest roadshow calendar please visit www.marel.com/ir

Upcoming Marel Live virtual events

      •       Salmon ShowHow (series of events and VIP sessions) – 1 to 12 February
      •       Prepared Foods, Low-pressure forming technology – 17 February
      •       Meat, Count on us (series of events) – 9 to 26 March
      •       Software KnowHow (series of events) – 20 to 22 April
      •       Prepared Foods, Plant-based protein –  28 April 

For the latest schedule please visit www.marel.com/events

Financial Calendar

Marel will publish its financial results according to the below financial calendar:

  • AGM – 17 March 2021
  • Q1 – 28 April 2021
  • Q2 – 21 July 2021
  • Q3 – 20 October 2021
  • Q4 – 2 February 2022

Financial results will be disclosed and published after market closing of both Nasdaq Iceland and Euronext Amsterdam.

Investor Relations

For further information, please contact Marel Investor Relations via email [email protected] or tel. (+354) 563 8001.

About Marel

Marel (NASDAQ: MAREL; AEX: MAREL) is a leading global provider of advanced food processing equipment, systems, software and services to the poultry, meat and fish industries. Marel has around 6,800 employees in over 30 countries. In 2020, Marel delivered EUR 1,238 million in revenues, and invests around 6% of revenues in innovation annually. By continuously transforming food processing, Marel enables its customers to increase yield and throughput, ensure food safety and improve sustainability in food production. Marel was listed on Nasdaq Iceland in 1992 and dual-listed on Euronext Amsterdam in June 2019.

Forward-looking statements

Statements in this press release that are not based on historical facts are forward-looking statements. Although such statements are based on management’s current estimates and expectations, forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain. We therefore caution the reader that there are a variety of factors that could cause business conditions and results to differ materially from what is contained in our forward-looking statements, and that we do not undertake to update any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement.

Market share data

Statements regarding market share, including those regarding Marel’s competitive position, are based on outside sources such as research institutes, industry and dealer panels in combination with management estimates. Where information is not yet available to Marel, those statements may also be based on estimates and projections prepared by outside sources or management. Rankings are based on sales unless otherwise stated.