Krka d.d. (Market cap EUR 3bn) – One of the best Eastern European stocks


Business description

Founded in 1954 as a state-owned company, Krka, which is based in Novo Mesto/Slovenia, is among the world’s leading producers and developers of generic pharmaceuticals. In its own and leased production and R&D facilities in Slovenia, Croatia, Germany, Poland, the Russian Federation and China, the company employs c. 11,500 people. Generic medicines are original medicines, which have never had a patent protection or whose patent protection has expired. Both contain the same active pharmaceutical ingredients and are equivalent in terms of quality. So-called Super Generics are generics with an added value compared to their original drugs e.g. with improved pharmacokinetics, delivery or therapeutic effects. Their significant advantages are a shorter development (3-4 years vs. 12 years) and much lower costs (c. USD 50m vs. USD >1bn).

Krka distributes 800 pharmaceutical products and 600 formulations based on 250 APIs. It operates in the following business segments: Prescription & non-prescription pharmaceuticals targeting e.g. the areas cardiovascular diseases, central nervous system, gastrointestinal system, pain, infections, digestion, oncology and urinary tract (83.7% and 8.8% of total sales in 2021 respectively); Animal Health products (5.2%); and, through 100% subsidiary Terme Krka d.o.o, Health resort & tourist services (2.3%). Krka’s products, which are sold exclusively under the company’s own brands, are distributed in >70 countries worldwide. In 2021, 94% of total sales stemmed from outside Slovenia, thereof 35.1% from the East Europe region (former CIS region incl. Russia & Ukraine), 22.5% from Central Europe (mainly Poland, Czechia, Hungary and Lithuania), 19.5% from West Europe (e.g. Germany), 13.4% from South-East Europe (mainly Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria) and 3.4% from other markets in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. 

Krka spends 9.9% of its yearly sales on R&D – is mainly related to oncology and autoimmune diseases, thus two of the largest segments of the global Pharma market – compared to 9.7% in case of its listed regional peer, Hungarian Gedeon Richter. It has c. 170 products in the pipeline in different R&D phases and has received/submitted patents for more than 210 innovations.  

Krka, which has been listed since 1997, can be traded on the stock exchanges in Ljubljana, Warsaw and Frankfurt. The company has paid out a dividend in each of the last 11 years and since 2012 its DPS has increased at a CAGR of 13.8%. Only in 2017, the DPS was slightly lower y-o-y.

Krka’s largest shareholders are entities associated with the Slovenian state, which own in total 26.7% of the company’s shares and 35.7% of its votes. According to, the company has both US-based and Western European investment funds as shareholders. The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund holds a stake of c. 0.8%. Treasury shares make up 5.5% of all shares outstanding.

Management’s 5-year guidance foresees a sales CAGR of at least 5% and an EBITDA margin of min. 25%.

Latest financials

In 2021, Krka, which before the pandemic grew at a 5y CAGR of 4.6%, produced c. 16bn (+2% y-o-y) pills and generated revenues of EUR 1.57bn (+2% y-o-y). With 18% and 9% respectively, the regions Slovenia and Other overseas countries reported the highest growth y-o-y. In 2021, the company introduced 16 new products. Drugs related to cardiovascular diseases accounted for >50% of all prescription drug sales. 

Despite serious COVID-19-related shortages of materials and transport issues, between January and December 2021 Krka’s EBITDA reached EUR 463.6m (-7.7% y-o-y; 29.6% margin) and net income EUR 309.2m (+6.3%; 19.7% margin) respectively. While operating cash flow amounted to EUR 386.1m (2020: EUR 360.8m), free cash flow equalled EUR 13.5m (EUR 251.2m). In 2021, Krka generated a ROCE of 13.7% compared to 12.1% at Gedeon Richter.

For the first nine months of 2022, Krka reported revenues of EUR 1.24bn (+5.6% y-o-y). In Ukraine, where the company is the No 2 provider of generics, sales declined by -14% y-o-y, but in Russia, where it is No 4, they grew by 5%. In 9M/22, EBITDA reached EUR 314.2m (-10.9% y-o-y; 25.3% margin) and net income EUR 300.9m (+25%; 24.2% margin) respectively. The main factors, which affected profitability, were 9.6% higher CoGS y-o-y, 21% higher marketing & distribution expenses and a EUR 113.6m higher net financial result, which was positively affected by FX effects. At the end of September, the company’s net gearing amounted to -15.4% compared to 1% in case of Gedeon Richter. 

Summary & conclusion

In our opinion, Krka is one of the best companies in Eastern Europe, a leading global player in a growing, non-cyclical sector and can be considered a dividend aristocrat in CEE. The generics segment is highly promising as governments and healthcare institutions in many countries are cutting back on their healthcare expenses and encouraging the use of relatively cheap generic products. 

