AQ Group AB (publ): Year-end report 2021

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Fourth quarter, October-December 2021 in brief

  • Record sales despite continued shortage of components and labor
  • Net sales increased by 19.2% to SEK 1,498 million (1,256) 
  • Operating profit (EBIT) decreased by 9.4% to SEK 113 million (125) 
  • Profit after financial items (EBT) decreased by 0.5% to SEK 110 million (111) 
  • Profit margin before tax (EBT %) was 7.4% (8.8) 
  • Cash flow from operating activities decreased by 164.4% to SEK -105 million (163)
  • Earnings per share after tax decreased by 5.4% to SEK 4.76 (5.03)

Full year 2021 in brief

  • Highest earnings per share ever growing with16%
  • Net sales increased by 13.5% to SEK 5,471 million (4,819)
  • Operating profit (EBIT) increased by 11.3% to SEK 446 million (401)
  • Profit after financial items (EBT) increased by 19.5% to SEK 441 million (369) 
  • Profit margin before tax (EBT %) was 8.1% (7.7) 
  • Cash flow from operating activities decreased by 60.9% to SEK 238 million (609)
  • Earnings per share after tax increased by 16.0% to SEK 19.99 (17.24) 
  • Equity ratio was 56% (57)
  • The Board of Directors proposes a dividend of SEK 3.33/share (previous year SEK 0.00/share)

A word from the CEO

We grow, make profit and have fun at AQ. Thanks to our fantastic employees, we are delivering a sales record in the fourth quarter and a growth of 19.2% compared with the corresponding quarter last year! We shall be proud of that. At AQ, we deliver shareholder value. We have no adjusted profit measures but choose to focus on the profit that goes to the shareholders. We have increased earnings per share by an average of 16% per year over the past 10 years, and with the current quarter we have reported profit for 112 consecutive quarters. This year, we have once again increased earnings per share by 16% to SEK 19.99 per share. Demand has been strong, and we have done everything in our power to deliver as much as possible. Our decentralized model means that we are agile and flexible. This makes our customers happy, which results in us taking market shares. This is despite the challenging availability of components and personnel. Our profit margin before tax decreases to 7.4% compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, due to component shortages that have caused disruptions in our production in combination with cost increases for material and services. As I mentioned earlier, this year is a record year for AQ. It is therefore pleasing that the board has proposed that we return to normal routines and give a dividend of SEK 3.33 per share. This is the same amount we had as a subscription price when we were listed on Aktietorget in 2001, which we think is fun.

Fourth quarter

During the quarter, we succeeded better than the previous quarter in delivering more products to our customers. We still have spare production capacity but are limited by the availability of components, primarily in our business areas Electric cabinets, System products and Wiring systems. We have a growth of 19%, of which 11% is organic and 8% growth attributable to the acquisition we made during the summer. During the quarter, we worked intensively to transfer cost increases from raw materials, energy, and transport to our customers. This work will continue in the coming quarters. The price changes for raw materials that are governed by agreements with our customers often have a lag of three to six months.

The disruptions we had in the quarter affect the delivery precision to our customers, which in the quarter is 91% compared with the target of 98%. We work together with our customers to minimize disruptions in their production. To be able to deliver to our customers, we have significantly increased our stock of raw materials. We can do this thanks to our strong financial position. This has enabled us to sign important long-term contracts with key customers. When the availability of components is normalized, we will return to a higher inventory turnover rate. During the quarter, we also made several investments in increased capacity. We have invested in additional machine capacity in several of our factories in Bulgaria, Brazil, Sweden, and Finland to increase our delivery capacity.

Our work to improve our Wiring systems unit in Mexico continues, we continue to have problems and we disrupt our customers while the production volume grows strongly. During the quarter, we also restructured our transformer factories in China to reduce our costs and achieve synergies between our new unit in Shanghai and our factory in Suzhou.


