GfK increases dividend by 35%

Nuremberg, (PresseBox) - In 2011, GfK improved both its consolidated total income and sales, reaching new record values. Consolidated total income rose by 4.9% and therefore exceeded the already pleasing value of the prior year. In addition, it was a year which signalled a change and marked the beginning of a new organization.

Business success was largely attributable to the Custom Research and Retail and Technology sectors, both of which registered increased sales and income. With the further expansion of the largest retailer network in the world, GfK has secured a unique market position in the retail panel business.

The countries that offer the greatest business potential for the future developed extremely positively. The greatest organic growth was recorded by the regions of Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia and the Pacific. The Asia and the Pacific region achieved the highest overall growth, at 12.3%. North America was the only exception as here the difficult market environment, in particular, led to a decline in sales.

GfK has successfully sustained its position overall. At 5.8%, GfK achieved the best organic growth among its main competitors.

Key figures

Sales rose by 6.2% in comparison with 2010's figure to EUR 1,373.9 million. With organic growth of 5.8%, GfK comfortably maintained an organic sales growth rate of between 5% and 6%, as forecast and upheld since the beginning of 2011.

Despite a strategy-related writedown on corporate brands amounting to EUR 12.9 million, consolidated total income increased by 4.9% to EUR 88.1 million. The operating margin (adjusted operating income in relation to sales) was 13.7% and therefore below the prior year's value of 14.3%. This was primarily attributable to special effects including writedowns as a result of the standardization of market research tools in the context of the new corporate strategy, costs relating to the development and implementation of the new strategy and costs associated with the CEO changeover.

At the Annual General Meeting on May 16, 2012, the Supervisory Board and Management Board of GfK SE will be recommending a dividend pay-out of EUR 0.65 per share for the 2011 financial year, which equates to an increase of 35%.

"Last year was a year of new beginnings for GfK in which we set the course for a new GfK. We have reached record highs in both sales and income and our sound financial situation ensures the continued growth of GfK," says Matthias Hartmann, CEO of GfK SE.

New corporate strategy: Own the Future

Following an intensive preparation period in 2011, GfK has been operating under the new corporate strategy, Own the Future, since January 1, 2012. This strategy is designed to align with the transformations and innovations in the market research industry and the changing demands of clients in an increasingly global and digital world. With its two new Consumer Choices and Consumer Experiences sectors, GfK will now focus its business and concentrate its portfolio. GfK will be adopting the new structure following the publication of the finance report for the first quarter of 2012.

GfK has also refreshed its corporate design within the framework of the strategy. The new brand image was presented at the end of February and will be gradually implemented worldwide over the course of the year.

Outlook

GfK is optimistic that this year it will again achieve greater growth than the market research industry as a whole due to its extensive regional presence and innovative portfolio and that it will therefore be in a position to increase its market share.

For 2012, GfK expects the sales volume to be in the region of EUR 1.5 billion, which would represent an increase of around 9% in comparison with the previous year. Despite the not inconsiderable expenditures and investments in the development of the business, GfK is confident that the margin will be maintained at 2011's level.

GfK have had a promising start to 2012. At the end of February 2012, the order book already covered 43.0% of expected annual sales (previous year: 42.5%).

As part of the new strategy, the GfK Group has also set challenging targets to be achieved in the medium term: by 2015, sales are to be increased to EUR 2.0 billion with a margin of 16%. The new sectors Consumer Experiences and Consumer Choices will both equally contribute to this sales growth. Strong emphasis will be placed on increasing sales and market shares in the BRICs countries.

GfK

GfK is one of the world's largest research companies, with more than 11,000 experts working to discover new insights into the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. GfK is constantly innovating and using the latest technologies and the smartest methodologies to give its clients the clearest understanding of the most important people in the world: their customers. In 2011, GfK's sales amounted to EUR 1.37 billion.

To find out more, visit www.gfk.com or follow GfK on Twitter: www.twitter.com/gfk_group

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