In our view, only a few CEE-based companies have such a history of earnings and dividend growth as Krka. Since its IPO, the company’s market capitalization has increased 18 times. As negatives, we consider the significant share of revenues from the CIS region (especially Russia) as well as the low share ownership of the company’s Management and Supervisory Board, which at the end of December 2021 equalled 0.12%.

While Krka seems fairly valued at present – its current EV/EBITDA 2023E multiple equals 5.8x compared to a 6y average of 5.9x – its stock is highly interesting in the long run, in our view. Currently, the dividend yield for 2022E and 2023E equals 5.9% and 6.4% respectively. The company has a long-term dividend policy, which foresees the payout of min. 50% of its net profit.

LSI Software S.A. (Market cap PLN 40.3m/EUR 8.6m) – Small but promising Polish software company


Business description

The LSI Software Group, which has c. 300 employees (full-time and freelancers), was founded in 1998 and is based in Lodz. It is a provider of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software for hotels, restaurants (products: Gastro, tAPP Gastro, POSitive Restaurant), cinemas (POSitive Cinema) – in these three areas, it is Polish market leader with a share of between 43% and 75% – sports facilities and retailers. In addition, it is the exclusive distributor of POS management systems and peripheral devices of the company Posiflex and, since year-end 2021, the robots of the Chinese company PUDU, which operates in 60 countries worldwide. Due to the structure of the company’s sales – the sector HoReCa accounts for c. 70% of its annual sales – LSI Software was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a revenue and EBITDA decline of 17% and 43% respectively y-o-y. 

LSI Software, where in 2021 international revenues made up 24% of the total, generates sales from software integration, consulting, services, and hardware delivery. Last year, revenues from own software and maintenance/servicing accounted for 53.7% of the total, however the distribution activities (mainly sales of Posiflex products and PUDU robots) were most profitable with a gross margin of 30%. Recently, the company started offering its software products in the SaaS model, which is particularly attractive for smaller clients due to the low monthly fee of c. PLN 250. In our view, this should increase the share of recurring revenues from currently c. 50% and improve profitability in the coming years. 

According to management, LSI’s clients include >5,000 restaurants, c. 1,500 cinemas and several dozen cinema chains. The 3-4 largest customers account for only 15-20% of the company’s yearly sales and the customer churn only equals <5%. Examples of clients include the cinema chains Helios S.A. (Poland), Muvi Cinemas (Saudi-Arabia), KITAG Cinemas (Switzerland) and the leading Polish retail and restaurant chains CCC and Amrest.

Currently, LSI Software has c. 300 employees, of which 75% work as software developers and testers and 25% in other functions such as sales & marketing, HR and administration. Although there is no employee incentive scheme, the employee fluctuation is below peers, according to management.

LSI Software’s largest shareholder is its CEO Grzegorz Siewiera, who owns 30.8% of its shares, but 53.6% of the votes. The Spanish family office Inmuebles Polo SL owns a stake of 13.2%.

Recent results

Between 2013 and 2019, LSI Software grew at a CAGR of 14.8% on top line. After the pandemic year 2020, in which the company was hit hard due to its dependance on the HoReCa sector, in 2021 LSI Software’s revenues went up by 25.5% to PLN 54m. While the gross margin jumped to 30.7% (2020: 21.3%), EBIT and net income improved by 256% to PLN 5.9m (11% margin) and by 169.1% to PLN 6.5m respectively. However, due to higher investments in working capital and CAPEX operating and free cash flow deteriorated to PLN 4.5m (2020: PLN 9.9m) and PLN -3m (PLN 6.1m) respectively. In 2021, LSI generated a ROCE of 10% compared to an estimated WACC of 18% at present. 

Due to the recovery in most of its markets after COVID-19-related lockdowns for 9M/22 LSI Software reported revenues of PLN 40m, which corresponds to a y-o-y increase of 19.9%. 18% (9M/21: 11%) of total sales were generated abroad, of which 6% (4%) in the US. The share of revenues from own products and services declined to 52.8% (54.7%), which mainly stemmed from 24.9% higher sales of hardware such as PUDU robots. In 9M/22, the Group’s gross margin improved from 22% last year to 23.4%. However, following 85.7% lower other operating income due to a one-off effect – in 9M/21, LSI reported PLN 3.4m of COVID 19-related government grants vs. PLN 245k in 9M/22 – as well as 21.6% higher sales costs y-o-y (e.g. trade fairs, sales staff), which should have already positively impacted results in Q4/22, EBIT declined from PLN 1.6m to PLN -1m and net income from PLN 1.4m to PLN -1.3m. Between January and September 2022, free cash flow equalled PLN -10.9m (9M/21: PLN -698k), which was related to significant investments in inventories of PLN 5.7m due to longer delivery times of suppliers, among others. At the end of September 2022, the company had net debt of PLN 2.9m, which corresponds to 6.5% of its equity. Its interest-bearing debt mainly reflects the valuation of its office leasing contract in Warsaw according to IFRS 16.