Our salespeople and engineers have fun at work. Our customers continue to challenge us with manufacturing assignments for new technical solutions, and for us to realize their innovations in electrification, environmental and medical technology.

During the fourth quarter, our factory in Bulgaria entered into a strategic agreement with a global customer that provides battery storage systems for electricity grid. We have also won our first order for the same customer. The order consists of electrical cabinets for connection between the battery park and the electricity grid and it amounts to EUR 2.6 million. We have also won several new projects for commercial vehicles from our sheet metal processing factories in Sweden, Estonia, and Bulgaria. These products are included in electric trucks and construction machines. Our system products and electric cabinet deliveries in medical technology are growing and we have taken our first order to a global customer from one of our factories in China.

Demand from our existing customers is strong. We see good growth in inductive components, primarily for wind turbines, frequency converters and in components for electronics. There is also high pressure in our wiring systems and sheet metal factories for the automotive industry.

In some of our markets, demand remains low, such as buses and ships. Sales volumes to ships will recover during the second half of 2022, but for buses the outlook remains uncertain, although we expect demand to return when the pandemic is completely over, and travel returns to normal.


We work continuously to identify potential acquisitions that fit into AQ. We are very careful that the acquisitions we make will contribute and develop the group in the long term. There are many companies to buy, but it is certainly not all that we want to buy. During the fourth quarter, we intensified our search, and our list of potential acquisitions grows. Our strong financial position and equity ratio mean that we have freedom to act when we find attractive acquisition opportunities. From the turn of the year, the three factories we acquired from the Schaffner Group are now part of AQ. The units in Hungary and the USA have high utilization and contribute positively to our profit. The factory in China and the sales office in Germany have challenges in terms of utilization and profitability. During the quarter, we restructured the factory in China to reduce costs and to enable synergies between it and our other factories in China. In the quarter, the acquisition contributes with an 8% increase in our net sales but with a slightly negative result.


AQ has management systems for the environment at all our manufacturing units. These contain concrete goals, metrics, and activities to reduce our environmental impact. In our sustainability report for 2021, we will report our carbon dioxide emissions in accordance with scopes 1 and 2 as well as targets for reduction.

Cash flow and balance sheet

Our balance sheet is strong. We have low debt. Our cash flow is affected by our growth and the growth in sales during the quarter has increased our accounts receivable at the end of the year. In 2022, we will intensify our efforts to increase our inventory turnover rate. Our strong balance sheet allows us to focus on our customers and continue to invest and grow with them.

Employees and core values

What makes AQ successful is that we have fantastic employees who work in accordance with our core values. We have no patents or complicated contracts. It should be simple and fun to work with and at AQ. We want our customers to want to buy from us not because they must. Our decentralized model means that our leaders dare to make difficult decisions quickly in collaboration with suppliers and customers. That is what makes the difference between us and our competitors. For this to work, we need top-class leaders. It is thanks to our leaders and employees that we continue to grow, make a profit and have fun.

James Ahrgren


This disclosure contains information that AQ Group is obliged to make public pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation (EU nr 596/2014) and the Swedish Securities Markets Act (2007:528). The information was submitted for publication, through the agency of the contact person, on 17-02-2022 08:00 CET.


For further information, please contact:
James Ahrgren, CEO, +46 76 052 58 88  or CFO, Christina Hegg, telephone +46 70-318 92 48


AQ in brief

AQ is a leading supplier to demanding industrial customers and is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm’s main market.

The Group consists mainly of operating companies each of which develop their special skills and in cooperation with other companies, provides cost effective solutions in close cooperation with the customer.

The Group headquarter is in Västerås, Sweden. AQ has, on December 31, 2021, in total about 6,500 employees in Sweden, Bulgaria, China, Estonia, Hungary, India, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Poland, Serbia, Finland, Canada, USA, Brazil and Germany.

In 2021 AQ had net sales of SEK 5.5 billion and the group has since its start in 1994 shown profit every quarter.