Summary & Conclusion

In our view, LSI Software is a solid, owner-managed software company with a leading position in its domestic market and strong growth potential related to the roll-out of SaaS-based products and further international expansion. Based on most recent broker estimates, it is currently trading at an EV/EBITDA 2022E of 4.5x, EV/EBITDA 2023E of 3.7x, P/E 2023E of 7.5x and PEG of 0.23. For the coming years, we expect an acceleration of growth and regular dividend payouts. We also believe that due to its strong product portfolio and attractive valuation LSI Software could be taken over by a larger player soon. 

XTPL S.A. (Market cap PLN 227m/EUR 48.6m) – Soon a billion PLN company?


Operational update

In our view, 2022 was a breakthrough year for XTPL. Sales of its proprietary nanoprinting system for prototyping, the Delta Printing System (est. sales price of EUR 150-200k each), each of which generates recurring revenues from e.g. nozzles and inks of c. EUR 1,000 per month, and the conductive nano-ink (our estimate: EUR 1-10k each) significantly picked up. We believe that since 2020, when the company started commercial sales, it has sold 10 Delta Printing Systems to international clients such as universities (e.g. University of StuttgartUniversity of Brescia, Tianjin University), R&D centers (e.g. Harbin Institute of Technology) and corporate clients (one of the five largest Tech companies from the US). 

However, in our view more important for future growth are the contracts that can lead to the application of XTPL’s technology on production lines. One of them is the contract with NASDAQ-listed Israeli Tech company Nano Dimension, with which XTPL announced a contract for the development of a new kind of nano-ink in January 2022 that is supposed to be used in the production of Nano Dimension’s advanced PCB boards in the future. In our view, XTPL receives c. USD 500k after each stage of the development phase – 3 out of 4 have already been completed – and will receive a percentage fee based on the volume sold of products that will be produced with its technology in the future. Other two partners for the application of XTPL’s technology on an industrial scale, for which XTPL is supposed to construct machine prototypes, are from Taiwan (application area: production of semiconductor elements at a leading global player from this industry) and listed HB Technology from South Korea (application area: production of displays e.g. for Samsung). The implementation of XTPL’s technology on production lines will result in one-off sales of the company’s printing modules (several dozen ones worth est. EUR 50-100k each) as well as significant recurring sales of consumables such as nozzles and inks.

According to its management, XTPL currently has 45 employees, of which 90% are shareholders of the company. The fluctuation is very low (only one person left the company in 2022).

So far, XTPL has received 4 international patents and has submitted 26 patent applications. We believe that only the company’s patents have a value of dozens of millions EUR.

Latest financials

In 9M/22, XTPL generated revenues of PLN 6.6m (9M/21: PLN 213k), of which PLN 4.6m from R&D and PLN 2.1m from sale of own products. PLN 1.9m stemmed from EU grants. EBIT equalled PLN -2.1m (9M/21: PLN -6.4m) and net income PLN -2.2m (PLN -6.6m), with total operating costs (CoGS, administration & distribution expenses) of PLN 10.6m or PLN 1.18m per month. Q3/22 was the first quarter in the company’s history, which was profitable on all levels.

At the end of September 2022, XTPL’s cash position amounted to PLN 3.2m (31/12/2021: PLN 4.5m). In 9M/22, operating cash flow equalled PLN 1m (9M/21: PLN -3m) and free cash flow PLN -621k (PLN -5.6m). The convertible bond on the balance sheet (PLN 3.38m) – was issued to XTPL’s German shareholders Deutsche Balaton AG and ACATIS – has a yearly interest rate of 5%, matures on 30 January 2024 and has a conversion price of PLN 74 per share (33.9% below current level; conversion to in total 45,655 new shares that correspond to 2.2% of the total number of shares outstanding). During our recent meeting XTPL’s management maintained its view that at the end of 2022 cash was at the same level as at the end of December 2021.

Summary & forecasts for 2023

After talking to the company’s clients and market experts in the last months, we are confident that XTPL’s technology offers tremendous advantages and there is strong market demand for it. Apparently, large global players from the semiconductor or display industries are already approaching the company themselves. Also, we now believe that the company’s team knows how to effectively commercialize its know-how.

We expect significant growth of XTPL in the coming years, especially due to the implementation of its technology on production lines of several international Tech companies. For 2023E, we estimate the company’s backlog at PLN >10m and revenues at PLN 17.5m. Despite a likely increase of operating costs e.g. due to the planned recruitment of c. 10 additional people and higher investments in marketing, management guide for a profit on all levels. 

Below is our detailed calculation of revenues in 2023. During our meeting management clearly emphasized that in the coming years its focus would be on top-line growth.